Diana Daou, Head of LinkedIn Marketing tells Communicate how B2B marketing can drive efficient growth and transform the way businesses today establish relationships and measure effectiveness on all fronts to pan out tangible business solutions.
B2B is experiencing a renaissance as business models, innovation drivers, and buyers undergo significant transformations. B2B companies are now among the most profitable globally. Lead generation is a rising trend, and marketers are prioritizing creative strategy and problem-solving skills. B2B marketers are increasingly seen as revenue drivers, and CMOs are taking on a more prominent role in shaping B2B marketing decisions. Measurement tools, such as generative AI and thought leadership, are emerging as essential components of successful B2B marketing strategies.
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (LMS) has emerged as an exciting platform in the B2B marketing arena since its inception in 2005 when it introduced the first-ever ad on the platform. Diana Daou, Head of LinkedIn Marketing tells Communicate how B2B marketing can drive efficient growth and transform the way businesses today function.
In image: Diana Daou, Head of LinkedIn Marketing
LinkedIn has just turned 20, what are some key milestones for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions? Why is B2B advertising so integral for LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (LMS) has grown to become one of the top B2B marketing players in the world since 2005 when we introduced the first-ever ad on the platform. Today, we are powered by our community and we help companies deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time on a safe and trusted platform.
We continue to evolve our tools and products to offer our customers higher reach and ROI. In 2013 we introduced Sponsored Content and followed that with Lead Gen forms four years later. But a game-changing moment for marketers on our platform was the introduction of video ads in 2018, as it gave them a whole new array of storytelling options. In 2022 LinkedIn Marketing Solutions reached $5B in revenue and we introduced the LinkedIn Collective, a global community for B2B marketers.
In MENA, we launched the first-ever LMS ad in 2009. Gradually, over the past two decades, our Ads business has evolved to focus on B2B businesses - we deeply understand the opportunities and challenges in this sector, and our products are built for B2B. Today, we count the biggest B2B leaders as clients.
Our growing community presents a captive and engaged audience for brands to target professional audiences, including decision-makers and C-suite executives; and our rich professional data — like job title, industry, seniority, geography and skills — makes it easy for brands to segment their audiences and reach like-minded people on our safe and trusted platform.
The evolution and growth of our marketing solutions signal the need for our trusted platform and cutting-edge marketing tools. And the best is still to come: we believe there is a huge untapped opportunity in B2B for creativity, brand building, B2B creative talent, and B2B creators. Today, marketers recognize the potential B2B brand building holds and we at LinkedIn want to continue developing tools that will help them foster that potential. As our business has grown, so has our commitment to investing in and building the tools B2B professionals need to navigate a changing landscape.
In what ways can B2B businesses drive ROI?
B2B buying decisions are group-based, relationship heavy, and realized over a long sales cycle, which makes measurement that much more challenging. B2B marketers globally say that measuring campaign effectiveness and proving the ROI of marketing investments is their biggest challenge right now. However, this challenge will evolve to become a game changer in B2B.
Marketers need to focus on measuring and mapping the success of their campaigns to tangible business outcomes. LinkedIn’s research has shown that B2B marketers globally strive to prove the ROI of marketing investments. To address this, we introduced powerful measurement tools, including the recently launched CMO Scorecard that helps marketers measure brand marketing effectiveness. This tool offers a way to quantify the impact of brand advertising by providing companies with specific metrics for assessing the success of their marketing campaigns, including measures related to creativity, media exposure, and overall outcomes.
Another tool is the Revenue Attribution Report, which helps B2B marketers clearly demonstrate the financial impact of their campaigns on sales metrics and formulate strategic plans for their campaigns.
We also use AI to measure report campaign conversions across channels, and our Insights Tag collects conversions using first-party data. LinkedIn also provides a wealth of professional data sourced from 930 million members, which simplifies audience profiling and helps marketers tailor their messaging.
How can B2B businesses humanize their approach to advertising and become more aware of the importance of storytelling?
B2B marketing is having its moment: there is a huge untapped opportunity in B2B, and we want to help companies unlock it. Today some of the biggest B2B brands power much of the global economy. The fastest-growing companies are B2B products and services emerging from cloud computing, data analytics, open-source intelligence, and machine learning. And they are rewiring the way we live, work, and consume. Last year, out of the 10 most successful IPOs, all but one were B2B organizations.
At LinkedIn, we are seeing B2B brands embrace this opportunity, invest in building their brand, and experiment with bolder, innovative marketing ideas to increase mindshare. Creativity is central to this and is currently the most sought-after skill according to senior marketing leaders. LinkedIn data also shows that there has been a 46% increase in creative skills added to the LinkedIn profiles of marketers across the globe in the last twelve months
It is also worth noting that B2B marketers are in it for the long game. They recognize that creativity is essential to long-term brand building, which is spurring them to reach new heights. Our B2B Creativity research found that the majority (82%) of B2B marketing leaders say “creative confidence”– the ability to push the envelope with campaigns – is growing.
We are also seeing momentum with the launch of Creative B2B Lions at Cannes, as B2B brands recognized the value of long-term brand building. That momentum has been challenged by the economic backdrop, but our recent B2B Marketing Benchmark report highlights signs of recovery and optimism.
How is LinkedIn enabling growth for B2B businesses across the Middle East?
We are building the tools B2B marketers need in a changing landscape: As our business has grown, so has our commitment to investing in and building the tools B2B professionals need to navigate a changing landscape.
As we deploy various strategies and tools such as the CMO Scorecard, the Revenue Attribution Report, and Insights Tag, we are actively exploring the implementation of new technologies to evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns and gain a deeper understanding of the buyer's journey. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accurately measure conversions is one of the key ways we’re doing this. We are currently in the testing phase, employing machine learning models that can estimate and report campaign conversions across different channels with a remarkable level of precision, leveraging data from our comprehensive platform.
We’ve also launched the AI-generated Copy Suggestions feature for streamlining copywriting that uses advanced GPT models to generate compelling intro text and headlines for ad creatives. Marketers can now produce more content in less time. Recognizing the impact of visual content, we’ve added new video ad formats for users. These include In-stream video ads, which will play at the beginning or middle of long-form video content and thought-leader ads designed to boost engagement on thought leader’s posts.
What are the latest trends in B2B advertising / B2B ads in the area of digital transformation? How is the B2B business model changing with the ever-evolving digital landscape, especially in light of emerging AI technologies?
B2B is undergoing a renaissance as business models, innovation drivers and buyers evolve dramatically from decades prior. Now some of the most profitable companies across the globe are B2B companies. And while many in the business community cite serious concerns over rising global uncertainty, B2B leaders are largely optimistic about the fate of their organizations and the role of marketing in helping them grow.
We know that according to our 2023 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, 55% of marketers plan to use Generative AI to increase their efficiency so they can focus on higher-value work. The report also shows that global B2B leaders are hopeful about the future and the ability to drive revenue in the coming year. This optimism could be the reason behind a key trend we’re witnessing in rising B2B marketing budgets- Lead Generation.
Another trend we’re witnessing is marketing leaders identifying creative strategy and problem solving as the top skills needed for their current role and are skills they identified as strengths. Forward-thinking B2B marketers are now focusing on staying top of mind. They’re keen to build and nurture trusted relationships with customers and partners and deliver value. Their priorities have now shifted to emotion-led brand marketing.
The role of CMOs is also evolving and expanding with roughly 2 in 3 C-suite members saying that the role of the CMO has increased in importance over the past two years. It’s worth noting that around half say CMOs have a more direct role in driving revenue and 8 in 10 of them are trying to involve other members of the C-suite in B2B marketing decisions. CMOs will need to speak the language of the CFO and invest in new measurement tools.
Looking ahead, what are the key priorities and opportunities for B2B marketers?
In the year ahead, forward-thinking B2B organizations will invest in building mind share over wallet share by nurturing trusted relationships with customers and partners, delivering value, and keeping their brands front-of-mind. B2B marketers that shift their priorities and focus on making strategic investments in emotion-led brand marketing, measurement, ROI, privacy, and thought leadership, are the ones that will help their companies navigate through this period and come out stronger.
The top 5 marketing predictions for 2023 as per LinkedIn are:
For LinkedIn, the B2B sphere has witnessed a new avenue of branding with the rise of B2B influencing. As of January 2023, 14 million members on LinkedIn have turned on the Creator Mode setting on their profile which helps them enhance their influence on the app.
Looking ahead, we’re focused on enhancing and simplifying the user experience on our platform, being a data-rich source for our customers, and providing inventive ROI-measuring solutions that are curated for B2B campaigns.