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LinkedIn is revolutionizing customer acquisition.
LinkedIn is revolutionizing business to business communications with its powerful new ad tool.

I had the good fortune to visit LinkedIn in May and spend some time in a small group setting with the CEO, Jeff Weiner.  Among other things, he talked about a new ad platform they were rolling out in June that allows business owners to reach out directly to other business owners.  This piqued my interest as our clients and the companies we own, need that B2B outreach in an affordable way. If you are not familiar with LinkedIn, they are essentially the Facebook for businesses and professionals.  As of June of 2013, LinkedIn had 225 million users in about 200 countries.

After just a few weeks of working through this new ad platform, I believe it’s the most powerful tool in advertising today for reaching other businesses. Here are some lessons I’ve learned:

1)     The targeting it affords our company, is powerful.  We have a yard sign product we make for electrical contractors doing residential work. We are able to target only electrical contractors and thousands have seen our ad. The best part is that we are only charged if they click through to our Web site and actually view our products and pricing. Even more, we have picked up several new customers across the country that we would not have reached otherwise.

2)     The cost per click through to our Web store is very reasonable.  I’ve used other advertising mediums where I might spend $1000 and get one or two contacts. With LinkedIn, my cost per click through is about $2 and our cost per new customer acquisition is less than $50.

3)     When we build the LinkedIn ad, we are given the option to use a photograph or a video to visually send a message to those who are viewing it. The more powerful the image, the better the click through rate.

4)     Their ad testing platform gives us the ability to target two different ads to the same audience and see which one performs the best. This helps us to hone our message so we are constantly improving our cost per acquisition.

5)     The targeting options are very specific. We can target the entire country, or we can only focus on a small region. We can target to specific companies or we can send our ads to a business category.

6)     The landing page on our Web site has to be optimized so that once we get people to our site, we actually close the deal.

7)     The recent introduction of a live chat feature on our Web site, has increased the rate at which we are able to close deals once we get people to our site.

Of course, there are many more lessons than just those, but the bottom line concerning LinkedIn’s new ad platform is this:  for those who need to reach other businesses and create warm leads for their sales people, LinkedIn has created a platform that makes this possible in ways never seen before.  It’s the most powerful business to business tool in the world and is changing the way business people learn and communicate.

Even more, it is a tool that every business owes it to themselves to at least explore and understand how it might help to grow sales. We have and it’s making a difference.