LinkedIn sponsored content has proven to be a powerful tool in the hands of the digital marketer, providing another avenue to reach potential customers with high-converting content and brand messaging.
But how do you think about LinkedIn advertising through an account-based lens?
We recently sat down with Garrett Stevens, Marketing Communications Manager at Zoot Enterprises, to discuss Zoot’s digital strategy and how Terminus makes the LinkedIn advertising experience even easier.
Here’s the tl;dr. (full interview below)
What’s the main value of LinkedIn through Terminus?
To Garrett, the main value of running LinkedIn through Terminus is the easy combination of metrics and audience management between LinkedIn and display ads. LinkedIn has additional reporting that’s available when needed, but Terminus quickly became the one-stop shop to see how campaigns were performing across channels. This is a vital point in not looking at tactics in a vacuum, but rather as one piece of a larger account-based strategy.
What kind of LinkedIn tactics are you running?
The first LinkedIn tactics Garrett created within Terminus were focused on brand awareness. He knew that this awareness stage was an important first step in the buying process, and that he could follow specific departments and buying titles within target organizations with more meaningful messaging throughout the buying journey.
Garrett is also running LinkedIn tactics in support of other initiatives, such as events, high-converting content, and Zoot’s thought leadership podcast. While the awareness campaigns are always on, it’s easy to push budget around between other initiatives depending on audience size, timing, and engagement metrics he can track in Terminus.
What are your next steps for LinkedIn?
Moving forward, Garrett wants to take an even more account-based lens to Zoot’s LinkedIn advertising, starting with a one-to-one campaign focused on expanding within an existing customer. This pilot case was created in close collaboration with sales, with the knowledge that existing content could be easily adapted to fit the customer’s specific pain points.
From there, Garrett plans to expand account-based LinkedIn advertising to net new accounts, with a goal of accelerating deals within opportunities currently being worked by sales. Again, this will be built on Zoot’s strong sales and marketing relationship to identify the right accounts and the right content. Because Zoot already knows the right titles and departments in their sales cycle, it’s easy to target only those people within Terminus — and to measure results in combination with other channels, like digital display ads.
Below is the full conversation with Garrett.
Can you tell us a little about Zoot Enterprises?
Zoot Enterprises provides flexible credit decisioning, loan origination, and credit risk management solutions to the nation’s most influential financial institutions.
Our solutions increase business user control and conserve capital, while improving performance for innovative institutions with a reliable, secure, and scalable ASP solution model, accounting for hundreds of millions of credit transactions each year.
Why did you start using LinkedIn as part of your digital strategy? What challenges were you trying to solve?
LinkedIn was definitely one of the first platforms that allowed advertisers to whittle down their target audience. As far as a targeting approach, AdWords was great from a search perspective, but from a decision-maker, industry, or target account perspective, LinkedIn was the only game in town for a while.
We started using it because it was the platform that allowed us to target only our primary buying audience. With AdWords, you can get pretty niche with what you’re doing, but you’re still going to get spillover from people who aren’t really in your buying audience. So that was a big challenge we were trying to solve at first with LinkedIn.
And how are you using LinkedIn advertising today?
We’re using LinkedIn primarily to serve up asset-based messaging to our target buying audience. We’re also seeing value in promoting our podcast, The Finance Frontier. Given the nature of people that are active on LinkedIn, it’s a very natural place to do both organic and paid promotion.
With Terminus LinkedIn advertising, do you feel like you’re able to get more targeted in who you’re going after?
Yes. We’re definitely getting better at defining audiences and seniorities. Initially, we were getting a little too niche and targeted, so we had too small of an audience. So we’ve bracketed that out a bit to bring in a larger audience, and that’s been successful in driving awareness and traffic.
The next step is to get more specific in our message and our target accounts. There’s a balance to strike with getting the right message in front of the right audience, but not being too niche so that you aren’t seeing impressions. That’s true of digital marketing in general.
You’re currently in the process of transitioning some of your legacy LinkedIn campaigns through to Terminus. Why is that valuable to do?
I would say the primary value of Terminus is its visibility of performance at the platform level. We can go into Terminus and in the campaigns dashboard view, we can see what’s happening with two of our main ad platforms [LinkedIn and Terminus ads] in one place, so we don’t have to open multiple tabs or look at multiple sets of metrics.
Through Terminus, we also have the understanding that we’re targeting specific departments or seniority levels within those departments. We can look at the campaign level and understand from a demographics perspective what kind of impressions and clicks we’re seeing. Since we know who our buying titles are, those things in combination add a lot of value.
For example, if we can see from a titles perspective that we’re serving ads to a bunch of branch managers and relationship managers, that’s useful because those aren’t really our buying audience. So then we can tweak the seniority a bit in Terminus and only put the message in front of the VPs and CXOs.
How do you think about budgeting when it comes to LinkedIn spend?
I’m pretty hands-on when it comes to managing budget. For example, if I know we have a short-term campaign coming up promoting a trade show we’ll be attending, I can reduce daily spend for an always-on tactic and move that over. It’s a bit of a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” situation, but I don’t want to end up over budget.
When we do see spikes, we use it as a signal to temporarily increase spend on those campaigns.
Have you been happier with campaign results when spend is increased?
Definitely, but I think that’s true of digital advertising. It’s just a function of getting quality impressions.
But a great example of that is our podcast. We recently went through and needed to reduce spend by 30 percent because of some expenses that we hadn’t anticipated, and we saw an immediate correlation with reduction in site traffic across those paid channels. So there’s a strong correlation between budget increases and performance increases. But it has to be for the right audience. If you’re confident you’re getting your message in front of your buying audience, then the more you get that message out there, the more likely that someone is going to act on it. Managing LinkedIn through Terminus gives us that confidence.
And we’re always looking at performance in Terminus, things like click-through rate, engagement, site visits from campaigns, and when things start to plateau, that’s when we might pull budget without having a negative impact.
What kinds of tactics are you running now?
The first few tactics we put together in Terminus, both for LinkedIn and display ads, were really focused on brand awareness for our top strategic accounts. But that was only about 10 percent of our total addressable market, so then we expanded to a broader set of target accounts. Those were also brand awareness campaigns, but to both tier one and tier two accounts.
Other tactics in LinkedIn are asset-specific. For example, we set up a tactic that’s promoting a third-party analyst study, which has been running for about four months now. Then we have tactics around white papers or assets related to a specific solution our targeted account list is looking into. So we can push a solution-specific infographic, a blog post, some data, all to those 10 or so specific accounts.
We have another few tactics that are event specific. We’ll run promotion through Terminus display and LinkedIn ads, and since those are timed, we can plan another message for that audience after the event. I also like the ability within Terminus to define an audience with a CSV, because then I can take my pre-show registration list and target specifically those organizations.
Then there’s our podcast. The original goal of the podcast was to establish folks within our organization as thought leaders in the financial industry. We also wanted to expand our audience beyond the niche of our most targeted accounts. It’s an independently-branded asset that can still tie back to Zoot Enterprises as the producing company.
At first we spun up a brand new website, and some social pieces through organic outreach. LinkedIn started with organic posts. We asked individuals within our organization to share posts, as well as people that appear on the podcast. That’s been a great way of expanding the organic reach of posts beyond our existing network. Podcasts are a social thing, so they lend themselves to that kind of engagement.
Now we’re supporting it with paid advertising through Google ads, Terminus display ads, and sponsored content through LinkedIn.
And through both organic and paid advertising on LinkedIn, that’s driving 16-17 percent of overall traffic to the site. It really validates the time and effort, and proves we’re getting that message in front of people that care about it.
What’s the next big initiative you plan to launch through Terminus?
We’re currently working on an account-specific messaging effort. We have a customer where we’re trying to expand, so we’ll build a specific tactic focused on the message we’re sending to them. The message will be very specific to the company, very specific to their needs and what we’ve identified with them. That’s something we’ll build in both Terminus and in LinkedIn.
With these one-to-one tactics, how do you identify which accounts to start with among your customer base?
The reason we’re starting with customers is because we don’t have to overcome the hurdle of brand awareness. They already work with us, they know us. Then it’s a conversation with sales of “Where have we identified a problem that we can solve?”
In identifying the right customer, there was a significant discussion around feasibility and value of the client to Zoot as a whole, and then we whittled the initial list down to two. In picking one, some of what factored in was that we already had a lot of content on the problem we’re looking to help them solve. So that was relatively easy to repurpose in support of that specific initiative.
Are you considering one-to-one campaigns with non-customers? For accelerating open opportunities, for example?
That’s our next step. We’re going to be looking at applying this same approach to net new, and the goal there is to accelerate the overall velocity of any outstanding opportunity. And that messaging will focus on that specific opportunity.
But there’s always a larger challenge in building that brand awareness in net new. We’re usually able to get in the door with someone that’s familiar with what we do, but there’s always the need to build the larger organizational awareness. Some of the initial approach has to be about education, but I want to quickly turn that into a value discussion with that specific organization.
Our sales cycle is pretty long, so the more we can get our message in front of different departments and answer questions before they ask them, the more we can help speed that process along. That’s really the main goal with Terminus and LinkedIn as we move forward.
Finally, what would you say is the main value you’re getting from running LinkedIn through Terminus?
The main value of LinkedIn is the ability to support your messaging through one of the primary channels that B2B buyers use on a regular basis. People turn to it as a source of finding new information, and it’s a great adjunctive channel to any ongoing advertising outreach.
With Terminus, the value is that it’s a single platform for executing on the ad strategy that we’ve found to be successful. We can set up complimentary campaigns that promote the same thing to a similar audience through two totally separate channels, and do that all through an easy to use wizard with a clean interface. And then we don’t have to log into two separate places to measure performance. I like the ability to dig deeper in LinkedIn from a reporting perspective, but I can get that whether we launch through LinkedIn or through Terminus. We’ve been using Terminus for quite some time now and I’m a huge proponent of the platform.