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This chapter is from the book

LinkedIn Marketing Success Stories

LinkedIn features a number of case studies on their website, illustrating a variety of strategies attempted and goals achieved. I’ve pulled out the more exceptional of those successes that are relevant to B2B sales and marketing. I thought it might be inspirational and motivational for you as you begin to digest the information in this book. I summarize and comment on these case studies in the following sections.

Cisco WebEx as Online Conferencing Leader

Cisco WebEx wanted to raise awareness and position themselves as the leader in online conferencing solutions. So, they created a set of awards and used LinkedIn ads to promote submissions. Their awards site generated 500+ entries and 11,500+ votes from 134,000 unique visitors. Half of their traffic was from word of mouth. Over 900 members joined the LinkedIn Group, and their Twitter account grew by 900. They announced the results at a live event that attracted 1,090 registered attendees. All of this led to 125 articles in the press and online news.

LinkedIn ads allowed Cisco to reach targeted business prospects affordably. Social media networks and shareability doubled their traffic, and the media stood up and paid attention. What do I mean about shareability? If you’ve tried to get press coverage for your company, you know that just putting out a press release won’t cut it anymore. Anyone can put out a press release, and many do. You get lost in the noise and usually don’t get major media coverage. But unique and innovative campaigns like this stand out and get the attention of journalists. What’s more, anytime you do something new, people in social media are more likely to share it with their networks, thus increasing your exposure and traffic.

Qwest Business Understanding and Influencing IT Decision Makers

Qwest Business wanted to engage IT decision makers in specific geographies to build a community that they could use to do the following:

  • Host technology solution conversations
  • Influence decisions
  • Increase sales

They created a LinkedIn Group, drove membership with LinkedIn Ads and Partner Messages, and then engaged new members with educationally interactive content. Their membership invitations were opened by 18% of the people they sent them to. They grew a 1,400-member community built from scratch and exceeded their year-end membership goal (1,000 members) by 40%. They also used polls (see Figure 1.4) and discussions to learn more about their audience to increase the effectiveness of their marketing and sales efforts.

Figure 1.4

Figure 1.4. Qwest used polls to gain valuable intelligence about their target audience after quickly growing their new LinkedIn Group.

Many businesses have already learned the value of audience “ownership” with email lists and Facebook fan bases. How much more valuable is a group of prospects when it’s highly qualified because you targeted the exact job titles, industries, or companies you serve?

Philips Market Research and Thought Leadership in Lighting and Healthcare

Philips wanted to be seen as an innovative leader in healthcare, lighting, and well-being. Their goal was to build credibility and drive discussion (see Figure 1.5) and awareness with key audiences for their two main B2B offerings: health and lighting. They created two LinkedIn Groups (Innovations in Healthcare and Innovations in Light) and grew them to 38,000+ and 27,000+ members, respectively. Over 60% of their members were manager level or above. They drove this membership through display ads, InMail, and word of mouth. Almost 10% of those who received an InMail went on to join the associated Group. What’s more, their LinkedIn Groups became the go-to communities for their niches.

Figure 1.5

Figure 1.5. A widget showing a sample of discussions in Philips’ successful Innovations in Light LinkedIn Group.

Exact Gets 40% of Invited Accountants to Recommend Their Financial Software

Exact is a company in the Netherlands that supplies software to entrepreneurs. Knowing that accountants are influential advisors in the financial process, and that 85% of the accountants in The Netherlands could be reached via LinkedIn, Exact used a Company Page, Recommendations, and Recommendation Ads to get 40% of their customers to recommend their SAAS product. It garnered 281 product recommendations and 5,924 new followers on their Company Page. Exact has 14 product solutions. It lists each one on its LinkedIn company page, and each one can receive recommendations from LinkedIn users.

You may have noticed that people shift where they spend time online much more frequently than they used to. A LinkedIn Group that didn’t exist yesterday could be the hottest place in your niche three months later (as it was for Philips, discussed previously). If there’s not a great place for one of your target audiences to discuss things, or if the excitement in a forum has faded or it’s an older forum that doesn’t have up-to-date social sharing capabilities, you can take advantage of that by filling the gap with your own Group, getting people to it, and trying to own that conversation niche with your Group.

Chevron Unifies and Engages Difficult-to-Reach Energy Leaders

Chevron wanted to bring together all those passionate about energy-related issues into one place. As you might imagine, in the energy industry, as in many verticals, there is controversy. It’s an ongoing PR challenge to maintain a positive image for some companies. A social media solution that brings dignity and decorum to conversations that might otherwise be ugly is incredibly valuable from a PR and branding perspective.

So, Chevron created a LinkedIn Group (see Figure 1.6) and then used LinkedIn Ads and Partner Messages to target industry professionals, policy makers, academia, and the media. They reached exactly who they wanted to, exceeded their growth goals by 41%, and doubled membership via unexpected word-of-mouth recommendations. Although they worried about potentially contentious debates, they found the discussions on LinkedIn to be respectful and professional. About 90% of members visit the Group repeatedly, 87% read the discussions, and 92% read Group digest emails.

Figure 1.6

Figure 1.6. This Group ad provides a live snapshot of current Group discussions. These ads can mention specific members in each ad viewer’s network.

Vistage Grows Its Business While Reducing Cost Per Lead

Vistage International provides ideas and strategies to business leaders, business owners, and chief executives. The company is looking to grow more members by reaching as many people as possible in highly targeted audiences. Before LinkedIn, they had trouble finding marketing and advertising options that yielded both quality and quantity results. Targeting their audience with LinkedIn Ads, they discovered a way to continuously reach more quality leads at lower costs. In one recent quarter, they increased lead volume by 114% month over month, while cost per lead decreased 26% (see Figure 1.7). The LinkedIn campaign generated 89% more leads than the same campaign on a leading ad network and at less than a third the cost per lead.

Figure 1.7

Figure 1.7. Vistage International was pleasantly surprised to find that LinkedIn Ads performed better over time and dramatically outperformed any other ad network for their business leads.

Here are the primary factors that affect profitability in B2B marketing and sales:

  • Lead Quality: Are these the right people for your business?
  • Lead Quantity: Are you getting enough potential customers to talk to? Can you increase this number without lowering quality?
  • Cost Per Lead: Can you reduce the cost per lead without lowering lead quality? Usually this is achieved with good audience targeting and exciting or at least appropriate messaging.
  • Closing Ratio: What percentage of leads turns into sales? If the lead quality is good and sales follow-up is prompt and skilled, this can be maximized.
  • Cost Per Sale: The cost per lead and closing ratio determine your cost per sale. With your margins, how much can you afford to spend per sale on your sales, marketing, and advertising efforts? Is this cost per sale low enough?

That’s the math of profitability. The ways to get more profits are to lower your cost per lead, increase the lead quality, and increase the closing ratio. When you can do two or three of these at the same time, you’re a rock star. LinkedIn helped Vistage achieve that.

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