This week, LinkedIn released a fantastic new feature to their ads product that is an absolute game-changer for business-to-business companies. It’s called Account Targeting, and it allows you to upload a list of up to 300,000 company names and target ads to only those companies.
Here’s a story to illustrate the power of this new functionality:
I walked into a marketing team meeting and immediately knew there was a problem. The team was close to hitting their goal, but trending behind the curve, and it looked like we might miss it. The CMO made the decision to dump more cash into social ads — we’re going to hit that goal, come hell or high water.
The effect wasn’t what the team had hoped for.
The sales team was already dialing at capacity, and our sending them additional leads produced three negative outcomes:
It wasn’t a good month for this company, and I learned an important lesson. Next month would not go the same way.
I went to the sales team and took a different angle.
“Everyone give me a list of the 50 companies you would give ANYTHING to work with.” The sales teams obliged and provided 1,050 companies. I created account-based advertising campaigns around them, which means 100 percent of the leads generated from them were leads that the sales team would gladly and dutifully service.
Here’s the lesson: If you want your leads to get worked on, give the sales team the leads they want.
This story illustrates the power of Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
On April 24, LinkedIn officially released its ABM feature within its self-service advertising platform (along with several other features — check out advanced strategies for LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences) that allows you to target company names in bulk.
For some background, we’ve always had the ability to target companies on LinkedIn Ads, but we were limited to 100 companies targeted per campaign. And each one had to be typed individually. That means when you wanted to target the Fortune 1000, you needed to have 10 campaigns and type in each company’s name by hand — YUCK!
Now, you can upload a list in .csv form of up to 300,000 company names, and then apply that targeting on top of all of LinkedIn’s existing filters. It’s glorious. Here’s what you can do with these newfound superpowers:
Use any or all of the above strategies to utilize this new feature, and enjoy some of the highest-quality leads your sales team has ever received.
Of course, in execution, no feature is purely sunshine and rainbows. Here are the limitations in LinkedIn’s current build of the tool:
When you upload a list of company names to target, LinkedIn does its best to match them to the companies that it has in the database. (For instance, if you upload “I.B.M.,” you’ll likely match to “IBM.”) Unfortunately, there is no feedback upon uploading on which companies did not properly match — only a percentage displaying how many did match. This can lead to missing out on companies that you’d really like to target.
As with the rest of LinkedIn’s new targeting options, the minimum audience size of 300 people is intact. This is unfortunate, because if you hoped to customize your messaging to a specific company, you’d need to broaden your targeting to the point where you were reaching 300 or more people at that company, which is largely unhelpful.
The simple solution for this would be for LinkedIn to allow dynamic variables in its ads so we could put a variable like “Company Name” into the ad copy and have it populated, making the ad copy call out to a very specific audience, while the targeting remains broad.
Mistakes in list uploads live in the account forever because there’s no list deletion or management of any kind.
Now that the functionality is rolled out to all accounts, here’s how to take advantage of it.
Go into the campaign in your Campaign Manager that you’d like to apply the ABM targeting list. Then click on the “Audiences” tab to see the following at the top of the list of targeting facets:
Click on “Create an audience,” and you’ll be greeted by a dialogue box, where you can name your company list and then upload your CSV.
In order for the sheet to work, it needs the following:
Also, should you want to apply a negative (exclusion) list, simply select “Include” and change it to “Exclude,” which will ensure that no company in that list will be allowed into your targeting.
Once you hit “Next,” you’ll be greeted by the Account Lists screen. Navigate back to your campaign targeting, and find the “Target a list of accounts” option. Your list is now created, so click the “See full list” option to find a list of the ABM audiences you’ve created. Select the one you want to use, save the campaign, and the targeting will be applied.
At any time you can revisit your lists to view their details by going to the “Tools” menu and selecting “Matched Audiences.”
Notice that it can take up to 48 hours to process your list, so don’t be worried if the list shows a size of