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February 15, 2021

How to Succeed With Account Based Marketing on LinkedIn

More B2B marketing teams are turning to account based marketing for lead generation. Now that most organizations have canceled in-person events, B2B businesses need a new tactic to get in front of qualified leads. Account based marketing on LinkedIn has filled this gap for businesses worldwide.

Instead of targeting a larger audience, account based marketing (ABM) pushes marketing campaigns to specific audiences and accounts. Marketing and sales teams work closely together to identify target accounts. They then center campaigns around these pre-qualified accounts, engaging these individuals. ABM campaigns educate and nurture these leads.

Account based marketing is growing in popularity, as 42% of B2B companies planned to use this tactic in 2020.

account based marketing

LinkedIn is one highly successful channel for ABM. Why does LinkedIn this platform work so well for ABM campaigns?

Linkedin advertising

B2B companies should look to LinkedIn for the following reasons.

  • LinkedIn allows tight audience targeting, including by company name or email address.
  • You can run many campaigns, easily manipulate your tests, or use auto-optimize tools, to optimize your cost.
  • There are several different types of campaigns, including a platform-native lead capture tool, which reduces friction if you want to capture lead information.
  • Analytics are robust, letting you understand which messaging, design, and bid strategy is resonating.

To succeed on LinkedIn with ABM, follow these best practices.

  1. Create highly-relevant content
  2. Run multivariate tests
  3. Use the lean and agile methods.

Create Highly-Relevant Content

At the core of account-based marketing is thought leadership. Before running any campaign, develop a content marketing library of pieces (or one piece to begin) that is highly targeted for your audience.

Your target audience wants to read actionable and relevant materials -- always think about what value you are offering them. To create this kind of material, research and understand their pain points and goals. Craft a value proposition that is targeted and precise. So you should avoid being "autobiographical" and talking about your company in a braggadocio way.

The key to excellent thought leadership is being buyer-centric and answering questions like:

  • "What's coming in my industry—this year, next year, and five years down the line?"
  • "How can I be prepared for this change?"
  • "What am I missing out on in terms of current value, cost-savings, or future preparation?"
  • "What should I know to keep up with my competitors and peers?"

Some companies start with thought leadership at the top of their organization — the big picture their CEOs and founders are usually thinking about all the time — and use the marketing team to translate this into a compelling, beautifully crafted content offer. This process may take the format of an original research report, infographics, webinar videos, eBooks, and more.

If some leads are extremely high-value, you may even want to create spinoff content just for them. 

Always Run Multivariate Tests

The real value of LinkedIn lies in seeing insights that help you optimize over time. For that reason, never launch with just one ad or one campaign with all your budget behind it. Testing is crucial.

If you only have a single content offer, that's OK. There are various elements of the ABM strategy that you can test.

Create multiple variations of the following.

  • Core messaging (pain points, value points, other differentiators, and trigger events for a sale)
  • Ad copy (Try numbers-based, value-driven, and pain-point-driven copy)
  • Offers or incentives for a target audience (demos, speak to sales, content, education tools, webinars, events, etc)
  • Design (do big 'buttons' work in your design? Statistics/charts? Short, choppy text?)
  • Format (video vs. photo vs. display ad)

See also: 5 Reasons Content Creators Should Be Looking at Analytics.

While there are many areas to test, try to make your tests A/B as to avoid confusing your findings. It's likely you will identify some standout ads right out of the gate. These ads will become your playbook of best practices that you can use for more ads.

Use a Lean + Agile Methodology

Account based marketing on LinkedIn campaigns are never "set it and forget it." To find success, you should practice a lean and agile marketing methodology of optimizations. To do this, you will need daily or weekly check-ins on your campaigns.

Start with a small budget and always set a "daily budget" and "total budget" limit so you can control your spending. When you start the campaign, watch that you are getting substantial impressions (depending on your audience, this could be several hundred or several thousand.) Always look for statistical significance when you look at the data. Doing this can be more of an art than an exact science — you just want to make sure you've let your initial tests run for at least several days or a week to get a decent baseline.

See also: Agile LinkedIn Best Practices for B2B.

In order to avoid spam, LinkedIn limits the number of times your audience can see your company's ads, so you want the best ads in rotation the most often. With ongoing optimizations, pause low-performing ads to ensure the best performing ads are in front of the target accounts.

Note: LinkedIn offers auto-optimization tools (such as "Audience expansion," which widens your audience with lookalikes automatically or with options to auto-optimize for impressions, leads, or engagement). However, these tools aren't perfect. Working through the data yourself with some manual effort will help you understand why different tests are working better. This process equips you for more success and growth over time.

In addition to pausing low performing ads and campaigns, continue increasing the budget of your successful campaigns. Look for a low cost-per-lead (if focusing on lead generation) or a high click-through or engagement rate as your metrics for success. Impressions don't mean much if your audience isn't engaging!

And you can always tweak your campaign to capture more of the right people. So if you find that you're seeing engagements with people who are not decision-makers, you may want to add a new "years of experience" criteria to your target audience.

Successful account based marketing on LinkedIn

With strong thought leadership content, you have a high-value asset to create demand generation among target accounts. But to maximize your budget and see engagement grow over time, you need to practice a lean budget methodology and run multivariate tests to gain a playbook of insights over time.

A successful LinkedIn ABM campaign can create a new pool of interested prospects and reduce the need for cold calling over time.

Sources

Statista, B2B Marketing in the U.S., 2020.