With the recently announced partnership between LinkedIn and Marketo, two of the big players in the B2B marketing arena, it appears big changes are coming in the lead nurturing space. Designed to help businesses overcome this problem (and of course, generate revenue for LinkedIn and Marketo), this partnership is intended to enable marketers to more effectively follow up on leads. With the integration of LinkedIn Lead Accelerator with Marketo’s Engagement Marketing Platform, customers of both companies will have the opportunity to engage with prospects in a more meaningful, and definitely more coordinated way.
This collaboration builds on the early 2015 launch of LinkedIn’s Lead Accelerator, which followed last summer’s $175m acquisition of B2B marketing platform Bizo. This new solution is designed to target prospects with specific ads, depending on which parts of a website they visit. The system allows brands to place a pixel on their site, using cookies to identify LinkedIn users. Though the data is held anonymously, advertisers are able to serve targeted ads to LinkedIn prospects based on which pages they view.
For Marketo, this joint venture forms a part of their new “Ad Bridge” capabilities, which is designed to build a bridge between digital ad technologies and marketing. Recent partners already under the Ad Bridge umbrella include Google, Facebook, Rocketfuel, Turn, and Mediamath.
According to Marketo, this joint solution for B2B marketers will:
- Provide marketers with enriched data on both anonymous and known prospects. This includes profile, business, and behavioral information, allowing them to share more targeted ad content on multiple channels.
- Empower marketers to engage with customers at the right time/right place, helping to nurture ongoing, long-term relationships.
- Allow marketers to measure the impact of their processes through built-in reporting, as well as platform supported A/B testing.
The pioneer for the new system, and the company responsible for the LinkedIn/Marketo collaboration, is GE. General manager of performance marketing labs at GE, Andy Markowitz, chatted to CMO about the origins of this alliance:
“We were underutilizing LinkedIn, which is a B2B playground of data, networks and people. We needed to be doing more but we’re not big display buyers, which is how LinkedIn was selling [to advertisers] at that point in time. Once we attached data from Marketo that is part of our nurturing stream, we knew it had legs.”
GE reports initial results from the beta phase of the project are encouraging, and have resulted in increased sales opportunities.
Let’s do a deep dive here, and explore how this collaboration might work:
Let’s say a prospect visits a website to research a particular product. They then close their browser to go to a meeting. When they next visit their LinkedIn page, they will be served with personalized ad messages, based both on the type of content they were researching, as well as their LI profile. Of course, the aim is to reignite their interest, but the goal is also to capture pertinent information about them. And voila! They are no longer anonymous, but now can be gently (hopefully!) nurtured through the sales funnel. The enriched data that’s available allows for the delivery of a much more personalized experience for the customer across multiple channels.
Then there’s this slightly different way to benefit from this new collaboration. Say that a prospect downloads a whitepaper, but you don’t have it gated, and the interested party isn’t required to leave an email address. This new integrated system has the capability to identify that prospect by visiting their LinkedIn page, again allowing the system to serve personalized ads targeted to their profile as well as the content they downloaded. As a result, once again, the company has another lead in their sales funnel, and they can begin to build a relationship with what might be a potential customer, albeit through targeted advertising.
Anticipating privacy concerns, there are protections built into this new system. Marketers won’t have access to prospects’ *personal* data on LinkedIn—at least that’s how this is being positioned. However, the process can still help you establish a relationship with said prospect. Russell Glass, head of products at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, explains the rationale behind the alliance in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “Marketing automation has been incredibly successful to help marketers create better one-to-one engaged relationships with their prospects, but it’s been limited in terms of scale because you have to know who the person is. What LinkedIn brings to this is the ability to engage prospects successfully before you know who they are because LinkedIn knows who they are.”
I’m a long-time believer in the power of LinkedIn, especially in the B2B space and in today’s world, marketing automation is nothing short of table stakes. This solution offered up by LinkedIn and Marketo only makes sense. The challenge for B2B marketers is in understanding the value a solution like this delivers, and allocating the budget to experiment with it. For our clients, this will definitely be something we look closely at. What about you? Is this interesting (and maybe even exciting) to you? Does it seem like something you’ll check out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Additional Resources on this Topic: