Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Account-Based Marketing

Reach your target audience in the remote work world with LinkedIn for account-based marketing.

Because of its rich first-party data, LinkedIn has become a haven for account-based marketers to reach their target audience in a refined, personalized approach. Using LinkedIn for account-based marketing has become even more important to B2B companies as sales has gone remote. Plus, it’s one of the most commonly used channels for B2B marketers, so it’s critical that any ABM program manager understands LinkedIn’s ins and outs.

Back in February LinkedIn published a comprehensive guide to using its platform for account-based marketing – but what do B2B performance marketers really need to know when it comes to using LinkedIn for ABM? Let’s get into it.

Benefits of LinkedIn for Account-Based Marketing

ABMers are definitely not limited to LinkedIn when it comes to reaching their TAL (target account list). However, choosing the right ad platform is often influenced by the who, where and why of targeting, and account-based marketing with LinkedIn is a popular choice. In fact, 80% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn ads, beating out both Facebook and Twitter.

Who you can reach on LinkedIn and how you do that depends on your target audience and the nearly unlimited combination of filters you can apply, such as job titles, user skills, group membership, seniority, years of experience, and more. It all begins with a solid target account list (TAL), which you can upload to LinkedIn or port over via an API from your CRM or ABM tool, like 6sense. From there, marketers can layer on demographic data to reach the right customer.

So why would a marketer utilize LinkedIn for account-based marketing? For more inexperienced marketers, LinkedIn has a lower barrier to entry than other tools, with an easy campaign set-up, intuitive interface and clear targeting options. There are no spend minimums, and you can start or stop your campaigns at any point. Testing, whether through various ad types or audience filters, allows you to gain learnings about your audience and what’s piquing their interest. Plus, you can deliver personalized, rich content to unique personas at your target accounts through engaging, high-converting ad types.

Types of LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn has 10 different ad types for ABM managers to choose from, as well as the LinkedIn newsfeed and Linked Audience Network to actually deliver the ads to the user. The type of ad you should choose for account-based marketing with LinkedIn depends on a few important questions.

  • In which stage of the buying journey are they?
  • What content do you have and to what stage of the buying journey does it apply?
  • How does your target audience utilize LinkedIn’s platform?

Keep in mind that nearly 60% of traffic on LinkedIn is mobile, so your ad experience should consider this, whether you are directing a user to a landing page on your site, sending them an InMail, or collecting their data from a lead gen form. Short, clear headlines, strong CTAs, and mobile-friendly experiences increase the likelihood of a user taking action on your ad.

Let’s dive into the best types of account-based marketing LinkedIn ads and how they might best serve your program.

Awareness Ads

ABM is a journey, not a one-phased demand generation approach, so top-of-funnel (TOFU) advertising is essential to begin to build that familiarity and respect from your audience. These ad types are good picks to reach accounts and get your brand in front of their eyes. And remember, good content goes a long way at the top of the funnel and should not be neglected.

  • Text Ads: Often bid on with a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) approach, text ads are good for early ABMers who may not have robust creative content. Text ads are concise, with a clear message and ideally send users to a qualified landing page to begin the buying journey.
  • Sponsored Content: One of the more popular ad types, sponsored content can be utilized with a variety of objectives and paired with various types of content. Marketers can choose to run carousel ads, video ads, banner ads and more, and can bid with a cost-per-click (CPC) objective for engagement or CPM if they are aiming for reach and awareness. This versatile ad type is something we use often at BusinessOnline to great success; it often looks like a native social post in the user’s newsfeed, which can increase ad engagement compared to something like a display banner on an irrelevant website.

Education Ads

Now that you’ve begun to reach your audience, it’s time to deliver more personalized content that enriches their customer journey and starts to show them how your business would benefit them. Using LinkedIn for ABM can help you generate demand through form fills or start an in-platform conversation with a more engaged, qualified prospect at one of your target accounts. These ad types will enable the next step in your ABM program.

  • Sponsored Content with Lead Gen Forms: Pairing rich sponsored content with a lead gen form on LinkedIn is one of our favorite ways to generate demand for our clients. Because the lead gen form is auto-filled with a user’s LinkedIn information, the likelihood they will convert is much higher than sending them to a form on a landing page that they must fill out themselves.
  • Conversation Ads: A more recent addition to LinkedIn’s ad library, conversation ads allow for customization and automation all in one. You set the script for the offers you present your target customer, but they self-select what interests them. Whether it’s accessing an on-demand webinar, researching more about your solutions or raising their hand for a sales conversation, the user on the receiving end of a conversation ad gets what they want, when they want it. Though it may take more initial setup on your end, using these LinkedIn ads for ABM can begin the conversation in a more natural way. Conversation ads allow the user to retain some autonomy in their buying journey while providing you with data about where they are in the sales process.

Decision Ads

All of the above ads can also be utilized for the decision-making stage of the ABM journey. When utilized in combination, they work together to prepare your prospects for the final stage. But there is one ad type we haven’t yet talked about that is ideal for the decision stage.

  • InMail: Reaching a user in their inbox, at the bottom of the funnel (BoFU), can be a powerful move for ABM managers. This step can engage with prospects who have engaged with ads at earlier stages of the funnel, ruling out those who aren’t as interested or prepared to buy at this time. Not only does this save your marketing budget, but it also gives you the customization to send content tailored to a more niche audience. We’ve all been on the receiving end of irrelevant InMail, but if you’ve done your ABM job properly, these users should be more aware and engaged of your brand—or even your name or face from other marketing efforts—and be more likely to convert.

How to Use LinkedIn for Account-Based Marketing

We’ve talked about the benefits of LinkedIn for account-based marketing and reviewed the types of ads you can utilize per each stage of the customer buying journey. What’s next?

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of how you go about perfecting account-based marketing with LinkedIn, from set-up to sales hand-off.

Step 1: Build Your Target Account List

Choosing the right TAL for your account-based marketing LinkedIn campaign is a foundational step that will inform the success of everything that comes after. In summary, developing your TAL is a collaborative, iterative process between sales and marketing that isn’t “one and done.” Whether you use existing CRM data, an ABM tool for account identification, or industry research paired with intent data, your TAL should reflect the ideal accounts your company can serve.

Step 2: Narrow Down Your Audience

After you’ve settled on your TAL, you can upload that list to LinkedIn for campaign targeting. When uploading an account list, LinkedIn recommends starting with a list of at least 1,000 companies. This is to ensure you have a good match rate and can meet the threshold of at least 300 users once you’ve applied demographic data to this list for custom targeting. In reality, the list size is more fluid than that, depending more on the size of the accounts you want to go after and how niche your persona targeting is.

For broader prospecting campaigns that we want to run for multiple months, we aim for 100,000 users in a campaign. However, you can definitely target a smaller number of people, as long as it reaches the 300 person threshold. Smaller campaigns will be short term and lower spend, but more engaging and relevant to the audience – a benefit of ABM.

Step 3: Create Personalized Content

Content is king, they say. And good content is a king who wins over his people. So no matter who you target or who your audience is, make sure to show them relevant, engaging and quality content. If you are segmenting your LinkedIn account-based marketing campaigns by vertical, customize your content titles to catch their attention. If you segment by persona, address the biggest pain points of that ideal customer. Whatever it is, if you personalize your content, you’re already setting yourself up for a higher chance of success.

Step 4: Set Up Your Ads

Time to get the ball rolling. You’ve done the groundwork of determining who you are speaking to and what you want to say. Now it’s time to get the message out there! Luckily the LinkedIn Campaign Manager platform is fairly intuitive, but here is a step-by-step guide to setting up LinkedIn for account-based marketing.

  • Log into the Campaign Manager here.
  • Select the account within which you want to run your ads.
  • Create a campaign group (or utilize an existing campaign group if you have already begun this organizational process). Campaign groups are useful for keeping track of various targeting tactics, ABM programs, and so on. How you divvy up campaigns is up to you!
  • Hit “Create campaign.”
  • Don’t forget to name your campaign! Hit the pencil in the top left of the screen to give your campaign a unique name.
  • Determine your campaign objective.
  • Target your audience. Here you can apply uploaded account lists, layer on persona demographics and more.
  • Choose your ad format/type. Refer to ad type by funnel stage for more information.
  • Budget and schedule. Determine how long your campaign should run; set a lifetime or daily budget depending on your media plan.
  • Set conversion tracking. Select a relevant conversion (conversions can be set up based on placing LinkedIn’s insight tag on your site).
  • Create the ads! Depending on what objective and ad type you chose, the next screen will allow you to create your ads. Build them out here and make sure to preview and review your ads before campaign launch to ensure proper tracking, creative, spelling, and so on.

Step 5: Test and Optimize

Now the first ABM campaign (of hopefully many) is live! But the fun doesn’t stop there. Depending on your campaign’s objective and ad type, you may have varying KPIs per ABM program. Brush up on the most important ABM KPIs to track and make sure your reporting and analytics reflect them when reviewing campaign results. The beauty of LinkedIn for ABM is that it’s self-serve, so you can pause low-performing ads, refresh account lists and make optimizations in real time based on how your program is performing.

We’ve covered a lot of ground about LinkedIn for account-based marketing. You may be just starting out and need support on building your TAL, or maybe you’ve run multiple LinkedIn ABM campaigns but are stuck with iterating and improving performance. Regardless of where you are on your ABM journey, there are plenty of resources to help you along the way.