Leadfeeder helps you validate your marketing efforts and share your B2B marketing and sales data between your teams. Integrations enable your sales teams to capitalise on marketing insights and on the most simple level it means new sales leads in your CRM at the start of every day.
Even if you are starting your business from scratch, especially if you are a webpreneur, you must have a model that can be easily scalable, so you don’t have to put in extra hours of work to grow your business. One of the most efficient tools to achieve it is the sales pipeline.
The sales pipeline (alternatively, sales process or revenue funnel) is the journey your customer takes to make a purchase. This journey isn’t random since you will be leading it, carefully creating each step. How?
It takes a lot of work, but it isn’t rocket science. Anyone can do it. Some pipelines are simple, some are more sophisticated and detailed, but there are general rules one can apply to their particular business.
Building a sales pipeline
All pipelines are similar in one important aspect. If we present them as diagrams, the top will always be the widest part (all your potential clients) and the bottom will be the narrowest (people who actually make the purchasing decision). That’s why it’s also aptly referred to as a sales funnel.
The important thing here is to remember that you can influence the number of customers that pass through your sales pipeline stages to the bottom. In a perfect world, your sales funnel should look more like a pipe. Still, sales don’t happen spontaneously (with the rare exception). It is a structured process of turning an unaware person into a loyal customer, step-by-step. The most basic ones are the following:
Sales pipeline stages
The first step is to let your potential customers know that you exist. You don’t have to think about making sales at this stage – your primary concern is to get yourself out there in front of your audience.
Classical advertising and promotional events – everything that sweeps broadly and makes you visible is employed at this point. New malls spread leaflets and play music on full blast, new brands of food and drinks organize samplings, entertainment companies let giant mascots loose in the crowd, online courses launch viral giveaways with promo codes and branded goodies.
Result: people know you exist.
Ideally: they know you can offer some benefit to them.
Now people know about you but they must have some reason to come into your shop or to visit your landing page. This is the stage of lead generation. Simply bombing your audience with emails or promising them “updates and latest news in their inboxes” isn’t enough anymore. They must see that you can offer something of value to them.
This is the time of subtle content marketing that employs neuromarketing techniques to tease, pique interest, create needs, build trust, and engage with your audience.
Result: people are interested in what you have to offer/see you as an authority in the field.
Ideally: they are considering the purchase.
Your customer is now in your shop/on your sales page. Unfortunately, that is not yet enough to make a sale. The objective of this step is to make them say “yes” to your offer. To achieve that, you must create an offer they will be unable to resist.
Sales copy that addresses the pains of the customer
A discount or an opportunity to get something free
A limited offer (limited time, limited edition item, limited number of places available)
A trial or a demo
Result: your customer decides that they want your goods.
Ideally: your customer is ready to make a purchase.
At this point, your customer must be ready to strike a deal. Why is this a separate step at all? Because actually closing the purchase can be quite a pain in the derrière… for the customer. And they may decide to go away because you’ve made it too complicated for them.
Your task for this step is to create and maintain a check-out system that works without hitches. For online stores, there are tools like Shopify and other add-ons that close the deal in one click. Make it easy to sign up, minimize the number of steps required to make the payment or complete the sign up. You don’t want to lose your customers at this point only because they don’t have any Bitcoins on them, now do you?
Result: closed deal.
Ideally: a satisfied customer who will spread the word and come back.
Although I mentioned the pipeline rather than a funnel in a perfect world, you must be prepared that you will lose potential customers on each step. Your task is to lose as few as possible. Also, depending on the industry, you might want to break these basic steps into smaller ones for a smoother and effective sales process.
Strategies for building a sales pipeline
Your strategies will loosely correspond to the segments of pipeline that I’ve described. Remember, your goal isn’t simply to make a sale, but to create a happy experience for your customers and turn them into loyal ambassadors.
To make your audience aware of you, you must first become aware of your audience. Who are they? You can hardly target everyone. Even Google has its target audience. People with internet-connected devices who are looking for something specific online may sound like the whole world, but it’s not.
That’s just a half of your work. When you know who they are you must research everything about them. What are their pains? What annoys them? What do they want and expect? What social media and other channels they prefer? What type of information do they consume and share with others?
Knowing the answers to these questions will make it easier for you to find your audience, address their pains effectively, and position your brand in a unique way.
Creation of buyer personas
Although your target audience shares many common traits, it is still very diverse. Their pains and motivation to buy your product may differ widely. It is impossible to address each one individually, but you can do better than a one-size-fits-all message.
Based on what your customers want from your product and how they are going to use it, you can group them into a persona that represents these features. For example, you have among your audience working mothers in their thirties, who want to waste as little time as possible on making the decision, but at the same time, it is important for them to feel in control. To create a more personalized and enjoyable experience for them you take a fictional Tracy, 34, mother of two and craft the journey for her.
Now when you know your audience, you are ready to drive them to you. At this point, the smartest way is to leverage social media. Thanks to its broad reach social media is good for raising awareness and attracting traffic to your landing pages. Strategies to use at this point:
Social media campaigns (LinkedIn ads, giveaways, teasers) – to pique the interest
Partnering up with influencers – to build trust
Guest-posting – to give more information
Don’t forget about organic search traffic – optimize your site and make sure that people who look for stuff online will find you.
Okay, you’ve got the attention of your audience, the stage is set and you’re in the spotlight. It’s time to entertain – and at this stage content is king. Video tutorials, reviews and guides, useful blog posts, case studies, infographics – anything that is engaging for your customers. The key is to do this all regularly and make sure to promote it on social media.
You already have some idea of what content will work the best (from your research). Now you have direct feedback and can tweak your strategy if something doesn’t work the way you planned it.
At this point, your audience has developed sufficient interest in your product and needs just one final push in the right direction.
Make your sales page simple, without any clutter that may distract your customer. Ideally, there should be no more than three key features:
Sales offer wrapped up in a video, a picture, short copy or a snappy slogan (Evernote’s “Never forget anything” is a great example).
A call-to-action button that leads to check-out (Buy now/Subscribe/Choose a plan)
A call-to-action button for customers who still hesitate (Learn more/Start a trial/Sign up for free/Claim a discount) – here you will collect their email address and follow up with your up-sell proposition.
Don’t forget to keep in touch with existing customers – ask for their feedback, offer them a promo code for the next purchase, or just a thank you for choosing you!
Sales pipeline management and tools
The best way to measure the success of your pipeline is to monitor conversion rates. If people come to your site but that doesn’t bring you sales or at least leads – you should inspect your pipeline more carefully.
Check how many customers don’t go to the next step on each segment of your pipeline. Are there any noticeable “holes”? Where do you lose the most? Why? Can you convert them or should you just improve your targeting on the preceding step of your sales process?
You should be able to track the performance of your pipeline with the following sales tools:
CTR (Google Analytics) for social media campaigns
Social media tools (Hootsuite, Buffer) to diversify your ads for more buyer personas
Hotjar or CrazyEgg recordings to understand how your visitors engage with your site via attention heatmaps, session recordings, and feedback
A/B tests of your landing pages to find out what converts your audience better
CRM and email-tracking software (Drip, MailChimp) to track your leads
Leadfeeder to track anonymous website visitors and identify companies at the beginning of your sales process
As your business grows, your product changes or you learn more about your audience, you will need to tweak your pipeline – that is absolutely okay. No pipeline can work once and for all, it’s a work in progress, yet once you have a working model it gets much easier to improve as you go.
Author’s Bio: Adam Wakoski is a product manager and adviser who helped to launch many startups into a successful future, from music apps to professional paper writing companies.
If you’re working in sales today, you may have noticed a trend developing.
It’s harder to capture the attention of buyers with cold emails
Cold calling leads to fewer conversations and less openness from prospects
All the while, regulations (like GDPR) are further complicating those outreach tactics.
In other words, traditional sales prospecting techniques aren’t as effective as they once were. Changing consumer preferences and habits, GDPR and other regulations, and general consumer cynicism are driving the value of traditional prospecting down.
Meanwhile, a lot of content out there still pushes the prospecting techniques of old. Instead, this article presents a different solution: social selling with visitor identification. We cover:
Why social selling is worth the investment
How visitor identification supercharges solid social selling
The 3 best ways to use visitor identification data to inform your social selling efforts
Note: Want a better way to see how social selling drives leads to your website? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to learn which companies visit your website, plus which pages they look at (and more).
Why Social Selling Is the Answer
In researching for this article, we talked with our own Dipak Vadera, Sales Manager for Leadfeeder. Our resident subject matter expert, he’s tried, tested, and advocated for sales reps to better leverage social media in their prospecting efforts.
In short, social selling is when sales reps use social media to build relationships with decision makers and target accounts. Social selling doesn’t require that the sales rep reaches out first or that the entire sales process happens over social media—and it doesn’t have to happen on LinkedIn alone.
Typically, social selling breaks down into 2 levels:
Broad authority-building so your prospects and followers view you as an expert in your industry
Targeted sales prospecting and nurturing to individual decision makers and target accounts
Both of those efforts are part of social selling, and they can be deployed separately or together.
The reality is that generations have shifted away from traditional means of sales prospecting. While younger people spend a lot of time on their phones, we’re rarely on the phone. “You need to go where your ideal prospect is spending their time,” Dipak said, “and social media is where people are.”
Social selling is so effective because it uses a medium where people are more comfortable and open to communicating and building relationships. “You just can’t get that kind of openness over the phone.” By connecting and interacting via social media first, Dipak finds prospects are ultimately way more willing to take part in sales conversations (and actually take his phone calls) later on in the sales process—they become warm calls.
Not to mention, by spending time with prospects on social media, you can build up the depth and context of your existing ideal customer profile.
“I don’t have time for social selling.”
Dipak noted that social selling is still a relatively untapped sales tool—many sales teams and managers are still pretty old school when it comes to prospecting. One of the biggest objections he hears to social selling is that it takes too much prospecting time.
In Dipak’s view, sales teams fail because “they treat prospects like cattle, as just numbers.” But to be successful with social selling, you need to focus on offering genuine value. It’s the same concept as content or email marketing—the focus on helping prospects learn about and explore their pain-points and potential solutions, rather than trying to pass off a thinly-veiled hard sell.
And that’s the trade-off. We won’t tell you that social selling doesn’t take longer—but in return, it offers better odds for closing and securing a life-long customer.
Visitor Identification Is Must-Have Data to Inform Your Social Selling
Given the added time investment that good social selling requires, it’s important that you’re targeting the right prospects with those efforts—and using all the data you can access to ensure you provide value and knock-out pitches.
That’s where website visitor identification comes into play.
A visitor identification tool (like Leadfeeder) shows you data like:
Companies that have visited your website
How many people from a given company have visited
The pages they looked at
How long they spent there
That’s information that can help ensure:
You’re providing information and content that’s genuinely valuable to prospects
You have inside knowledge about what matters to them
You can time and tailor your pitch for more “yes”
The Best Ways to Leverage Visitor Identification for Social Selling
Visitor identification provides you with several key data-points, but to make the most of that data, sales reps need to know what to do with it. Here are three of the most effective ways to bring visitor identification data to your social selling efforts—from lead generation to nurturing and pitching.
Note: Not a Leadfeeder customer yet? Sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to inform your social selling efforts and see how they drive activity on your website.
Identify Target Accounts and Add to LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Once you’ve qualified a target account, visitor Identification data can help you figure out who to target, when, and with what message.
For example, with Leadfeeder’s visitor tracking software, you can build a Custom Feed of pre-qualified website visitors to target with your social selling efforts. When you build a custom feed, you can set specific, highly targeted criteria to zero in on an actionable list of leads that are much more likely to convert.
Once you have a targeted list of accounts, you can export those companies and use LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s Signal feature to get notifications about trigger events like funding rounds, hiring announcements, mergers, and other company news—so you can better time and tailor your pitch.
Use Website Browsing Data to Inform Your Outreach
Both when you identify leads and as you prospect into them, website visitor identification software gives you a deeper picture of their pain-points, the features that matter to decision-makers, and how they’re moving through the buyer’s journey.
Since visitor identification data includes details on the pages companies view and how long they spend there, your social outreach can be high-quality and hyper-targeted to their interests and pain-points. Whether you’re sharing content, making your pitch, or sending follow-ups, web browsing data ensures you’ll be right on the mark.
Follow Companies to Assess Your Social Selling Efforts
With social selling, measuring how your efforts drive new prospects forward toward a sale is important because you’re investing more time than other sales prospecting techniques require. So you need a way to visualize and understand the progress and results your efforts drive in order to assess if your social selling time is yielding a positive ROI. After all, it can be harder and take longer to draw a direct line between when you start engaging with a prospect over social and when they ultimately buy.
That means you need a way to keep tabs on target accounts as your social selling efforts are underway.
Once you select accounts to target on social, you can follow those companies on Leadfeeder. When you follow a company, you’ll be able to keep tabs on how your social activities drive prospects to your website and what they look at once there.
You can also build separate Custom Feeds for each key conversion point. Then, set up Slack or email notifications, so you know exactly when a prospect reaches the next phase of the sales funnel.
Social Selling with Visitor Identification Is the Sales Prospecting Technique for Today
The reality is that traditional sales prospecting techniques (like phone calls) get less effective with each passing quarter. To compensate, sales professionals today need to find a better way to reach prospects where they already are—and social selling is one of the best, most untapped prospecting tools to help you do just that.
By combining smart social selling strategy with the insights visitor identification software provides, you can build better relationships with potential customers and move more prospects through the sales cycle toward a close.
So you have a team of salespeople hungry for more leads.
You already have a few channels that help you acquire leads, but such efforts aren’t scalable and the lead quality isn’t high.
What do you do?
If you want to start generating more leads and avoid any of the problems you currently face, then you’ve got to try LinkedIn ads.
In contrast with two of its most popular counterparts, Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, LinkedIn ads represent a unique opportunity for B2B marketers. eMarketer found that B2B marketers named LinkedIn advertising to be as effective as Facebook.
Last year LinkedIn generated over $2 billion in revenue from its advertising platform. While a small fraction of Facebook or Google’s revenues, increasing numbers of marketers are shifting budgets to LinkedIn, with 42% of media buyers planning to increase their spend in 2019.
Driven by this stellar growth LinkedIn updated it’s ad platform in mid-2019 focussing on what it calls objective based advertising. In this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about the new experience, so you can understand how to advertise on LinkedIn today.
Ad types and formats
Costs, bids and budgets
Creating a winning ad
Analysis and optimization
Get the Basics Right
“The devil is in the detail” or so the saying goes, so before we get started with the nitty-gritty of creating a LinkedIn advertising campaign, let’s cover the basics.
In order to start a LinkedIn ads campaign, you need to have a company page.
You likely already have one opened.
If you don’t, then this handy guide that will show you the steps you need to take to open it.
What’s more, the Insight Tag will help you run retargeted advertising campaigns, which as you will see, are incredibly effective and powerful.
While you install the tag, you also want to set up conversion tracking, which will help you see the actual conversions of your campaigns.
With the basics covered, let’s start with the actual LinkedIn ad campaign creation process.
LinkedIn Ad Campaign Objectives
Step 1: How to pick a winning objective
The first step in any successful LinkedIn ads campaign starts with picking the right objective.
The objective will impact on your entire campaign—from the ad type to the budget to the ad format.
Each objective corresponds to a different part of the marketing funnel, as LinkedIn shows:
These three steps correspond to the typical marketing funnel, where each step focuses on a different objective:
Awareness focuses on reaching as many people as possible
Consideration focuses on engaging and persuading visitors to take action and find out more about your business
Conversion focuses on generating leads and converting people in your site
These new objective based advertising campaigns will focus on delivering your ad to the person most likely to take your desired action—let’s take a look at each of these three steps and which objective works best for your campaign goal.
Awareness is all about showing your brand to everyone with whom you can connect. You don’t focus so much on clicks or conversions; what matters most is that people see your ads, that they get to know your brand through mere exposure, and to get them familiarized with it.
In this step, your key metric is the number of impressions you generate—the point at which an ad is displayed in front of a visitor, regardless of whether they actually see your ad or read its content.
LinkedIn offers only one objective for this stage of the funnel, one that’s appropriately called “brand awareness.”
One of the beautiful aspects of online advertising is that you can track the effectiveness of a campaign down to the click. Awareness, however, is all about getting people to see your ad, not act on it, so why would anyone choose this ad?
Simply put, because this objective can help you increase your reach (if that’s what you care about), get more followers to your page, and engage with a new audience.
For example, if you’re running an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign, and you have a specific audience you want to connect with, the awareness objective will help you reach them before you start a sales conversation.
Here’s where the advertising gets scientific. At this stage of the funnel, you want people to click on your ads; you want visits, views, and actions (albeit in a non-commercial way).
There are three objectives you can use in this stage:
The name is self-explanatory: with this objective, you get people to visit your site.
Clear, simple, and awesome—who wouldn’t want more visitors to their company’s site?
What you do with people once they do so is a different game.
You can get people to check a new post of yours (which is great if you’re retargeting them from a previous article they read), to sign up for your latest webinar, or to sign up for a trial.
Because the volume of data needed to optimize your bidding is much lower than with the lead generation objective (as you will see later), this objective is a great start for any action you want people to take in your site.
When you’re getting started with LinkedIn advertising, you may want to increase the quantity and quality of your following.
That is, you want people to follow you, and you want them to like you; you want to develop a relationship, and as you know, that takes time.
The engagement objective is the perfect fit if you want to get more people to follow your business page and to like or comment on your posts.
The more people that follow you and the more engaged they are, the cheaper it will be to promote your content to them. What’s more, your messaging will be more effective, a goal worthy to any advertiser.
Video has become a staple of the marketer toolkit, especially on LinkedIn. So far, several studies have shown that using video ads drive high engagement rates and higher quality of leads generated.
If your business goal is tightly connected with developing thought leadership, brand awareness, and traffic acquisition, then using videos, and the video views objective in LinkedIn, will help you increase the distribution of your content.
This is the stage where the rubber meets the road. This stage is all about getting people with whom you’ve engaged before to take a specific action.
More specifically, that action could be an information exchange for lead generation, a download, a signup, or a job application.
Similarly to Facebook advertising, these objectives tend to have a higher CPC and the focus needs to be on your cost per conversion, but they are highly effective once you get the whole system working.
In the case of LinkedIn, there are three objectives available, which you’ll see in greater depth below.
The beautiful aspect of LinkedIn is that it’s a perfect match for those marketers are looking for strategies to generate leads. Just think that 80% of their users are decision makers, and because of that, as Hubspot found, their lead conversion rates are 3x higher than other major ad platforms.
You can acquire leads with a network like Facebook, but you’d need to do a lot of pre-qualification before you can attract professionals to your site. There’s a lot of people who simply aren’t interested in registering for a webinar when they’re relaxing in their homes.
With LinkedIn, you know who’s who—you want a director of marketing to sign up for a demo for your enterprise software? You got it; your entire campaign can be built only for that specific audience.
To make things even better, LinkedIn lets you generate leads right from their site without having prospects go to your site.
Enter lead gen forms, which pre-fills their information and gets them to sign up to your offer right away.
If you want to target specific conversions on your site, then this objective is perfect for you.
Thanks to the Insight Tag, which by this point you should have installed, you can optimize for any type of conversion—from a product purchase to a demo request to software sign up.
Once you have set up the campaign with the conversions objective, LinkedIn will then optimize towards the people most likely to complete a conversion. That is, the more data LinkedIn gathers on the types of people that complete your on-site conversion, the better it will get at optimizing your ads to show to people with similar profiles.
If you’re a marketer who’s conversion-driven, then this objective is perfect for you.
The last objective is perfect for those companies who are competing for the best talent and need an extra boost to their job application listing.
As with the previous objective, LinkedIn optimizes your ads for the users who they’ve found to be more likely to click on your job post. Not only do you get more applicants to your job listing; you bid for the right ones.
LinkedIn Ads Targeting
Step 2: How to target the right audience
When it comes to B2B sales and marketing, LinkedIn advertising has a unique advantage over competing ad platforms. Due to the detailed employment information that LinkedIn’s 630M members upload to their profiles, you can target people based on extremely accurate employee and company data.
If you want to target the VP of Engineering at tech companies with more than 500 employees, then guess what? You can do that with LinkedIn; it’s the perfect matchmaker for your brand.
The targeting options LinkedIn provides allow you to develop incredibly precise B2B marketing campaigns which you can use to attract the right accounts.
Alongside basic data such as Location and Language there are five targeting options you can choose from:
Company: Which include company connections, followers, industry, name, and size
Demographics: Which include age and gender of the specific people to whom you want to contact
Education: Which include degrees, fields of study, and member schools
Job Experience: Which include job function, seniority, job title, skills, and years of experience
Interests: Which include groups the user is part of and its interests
One of the most interesting ways you can create unique targeting options is to use the “exclude,” “include,” or “narrow by” options. With these options, you can potentially target someone who doesn’t traditionally fit within a certain audience (like chief executives with not more than 10 years of experience) or that’s highly targeted (like vice presidents who are under 40 years old).
What’s more, you can utilize LinkedIn’s own internal data to grow your reach, a feature that LinkedIn calls “audience expansion,” or your own data to retarget users and prospects who often already know you, a feature which LinkedIn calls “matched audience.”
Use Audience Expansion for Lower Costs and Increased Reach
Once you’ve found an audience that works for your advertising campaigns, you can create a new campaign that targets other similar audiences.
That’s where the “audience expansion” feature comes into play. Audience expansion uses LinkedIn’s algorithms to find and reach people that have similar attributes to your tested target audience.
For example, if you’re getting high conversion rates with a campaign that targets VPs of Marketing, then LinkedIn may find that a campaign with the same message that targets Directors of Marketing works equally well.
Use Matched Audiences for Retargeting
If you’re constantly targeting new people who don’t know your brand, you’re wasting a lot of opportunities.
There’s nothing wrong with generating new demand for your offers, but since your company already generates traffic in your website, that traffic is a potential goldmine for new business opportunities.
Matched audiences help you target people who have visited your site, signed up for a gated piece of content (think a webinar or white paper), or who have done any type of business with you (think a demo trial or a proposal).
Two of the most common uses of matched audiences is to retarget website visitors based on your pixel’s data, or target your email list.
You can even mix and match these matched audiences with audience expansion to expand your audience from your email list.
Use Matched Audiences for Account-Based Marketing
What’s more, you can upload account lists to your matched audiences. That means, you can upload a list of company names and site URLs, and then target anyone who works at those companies.
One of the easiest ways to get started with this is to upload a list of high-intent accounts and advertise to your key buyer persona job titles at these companies. If you’re into ABM, then this is a game-changer.
How do you find high-intent accounts? A great way to get started is to use a platform like Leadfeeder. This enables you to identify the companies visiting your website by connecting with your Google Analytics. You can then export lists of companies visiting your website, upload to LinkedIn as an account list in your matched audiences, and use this data to power your LinkedIn ABM ad campaign.
Take a no-obligation 14-day free trial of Leadfeeder today, identify the companies visiting your website and try running some LinkedIn ABM campaigns with this data.
Once you’ve selected your audience targeting, LinkedIn will show the forecasted reach and expected volume of traffic for your campaign. These numbers will be affected by your daily budgets and bids—which you’ll select shortly—and they provide a great way to benchmark the actual performance of your campaign versus LinkedIn’s predictions.
LinkedIn Ad Types
Step 3: How to choose the right ad for your business
LinkedIn offers a wide format of ads, which vary in cost and complexity of implementation.
Such a wide range of options will raise an immediate question: which ad type should you use?
As always happens with anything related to marketing, the answer will depend on your needs, budget, and expertise.
Without a deep look at your company, no one can tell you which LinkedIn ad type to choose from. The best way to make the right decision is to take a look at each ad type with more detail.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’ll do next.
If you’ve ever been browsing through LinkedIn and you saw an ad right in your news feed midway through your scrolling, then that was a sponsored content ad.
Or, guess what? If a post has a small piece of text that says “Sponsored Post,” then that’s sponsored content.
Simply put, a sponsored content ad promotes content. If this sounds too basic and obvious, it’s because it is.
You’ve got content—a blog post, a white paper, a webinar—and you just want more people to see it. What do you do? You get this ad working.
There are many ways you can feature your content in the news feed, and next I will show you how they look.
Single Image Ads
Single image ads are the standard type of sponsored content. They promote any post you publish to a broader audience, with a single landscape image to capture your audience’s attention.
Video ads are the same as single image ads with the exception that the ad creative is a video instead of a static image. Similarly to Facebook, the video will auto-play as a person scrolls over it in their feed. The sound will be set to mute by default—so it’s a good idea to include subtitle captions in your video.
There will be cases where you will have multiple images to show within a given post. Carousel ads allow you to showcase those images and maximize the impact of your ad.
Carousel ads are especially useful when you want to tell a story within your carousel images, so you can command your audience’s attention and connect through the power of storytelling.
Lead Generation Ads
As explained before, lead gen forms allow you to pre-fill your ads with your prospect’s information so you can acquire a lead right from the ad.
It goes without saying that the effectiveness of lead gen form ads lays in the ease to convert a LinkedIn user into a lead. If you have a piece of content, like an ebook, a report, or a specs sheet, then lead gen forms will be the best investment you can make.
The dream of sending personalized ads on scale is starting to become a reality. Dynamic ads allow you to create an ad that targets a specific audience.
For example, if you want to show an ad to chief executives, dynamic ads deliver targeted messages that speak to that audience specifically.
Currently, you can only access dynamic ads if you spend at least $25,000 per quarter on LinkedIn advertising.
Text ads promote a message in the right column of the newsfeed. These ads are smaller and less intrusive than sponsored content, and tend to have a lower CTR.
You can show these ads within a user’s inbox or on the side of the LinkedIn homepage. The text snippet is accompanied by a thumbnail to call the attention of your audience.
These ads look more similar to the traditional Google Ads, where you have a headline, a small description, and a CTA (plus the image, which the former doesn’t show).
If you’ve ever received a message from someone you don’t know and who’s trying to promote a piece of content or push some time of offer, that was a sponsored InMail.
LinkedIn allows users to message people who are within their network. If you’re promoting a piece of content and you have hundreds of relevant connections, you may get some good results. But if you want to message thousands of potential leads, you can’t do it unless you use InMail.
InMail is a premium feature that allows you to send a message to anyone you want, regardless of the fact you lack any connection with that person.
Sponsored InMail takes this feature even further, allowing you to promote a message so it shows up at the top of the recipient’s inbox. Such promotion can be useful when matched with a retargeting campaign.
LinkedIn Ads Costs, Bids and Budgets
Step 4: How to pick an ROI-friendly bid
In order to make your LinkedIn ads cost-effective, you must bid to the point where you get the most exposure—whether that’s measured in impressions, clicks, or actions—and the least amount of money spent.
Such balance is hard to get, especially when you’re first getting started and LinkedIn’s algorithms don’t have enough data to optimize your ads correctly.
There are two types of bids you can choose from that vary slightly dependent on your campaign objective:
Maximum cost bid: With this option, you select the maximum amount of money you’re willing to bid for, by providing a CPC, CPM or CPV.
Automated bid: With this option, LinkedIn uses historical campaign data and user information to automatically set and adjust your bid, optimizing towards your chosen campaign objective.
To define which bid strategy you want to take, think on what’s your ultimate goal behind your campaigns.
If you want the most amount of impressions, clicks, or conversions, then the automated bid is the best option for you. Since LinkedIn optimizes your bids with the intention of maximizing your objective, they will make sure you get the results, albeit by overspending.
If you want to control your costs, then the maximum cost bid is your best choice. The problem with this strategy is that you may underbid—that is, you’ll bid for less than the amount you need to get any exposure whatsoever. For that reason, it’s a smart idea to start with an automated bid—letting LinkedIn gather data for you—and pair this with a daily budget cap to ensure your spend is limited.
Once you know how much each bid really costs, you can then optimize your campaigns based on this data.
You can optimize your bids around different metrics, depending on your objective. LinkedIn offers a handy table with all the information available around this topic:
LinkedIn Ad Examples
Step 5: How to create a high-performing ad
The ad you create will depend on your LinkedIn ad type and format. Since there are three ad types and eight ad formats, we’ve got 24 different variations from where to create an ad. That’s a lot of combinations.
But to simplify everything, here are the basics for creating the best sponsored ads, the best sponsored inmail, and the best text ads.
Creating a high-converting LinkedIn Sponsored Ad
Sponsored ads are native advertising—that is, the content fits naturally within the LinkedIn feed amongst non-sponsored content your target audience is browsing.
The key to creating sponsored ads then is to make them look natural.
You want people to feel as if they’re not seeing an ad, but reading a useful and relevant piece of content.
Your headline should be under 70 characters, and your main copy should be under 150 characters, both of which act as the leverage that stops people in their tracks and makes them read your ad. You can create ads with longer text, but the copy will likely be truncated.
The image is another important element, which often magnifies the idea of the piece. You can use a text-free image, which should illustrate the idea of the ad, or one with text to cement the message of the ad even further.
You can play with video as well, which is a type of media that has shown more engaging than images or text.
The IAB has found that video ads have much higher CTRs than native, banner, and interstitial (i.e., full-screen) ads.
While it’s time-consuming and more expensive to produce than written content, video ads are part of the new wave of media content that you need to try to differentiate your ads from the competition.
Creating a high-converting LinkedIn Sponsored InMail
No one likes to get unsolicited mail. Such is the fact of anyone who tries to get someone to act upon an offer when sent by mail or LinkedIn’s InMail, but it shouldn’t demotivate you.
LinkedIn has reported that the sponsored InMail campaigns have open rates between 35 to 50%, and they go as high as over 70%, comparing very favourably with email campaigns.
Such results make a sponsored InMail campaign pretty enticing.
Think of your sponsored InMail campaign as if you were writing the recipient an email. Therefore, the rules that apply to effective email outreach apply as well to a sponsored InMail campaign.
To start, your InMail should be clear and concise to get your target to pay attention to your message. Your offer should be clear right away so the recipient doesn’t have to guess what you’re trying to do.
Related to the clarity of your InMail comes relevancy. To increase the relevancy of your message, consider using a list of your website visitors or target accounts you’d like to work with as a potential target list for a sponsored InMail campaign.
Finally, given the upfront and cold nature of the contact, you want to align your offer with your recipient. Think on a high-value offer that doesn’t demand much time or effort for your recipient to act upon, especially if this recipient knows you.
Download our guide for more help on getting started with social selling.
Creating a high-converting LinkedIn Text Ad
As I’ve said before, text ads have more in common with the traditional Google Ads than with the other ads seen in this guide.
You have much less ad real estate to play with, so your job is to maximize the words you use to engage with your audience.
Text ads are made up of four elements:
There’s not a lot of space for creativity with text ads. It’s all about positioning your ads the right way with the right words and expressions.
Given the constraints imposed with text ads, you want to follow the advice from Upworthy and write a number of variations of each headline and ad copy so you can pick the right combination based on performance.
In contrast with sponsored content, text ads look like ads. There’s no way you can convince people that what you have isn’t an offer. Your text ad thus won’t be competing with other feed content, but with other ads.
The text ads that get all the clicks are the ones that best speak to the end user.
If your audience is made up of directors of marketing, then your headline can say something like:
Are You a Director of Marketing?
Where’s the line between a highly-relevant and compelling sales email and a creepy invasion of privacy?
Email marketing and B2B sales teams today are all too familiar with that particular catch-22. You have access to a wealth of data to inform email campaigns—but privacy concerns and varying consumer comfort levels with data collection can complicate things.
That’s a consideration that’s missing from most of the B2B email templates you’ll find online. They either:
Ignore the impact of data and hawk super generic emails, or
Go all in on personalization, ignoring how it may read to prospects
Neither of those approaches does justice to today’s B2B companies or consumers. And if email is a big part of your sales process or marketing strategy, you need a better way to let data inform those efforts.
The email examples and templates we share below are designed to help salespeople strike the right balance—so you can sell more without creeping people out. We have templates for:
Cold email template
Follow-up email template
Stale lead email template
Before we get to those, we discuss some of the best practices around using data in your sales outreach, so you’ll be better equipped to adapt our templates or build your own.
Note: Is your sales outreach driven by buying signals and intent data? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see which companies have visited your website, plus the pages they looked at and how long they spent there.
How to Appropriately Use Data in Your Sales Outreach Emails
Striking a balance between relevant and creepy really comes down to just three things:
Understanding your customers and prospects
How you use the data you have
How you talk about the data you use
Every use of data needs to start with solid insight into how your buyers are likely to react to it. Since access to and availability of data has grown so quickly, prospects have varying levels of comfort with personalization and data collection. When you understand that, you can take the right steps to mitigate the creepy factor for your customers.
The key, then, is to use the data you have for a reason—don’t fall into the trap of over-personalizing an email just because you can. Any and all data you use to inform sales outreach needs to either inform your message or reduce friction for the prospect.
For example: If you have technographic data showing a prospect uses your competitor’s product and pricing intelligence showing that competitor has raised their prices, sending an email offering to set up a call makes sense.
Once you know your email is relevant, it’s important to frame personalization as a benefit—not an invasion. Steve Bryerton, VP of Sales for Mailshake, put it this way: “The Scoop, or inside piece of information, helps provide timing and context to a message, but it should not be THE message.”
That means avoiding phrases like:
“I know you’re working on”
“I hear you have a new project”
“I see you’re looking into”
In our example above, the email shouldn’t say “I know you use Competitor A’s product…” If you’re sending outreach emails based on Leadfeeder data, don’t start with “I see you viewed our pricing page,” or “I know you’re interested in Feature X…”
Instead, position yourself and your company as the expert. You know prospects are looking for your solution because you solve similar problems for similar companies day in and day out. Frame your inside knowledge more like this:
“I work with dozens of [industry] companies that are seeing [problem]”
“We’ve noticed companies like yours struggle with [pain point]—is that something you’ve seen?”
Cold Email Template
After you’ve seen in Leadfeeder that a target company visited your website—say, they spent several minutes on your features page and visited your pricing page—you know they likely experience pains that your product can solve. You also know, based on company data within Leadfeeder, that they fit your target account profile.
Here’s a sample first email template that puts all of that data to work, without the creepy:
Subject line: Better leads?
I work with dozens of [industry] companies that struggle to generate enough targeted leads for their sales teams. Do you ever have that problem at [Company Name]?
Our product is designed to [present your specific value proposition], enabling companies to:
If that’s something you’re interested in, let’s set up a demo.
Follow-Up Email Template
If you send an initial sales email that gets opened, and Leadfeeder data shows that prospect went on to visit your website and share it with their coworkers, you know something resonated.
Note: Want to know how many people from a target account have visited your website? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see companies that have visited your website, plus the pages they looked at and how long they spent there.
When it’s time to follow up, here’s a sample email template that leverages that data without sounding like Big Brother:
Subject line: Do you want more info?
I trust that you’ve had an opportunity to read me previous email and look at our website, so I figured it’d be worth checking in with you again.
Have you given any additional thought to using [Product] to find better leads? I’d be happy to run you through a demo of how it works and answer any and all questions you may have.
When would suit you for a quick video chat?
Stale Lead Email Template
Let’s say you reached out to a prospect who scheduled a demo. Their feedback was great and everything seemed to be moving toward a close when they just… disappeared. If it’s been a few weeks or months and someone from the company visits your website, it might be a good time to re-engage.
Subject line: Is it time for better leads?
Are you still struggling with [pain point]?
Based on your feedback during our demo, it sounds like [Product] can help [Company Name] with:
[Value 1] and
I’d be happy to pick up where we left off and answer any remaining questions you may have.
Personalized Sales Outreach Without the Creepy
All the data available today has the potential to open tons of doors for B2B salespeople and marketers—the key is approaching prospects in such a way that you don’t get that door slammed in your face. Get to know your prospects, be transparent, and use data to make their lives easier—not just yours.
The traditional inbound marketing approach has served B2B marketers well for many years and it continues to do so. But the battle to grow traffic and generate more leads is intense.
Is there another way? More than 60% of companies seem to think so—and they plan to launch account based marketing campaigns in the next year.
So just what is account based marketing, why should you be doing it and how do you get started?
We’ll answer all those questions and more in this guide, as we cover:
What account based marketing is
The difference between ABM and inbound marketing
Account based marketing strategy
Account based marketing examples
Account based marketing tactics
Click to jump to a specific section, or continue scrolling.
What is account based marketing?
Before we dive into the details, let’s iron-out exactly what “account based marketing” means.
Account based marketing takes an uber-personalized approach to marketing and sales. Often abbreviated to ABM, you focus on a handful of high-quality accounts (or companies), and deliver messages that are personalized to them—rather than creating more generic messages that attract large numbers of individuals and thereafter begin targeting your ideal customers.
So why bother with this kind of strategy?
Account based marketing influences multiple stakeholders with your targeting—which could be crucial, especially when the average B2B buying process involves 6.8 people (compared to 5.4 people in 2014). The company that carried out that original study predicts the number of people involved in the buying process could now be as much as 10.2.
You’re not just speaking to one person at one company; you’re using ABM tactics to influence several people working at the same business.
Dalton Kane of Small Shops explains:
Companies don’t buy services and products, people at companies do. It isn’t about mass blasting contacts, but knowing how to solve specific problems for specific companies and then delivering that value proposition to a person in a context that matters to them.
…Still not convinced?
ABM also helps align sales and marketing teams. The two departments are working together, trying to educate and nurture the same account—rather than marketing teams attracting new leads, and passing them directly onto the sales reps to nurture.
This could help you drive the 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates that companies with “smarketing” teams see.
(There’s a reason why 87% of B2B marketers think account based marketing delivers a higher ROI than other marketing activities.)
ABM vs inbound marketing
It’s tricky to understand how account based marketing slots within the existing funnels you’re already using.
There’s a difference between the two that could make the switch easier: Inbound marketing and lead generation focus on getting high volumes of individuals to your website and hoping the right ones find their own way through your funnel.
(That could be through content optimized for organic search, for example, whereby you’re hoping to attract anyone searching for information related to your product, service, or industry through Google.)
The aim may be to get them to download a piece of gated content so you can nurture them through email or retargeted advertising. Then, once the lead as at the bottom of the funnel, you’ll have enough data to determine whether they’re a MQL—and begin identifying your target customers.
Account based marketing flips this funnel on its head. You work on identifying the right companies beforehand, expanding your target list by pinpointing key contacts in the business and engaging them with content and campaigns.
That being said, you can use inbound and ABM in harmony.
Inbound can build awareness by driving lots of traffic to your website—visitors you can identify with website visitor identification software, then run ABM campaigns to the target accounts you find.
This hybrid strategy means you’ll be able to automatically identify high-value, ideal accounts after they enter the early stages of your inbound funnel. You won’t need to hope your generic lead nurturing emails do that.
Instead, you’re delivering a personalized approach—something that 59% of customers say influences their purchase decision.
How to start your account based marketing strategy
Ready to start your own account based marketing strategy?
Here’s the six-step process you’ll need to put together a winning campaign:
1. Get your team together and refocus
Earlier, we mentioned sales and marketing teams can benefit from ABM. But that’s not possible if everyone isn’t on the same page.
(After all, when you’re running an account based marketing campaign, multiple people are communicating with the same account several times throughout the sales funnel.)
For that reason, kick off your new strategy by holding a group meeting. You should explain:
The benefits of ABM
Why your team should be using it
The strategy you plan to use
This meeting should help to refocus your entire team. They’ll know which accounts to prioritize, and the techniques they can use to personalize sales and marketing content for each target account.
Tempted to skip this stage? You could cause more harm than good.
Your ABM campaigns will be all over the place if your target account is in contact with several people—each of which give mixed messages. That can be confusing and off-putting for your client.
However, a central CRM that stores information about your target account (such as their personal names and last contact) could prevent those mixed messages resulting in a lost deal. A system that integrates this information with your CRM will be a big help.
2. Identify target accounts
Buyer personas are documents that explain the traits, behaviors, and preferences that your target customers share. You can create similar documents to identify your target accounts—specifically by using firmographic data to build a list of companies to target.
That might include:
Pain points of stakeholders
It’s important to build these accurately by looking through previous customer data, running rounds of user testing, sending customer surveys, or conducting industry research. Target account lists based on guesswork aren’t accurate—and could see you focusing on accounts that won’t convert.
The level of personalization your ABM campaigns need depend on the volume of accounts on your target list.
If your target account list is short, but each account has a high potential value, personalization will likely be one-to-one. It makes sense to invest time into these personal, one-to-one discussions if the account will make a significant impact to your revenue.
But if your list of target accounts is larger and the accounts are of lower value, the content you send will likely focus on things like industry, country, company size or turnover. You likely won’t have time to invest into researching, or creating content for each individual account.
In this case, you could use a programmatic approach to ABM; using tools like LinkedIn and Leadfeeder to automate the process and take more of a hands-off approach.
3. Find your accounts
Once you’ve identified the target accounts you want to convert, it’s time to get out there and find them. There are two methods you could use to do this:
a) Actively search for them
Your firmographic data should give you a list of companies that fit your ideal account profile. Certain data points—such as company size, industry, or turnover—can be used to find companies that match your description.
For example: Let’s say you’re targeting up-and-coming startup healthcare companies with a HQ in the United States, who have just received their first round of funding. Head over to AngelList’s company directory and filter the results by:
Location (United States)
The companies on that list will fit within your ideal target account profile.
b) See who’s already browsing your website
The problem with actively finding new accounts to target? It’s a lot of manual work and they probably haven’t heard of you before. There’s no established trust there, nor existing interest in your product, service, or industry.
You’re starting right from the beginning of the marketing funnel—and will likely need to work harder at convincing them to buy, as a result.
However, identifying the companies already browsing your website empowers you to align your inbound and ABM funnel, and scale your account based marketing plan quickly.
You can use a tool like Leadfeeder to view:
Companies visiting your website
Pages they’re visiting
How often they visit
Key decision-makers who work there
Create custom feeds based on a variety or firmographic or web analytic data to filter the companies visiting your website and automatically send the ones that match your target account list to your CRM.
4. Determine your point of contact
By this point, you should have a list of companies you want to bring onto your customer list. But instead of diving feet-first with a cold email, you want the person to visit your website before sending them any form of sales pitch.
The best approach for this depends on whether they’ve visited your website beforehand.
If the account hasn’t visited your website, you’ll have to manually find your best contact on platform such as LinkedIn. Start by connecting with them on social media and get on their radar before diving into their inbox. This could be anything from a comment on LinkedIn posts or a response to a tweet.
With website visitor identification software you’ll know whether they’ve visited your website before. If they have, use the enriched data already provided to find your best contact: If you sell content marketing services, for example, that would be a marketing manager.
You’ll also be able to see what pages that company has visited on your website, which will help you determine their pain point. This will help you when reaching out to them on social or creating campaigns to target them.
5. Create content for your target
Once you’re on your target account’s radar, you’ll need to send them free, non-promotional content to get them into the know, like, trust cycle.
Remember: The more trust you build, the easier it will be to get someone to buy from your brand.
The kind of content you create depends on what type of approach you’re taking to account based marketing: one-to-one or one-to-many.
One-to-one: If your list of target accounts is short but each has lots of potential value, take the one-on-one approach and create content created specifically for your contact. For example, a web design company trying to engage a large online retailer could send a personalised 10 minute video with a review of the retailer’s website product page and ideas for improvement.
One-to-many: If your target list is longer and each account has less potential value, you need to create content that’s going to have a larger appeal. For example, the same web design company looking to engage software companies could create a blog detailing 10 ways to improve a SaaS pricing page.
Create different types of content for people as they flow through various parts of the funnel.
For example: Podcasts might be a great way to get on your account’s radar; in-depth playbooks could keep them engaged; and product-by-product comparison posts of your brand and your competition could encourage conversions.
The content you’re sending needs to match their stage in the funnel. If they’re not ready to buy yet, there’s no use directing them to your pricing page.
6. Determine how to deliver it to them
You’ve got a collection of interesting content your target account is likely to be interested in, and you’re on their radar. Sure, you could reach out to them directly via email—but 60% of people think a generic sales pitch is irritating.
Instead of emailing with your product pitch, determine which channels are most effective to serve that content to each account.
LinkedIn is a great option if you’re targeting B2B buyers. You’ve got the ability to reach people when they’ve got their “business brain” switched on, and you can specifically pick the company you want to target through advertising.
Simply write your content, create an eye-catching advertisement for it, and add the target account’s company name in the audience targeting field:
LinkedIn will then serve your content to your target account, rather than anyone that fits a certain quality. This allows you to customize and personalize your ad copy, making it a great option if you’re focusing on high-value accounts with a one-to-one strategy.
If you’re targeting high-volume accounts with less potential value, you could deliver this content by using LinkedIn ads, paired with custom feeds on Leadfeeder. This helps you scale your ABM strategy, and display relevant ads to a larger number of target accounts—without having to create individual advertising campaigns.
Account based marketing examples
It’s all well and good to rave about the potential results you could get from account based marketing. But you want real examples of companies who’ve implemented a strategy and seen success, right?
Take a look at these three ABM case studies for some inspiration.
1. Beck Technology’s customer retention
Beck Technology sell a combination of software and services to construction companies to help them with complex building projects. Their customers tend to have buying processes that go against the norm, with the majority of customers continuing to repurchase several times.
They wanted to increase this long-term usage of their software and services. So, they:
Compiled a list of accounts they’d love to retain using Leadfeeder
“Gut checked” the list by getting to know the company, and analyzing whether they’d need (or use) the software/services they sell
Ran marketing campaigns to prime their target account
Passed their target account through to their customer success team once they’d converted—with sales and marketing teams still having some involvement at this stage.
As a result, they managed to improve the long-term partnerships they had with their target customers. No more running around trying to find new companies to generate revenue—they used ABM to build a list of customers that will stick with them for years.
2. O2 gained an ROI of 118:1
We all know O2 as the telecommunications company. They wanted to close more sales on the B2B side of their business, so their sales team used ABM to learn more about target accounts. They used the information they’d found to personalize their sales approach.
The result? O2 won 325% of their target business, with an overall ROI of 118:1 for their ABM campaign.
3. SAP’s sales pipeline worth $227 million
SAP is a technology company with several services and target personas. Starting an ABM strategy on that scale would’ve been overwhelming, so they originally started with five accounts. (Accounts were picked depending on growth, contacts, and expected co-operation).
Their sales and marketing teams aimed to learn as much as they could about each—using their findings in conversations they had with each account.
The result? In just two years, SAP’s sales pipeline had over $227 million in new opportunities.
Account based marketing tactics to remember
You might be tempted to dive feet-first with your account based marketing strategy, and start personalizing each account on your dream customers list.
But before you get started, here are three important things you’ll need to consider.
1. Get to know your target accounts
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution or advice when it comes to account based marketing, as everyone has different target accounts. So the most important thing you can do is get to know your company’s targets. The more information you have about your target account, such as:
Their pain points
The problems they’re trying to solve
The decision-making process at their company
…means you can find the most appropriate approach to take. (One that results in a purchase.)
For example: A small target account with a short decision-making process that involves two people (a CEO and a department manager) likely wouldn’t need as strategic approach as a Fortune 500 company with seven department heads having an input.
So, make an effort to understand the feelings, emotions, and challenges each account has—on an individual basis.
The more you know about the journey your customers go through before converting, the better you can personalize your ABM campaigns to convince them.
2. Always check who’s visiting your website
Earlier, we mentioned how there are two ways to find target accounts:
Actively searching for companies who match the firmographic data of your target account list
Looking at the companies already visiting your website, and assessing whether they have the same qualities
The first is a great starting point if you don’t have a huge influx of visitors browsing your website. In this case, you can’t sit back and wait for them to come to you. You need to get out there and find accounts that fit your “dream customer” mould.
However, if you do have a substantial amount of website traffic, don’t neglect it. You might already have a list of target accounts that you’re testing account based marketing with, but remember website visitors are already further along in the sales process.
These people should be higher on your priority list than target accounts who don’t have a clue who you are.
Get a deeper understanding of who’s visiting your website with our free Website Visitor Identification eBook. It covers how website visitor identification works, several use cases for sales and marketing, and how it can help power your account based marketing strategy:
The Ultimate Guide To Website Visitor Identification
Discover how to identify, qualify and connect with leads generated from your analytics.
3. Never stop testing
Just like any type of sales or marketing activity, you need to analyze what’s working—and change what isn’t.
Look at key metrics, such as:
Whether accounts are engaging with your content
Which type of content gets a response
The best performing channels when delivering that content
Conversion rate per type of account (or customer persona)
It’s worth checking these figures regularly and building reports that help visualise and track long-term results (Google Data Studio is a great option for this). That way, you’ve got enough data to accurately measure success, and you can quickly spot (and correct) any issues before they become a major problem.
As you can see, building an account based marketing strategy can be worth its weight in gold when you’re converting accounts on your list of dream customers.
Remember to start by refocusing your team, prioritizing big accounts, and gauging interest based on the activity already happening on your website. Then once you’re going, never stop testing and improving.
Do it correctly and there’s no reason why you couldn’t see a huge sales pipeline ready for you to convert.
For more information on account based strategies, read the following blogs:
47 account based marketing tools
A guide to account based retargeting
Account based selling best practices
The missing link in your account based marketing strategy
How Beck Technology uses ABM to drive more sales
There are two universal truths about marketing automation tools:
Not every business or marketing team needs one
For those who do, choosing a marketing automation solution requires a lot more subtlety and nuance than just buying the first all-in-one tool that pops into your head (usually Marketo or HubSpot)
With that in mind, choosing the right tool for your team comes down to two things:
Knowing when you’re ready for marketing automation
Understanding your use case and needs
Too many marketers unknowingly make a mistake on that first part—diving into an automation tool long before they really need it. And too many round-ups miss the mark on the second part, listing robust, expensive, all-in-one tools that not every marketing team needs.
In this article, we cover how to know if your team and your organization are ready for a full-fledged marketing automation solution. Then, instead of just listing tools, we categorize the best marketing automation tools by seven of the most common use cases—so you can be more precise in finding the right fit for you.
Note: Want to see which companies have visited your website, plus which pages they look at? Sign up and give Leadfeeder a try—free for 14 days.
Do You Actually Need a Marketing Automation Tool?
Most businesses today buy a marketing automation tool without stopping to consider whether they really need it yet. As the quintessential buzzword of late, marketing automation can feel like an obvious step toward scaling your marketing operation—but you need to have a true marketing operation first.
From our experience, businesses aren’t ready for marketing automation until they tick at least three of these boxes:
You have a marketing team of at least one person who only does marketing. Marketing automation can streamline and scale your efforts, but it isn’t a substitute for actual marketing know-how. If you’re a founder or early employee doing a bunch of activities, including marketing, and think an “automation” tool is going to free up your time, a tool isn’t going to solve your problem.
You’ve found at least one marketing channel that works for you. Marketing automation tools help scale your marketing, but you don’t want to scale something that doesn’t actually work yet. If you think an automation tool will help you find a channel that works, it (more than likely) won’t.
All of your marketing efforts flow from a defined strategy. For the same reason as above, you don’t need an automation tool to throw more spaghetti at the wall in hopes that something sticks.
Your marketing team has more money than time. Marketing automation tools help your team do more in less time—but you have to be comfortable with the financial hand-off that buys you that time.
Once all of those scenarios apply to your business, then you can start to consider a marketing automation solution.
But you don’t have to go all-in from the start. Many businesses over-invest in an all-in-one solution when they only need email automation, for example. Take time to consider where your needs and your use case really lie—then find your use case from the list below.
All-in-One Marketing Automation Tools
Email Marketing Automation
Social Media Automation
Customer Journey Automation
Loyalty and Referral Marketing Automation
Lastly, if you want to learn more about who we are (Leadfeeder) and what we do, you can skip straight to the customer journey automation section where we explain how we fit into the marketing automation landscape.
All-in-One Marketing Automation Tools
Generally speaking, organizations that really need a full all-in-one automation tool have already hit on a handful of marketing channels that work for them—regardless of which channels those are. That means:
You’ve seen success across more than 1 or 2 channels
You’re already investing financially in scaling your marketing operation
Your team needs to either scale the channels that are working and/or experiment with additional avenues
If that sounds like your team, these marketing automation tools can handle it all. From email automation, to ad buying, to lead nurturing, all-in-one automation tools can help add scale and streamline every aspect of your marketing operation.
Pricing: Contact Marketo for pricing information.
Marketo claims to offer marketing automation that covers any channel and every engagement. Since being acquired by Adobe, the list of tasks that work together on Marketo has only multiplied. Their full-feature software can handle everything from digital advertising to social media to account-based marketing—making it a really good option for larger marketing operations.
Pricing: Contact Oracle for pricing information.
Eloqua, now part of the Oracle suite of tools, sets itself apart by working with nearly every other tool in your marketing belt. Eloqua boasts more than 700 integrations, meaning it can make every step of your marketing process more personalized and streamlined. It’s also one of only a few all-in-one tools with an explicit emphasis on serving B2B marketers and companies.
Pricing: Ranges from $50 – $3,200+ per month, based on features and scale.
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is fundamentally different from other marketing automation tools for a few reasons. For one, their focus on inbound marketing (including content and search marketing) is unparalleled. They also offer the added benefit of the Sales and Service Hubs, which means your team can better work together—even across departments.
Pricing: Ranges from $1,250 – $4,000 per month, based on depth of automation and analytics.
Pardot (now part of Salesforce) is another marketing automation tool that’s tailored to the needs of B2B marketers, with support for things like B2B analytics and account-based marketing. The partnership with Salesforce makes Pardot part of a robust suite of products that work together to help sales and marketing teams be more effective, together.
Pricing: Ranges from $9 – $400+ per month, based on features and number of contacts.
As a marketing automation tool, ActiveCampaign does perhaps the best job at working automation into the processes of real humans. The reality is, marketing software can’t handle everything—there are aspects of marketing that need a human touch. ActiveCampaign built their software around that, adding features like notification emails that empower marketers and salespeople, instead of replacing them.
Email Marketing Automation
Despite the high-profile of many of the all-in-one tools above, email automation is still one of the first things most people think of when they hear “marketing automation.” Email marketing automation tools are a lot cheaper than the all in one tools above, so it doesn’t make sense to shell out for more than your team needs or will use.
The use case for email automation is also one of the widest. Your team could likely benefit from it, if:
You’ve seen some level of baseline success with email marketing
You need to send transactional emails, in addition to marketing
Someone on your team has been manually sending every campaign
Email marketing automation tools handle tasks, like sending triggered emails, and enable marketers to build complex automated campaigns and personalized audience segments.
Pricing: Ranges from $14.99 – $299 per month, based on features and contacts.
Mailchimp is in the process of growing from an email marketing tool to a full-blown marketing automation solution. While their expanded features remain to be tested, Mailchimp is one of the original email marketing tools, and they’ve turned that experience into a rock-solid and capable email automation tool that’s a breeze to use.
7. Constant Contact
Pricing: Ranges from $20 – $335 per month, based on features and list size.
Constant Contact is email marketing automation designed for smaller businesses. With their tool, you can create automated trigger campaigns, collect new emails automatically, and send segmented follow-up messages. With Constant Contact, your email program has all the features you need, without the clutter some other tools drown you in.
Pricing: Ranges from $150 – $1,000+ per month, based on features and support.
Built for subscription-based businesses, Customer.io’s email automation tool is all about engaging customers throughout the customer lifecycle. Tons of integrations make it easy to funnel data from across your technology stack and turn it into automated segments and email campaigns that resonate.
Pricing: Ranges from $49 – $122+ per month, based on active subscribers.
Drip’s email marketing automation is built for eCommerce businesses—meaning it works with all of the other eCommerce tools you use. You can create personalized content and automate campaigns based on customer behavior. Drip also offers more than email automation, so all of your messaging stays consistent and works together to drive customers toward a purchase.
Social Media Automation
Social media automation tools encompass one of the broadest fields—with solutions designed to help automate various aspects of social media marketing, from content publishing, to monitoring, to analytics.
As such, nearly any brand can benefit from a social media scheduling tool like Buffer. That said, you probably don’t need a full-fledged social media automation tool unless:
More than one person is publishing under your brand’s social media accounts
Your brand is active on multiple social networks
You’re using social media for multiple purposes, like paid advertising or providing customer support
Pricing: Ranges from $29 – $599+ per month, based on social profiles, users, and more.
Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive and full-featured social media automation tools. With features to help you schedule content, curate from a pre-approved library, and monitor conversations about your brand and industry, Hootsuite has everything you need to create a social media presence that makes a difference for your brand.
Pricing: Ranges from $15 – $99 per month, based on the number of social accounts, users, and posts.
Originally a social media content scheduling tool, Buffer has grown to reflect the way today’s brands really use social. The tool still makes it easy to schedule and curate content, but additional ‘Reply’ and ‘Analyze’ solutions help connect social media with all the other teams they need to work with in modern organizations.
Pricing: Ranges from $80 – $400+ per month, based on the number of social profiles, users, and features.
CoSchedule’s automation tool offers one of the best solutions for planning and strategizing social media content in advance. By mapping out all of your content, including what you’ll say and when, it’s easy to get a bird’s eye view of your end-to-end social production. Plus, analytics and CoSchedule’s suggestions make it clear what resonates, so you can reuse and create more content like it.
13. Sprout Social
Pricing: Ranges from $99 – $249 per user/ per month, based on features and number of social profiles.
Sprout Social has one of the widest feature sets among the social automation tools on our list—with individually tailored solutions for everything from social management and marketing to customer care, employee advocacy, and data and intelligence. The publishing wing of Sprout Social’s solution is great for teams, too, making it easy to collaborate on both strategy and execution.
Pricing: Ranges from free to over $600 per month, based on the scale of your social listening operation.
Leaning hard into the social listening aspect of social media marketing, Mention enables brands to track mentions across the digital media landscape. You can keep track of how your campaigns spur conversations throughout the web—not just on social media. Plus, Mention makes it easy to automatically track competitors and industry trends, too.
Customer Journey Automation
When we talk about customer journey automation from a marketing perspective, we’re really talking about three main stages:
The tools in this section are designed to make one or more of those steps work better without a human babysitter.
Customer journey automation tools are best suited to enterprise and B2B marketing and sales teams. They could help scale your operation if:
You’ve already mapped out the journey customers take from new lead to sale
Your marketing and sales teams work closely together to manage the customer journey
You’re using an account-based sales or ABM model
Pricing: Ranges from free to over $53 per month, based on features and the number of unique leads.
Companies and their employees visit your website, but those potential leads can vanish into the ether if they don’t fill out some kind of form while they’re there. That means your team could be missing out on tons of valuable potential leads who may be a great fit to become customers.
Leadfeeder helps you surface that information, by showing you all the companies that visit your website. You can create Custom Feeds to narrow that list down to your best fit leads, and have notifications of new leads automatically sent to email and Slack for the right team member.
Our tool is best for B2B and enterprise marketing teams who need a better way to both identify new leads and better target their marketing to the best-fit prospects.
Note: Want to generate more leads from your website? Sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see all the companies that visit your site, plus info on the pages they looked at, how long they spent there, and more.
Pricing: Ranges from $900 – $2,000+ per month, based on features and number of users.
Act-On’s marketing automation software is designed for enterprise brands. The tool helps connect two important things:
Your marketing and sales teams
The breadcrumbs leads drop across the web
That means it’s easier to identify (and agree upon) the best leads to pursue—making Act-On a great option for large and B2B companies using an account-based marketing strategy.
Pricing: Ranges from $150 – $2,500 per month, based on contacts and features.
LeadSquared is one customer journey automation tool that’s focused primarily on the lead nurturing phase of the process. The tool is designed to help move leads through the funnel faster, so you land more new customers in less time. You can set triggers, conditions, and actions to automate your drip marketing—so you never miss an opportunity to advance leads toward a purchase.
18. Infusionsoft by Keap
Pricing: One time fee of $499 – $1,999, plus $199 – $399 per month, based on features and contacts.
Now part of Keap, Infusionsoft is marketing automation software designed to streamline communication between your company and potential leads and customers. Infusionsoft’s solution is designed for small businesses, meaning they’ve made it easy to build emails, workflows, landing pages, and more from pre-built templates.
Whether you’re looking to keep your prices competitive as your competitors shift or optimize your pricing model from the top-down, pricing automation software makes it easier to react to competitive pricing changes and turn your pricing strategy into an advantage.
Pricing automation tools are generally designed with the eCommerce use-case in mind, and those are the companies who are most likely to benefit from one of these tools. If you’re working in eCommerce and selling competitive (and/or seasonal) products to a price conscious market, a pricing automation tool can be a good option.
Pricing: Ranges from $59 – $229 per month, based on features and the number of products.
Prisync is pricing automation software designed for eCommerce. Since the eCommerce industry tends to harbor some of the most price-conscious consumers, it’s vital that brands can react to competitive pricing changes in a hurry. Prisync automates that process, so you’re always on top of competitor pricing and how it compares to yours.
Pricing: Contact Wiser for pricing information.
Wiser offers one of the most comprehensive pricing strategy and automation tools on the market. The tool can help with everything from A/B testing your prices to estimating demand and helping you find the right sweet-spot to maximize your bottom line. As demand and other market forces change, Wiser does the heavy lifting so your pricing strategy always works—for you and your customers.
Pricing: Ranges from $129 – $319 per month, based on marketplaces, repricing strategies, support, and more.
Informed is a repricing automation tool for eCommerce businesses and online sellers. With support for 13 different marketplaces, their tool works no matter where you sell online. Informed’s approach to repricing is unique because the solution allows you to choose between creating your own repricing strategy or using their AI-powered suggestions.
Pricing: Ranges from $89 – $999+ per month, based on analytics and other features.
Designed for brands with a large catalog of products, Skuuudle makes it effortless to monitor competitor pricing and match products at scale, so you never miss a sale because of price. Skuuudle is also one of few pricing automation tools that pulls data from both eCommerce marketplaces and direct sellers.
With everything that goes into creating and optimizing digital ads these days, most marketers need a helping hand. From building ad creative across ad channels to optimizing bidding strategies, advertising automation tools are one of the best ways to scale a digital ad effort.
Similar to the all-on-one tools, you really don’t need advertising automation until:
You’ve seen traction on more than one advertising platform (i.e. Facebook and Twitter or Google AdWords and Instagram)
You’re looking to refine ad creative and bidding strategies, instead of heavily testing
You want to advertise to hyper-targeted segments, like remarketed audiences
Pricing: Pricing based on CPM—contact AdRoll for more specific pricing information.
AdRoll is probably one of the best known digital advertising automation tools, and for good reason. Their software makes it easy to run ads across every channel from display and social, to email. On top of that, AdRoll offers retargeting campaigns that pack a serious punch, so you can stay top of mind with new prospects and re-engage inactive customers.
Pricing: Ranges from $1,000 – $5,000+ per month, based on monthly ad spend, channels, and more.
Metadata.io is one of the only tools on the market that enables B2B marketers to run account-based ads. Using AI and multivariate testing, Metadata.io identify the most effective combination of ad creative, copy, and placement to get the best results for your ad budget.
Pro tip: You can even use Metadata.io together with Leadfeeder to run account-based retargeting campaigns.
Pricing: Ranges from $895 – $1,590 per month, based on ad accounts, users, and support.
Zalster is an advertising automation tool that handles Facebook and Instagram ads. Despite the limited scope of platforms, Zalster makes our list because it’s one of the only tools that truly handles your social media ad campaigns from end-to-end. Their software uses AI to continuously optimize campaigns, so you’re always running on all cylinders.
Pricing: Ranges from $49 – $2,999 per month, based on monthly ad spend.
Similar to Zalster, Revealbot focuses on two ad platforms exclusively: Facebook and Google. The automation tool is focused on providing in-depth ad campaign analytics, so you can effortlessly find the most effective campaigns and double-down on them. You can create rules to automatically optimize campaigns and even get full campaign reports via their Slack bot, Emma.
Pricing: Contact Trapica for pricing information.
Focused on social media ads, Trapica aims to use AI to help you find the best, most targeted audience to spend your ad budget on. Their algorithms offers a deeper look at who your audience really is and robust targeting features help you reach that audience at just the right time to spur a purchase.
Pricing: Ranges from $79 – $1,500+ per month, based on features.
Shoelace focuses on what they call “customer journey retargeting.” By showing the right ads to the right customer, at just the right time, Shoelace makes it easier to use ads throughout every stage of the buyer’s journey—continuously nurturing and pushing leads toward a sale. Their software offers segmentation that enables hyper-targeted ads and sequences that prevent ad fatigue.
Loyalty and Referral Marketing Automation
Loyalty and referral marketing are one aspect of marketing often left out of the conversation around marketing automation. But they both capitalize on the most powerful marketing tool—word of mouth.
An automated loyalty or referral program could be a good fit for your business if:
You’ve seen demonstrated results from word of mouth already
Your products don’t require extensive research or negotiation to arrive at a buying decision
Your industry’s average customer lifetime value is high enough that the upfront investment makes sense
If so, these tools will help you spur and take advantage of buzz, taking your referral and loyalty programs to new heights.
29. Referral Rock
Pricing: Ranges from $200 – $800 per month, based on number of members, programs, and more.
Referrals are powerful—but you have to be proactive about encouraging and capitalizing on them. Referral Rock makes it easy to set up the right type of referral program for your business—from refer-a-friend, to influencer marketing, to business partner programs—so you can set it up once and let the referrals roll in on auto-pilot.
Pricing: Contact TapMango for pricing information.
TapMango’s customer loyalty automation platform takes the punch card of old and modernizes it for today’s customers. With flexible reward structures, tons of options for promotions, and a branded mobile app available, TapMango makes it easy on both you and your customers to inspire and reward loyalty and referrals.
Pricing: Contact Ambassador for pricing information.
Ambassador makes it easy to build a powerful army of brand ambassadors. From hand-selecting the customers you want to mobilize, to automating and testing reward incentives to find the right mix, Ambassador puts brand advocacy on auto-pilot. The platform offers tons of integrations and pre-built templates, so marketers can get their program off the ground in a jiffy.
Pricing: Contact Clutch for pricing information.
Clutch’s unique approach to loyalty marketing emphasizes building a deeper understanding of what drives loyalty for your unique customers. Their integrated platform makes it easy to attribute loyalty and sales from any channel, and the flexible rewards help you appeal to any and every type of customer and their motivations.
33. Belly by Mobivity
Pricing: Ranges from $129 – $179+ per month, based on features, email campaigns, and more.
Now part of Mobivity, Belly helps you reward and encourage both loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing by incentivizing both purchases and digital promotion—like online reviews. Belly’s tool even helps bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar sales and digital loyalty with a point-of-sale iPad display.
The Right Marketing at Scale
Not every company or marketing team is ready to automate their operation—but when the time comes, marketing automation tools can take solid marketing strategy to entirely new heights.
By identifying your unique needs and choosing the right tool to fill them, you can turn marketing insights into A+ execution at scale… so you can spend less time on the nitty-gritty, and more time growing the business.
The vast majority of so-called “B2B retargeting ads” are still built on the way traditional remarketing operates. An individual visits your website, clicks through on an email, or otherwise interacts with your digital marketing presence. Retargeting software drops a cookie onto that individual’s IP address and targets your ads to that person across the web.
Here’s the thing: that approach doesn’t make sense for B2B marketers.
In this article, we explain why traditional remarketing campaigns aren’t a good fit for B2B companies, introduce a better way to retarget based on whole accounts, and detail how to do it using Leadfeeder and our partner, Metadata.io.
Note: Want to see which accounts have visited your website and are ripe for retargeting? Sign up and give Leadfeeder a try—free for 14 days.
Why Traditional Retargeting Doesn’t Meet the Needs of B2B Marketing Teams
Traditional retargeting works by getting your ads in front of individuals who’ve demonstrated potential buying intent by visiting your website or engaging with your company in some way online. That doesn’t work for B2B marketers for one simple reason: B2B is about target companies, not individuals. There are a few reasons for that:
B2B buying decisions aren’t made by one person. They involve multiple decision makers and have several levels of involvement.
Research for B2B products and services is often done by someone other than the decision maker or end user. If a virtual assistant is researching a solution for the CTO, it isn’t very impactful to retarget ads to the VA—you want to get in front of the CTO.
Similarly, individual retargeting just doesn’t fit into account based marketing and sales strategies. Your process is all about identifying and targeting whole accounts, so it doesn’t make sense to target ads to only one person within that account.
B2B marketers need retargeted ads that work on an account-wide level, targeting all the specific key decision makers you need to influence in order to make B2B sales happen.
Enter account based retargeting.
How Account Based B2B Retargeting is Different
With account based retargeting, you can target ads to an entire account—as many people who work there as necessary—and filter your retargeting ads based on specific decision makers, job titles, and buyer personas.
Using account based website visitor identification (via Leadfeeder), you can generate a list of the companies who have visited your website or otherwise engaged with your brand online. Then you can retarget everyone, or a small group of people, who work at that company.
That means you can identify key decision makers and put your entire ad budget to work retargeting ads to the right people, instead of spreading that spend across multiple individuals at several different accounts, who may or may not be decision makers.
And since you’re targeting entire accounts, this approach to B2B retargeting ads fits more cohesively into account based selling and account based marketing strategies.
How to Use Leadfeeder and Metadata.io to Set Up B2B Retargeting Ads
Account based retargeting is the best way for B2B marketers to nurture accounts through advertising, so let’s talk about how to make it happen by using Leadfeeder with Metadata.io.
Metadata is a platform for automated account based advertising for B2B companies—and you can use the website visitor identification and behavioral data from Leadfeeder to retarget entire accounts on their platform. Data from Leadfeeder helps make the targeting jump from one individual who visited your website and got a cookie to the company they work for.
Note: Not a Leadfeeder user yet? Sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see which accounts visit your website, plus the pages and content they look at.
Step 1: Create a Custom Feed in Leadfeeder
From your Leadfeeder dashboard, click ‘Create a new feed’. Then fill in targeting information for the accounts you want to retarget with ads. That can include attributes like: specific URLs, landing pages visited, minimum number of visits, whether the account is in your CRM, the number of employees, and more.
Step 2: Download a CSV File of Your Custom Feed
Open up the new Custom Feed and open the menu by clicking the three dots highlighted above—then select ‘Download feed as CSV’. This will serve as your custom audience and target account list for the retargeting campaign in Metadata.io.
Step 3: Upload the CSV Directly into LinkedIn Ads to Retarget on LinkedIn
From your LinkedIn Sales Navigator account, go to ‘Create audience’ and click ‘List upload’. Select the CSV file you exported from Leadfeeder, then give the new audience a name and click Upload.
Now you have a ready-made audience of Leadfeeder website visitors to retarget with your LinkedIn ad campaigns.
Step 4: Load CSV into Metadata.io to Retarget Accounts with Facebook, Instagram, and Display Ads
From your Metadata.io account, navigate to ‘Custom Audiences’ and select the ‘Upload CSV’ tab. Choose your Leadfeeder CSV file and click ‘Create Custom Audience’. That’s it!
A Better Way to Retarget Ads for B2B
There was a time when B2B marketers had to make do with the traditional approach to retargeting ads—but that time is over. Today, you have access to everything you need to take advantage of a better way to retarget ads, via account based B2B retargeting.
That means you can better allocate budget and target ads to complement your B2B, ABM, and account based selling tactics—yielding more targeted and effective ads—with a more efficient ad spend.
Despite the popularity of account-based marketing (ABM) strategies among B2B and enterprise companies, salespeople are still largely focused on individual leads. They generate leads, find their contact information, and conduct sales outreach on a one-to-one basis, with a “lead” being defined as a single point of contact.
But the traditional leads-based sales model isn’t the best strategy for B2B sales reps or companies selling high-value solutions to enterprise customers. Focusing on one individual lead at a time isn’t the most effective or efficient way to sell those kinds of products, for a few reasons:
B2B and enterprise transactions often involve multiple decision makers you have to convince.
Inbound leads offer no guarantee that that individual has the authority or decision-making power to complete a sale.
When a single lead says “no,” the relationship ends.
You miss out on selling for multiple use cases within a given account.
The solution is account-based selling (or ABS). A complement to ABM efforts, account-based sales enable B2B and enterprise salespeople to identify accounts first, and decision-makers second.
While many articles on the subject focus on implementing account-based selling, we’re taking a step back in this piece. We talk about why the account-first difference is so powerful for B2B sales teams and how it fits into a broader account-based strategy throughout the business.
The backbone of account-based selling is account identification and access to key buying intent signals. Without those, your sales outreach can’t be as targeted as ABS requires. Simply, without that behavioral context, you can’t do account-based sales.
In this article, we also explain how Leadfeeder can power account-based identification and outreach.
Already sold on ABS? Skip to how Leadfeeder can make the process more effective.
Note: Want to see which companies have visited your website, plus which pages they look at? Sign up and give Leadfeeder a try—free for 14 days.
What is Account-Based Selling?
In a nutshell, account-based sales is an inversion of the inbound and leads-based sales methodologies. Instead of targeting individuals as leads and hoping they have the authority to buy from you, ABS strategy targets the account first and foremost—then identifies multiple potential stakeholders and decision makers to reach out to.
Here’s what the typical ABS sales cycle looks like:
Identify ideal customer accounts to target. These can come from searching B2B databases, buying intent signals (like website visitor identification), or technographic information—among other qualifications.
Conduct research on each high-value account, their business, and any potential use cases for your solution within that organization.
Identify decision makers: determine multiple individuals within the account who are likely to be involved in buying decisions for each use case.
That account-first approach means salespeople begin the conversation with a much deeper understanding of the pain points a company may be facing and their potential use case for the product. Salespeople begin outreach knowing the company will benefit from their solution, instead of just crossing their fingers.
ABS also enables the broader organization to choose the kind of customers they want to sell to—you don’t have to sell to just anyone who fills out a contact form on your website.
How Does Account-Based Selling Fit Into a Broader Account-Based Strategy?
Account-based selling and account-based marketing are two sides of the same coin. They work hand-in-hand with account-based sales development to identify target accounts and move them to a close. There’s no true hand-off when an account moves from the marketing team to the sales team—sales and marketing outreach blend together into one overarching strategy.
And that means your marketing and sales teams have to be much more aligned than they are in your typical company.
The whole organization works together to select the right accounts to target. Sales development and marketing work together to identify the right contacts and decision makers. Then highly-personalized sales outreach is used in concert with marketing nurture campaigns to move decision makers to a sale.
How Leadfeeder Powers an Account Based Sales Process
We’ve talked a lot about identifying accounts, getting in-depth information on their use cases, challenges, and buying intent signals, and improving alignment between sales and marketing teams.
But how? Leadfeeder is one solution that can help with every stage of the ABS process.
Our account-based identification tool shows you all the companies that have indicated possible buying intent by visiting your website—regardless of whether or not they filled in a form or left their contact information.
You can create a Custom Feed to narrow in on the target accounts you want, based on your ideal customer profile and all kinds of buying intent signals, including:
Traditional account targeting factors—like revenue, location, and number of employees.
More granular intent signals—like recent funding rounds, technographic data, social media activity, and industry/company news.
Account executives can use integrations like LinkedIn Sales Navigator (Team and Enterprise editions) and popular CRMs to identify decision makers and buyer personas within your target accounts to start the outreach process.
All of your target accounts can be saved in one universal dashboard, so sales managers and marketing are always on the same page about who to target.
Note: Looking for more account level context and data to inform your ABS efforts? Sign up and give Leadfeeder a try—free for 14 days.
The Best Sales Strategy for B2B Companies and Enterprise Sales Organizations
Simply put, account-based selling and marketing are the best sales strategy for B2B and enterprise sales teams to do their thing.
ABS enables you to spend more time talking to the right accounts and gives you a better chance to ultimately close them—which is ideal when you have high-value accounts, large deal sizes, long sales cycles, and committee decision-making processes.
With the growth of ABM and other account-based strategies, it’s the natural next step for high-value and B2B sales.
Having a slick lead generation strategy is an integral facet to your success as a salesperson or marketer utilizing Leadfeeder. And our hottest new feature, Imported Lists, helps customers, like you, streamline your lead generation pipeline, and/or your account-based marketing process, so you can target companies smarter than ever before!
In fact, due to popular demand, we prioritized this improvement so whether you’re managing your targeted lists via MS Excel or a fancy CRM, Imported Lists is the perfect feature to help you get the job done.
One of our longtime customers, Melanie Leung, Marketing Operations Manager at Relayr.io, had this to say about utilizing the new feature.
“We are currently revving up our ABM tactics and Leadfeeder has truly been a great help. We are able to upload a list of prospects from each sales rep’s list and organize them so that the rep gets notified every time that prospect visits our website,” Leung explains.
“This has given us additional intelligence around when and where these prospects are visiting, even when they are not filling out our lead capture forms. Our sales team has been able to reach out to these prospects and have in-depth conversations about the content they have consumed from our website. Everyone on the team is very impressed with this feature,” she also notes.
Here’s How Imported Lists Works:
First, you can now import a list(s) of your targeted Companies via a CSV file. As a best practice for utilizing this feature, you should upload Companies and their website addresses—using this format improves the accuracy of the leads matching. So, the more information, the better the outcome.
This new Imported Lists feature allows you to:
Track your imported, targeted companies, and see if they’re visiting your website—when and how often.
Understand their behavior on your site—see what site pages they visit, what content they view and engage with.
Create multiple ABM lists within your account so that multiple users can qualify and connect with their targeted accounts.
The basic goal of the Imported Lists feature, is that you can now upload lists of company names and web addresses which will be matched against leads. This enables you to utilize the “Imported List” custom feed filter in which you can craft Imported Lists to be used for filtering, such as, “Fortune 500 companies” or “Prospective clients,” and the like. In short, this feature allows you to track these targeted companies by defining your Custom Feed Filters, where you can also match against leads.
Check out this Support Article for step-by-step directions on how to get started with Imported Lists.
What are the best tools for inbound marketing — the ones inbound professionals use every day for their work?
We reached out to business owners, founders, marketers, and agency owners — people doing inbound marketing every day just like you are, asked them what tools they use and love.
In what follows, we share their recommendations, and best of all, Leadfeeder integrates with many of these options via Native integration or through Zapier.
Without further ado, here’s what they said!
Multiple people I asked, said HubSpot was their No. 1 inbound marketing tool.
Sheila Pantaleon, Managing Editor at Step Change, said HubSpot is her go-to tool for seeing which marketing efforts have the best ROI.
“The CRM capability helps us see a lead’s journey into our funnel. This also gives our content team an insight into what topics and types of content resonate well with our audience and create more of those, plus it enables us to create SEO-friendly blog articles and topic clusters, conversion-optimised landing pages and emails, and build and track campaigns. It also enables our Sales and Customer Success teams to know when to reach out to our prospects and leads.”
- Sheila Pantaleon, Managing Editor at Step Change
Jason Thibault, founder of Massive Kontent, recommended Ahrefs, especially in light of recent updates to the platform.
Ahrefs includes many of the same features as SEMRush, such as site audits and competitive analysis. It is perhaps best known for its keyword research and extensive backlink library.
“Ahrefs’ new (and improved) Content Explorer database allows me to track down republished posts. By listing two dates — published and republished — I can find content that is being regularly updated. This tells me that it’s both a valuable content asset and a topic I should consider adding to my queue. And using the ‘In URL’ search mode within Content Explorer allows me to quickly determine my competitors’ posting frequency broken down by month.”
- Jason Thibault, Owner of Massive Kontent
Andy Theimer, founder of FeedOtter, recommended Drift, a company best known for its conversational chatbot that helps companies communicate with their site visitors and customers.
Drift can also create automated email follow-ups based on initial sales conversations that take place on your website.
“Blog posts, customer stories, and eBooks do a great job of bringing people to the site, but I want a way to engage cold inbound visitors. We’ve been using Drift Chat Playbooks over the past months to engage with people that come in cold, asking them simple questions and learning more about them. For example, when a visitor lands on a blog post related to a major qualifier for us (company uses Pardot) we start an on-topic conversation.”
-Andy Theimer, Founder of FeedOtter
4. Open Broadcaster Software Studio
Mahi Chauhan, Co-owner of Dyonisian Writing Services, recommended OBS Studio, a free, open-source tool for video recording and live streaming.
The tool is most frequently used by gamers looking to share their gaming with the public, but marketers can also use it to share webinars, feature walkthroughs, etc.
It enables you to create videos from multiple sources, such as including window captures, webcams, images, and text.
The learning curve is steep for this tool, but like many popular open-source tools, it comes with decent documentation and community support forums.
“My most successful piece of content featured multiple short clips made with Open Broadcaster Studio. The best way to interest someone in what you’re teaching them is by showing them what you’ve achieved through video.”
- Mahi Chauhan, Co-owner of Dyonisian Writing Services
Content writer and inbound consultant Abass Sahrawi mentioned Hotjar as his favorite tool — one he uses extensively to generate content ideas.
Hotjar’s features include heat maps and visitor recordings, including a conversion funnel tool which allows you to watch recordings of user’s behavior right before they drop off of your site. It also includes feedback tools, such as polls, surveys, and a way for visitors to leave visual feedback on your website or app.
“Spending countless hours coming up with the right topic idea is a waste of time and energy. That’s why I love Hotjar’s popup survey questions. They save my time and help me to better understand my audience’s needs and wants.”
- Abass Sahrawi, Content Writer
Wordable does one thing and does it well: It imports Google Docs files and turns them into drafts in Wordpress. Wordable preserves formatting and even imports tables and images, which saves marketers tons of time and headaches managing individual assets.
For Prashant Murphy, founder of Unlimitly, Wordable is a seamless part of his work:
“Wordable’s a fantastic tool that helps inbound marketers get their blog posts up and running on Wordpress blogs in no time.”
- Prashant Murphy, Founder of Unlimitly
For Corina Burri, Director of Marketing at Ofri, Streak is a simple way to keep track of leads.
Streak works inside of Gmail, keeping track of leads as they move through the funnel. It’s not as robust as a full CRM like HubSpot’s, but it can work well for smaller teams.
“Streak lets me to personalize emails directly in my Gmail Inbox. It also helps me send press releases to a larger group of journalists.”
- Corina Burri, Director of Marketing and Communication, Ofri
SEO Consultant Josh Levenson recommended SEMrush as one of his top inbound tools.
Josh noted SEMrush’s ability to give insights into keywords beyond just volume and CPC metrics. It also has built-in advertising research to help you understand your competitors’ ad strategies and budget.
“SEMRush gives insights into keywords beyond volume/CPC metrics and doesn’t break the bank. I like to drill down into the keyword magic tool to understand how headterms branch off to various intents.”
- Josh Levenson, SEO Consultant
The Best Tools Are Always Improving
Even when the experts we interviewed recommended the same tool, they didn’t mention the same features. We were also surprised by how many new and updated features we hadn’t heard about yet. Whatever tools you use, it goes to show: It’s good to stay informed about the latest tools available to help you improve results in your inbound efforts.