LinkedIn is making a billion-dollar bet on content. Though you may not be aiming to make a billion on your content, you can learn a few things from the focus of LinkedIn’s recently leaked strategy document. In the document, LinkedIn sets its sights on the $50 billion B2B marketing solutions segment by building the ultimate marketing platform that does everything except create content for you.
A smart move for the site initially launched in 2003 as a place for professionals to network, then a goldmine for recruiters and job seekers looking for the right fit, then a go-to place for industry news, and now a premium fishing hole for B2B marketers to interact with and serve content that nurtures carefully selected leads to the sale. With over 300 million users worldwide and the recent acquisitions of Newsle and Bizo, they are well positioned to offer a comprehensive end-to-end solution for content marketers.
Factors Influencing LinkedIn’s Strategic Shift:
Rise of Social Selling: According to the LinkedIn Social Selling Index Survey, Feb 2014, social media savvy marketers are 51% more likely to hit sales goals than conventional marketers. Traditional face-to-face methods of networking, knowledge sharing, and lead generation have moved online to a new generation of professionals who are tech savvy, social media engaged, and looking to expand reach beyond the borders of their physical social networks to both find new sales opportunities and stay current.
Prevalence of Mobile: Content, like everything else, is going mobile. LinkedIn saw the trend coming when they released their first mobile app in 2008. After seeing a 400% bump in page views, the LinkedIn main app was re-tooled and re-leased in 2011 followed by Pulse for news, Recruiter for human resources professionals, Job Search for job hunters, and the newly released Connected app for on-the-go networking. The new marketing platform takes advantage of mobile for both content serving and content management.
Shifting Audiences: Paid memberships from individuals and recruiters simply can’t generate billion dollar revenues. Second quarter revenue from LinkedIn marketing solutions totaled $106 million, up 44 percent from the prior year. After narrowing in on and becoming wildly successful with job seekers and recruiters, they are now leveraging their 313 million-member network for value to content marketers, publishers, and sales professionals to create new revenue streams from content and data. The result: better sales intelligence, targeting, context, and measurement to support account-based marketing and give users a more granular look at their audience.
In addition to targeting new revenue streams, they are also expanding their geographical borders to take advantage of overseas markets. Five years ago, non-US users made up 1 out of 3 users. Today, it’s 2 out of 3 users with one-third of revenues coming from overseas users.
Three Takeaways for All Content Marketers
1. Less Guessing: The new platform helps to take the guesswork out of distribution by tapping the vast resources of LinkedIn’s all ready establish ecosystem of partners to help you target, serve, and measure the impact of your content marketing efforts. “Tapping into the power of our network of 313 million members, and the data that underlies it, we make it easy for sales professionals to stay updated about key accounts, focus on the right people, and build trusted relationships along the way,” writes Mike Dezerin in a post describing the new LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Their enhanced marketing platform covers targeting, through measurement plus tools for re-targeting, sponsored content, display ads, and the ability to target prospects outside of LinkedIn.
2. More Pressure to Produce: With the enhanced ability to find and execute full-funnel campaigns, you’ll need more content to reach new segments. We’re talking more than whitepapers and sales collateral. In order to standout, content for this highly targeted, mobile savvy professional crowd must:
- Be stacked with deep industry-specifics, not general knowledge,
- Fill each stage of the buying process through re-targeting and post-purchase
- Optimize content destination pages for mobile and international users
- Incorporate visual and interactive aspects to engage and educate busy users
To execute, revisit existing content models to ensure you have content for each buyer at each stage of the buying process and seeking out new content creation resources.
3. Re-think Your Strategy: Look at your own content strategy to incorporate LinkedIn-like tactics. From your customer database, you can probably identify influencers to tap for guest blogs, case studies or videos. Stand up persona-specific microsites in the spirit of LinkedIn groups to create an industry hub for sharing knowledge and creating conversations. Analyze your audience for new opportunities. For example, you may be narrowly targeting office managers with a scheduling solution where there’s an opportunity to gain advocates by also targeting end-users with informational content. In addition to LinkedIn, don’t forget to integrate other social media outlets like Twitter, Vine, Snapchat into your B2B social selling efforts.