How to succeed with Account-Based Marketing (ABM) with Linkedin Ads

Linkedin is the perfect platform for an account-based marketing (ABM) or an account-based advertising (ABA) strategy as it is the only platform that has such a large amount of accurate job related demographic data on its users (including data on where you work, job title, industry and skills). With Linkedin ads, we can target a list of accounts (companies) and layer that on with job title, department or seniority. This makes the targeting laser-sharp and gets our impressions in front of the exact group of decision-makers from your largest accounts.

Article by Philip Ilic,
B2B Growth Specialist.

Why ABM?

All the studies around ABM show that an ABM strategy gets businesses higher ROI on their marketing, bigger deal sizes and increased opportunities. Some quick stats:

  1. 87% of businesses using ABM said the strategy offered a higher ROI (ITSMA)
  2. 91% of companies using ABM increase their average deal size, with 25% reporting an increase of +50% (SiriusDecisions).
  3. 70% increase in the number of opportunities created via ABM (Gartner).

Making a case for an ABM strategy is not difficult, all the stats point to massive benefits. Yet many people do not know how to implement an ABM strategy. This article is not about ABM (writing a mega one so please subscribe to my newsletter), but how to utilise the Linkedin advertising platform with an ABM strategy. This is done with account targeting.

Who is ABM for

Do not get taken into the excitement too quickly, ABM can be strategically important but it is not for every organisation. This is the biggest mistake I see online – most bloggers and content makers do no specifically know who can benefit from a particular strategy and there are some strategies more fitting for an organisation than others.

ABM is specifically for organisations with smaller Serviceable Addressable Markets (SAM’s) and with higher Life-Time Value’s (LTV’s) who are sales-led rather than marketing-led.

If you have a large SAM then you can lean on more scalable systems which can reach a larger amount of your Ideal Client Profile (ICP), and if you are marketing-led then most of your conversions will happen without a human touchpoint (sales guy).

ABM is effective as it goes on the extreme side of the automation-personalisation spectrum, with the idea to be hyper-specific with who you target bundled with a laser-sharp messaging that speaks to this specific account.

Whereas traditional marketing efforts focus on the ICP more i.e. who specifically you need to target in terms of job titles or interests and behaviours. An ABM approach focuses on the accounts. This is an important differentiation because with this approach we create a mega list of our highest value accounts then we target the key decision-makers (or buying committee) rather than just one individual.

Why ABM Makes Sense

Targeting key individuals from specific companies makes sense as decision making is becoming more complex. In fact, according to the latest research the number of people participating in the buying process (committee), has grown to 7-20 people. 7-20!!! How do these guys ever make a decision!

This is at the core of ABM and why it is so effective. It recognised the fact that decision-making is made up of a number of individuals and the process is far more complex than just convincing one person.

The second reason why ABM makes sense is that the impetus to start a new initiative such as to change a CRM system or use some enterprise software can come from below or above.

This means although the central person who leads an initiative may be the Director, the original idea may have come from the manager or the c-suite.

The manager may notice inefficiency and has found a solution with some software then brings this up. Or it is possible the board notices the same inefficiency, maybe even in another department such as accounts or operations, then moves this laterally or downwards.

The third reason is that if we look at the motivations of each of the individuals in the buying committee they all have slightly different reasons behind making the decision.. Whereas the manager may want to make his life easier with a specific tool the CTO may have some strategic reasons beyond making his manager’s life easier. Each of these individual motivations needs to be recognised and incorporated in the way we approach the campaigns.

These two individuals could be targeted in slightly different ways. The manager with benefits and features, and the CTO from a bigger picture perspective.

This means we need to target numerous individuals. We need to identify the committee in this account that may be part of the process. With ABM we can sway the key people in the decision making process with different initiatives. One of the tools we have at our disposal is the Linkedin advertising platform.

Why Linkedin is the best platform for ABM

The LinkedIn ads platform is incredible with an ABM approach as we can target by uploading a list of accounts into the system and Linkedin matches this with its abundance of firmographic data.

Layered on top of this firmographic data we can add…

  • Job title
  • Function (think department)
  • Seniority level
  • Skill

This is great because as B2B marketers we can sit down with sales and make a list of the most valuable accounts then identify the key job roles or departments that may need to be part of the process.

Once we have nailed the targeting we can now focus on an advertising strategy,  this often starts with working out the objectives.

Account Based Advertising Strategy

Ok, what…strategy?! Haha, ok most people only think about the cool capabilities of Linkedin advertising without really thinking about what we should do with this powerful tool.

The first step is to really understand what the objectives are. There are two that come to mind right away.

Objective: make sales easier.

The first is to warm up extremely high-value prospects so that when sales reach out to them they are already tuned in to the companies brand and already have some exposure to what they are all about and the key value proposition. This is done mostly with un-gated content (i.e. blogs or useful resources).

Objective: convert them to lead.

The second objective will also feed into the first objective, but with this, we are actually trying to get the prospects from the accounts to convert into a lead. This is often done with a low friction offer (gated content) which leads with value.

Remember we are not marketing-led, so we are NOT trying to make them buy anything from this effort. We are trying to get them to become a lead so we can follow up with them more effectively in an omnichannel way (LinkedIn message, cold email, phone call, retargeting on numerous platforms including google display network, Facebook and Instagram).

How do you do this with LinkedIn Ads?

Some quick things to take into consideration…

  • You can upload between 300-300,000 companies. I recommend at least 5,000 ideally.
  • There are 13 million Linkedin pages which you can match your target accounts with (Linkedin)
  • We should test both pure engagement and conversions objectives.

For a ton of Linkedin ad videos check out my youtube tutorials here.

There are two ways you can upload a list of accounts…

  • Uploading a list

This is the quickest way and recommended if you have a larger list of over 1000 accounts. The issue here is that when you upload the list, Linkedin comes back with an inexact number of companies it matches.

It says something like ‘we have matched 90% of the accounts’. This is frustrating as it does not tell us exactly how many, the difference between missing 10% and 1% is a lot.

The second issue is that it does not tell us which ones it did not match . This can have bad ramifications if we have a few accounts that we want to target more than others.

 

  • Inputting the companies within the targeting section

This is the most accurate way, but it can be tedious. You have to input the names of the companies one by one. I recommend this if you have fewer than 1,000, although even that may be way too many.

Useful Resources & Tutorials

I hope you found this ebook helpful. Down below, I’ve listed some links to tutorials that you might find useful if you’re looking to set up LinkedIn ads.

How To Run Successful LinkedIn Ads in 2021 – a step by step 38-minute tutorial where we cover all the fundamentals of running LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn Campaign Manager Tutorial – a 9-minute video that’ll give you a deep overview & bring you up to speed on how LinkedIn Campaign Manager works.

Lead Generation Forms (step by step tutorial) – this 10-minute tutorial will show you how to use lead generation forms & get the cheapest cost per lead.

Which LinkedIn Ads Objectives – Explained (2021) – in this 13-minute video, I cover how to properly use the right LinkedIn ads objectives to your advantage.

Philip Ilic

Philip Ilic

B2B Growth Specialist

Phil helps B2B SaaS companies with growth marketing and is a deep specialist in Linkedin advertising and paid social more generally (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). He runs a paid social agency called Superlumen.co and is the founder of B2Bhero.co.

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