LinkedIn ABM: A Winning Strategy During the Pandemic and Beyond

By signal

I think everyone would agree that 2020 is a year most would rather forget, and to say that our clients and marketers in general have felt the pinch is a gross understatement. The latest CMO Survey (June 2020 Special Covid-19 Edition) presents some bleak insights and predictions:

  • Marketer optimism about their own company and about the economy as a whole are at 10-year lows
  • Companies have reported big losses across revenue (18%), profit (15%) and customer acquisition (9%) metrics
  • Marketing spending and hiring is expected to go down over the next 12 months

However, this survey also presents some jaw-dropping growth in social media spending across all sectors – 74% growth on average. And what’s more, social media is now showing the largest increase in contribution to company performance since the survey began in 2008.

So how do you reconcile shrinking budgets with increased social spending? One answer could be deploying social campaigns based on Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies.

What is ABM?

ABM involves marketing and sales working closely together to identify a group of high-value accounts and create personalized marketing messages for them, based on their specific needs. It essentially means you’re targeting individual companies rather than personas, and offering specific solutions to their specific challenges.

While there are many tactics and channels to use within ABM, for the purposes of this article, I’d like to focus on Sponsored Posts within LinkedIn. Since Covid-19, we’ve witnessed a rapid uptick in working with clients on LinkedIn ABM campaigns.

Why is LinkedIn ABM important in today’s climate?

  • Sheer numbers, especially now that many of us are working from home – 690 million total LinkedIn members and a 26% increase in sessions last quarter alone
  • Personalized and tailored messaging means you can guarantee message relevancy
  • More relevancy leads to more engagement, better conversions and a better ROI
  • Knowing what accounts you’re targeting and how much business you ultimately gain from them makes it easier to measure ROI
  • With shrinking budgets overall, you need to reduce as much budget waste as possible to ensure the best bang for your buck

ABM on LinkedIn

With LinkedIn, you can display custom advertising messages to key stakeholders of your target companies. The messages can be customized not only for the overarching needs of the target company, but also for an individual’s attributes, like job title or job function. For example, stakeholders in Procurement might receive ads focusing on potential cost savings from your offering, while people in Operations might receive ads on time savings gained by your offering.

How we do it

  • Choose your goal and objective.
    • This decision is the foundation of your campaign. It aligns your campaign with the appropriate performance metrics and recommended ad formats to help reach your goals. For example, you may choose brand awareness for top-of-funnel brand building. Or, if your goal is to generate leads, you’re better off selecting a lead generation or website conversion objective.
  • Build the audience.
    • Work with sales to get a list of key contacts within the target account. Hopefully the list contains job titles and locations.
    • Use that list to build the audience within LinkedIn, using combinations like Company Name + Job Title + Location, or Company Name + Job Function + Experience Level + Location.
  • Create the ads.
    • Work with marketing and sales to uncover tailored messaging for the account, and ideally tailored messaging for the different types of people at the account.
    • Design compelling ads in a format that’s best for your goals. For example, we’ve seen some success with static image ads and carousel ads for driving website traffic, but we recommend using animated or video ads when possible. Our experience has shown movement in the ads generates 5x more website clicks at half the cost in comparison to static ads.
  • Install the LinkedIn Insight Tag
    • The LinkedIn Insight Tag is a piece of code that you can add to your website for campaign reporting. You will need this in place to unlock valuable insights about your website visitors.
  • Vigilantly monitor the program and optimize often.
    • Look out for things like ad frequency. Is your budget too thin? How much are you blanketing your audience with your message? We know your audience may need to see your ad more than once in order to make an impact, but when they see it too much it becomes less effective. While there’s no hard and fast rule, CPA tends to rise sharply when frequency rises above 4 views. Plan to refresh creative before reaching that point.
    • Closely monitor performance metrics and make decisions accordingly. Drilling down in LinkedIn reports will show a breakdown of KPIs by audience segment like Job Function, Job Title, Location and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about ABM or other strategies that fit well during today’s unique climate, please let me know.

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