The Next B2B Marketing Goldrush – The Great LinkedIn Land Grab - DeanHouston+

Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Marketing,

The Next B2B Marketing Goldrush – The Great LinkedIn Land Grab

I’ll be blunt and get directly to the point of this 4-part series in the first paragraph of the first post. If you’re in B2B marketing and aren’t at least starting to think about how LinkedIn fits into your strategy – you’re going to lose.

Maybe not today. Maybe not next year. But, in the not too distant future – your competitors having a larger claim to the professionally-focused digital real estate that LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to create will cost your company. Cost you what, exactly…?

  • A Position of Thought Leadership & Reputation in the Marketplace
  • Low-cost Branding and Promotional Opportunities
  • Consideration from The Most Talented Job Seekers

You might be asking yourself. Why LinkedIn? Why Now? Why should I trust a post by some random digital marketer on LinkedIn, writing about LinkedIn? LinkedIn.

Well – I’ll answer those first two questions semi-clearly below. If you truly were asking yourself the third, I highly appreciate your skepticism (…But maybe the fact that you’re reading this on LinkedIn is part of the answer).

Why LinkedIn?

Save for some sort of cataclysmic event, social media isn’t going anywhere, and it’s not just for kids and the tech-savvy. The average American adult spends over 45 minutes a day on social media. That’s a statistic that even the biggest believers of “my customers are professionals and don’t mess around on social media” can’t ignore. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the most niche segment of industrial manufacturing, ignoring a type of media where your customers are spending almost an hour a day is huge strategic mistake…

Granted, that 45 minutes a day is split across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the ghost of Snapchat, a handful of smaller communities AND LinkedIn. But, Linkedin usage is growing fast.

LinkedIn’s YOY growth in users – and more importantly active users – has been around or over 20% the past few years. With 575+ million accounts created on the platform, over half of which reportedly use the platform every month, it’s gaining traction as a serious force in the fickle, yet necessary evil that is the collective web attention span. Eliminate the potential population bloat that teenagers and fake users represent to a B2B digital marketer, and the raw user number on LinkedIn is even more eyebrow raising.

But, it’s not even the impressive digital headcount that makes LinkedIn a “must consider” these days. The very nature of the platform is setting it up to be one of the single greatest digital marketing opportunities for B2B marketers – thus far…Though, admittedly – and this is coming from a guy who chose B2B digital marketing as the way to feed his family – that’s probably not saying too much.

To keep it semi-brief here are the two factors beyond usage statistics that make LinkedIn a No Brainer in 2019.
1) It’s one of the rare opportunities in B2B digital where there is 0 psychological or physical “friction” in the customer/user experience.

But, the most compelling component of LinkedIn as a marketing and customer education platform? The utter lack of mental disruption it poses to visitors is what really drives the value in placing media on platform – whether it’s paid or otherwise.

Visitors on LinkedIn are coming to advance their career. Whether it’s to search for a new opportunity, research vendors or simply interact with and consume content that’s relevant to their profession – people are wearing their “work hats” when they’re on the site.

There’s definitely value on other platforms. It’s always nice getting a branded ad next to a box score on ESPN through remarketing, or dropping a promo video for a new product in someone’s Facebook feed. But, counting on people who are looking to unwind by scrolling through memes and estranged cousins’ family photos to stop what they’re doing to engage with your company’s content is a tall ask.

Consumer intent and content-to-context fit is often the biggest driver of conversion and engagement in all things marketing. Simply put, people come to LinkedIn to grow as professionals. Find me a better place to put your B2B marketing message and drop it in the comments…I’ll be waiting.

2) Next to top trade publications, it’s the only way to simply and reliably target like a digital sharpshooter.

For a long time, the only way to make sure you were getting in front of relevant industry decision makers was to write a large check to a trade magazine and get an ad in print. Long-running, well-established print journals are still a big part of the media mix in some of the nichier parts of the B2B world (especially if those journals are partners with key tradeshows). Many are even offering some compelling digital products these days.

But, luckily for data-driven digital marketers, the trade publication monopoly on B2B attention is being busted by LinkedIn and its growing commitment to become a hangout for professionals – and not just a place where people to go to find a job.

The targeting of LinkedIn advertising and ability to find relevant communities (and community members) for organic engagement is unparalleled by anything but the top trade publications. It’s possible to find potential customers:

  • In specific industries
  • With specific job titles title
  • At specific companies
  • With specific interests
  • In specific regions

Safe to say, you can get pretty specific. Getting your message to the right people in a measurable and monitorable manner has never been easier. LinkedIn’s in-depth reporting will show exactly what you spent across every potential targeting parameter, and with the right technical set-up, will show you exactly how each of those demographics and segments engaged with your content and landing content on your website.

Need to know how many people from a specific company manager level and above watched your new product overview video 75% of the way through? No problem. With LinkedIn, you can do that.

There’s no better way to prevent waste than make sure you’re only investing your money to reach the exact people you need to. Even better when you can keep optimizing your campaigns to only spend your money reaching the people who are most engaged. With LinkedIn, you can do that.

Why Now?

You already saw some of the numbers and theory as to why LinkedIn is more than worth a B2B marketer’s time and resources. But, a quick history lesson really helps paint a pretty vivid picture as to why NOW is the time to invest some effort and at a least a bit of your budget into the platform.

LinkedIn’s been around for almost 16 years. To be fair, up until 3-4 years ago, many marketers ignored it to no real consequence. There was little activity on the platform outside of job seekers combing for opportunities and digitally-savvy HR departments and recruiters hoping they’d strike gold with a candidate.

The advertising options on the site were limited, and outside of promoting open job positions, there was little parallel between the ads running on the site and what visitors came to do on it. Fun fact on that front, in 2018 there were 15x more educational posts and articles published on LinkedIn than job postings.

However, ever since Microsoft dropped $26.2 BILLION on the platform in 2016, the ecosystem around the platform has absolutely exploded…After all, with an investment that reads like the GDP of a mid-sized South American country, Microsoft has no choice but to figure out a way to capitalize on the cash they laid down for the significant chunk of digital real estate.

It seems like every month or two, a new feature is coming out that adds value to digital marketers. Targeting gets better, new personalized ad and content types are popping up, audience and content insights tools are appearing, and analytics are continuously getting deeper. That’s a trend that doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.

Long story short. Bet on Bill (Gates). To this day, Microsoft’s 2016 complete buyout of LinkedIn stock is its single largest acquisition to date. That isn’t a guarantee that the platform will still be standing tall 10-years from now. But, if it isn’t, you can be sure it won’t be due to lack of effort, talent or resources. And if it is still standing tall, you can bet the people who claim their territory and audience today will win huge tomorrow.

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