LinkedIn connects sales, marketing tools for B2B advertisers to target leads, accounts
LinkedIn is updating its Sales Navigator tool so that sales teams can target ads to their contacts and companies.
LinkedIn is linking together its sales and marketing products for the first time. As a result, B2B marketers will be able to more easily target their ads on the Microsoft-owned, business-centric social network to new leads and existing accounts.
Among a sweep of updates to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator sales management tool, businesses will be able to connect the tool to LinkedIn’s self-serve ad-buying tool, LinkedIn Campaign Manager, and target ads to individuals (“leads”) and companies (“accounts”) from their Sales Navigator lists, as well as to “lookalike” audiences of people and companies with similar characteristics. The new ad-targeting option will roll out to all Sales Navigator customers in early 2018, and at launch it will only be available for Sponsored Content campaigns.
“If you were drawing a Venn diagram of who sales targets and who marketing targets, you’d love to believe those are perfectly overlapping circles. And we all know that’s not the case,” said Doug Camplejohn, head of products at LinkedIn.
In an analysis of its own customer base, LinkedIn found that, at best, a company’s sales and marketing targets overlap by 55 percent to 60 percent, he said. For small businesses, the overlap is roughly 14 percent, and among large enterprises, the overlap is no higher than 34 percent. LinkedIn is able to improve that overlap, since Sales Navigator associates a company’s leads and accounts with their respective LinkedIn profiles, said Camplejohn.
Of course, companies could have already used LinkedIn’s account targeting feature that was introduced in March 2016 and a contact targeting feature that was added in April 2017 to aim their ads at contacts and companies in their CRM databases. But that is a largely manual process. By plugging Sales Navigator into Campaign Manager, LinkedIn is automating matters.
“This is a live link. This is not a CSV upload that you do once every few weeks. Every single day, this is being synced. So as the sales team is adding and removing accounts and leads, those lists get dynamically updated in the ads system as well,” said Camplejohn.
With its sales and marketing tools finally synced, LinkedIn plans to add more ways for businesses to take advantage of the connection. Later this year, LinkedIn will enable companies to take search queries run in Sales Navigator — which can include parameters like the technology a company uses or its size — and use those queries as ad-targeting groups. And it will make the connection between sales and marketing more of a two-way street by reporting in Sales Navigator when people from a given company interact with a business’s Sponsored Content campaign. That reporting — which will name the company but leave the LinkedIn members anonymous — will serve as a signal of interest, and potentially, buying intent and enable salespeople to suss out new leads.
While plugging Sales Navigator into LinkedIn’s ad-buying tool may be the most notable update LinkedIn is announcing on Tuesday, it is not the only one. The company is also redesigning major parts of the sales product and adding new features to make it more efficient for salespeople managing their accounts and searching for new ones.
Redesigned home screen and search features
LinkedIn will update the home screen of Sales Navigator’s mobile app to focus on a person’s “next best action,” said Camplejohn. Called “Mobile Briefings,” the new feature connects and cross-references a person’s calendar with LinkedIn data to distill their day into a digest, listing important meetings and offering relevant information corresponding to those meetings, such as icebreaker topics.
In the spirit of surfacing important information more quickly, LinkedIn is also updating Sales Navigator’s search and discovery features. For example, a person’s saved searches will be brought to the fore, as will the tool’s Company Search feature. And LinkedIn will add a Discover tab that will list people and companies who fit the salesperson’s “ideal buyer profile.”
Enhanced data management
Last year LinkedIn connected Sales Navigator to third-party CRM platforms, such as Salesforce, so that LinkedIn data, such as a person’s profile information, could augment their entry into a CRM database. Now LinkedIn will use this connection to make it easier for sales teams to monitor and manage their contacts at customer companies, such as by flagging when a contact has left a company.
Next year, “no longer at company” flags will be automatically added to entries in a CRM database for companies that use the Enterprise edition of Sales Navigator. If a person has disabled edits made to their LinkedIn profiles from being shared, then LinkedIn will not use “no longer at company” flags for that person, Camplejohn said.
These flags will help to mitigate “zombie” accounts, or companies that may be unintentionally neglected when a contact leaves without the sales team being aware of the change, said Camplejohn. And it will also help salespeople to follow a person to a new company that might not yet be a customer.
In addition to monitoring when people leave a company, salespeople will now be able to use Sales Navigator to manage more information about their contacts at company. After acquiring sales technology provider Heighten earlier this year, next year LinkedIn will plug Heighten’s DealBook feature into Sales Navigator. That feature will enable sales teams to view and edit deal information within Sales Navigator, including adding markers like whether a person is the decision-maker at a company and detailing next steps to take with an account, and have that information piped back to their connected CRM systems.
A platform for outside developers
After opening itself up to external sales management tools, including Salesforce and Google’s Gmail last year, LinkedIn is unveiling the Sales Navigator Application Platform, a suite of APIs that approved third-party developers will be able to incorporate into their products. Initially, the platform will offer two APIs. A Display API will enable these external products to pull information from Sales Navigator, such as a person’s LinkedIn profile during a BlueJeans video conference. And an Analytics API will pipe reporting data from Sales Navigator so that people can do things like use Tableau’s data visualization software to analyze the relationship between the number of LinkedIn connections shared with an account or lead and whether they were able to close a deal with that company.