LinkedIn Product Announcements

LinkedIn Marketing Campaign Analytics assist with bid decisions.
LinkedIn Marketing Campaign Analytics assist with bid decisions.

LinkedIn recently began supporting video uploads which begin playing silently when they appear in members’ feeds.  Videos may run up to ten minutes, though LinkedIn recommends lengths of fewer than five minutes.  As with LinkedIn posts, members will also receive analytics on views, likes, shares, and top viewing markets.  The new feature provides B2B marketers with a business focused platform on which they can post corporate announcements, executive thought leadership pieces, and corporate event videos.

Business Insider found that LinkedIn is considered the most trustworthy of the social media platforms with people deeming it best at protecting privacy (55%), least likely to display deceptive content (55%), and safest network for posts and participation (43%).

LinkedIn will also be passing along viewer details such as employer and title for the top viewers.

“Analytics about where video viewers work and what they do present substantial opportunities for networking, recruiting, generating sales leads, and so on. For example, executives can announce a new product or service and then dive into their audience analytics to build up a list of prospects; opinion leaders discussing a pressing trend will have more tools for growing their followers; job-seekers can post videos with an eye on courting recruiters or a company’s attention, or vice versa. All these scenarios pave the way for LinkedIn to upgrade free members onto premium tiers, where more advanced customer relationship management (CRM) tools are available.”

  • Robert Elder, Business Insider, “LinkedIn Video Sharing Could Be a Revelation”

Video should help address user engagement issues.  As of Q3 2016 (their last public quarter), only 23% of users engaged with the platform each month, resulting in an average daily engagement of only two minutes.  Consumer platforms have much higher daily engagement rates with Snapchat at thirty minutes and Facebook at fifty.

In other news, LinkedIn released a Windows 10 live alerts app which displays new messages, trending stories, profile views, and other LinkedIn-related alerts.  The service supports 22 languages.

LinkedIn also released a set of enhancements to its Advertising platform including expanded demographic data, campaign recommendations, and additional metrics.  The Campaign Manager now displays LinkedIn accounts which responded to campaigns.  Website Demographics tracks website visitors via a lightweight JavaScript tag.  Brands can segment website visitors and create campaigns via job title, industry, job seniority, job function, company, company size, location, and country.

Thus, firms can identify unexpected visitor segments.  “With these insights, you can craft new marketing content designed to better resonate with that audience,” LinkedIn stated.

Campaign insights are also displayed as new hover cards which provide budget and performance data for other advertisers and recommends how to boost performance.

New metrics include Sponsored Content shared by members, details on social actions, and better file export and data options.

“The three new advertiser data tools optimize your use of LinkedIn ads, making sure you have maximized social ROI,” observed Francis Rey in SocialBarrel.   “Sponsored Content continues to drive most of the company’s ad revenue. With more than 500 million professional members on the platform, LinkedIn already filters a unique audience for your business. You only need to tap into it and take advantage.”

Rey also noted that “While Facebook is still beyond reach in social ads, the social network caters to all audiences. Meanwhile, LinkedIn focuses on professionals, with an entirely different purpose.”

HG Connect for Salesforce and HG Audience

HG Data Vendor and Product Intelligence
HG Data Vendor and Product Intelligence

Last month, technographics vendor HG Data rolled out two new services: HG Connect, a Salesforce Data Exchange connector, and HG Audience for digital targeting.  HG Connect supports competitive and complementary targeting of prospects based upon installed hardware and software.  HG Connect use cases include sales intelligence, lead qualification, and demand generation.  Account records are enriched in near-real time via the Data Exchange and updated on a monthly basis.  Matching is done via corporate URLs.

“It is our mission to help companies achieve extraordinary results in their marketing and sales outreach through the use of accurate and comprehensive technographic data,” said Barbara Winters, VP of marketing at HG Data. “With HG Connect, customers don’t even have to think about how to integrate technographic data into their workflows, it’s already there, ready for them to use, so that they can begin creating targeted segments for their campaigns immediately without needing to work with an IT or operations person to integrate the data.”

The HG connector is Lightning enabled, delivering HG Data’s technographics to mobile devices, reports, and dashboards.  The data is also available for triggers and workflow.  Along with Vendor and Product data, HG Data publishes Confidence and Intensity Scores (accuracy and frequency of uniquely dated documents).

Sample HG Data Connect Lightning-enabled dashboard
Sample HG Data Connect Lightning-enabled dashboard

Data enrichment is limited to Account records with plans to enrich Lead records in the future.

Customers license access to HG Data segments which is enabled via a Salesforce Data Integration rule (formerly called a Clean rule).  HG Data tracks 13 million global companies and 88 million technology installations. Their taxonomy spans 3,800 vendors and 7,500 products.

The Data Exchange is a Salesforce enrichment service associated with Data.com.  The Data Exchange does not yet support prospecting.

HG Data also launched HG Audience for programmatic advertising on platforms including Krux, Lotame, Adobe Marketing  Cloud, DataXu, MediaMath, and TheTradeDesk.  Marketers will be able to target audiences based upon technographic variables, firmographics (e.g. sector, revenue, employees), job function, and job level.

HG Data Audience Solutions
HG Data Audience Solutions

“HG Audience allows companies to modernize their digital advertising targeting strategy in a profound way,” said John Connell, Vice President of Digital for HG Data. “Instead of deploying digital ads based on just traditional firmographics or Internet content consumption, companies can now use our precise custom segments to apply ABM-style focus to traditionally broader-reach display media tactics.  With HG Audience, we’re giving our customers access to the influencers and decision makers at the companies that matter to them, leading to better engagement, greater efficiency and much better ROI on their advertising dollars.”

Over the past few years, a number of content vendors have released programmatic products.  These include Infogroup (B2B and B2C selects), Dun & Bradstreet (B2B), HG Data, Bombora (B2B Intent), and LinkedIn (Member targeting).

“In the last year to 18 months, there’s been a shift with B2B companies doing more programmatic media buying,” says Ashu Garg, general partner at Foundation Capital, a venture capital firm that has invested in the ad tech space. “What’s behind the change is the greater ability to connect anonymous data with PII (personally identifiable information) data. Secondly is the ability to get much more precise targeting from niche segments and audiences across platforms, whether that be social, display or video platforms.”

An AdWeek BrandShare study commissioned by Dun & Bradstreet in September 2016 found that 65% of B2B marketers were deploying programmatic campaigns, a ten percent jump from 2015.

Quora: How do I do marketing using LinkedIn?

Here is how I answered the following question on Quora: “How do I do marketing using LinkedIn?”

I would use LinkedIn in the following ways to promote my company:

  • LinkedIn has a set of marketing services which allow you to build targeted campaigns by both firmographic (size, industry, location) and biographic variables. This is probably the most granular B2B advertising tool out there. The Campaign Manager also provides a set of analytics around viewing and impressions. Pricing is either CPC or CPM (impressions or clicks). Here is a quick description of their advertising formats: 
LinkedIn Marketing Formats
LinkedIn Marketing Formats
  • LinkedIn can be used to promote your own content as posts, whether it be white papers, product descriptions, case studies, blogs, or articles. If you mention a partner or customer, make sure to link to them and have their marketing departments like the content. Where possible, include some copy from the content or description of the content along with a visual (LinkedIn will grab a visual from the source if there is one available).

    Do not overly self-promote. Your content should lean towards thought leadership not corporate promotion. Of course, if you launch a new product, write about it. But LinkedIn is not the place for deep feature dives or long discussions of your value proposition. And please, not another What does [this character from Game of Thrones] teach us about [some aspect of business]. This type of coattail riding is generally full of clichés and stretched analogies. Originality, Professionalism, and Readability are key on LinkedIn (a good graphic and headline don’t hurt).

  • LinkedIn supports its own set of articles, but I’ve had more luck blogging on my site and then writing posts that link to my blog. You should test both approaches to determine whether LinkedIn articles work for your company.

  • Have your employees like content so that it is seen by your prospects and customers in their feed. 
  • Fill out your company profile. Many vendors rehash their website and Facebook profiles, but I would try to differentiate the copy between these three sites. For B2B companies, the website should be corporate, Facebook a bit cheeky, and LinkedIn professional, but lighter than your website. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is used by both prospective employees and customers so you want to be speaking to multiple readers. 
  • Evaluate Sales Navigator for your sales reps. This service does not allow you to download lists of companies and contacts, but it allows you to build and maintain lists of accounts and leads which are stored in Navigator (these lists can be built individually, via prospecting, or via CRM downloads). Sales Navigator also supports CRM viewing of company and contact profiles, InMails (direct messages with prospects outside of your current connections) and PointDrive, a custom website link that allows sales reps to forward attachments (collateral, price documents, videos, PowerPoints) as embedded content with descriptions. PointDrive provides analytics on what content has been consumed and tracks whether the document has been forwarded to others. 

Keep in mind that LinkedIn’s audience skews older and more professional than Twitter and Facebook.

 

Intent Data — Why and When?

One of the important recent B2B MarTech innovations is the development of intent data from vendors like Bombora.  As prospects are now using the Internet to self-educate, they are reaching out to a smaller set of pre-screened vendors later in the sales cycle.  But if firms are being stealthy to avoid detection during this initial phase, B2B firms have been looking to uncloak this veil of secrecy and reach out to firms during the initial phase.

One response to anonymity was content marketing which looks to deliver information (and perhaps uncover prospects) during this early phase.  But it is difficult to customize messaging to anonymous individuals.  Thus sprung up visitor id services such as Demandbase that map IP addresses to company firmographics in real-time.  For example, a visitor from a P&C insurance IP address would be shown a website and content that speaks to their industry specific needs.

Firms also engaged in SEO and SEM to drive traffic to vertical content.  While these activities were an improvement, they provided no indication concerning whether the prospect was in the market for a firm’s solutions.

Intent Data Publisher Network and Tracked Activities (Source: Bombora)
Intent Data Publisher Network and Tracked Activities (Source: Bombora)

Firms like Bombora and The Big Willow work with B2B media sites to map site traffic and actions (e.g. downloading white papers, webinar attendance, site searches), to specific companies.  Thus, each IP address has a baseline activity trail which indicates topics of interest.  Intent firms then match B2B media site visitor actions to an intent taxonomy covering thousands of topics.  Of course, larger firms will leave more distinct trails and firms will display heavy footprints around their own industry and target segments.  These patterns are company-specific background noise.  To find the intent signals, intent vendor analytics determine which topics are surging at each company.  For example, If GE has X searches per week on cloud computing, then this activity rate is general background noise.  But if activity spikes to 2X, then there is likely to be some initiative underway at the firm concerning cloud computing.  It is these surges that identify firms to be targeted.  Intent data provides a mechanism for placing calculated bets on which accounts and prospects deserve additional resources.

Keep in mind, this activity remains anonymous.  A cloud computing vendor does not know who at GE is involved in cloud computing initiatives, but they know it is the appropriate time to target GE with stepped up marketing (SEM, email, sales calls, etc.).

Thus, intent data is integrated into predictive marketing platforms such as Lattice Engines, LeadSpace, Mintigo, Everstring, and Radius.

Just this month, Everstring added Bombora’s intent data to their Audience platform.  Surge data is also available for programmatic targeting on platforms such as BlueKai (Oracle), Krux, and Lotame.  Thus, it is possible to target advertising for firms that have shown a surge of interest in a topic.

Like any technology, intent data has its limits.  While it helps identify when to call into an account and topics of interest, it doesn’t identify whom to call and whether there is an actual initiative related to the topic.  Furthermore, intent data does not indicate whether a firm is a good fit (e.g. size, industry, technographics) or how far along they are in the discovery process.

In a blog earlier this month titled “Intent Data is Great. Except When it Isn’t,” Gartner Research Vice President Todd Berkowitz listed the following limitations concerning intent data:

There are a large number of scenarios where intent data and models don’t add nearly as much value (if any).  It’s not because the intent data is inaccurate. It’s because there is simply not enough data available to use directly or to put in models. They include:

  • New and emerging technology categories

  • Certain geographies, industries or other niches

  • Non-technology products

  • Solutions (especially services) that can’t be easily categorized

Thus, intent data works best for well-established technology segments (versus emerging ones).  Just make sure to also look at fitness indicators when building surge-based campaigns.

Addendum

Within 15 minutes of posting this blog, I saw that Bombora was named a 2017 Cool Vendor by Gartner.

“We believe it’s a true milestone to be recognized by Gartner as a Cool Vendor in SaaS for 2017,” said Erik Matlick, founder and CEO of Bombora. “Our customers choose Bombora so that they may access the largest source of B2B intent data for use in their account-based marketing strategies. For us, being a ‘Cool Vendor’ serves as a validation of our ‘everybody wins’ approach to the ecosystem and the impact that our dynamic, quality intent data is having across B2B sales and marketing.”