May 25, 2016
The Evolution of Dark Launching on Snap CI
Badri Janakiraman shares the story of the evolution of dark launching on Snap CI
Just like conferences, LinkedIn Groups are one of the places people go to for trusted information. I’ve been a member of a bunch of LinkedIn Groups since I joined LinkedIn. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started seeing sponsored content in these groups. At first I saw banners at the top of the group page. Then I noticed more promotional emails hitting my inbox. I reached out to the Group Owner and asked how I could get involved.
In this post, I’ll share how we used LinkedIn Groups for marketing at Testim, some key learnings from the experience, and the results we saw. Before we dive into how we used LinkedIn Groups for marketing, I’ll make one caveat: while I’m sure LinkedIn is aware of this practice, it is not a LinkedIn-sanctioned type of campaign, so I’m not sure if it will go on forever.
You have to talk to the group owners. Some will let you sell with product-focused webinars and free trial offers, while others will only let you market content that is not product related. Their requirements will shape the kind of campaigns you can run.
Each group owner charges a different rate usually based on the amount of members they have in the group, but it’s all a negotiation. By engaging with the Group Owners, you learn that they manage several groups or blogs, websites, or other online communities where your buyers hang out. By building relationships with LinkedIn community leaders, you can start negotiating and testing different things in a whole bunch of other niche places that you might not have known about.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a Paypal account to process payment. Some Group Owners expect you pay upfront were some allow you to pay after the email goes out, like pricing it’s a negotiation. You can negotiate better pricing for committing and paying to a bunch of emails or pinned posts upfront.
As of now, LinkedIn offers two types of ads within their Groups: 1) a pinned top-of-page banner, 2) an email blast, which is allowed once every 7-8 days.
In regards to the assets, all you need is a banner display which will be featured at the top of the group which is aligned with the week your email blast goes out. You also need to provide an image for the email blast with the copy and tracking URL for the CTA. Then you need the landing page for the webinar signup or asset download, the thank you page, etc.
The main calls-to-action we use for the paid campaigns are free trial signups and webinar invitations. When participating in the online communities and message boards, we support our answers with other pieces of content we’ve published that supports the comments we leave. This allows us to build links back to our website.
Every month we host a panel-style webinar similar to the example I used above. We usually have a discussion with a customer, an industry celebrity, or a partner on a topic that we think would be attractive to the personas we are trying to reach. We budget $5k in spend for each of these webinars, of which $2500 usually spent with these LinkedIn Groups.
I’ve found the CPL for LinkedIn Group ads to be less than compared to display ads, conferences, and SEM. Depends on how you define lead quality, but since you can’t target and set parameters based on geographies, verticals, size of company, titles, etc you could get a lot of leads at a great CPL but they are outside of your account sweet spot.
Depending on how much upfront prep you want to do, you can see all of the members of the group to give you a broad idea of where a majority of the group members are located and the types of companies they work for. Alternatively, you can use Tryprospect and Outreach.io or other LinkedIn scraping tools to grab each member’s profile info so we can slice and dice the data to get a complete breakdown of the types of people and companies in the group.
To get specific, here are the results from a webinar we co-hosted on July 10:
We treat LinkedIn Group marketing as a long-tail marketing initiative. Since these are top of the funnel leads, the SDRs can cherry pick the ones they want to chase. The rest are added to a buyer persona track, where we try to drive end users to free trials sign ups and decision makers to schedule a call with a platform specialist.
I’ve found that in terms of getting leads that meet the right persona at a good CPL, marketing to Linkedin Groups is a solid tactic. There are no filters on the group so the ICP will be all over the board, but you can set your remarketing up to only focus on the IPs you care about.
Fostering good relationships with group owners is essential to leveraging this tactic — especially when you keep in mind the fact that these group owners are often manage or are involved with other communities, forums, etc. that might be great spots to connect with your buyers.
Have you been experimenting with advertising to LinkedIn groups? I’d love to hear more about your experience, and if you have any tips for improving this process!