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Generate Better Leads Through LinkedIn with Anthony Blatner

Posted by Greg Smith on July 30, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Linking Up on LinkedIn

As social media is constantly evolving, it can be difficult not only to adapt to new platforms but specifically to maximize their potential. A measure for success might look completely different from one social platform to the next, depending on how you can utilize it to create effective content and build leads.

Recently, our CEO, Stacy Jones sat down with an expert in digital marketing to discuss how companies can experience significant growth by using technology and effective marketing techniques. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded examines how B2B companies can generate better leads with LinkedIn ads from the expertise of Anthony Blatner of Modern Media.


Anthony Blatner

A Little More About Anthony

Anthony Blatner is the founder of Modern Media, where he helps B2B companies generate better leads with LinkedIn Ads. As a previous tech founder and ex-IBMer, Anthony has personally witnessed that many companies experience explosive growth driven by both technology and marketing, while others, despite having solid products or services, have failed without effective marketing. Leveraging his experience with marketing and software, Anthony has created systems to help businesses reach high level decision makers at scale using LinkedIn Ads and technology, and has managed millions in ad spend generating over 100,000 new sale opportunities.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: What got you to here? How did you go down the path and now you have a LinkedIn ad company?

Answer: I started from the tech and software development side of things, by building e-commerce websites. I originally moved to Austin to work for IBM and their Webster commerce consulting division. So we got to go out to big companies, build their e-commerce sites, help them launch it and all the other marketing associated with that. I also got involved in the startup community around Austin while I was there and after a couple years at IBM, I was just really interested in the startup world. So I spun off to start my own mobile app development company, worked on that for a few years and we got to work on a variety of apps in the tech world from brand new startups, launching a new app, to some bigger tech companies that we partnered with, who maybe didn't have mobile app development in-house.

So we built a lot of apps and we saw some apps and companies do really well with good marketing. And then we saw other companies, even though they had a great app, it would just sit on the app store and no one would download it without a marketing plan, without a way to get it out there to inform the people who'd interested. So I saw a lot of the companies do really well with good marketing and then saw a lot of companies fail and go out of business without a good marketing plan. And I saw how much time and effort these companies are spending on developing their technology and only to fail later if they didn't have a good marketing plan. So that's both from marketing that agency myself and then helping our clients do marketing, that got me into the marketing world where I kind of started with the Facebook and the Google advertising.

Over time, just being in tech and most of our clients with B2B, those type of campaigns eventually led me to getting into LinkedIn advertising and then just seeing the best performance there from all of our work. So these days, it's exclusively focusing on LinkedIn advertising. Our campaign start at LinkedIn. We'll do retargeting on Facebook and Google, but for the most part, most of our work is LinkedIn.


Question: A lot of people don't really understand LinkedIn. Can you talk a little bit to the power of it and why it's so effective?

Answer: As a good framing of it is, there's a lot of different uses for LinkedIn and for the most part, a lot of people think, "what would I use this for?" People are usually used to Facebook, but getting to LinkedIn, they may not be feeling comfortable posting or something like that. But what we've seen on LinkedIn, LinkedIn's kind of the best centralized business community online. Facebook's more of the social with you and your friends. You're posting videos, maybe more personal content. LinkedIn is the whole professional side of things. I'm sure most of the listeners have used it, they probably understand a bit about it, but maybe haven't used it to the fullest extent yet. So major use cases on LinkedIn is kind of starting with the hiring and job search people. So a lot of people on LinkedIn who are looking for jobs, a lot of HR people who are doing recruiting or even vetting candidates.

On the sales end, no matter who you are in business, a lot of times, you're probably looking up maybe somebody who you're going to be in a meeting with and scoping out their LinkedIn profile. Maybe just looking at it and seeing where they worked, what they're up to, who you're going to be meeting with, that's a very common use case. LinkedIn is like your online resume and it's the first place most people update when they change jobs or as they get certifications, maybe they put it on there. But for the most part, it's like as change jobs, as they get promotions, they always update their LinkedIn profile because it's somewhere that they can kind of show that off. So it's probably the most up-to-date database for that kind of contact information as well.

So that gives LinkedIn a whole ton of good information to ask its marketers to use as far as Sales Navigator for just searching through people out there based on all those criteria. And then from the advertising side of things, running ads and being able to target those people by that professional criteria.


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Question: How do most people end up using LinkedIn? Obviously, they're not posting their favorite cat photos, wrong platform for that, right? But how do businesses successfully utilize it as a marketing tool? Are they posting their blogs? Are they linking out to third party sites? Because my understanding is, LinkedIn likes to have its own content inside LinkedIn. Are they sharing videos? What are marketers doing right now that might not be working and should be doing better or could make it work a lot better?

Answer: I'll tell you the sequence that people usually go through to get to maximizing LinkedIn. And it does start with just the organic posting. So number one, I say is like, number one, you've got to get dressed up to go to work. Just like you would get dressed up go to work, you got to make sure your profile is up-to-date, you look good. People do judge a book by the cover online, because that's all the information they have to evaluate you based off of. So it is important that you have fully filled out good high quality photos, stuff like that, because when you're online, that's all you can really look at. After your profile's up-to-date, both your own profile and then your company page, make sure all the info is filled out. The second step is really starting to build your network of people.

So number one, connect with people, maybe that you already work with, current customers, current vendors, and then starting to build networks. Maybe it's like people in your local city who could be a potential connection, prospective customers out there, prospective partners, trying to build your network with other people in your industry and that you want to connect with. After that, it's starting to engage with them. Easiest is by posting content. People in your network are going to be more likely to see that, people that follow hashtags that you use are more likely to see those as well. So it's a way to keep you top of mind with your network. As far as content goes of posting, LinkedIn, similar to Facebook, does posts that have links outwards. They do limit those quite a bit. So have a mixture of content that you want to post, but for the most part, LinkedIn wants you to keep people on LinkedIn.

If you're putting links in your posts, they're probably going to get less reach. LinkedIn can go as viral as Facebook can within the LinkedIn network, of course. We've seen a lot of posts that, if they get a lot of engagement really quickly, LinkedIn's algorithm is kind of like within the first hour of a post being posted, if it gets engagement, it will then start reaching out to more people. So that first hour after you post something is the most important to get engagement, to get it throughout your network. And then as you start posting content, your profile is filled out, next step after there is, if you're just looking to build your network, maybe to use Sales Navigator to get even more reach out of what you're doing. Definitely one method is connecting with people, starting those conversations and then communicating with them on LinkedIn.

As you get comfortable with LinkedIn as a platform as far as maybe your company using LinkedIn, then the next step is advertising. Advertising is like throwing fuel on the fire. Just like how Facebook campaigns work, LinkedIn campaigns work very similar. The advantage and where LinkedIn stands out is being able to use those professional targeting capabilities. I mentioned how I kind of got into LinkedIn advertising from the tech side of things and I have done a lot of Facebook and Google in my day. There's one campaign that really stands out for me that was kind of, after that point, I was like, LinkedIn is just the B2B platform, of course. It was an account we were taking over that they were a big data platform and a bit higher price point of the service. So most people, it wouldn't be an average consumer purchase, it would be for a company.

Usually, a company that has a lot of data, that they want to process their data, get some reporting out of it. They were running the traditional Facebook and Google campaigns. And as we audited their account, a lot of the leads they were getting were like students looking for research around data science or people looking for jobs. And for the most part, they were following best practices for keyword optimizations and negatives [inaudible] those people in your funnel. And on Facebook, it was a lot of people like maybe clicking on an ad because it was like a cute image or kind of an attractive image, which is a lot of the leads that were signing up weren't qualified. So the sales team was frustrated. We moved them over to LinkedIn and started to campaign targeting bigger tech companies, targeting people with the data science titles or the CTOs and CIOs and those companies in specific industries that they wanted to focus on.

And right out of the gates, the leads that they were signing up were these qualified people, professionals, people who worked in these tech companies, data scientists. So right out the gates, it was just like night and day of much better leads coming in. After that point, you could see the difference between the traffic at each platform. So you use LinkedIn for the B2B capabilities that it has, you use Facebook for like the B2C that it has.


Question: So when you were doing this campaign specifically to get lead generation, were you doing something that was gated content? So you were doing an ad and then it had a link to download the ebook or get the video and you had to submit your email address. Were you doing those types of steps with this?

Answer: It's not usually just, "buy now." So most of our campaigns are our lead generation and using the lead magnet approach to most of our campaigns. Offering somebody some asset guide that's of interest to them. LinkedIn is great because its capabilities it has for targeting. LinkedIn is a more expensive platform to use. They know that their data is super valuable so their cost per click is a lot higher on LinkedIn than it is on, say, Facebook. You want to use LinkedIn to acquire quality traffic and then usually follow up with them via other means afterwards. Maybe that's retargeting them on Facebook later, maybe that's email campaigns, email followups, maybe it's calling out to those leads, but starting the conversation on LinkedIn with a lead magnet.

But think about - what are the pain points that your customer's having, that you solve, position your guide or checklist as speaking to that pain point. And then within your content, you position yourself as a solution to that pain point that they're having, and then call to action to take the next step. Someone's going to see a checklist or a guide, they're going to be interested and they're going to sign up via LinkedIn, and you're going to capture their contact info and then that starts the conversation and then you can follow up with them however is appropriate. For the most part, Facebook is, you see a lot of like e-commerce ads on Facebook. LinkedIn is more top of funnel, more start the conversation and then follow up with them over other means afterwards.


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Question: What do you think about those services that are connecting with people on LinkedIn on your behalf?

Answer: I'm not sure about those. They're technically against LinkedIn's terms of service. So doing it in an automated approach is kind of spammy. There's a lot of people that do it manually and they go through and during Sales Navigator, they'll look through a list of people, connect with the right ones, send personalized messages. That's the right approach to doing it as you start adding automation in there. Yeah, as you start automating that, it gets a lot less personal and a lot more spammy. So you got to be careful with how you do that. And then if you're using any tools to automate that, it's against LinkedIn's terms of service. I've heard of people getting their accounts shut down and stuff like that. So anyone who's using that approach, we haven't done that, but I've heard good results from doing it. I'm not sure if it's going to be a longterm strategy because my hunch is LinkedIn's going to get better at detecting those and shutting those down.

And when you get to that automation and trying to scale it, LinkedIn's response is going to be, just like Facebook, you've got to pay the play and you've got to do advertising.


Check Out The Podcast!

Anthony has a LOT of great information from his experience in LinkedIn advertising, check out the podcast below to learn more about how to drive your business with digital marketing!

Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year: 

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Business Advice, Podcast Interviews