How to Use LinkedIn Targeting for ABM Programs

March 5, 2020

ABM on LinkedIn

Though the term was officially coined in 2004, “In its purest form, account-based marketing has been around forever,” says Matt Heinz, attributing the heightened interest in ABM to advances in tools and technology that make it easier to execute. 

Backing the assertion that ABM is now easier for B2B companies to execute, an ITSMA survey showed that 84% of businesses using ABM said the strategy offered a higher ROI than other marketing campaigns. In another study from SiriusDecisions, 92% of B2B marketers said ABM was extremely important to their overall marketing efforts. Clearly, ABM is here to stay.

Thoughtful Targeting Is at the Forefront of Every Sound ABM Strategy

It’s not hard to see why wide-ranging ABM success coincides with marketers’ increased ability to effectively target and reach the right people. When we looked into how experts define ABM, it became clear that an essential first step is for sales and marketing to collaboratively define the attributes that constitute a target account. Dave Rigotti captures it simply. “I define account-based marketing as total marketing and sales alignment around who are target customers and the efforts to go get them,” he says. “They align with the same outcome in mind: to get a specific account as a customer.”

Once target account criteria is agreed upon, ABM practitioners are then tasked with pinpointing companies that meet the criteria so the engaging can commence. For targeting purposes alone, LinkedIn has become an indispensable tool for ABM practitioners. 

How Can I Take Advantage of LinkedIn’s Targeting Capabilities for ABM?

Getting started with ABM targeting can feel like a complex undertaking. It doesn’t need to be. Here are a few ways LinkedIn can make the targeting aspect of ABM easier and more effective. 

Use Account Targeting to Identify and Reach Decision Makers at Target Accounts

There are more than 13 million LinkedIn Pages for companies. Account Targeting allows you to match your target accounts against this list, producing qualified accounts to pursue at scale. This tool becomes even more powerful over time because it helps you refine your target account list based on who’s engaging and what’s working. 

There are a few ways to start tapping the combined power of LinkedIn’s demographic targeting with your account list. This getting started guide illustrates how to find and reach the right people on LinkedIn in the following ways:

  • Import or integrate your existing contact email lists to find your contacts on LinkedIn and seamlessly include them in ABM campaigns.
  • Build your target accounts list at scale by uploading a list of accounts and automatically finding similar accounts on LinkedIn.
  • Implement website retargeting to effectively identify, nurture, and re-engage key contacts throughout the buying journey.

Use LinkedIn’s Trusted First-Party Data to Run Granular ABM Campaigns

When you boil it down, ABM is a more effective form of marketing because it’s a more focused form of marketing. This of course entails a better understanding of the account, but the same tenets of B2B marketing apply in that we engage and build relationships with people, not businesses. To put ourselves in the best position to win with ABM, we need to understand how to reach the full buying committee.  

Zoom in closer on the buying committee, and we see individual members, each with their own role, motivations, and goals. The process by which a CFO evaluates solutions and vendors will be much different than that of a CTO or operations leader. Thus, we need to craft a strategy for engaging the types of buying committee members we regularly encounter, preferably at scale. Though the underlying message might be similar, in most cases, the conversation needs to be customized to the role if it is to resonate. Check out the video below to see how Adobe uses LinkedIn targeting to achieve tighter messaging while minimizing waste:

For a more general example, let’s suppose that, to successfully sell your offering, you need to make sure the account’s CTO is on board. Since this is the case with pretty much every account you’ll target, you could create a campaign specifically designed to build awareness among the CTOs on your list. For instance, you could target the exact CTOs you need to reach by filtering based on criteria such as company size, industry, location, etc. And you could apply similar filters to sync your ABM targeting criteria with the other stakeholders you need to reach.

Sometimes targeting can be tricky because you’re not 100% sure if you’re targeting the right professionals. For example, the person who oversees IT can go by dozens of titles. There are a few ways to up your confidence level in this regard. One option is to target using the seniority filter. This allows you to focus on the level of IT staff you need to engage, like executives. Another option is to filter your targeting based on the actual account, effectively building awareness at the department level and then using engagement cues to determine the appropriate next steps. Lastly, by using Account Targeting and Interest Targeting, you’ll get a better feel for the titles you may be missing. Armed with this info, you can add these specific titles to bolster your targeting efforts for future ABM campaigns, feeling more confident that you’re reaching all the right people. 

For Best Results, Target the Full Funnel

As we know, B2B buying cycles can be quite long and they’re getting longer. As such, after the aforementioned CTO awareness campaign, you might be wise to have a separate campaign designed to nurture the CTOs you’ve previously engaged so you’re in prime position to connect with this key audience member when the time is right. You might also consider a re-engagement campaign, a consideration-stage campaign, a post-purchase advocacy campaign, and so on. 

While all this may sound complicated, it’s actually an exercise in simplification. By plotting out the pivotal stages of the buying process and making sure our brands are both present and prepared to help during each stage, we establish the critical context needed to carve out an effective approach. That’s a must for messaging clarity, but perhaps equally as important, it also helps to ensure our efforts are being applied where they matter most. Targeting the full funnel prevents us from pouring budget into awareness campaigns and then fading into the background when the actual decision-making begins, or showing up to the party after the target account has already established its preferred list of potential vendors. 

As you run these segmented campaigns across the funnel, you’ll gain additional insight into who to target, what to say, and whether additional audience and messaging segmentation is needed. Yes, segmentation involves work, but when you consider how much of your targeting criteria and messaging can be reapplied to future campaigns and then further optimized for even better results, this work is easily justified. 

Targeting is just the start. To discover more ways LinkedIn can add fuel to your ABM efforts, check out the Starter Guide to Account-Based Marketing on LinkedIn