EP 211: Using LinkedIn to Generate Better Leads with Anthony Blatner | Modern Media

In this episode, Stacy sits down with Anthony Blatner, the founder of Modern Media, where he helps B2B companies generate better leads with LinkedIn Ads. The two discuss how companies can experience explosive growth by using technology and effective marketing techniques.

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Transcript For This Episode:

Stacy Jones (00:01):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics for us to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money, whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.

Speaker 2 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.

Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, and I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Anthony Blatner. Anthony 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.

Today, we’re going to talk about building leads or LinkedIn advertising. We’re going to learn what works from Anthony’s perspective, what should be avoided and how some people in businesses often miss the mark. Anthony, welcome. So happy to have you here today.

Anthony Blatner (01:32):
Hey Stacy, glad to be here.

Stacy Jones (01:34):
Well, what I’d love to do is start off with you sharing with our listeners, what got you to here? How did you go down the path and now you have a LinkedIn ad company?

Anthony Blatner (01:47):
Well, it’s a windy path. I started from the tech and software development side of things. So started my career 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. So saw the big consulting game, the big e-commerce game from there. Also in Austin, I got involved in the startup community around here. So after a couple years at IBM, 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.

Stacy Jones (03:52):
And so there’s a lot of listeners here who I’m going to hope that they all have LinkedIn as a platform and their own handles on it at this point in time, because it is so important as it’s not just for B2Bers, if you are in business, it is your resume now, that’s what LinkedIn access. It’s one of the best places, in my opinion, to connect with other business owners, other business workers, future employees, all sorts of things that would be integral to your business. But 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?

Anthony Blatner (04:31):
Sure. And 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 are like, 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. And 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. And then LinkedIn, it’s like your online resume and it’s like 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.

Stacy Jones (06:28):
And 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?

Anthony Blatner (07:05):
Yeah. So I’ll kind of 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. So 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. And then 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.

So 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.

And then 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. So 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. So 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 00:10:56] 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.

Stacy Jones (11:50):
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? It wasn’t just, brand awareness and then click and you can come to our website.

Anthony Blatner (12:13):
Right. It’s not usually just, buy now. So yeah, so most of our campaigns are our lead generation and using the lead magnet approach to most of our campaigns. So 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. So 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. There’s a whole lot around the strategy [inaudible 00:13:02] 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. So 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. So 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.

Stacy Jones (13:56):
And with LinkedIn, you’re talking about guides or you’re talking about eBooks or however it is, you could actually customize this where you do the same guide for different sectors that you’re going after and you can set your advertising specific to it. So for example, you’re a company that is outreaching to auto companies, but you also outreach to beverage companies and you also outreach to hospitals because you have capabilities that help all of those. You could create a guide that is actually customized. So it’s the auto insider’s guide checklist, the hospital insider’s guest, and you’re not worried about other people seeing this because the people actually getting access to the advertising really is targeted in, right?

Anthony Blatner (14:39):
Yeah. Yeah. You can be pretty specific on, and we usually are, the industries that you’re going to targe, and most companies do have multiple customer segments that they’ll go after. So our campaigns will usually split test customer segments, split test targeting options within those customer segments and then split test the lead magnet for those customer segments, and then of course, split testing ads underneath there. So that’s a lot of levels split testing, but basics is you probably have different customer segments and then each of those customer segments, you can have very tailored content to them.

Stacy Jones (15:13):
Going back to when you are creating content on your own feed, right? That content, is it only being seen by first degree connections or is it being seen at all outside of that world of connections that you have?

Anthony Blatner (15:30):
It is. So when you post organically, it starts with your first degree connections and then if they engage with it, then it’ll go to their network as well, for the most part. Also, if you’re using hashtags in your content, people who follow those hashtags are more likely to see those posts as well.

Stacy Jones (15:48):
Okay. And then what do you think about those services that are connecting with people on LinkedIn on your behalf?

Anthony Blatner (15:59):
Yeah. 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 got to pay the play and you got to do advertising.

Stacy Jones (17:04):
Okay. So you’re not suggesting automation, but you are suggesting actually outreaching within networks and trying to communicate with people and building.

Anthony Blatner (17:15):
Yeah. Before you do get into advertising, for most people, you probably do want to start organically on LinkedIn and playing around with the capabilities it has, trying it out, and that does start with building your network. So that is a important first step. Ads and the organic side are pretty separate where you can run ads to your own personal connections, to separate platform, but it’s a good way to start playing around with LinkedIn, getting a feel for the people on there, and it’s just two different methods. So we do have a lot of clients who are their own organic outreach, posting, and then we’re managing their ads.

Stacy Jones (17:53):
Okay. And then is there certain times of day that you should be doing things on LinkedIn? Are there best practices in general on when you want to, one, actually do organic posting, and two, advertising?

Anthony Blatner (18:10):
Yeah. So as far as organic goes, usually it’s in the morning, lunchtime and then like right after work, are where the traffic spikes, just people’s personal schedules, getting up. It’s usually commuting to work. Not right now, but usually getting ready for work, maybe check in LinkedIn or scrolling around on their lunch break checking LinkedIn. And then after work, also opening the app and seeing what’s going on. So that’s where I see traffic spike for the most part. And then as far as ads go, ads, you turn on a campaign and it runs. It depends on the audience you’re targeting. Some campaigns, we see a dip in traffic over the weekend, and others, we see good performance on the weekend because sometimes you have the people who are, during the day, they might be really busy with work, and they might be checking LinkedIn, but they might not really be ready to read your message or opt in for something because they are busy running meeting to meeting.

But on the weekends, they might have more leisure time where maybe, they are just kind of scrolling around LinkedIn. So they might be more likely to opt in on the weekends. So it depends on the target market that we’re targeting. LinkedIn Ads does not have day parting, as far as automating the times of the day. Facebook can do that, Google can do that. LinkedIn can’t, unless you’re using a third party tool to manage it and adSage is really the only main one that can do that right now. But what I do recommend, and this is a good tip for anybody who’s running ads, is most of the time, we’re setting bid controls, big cost controls on the campaigns. You want to set a maximum CPC when you start up your campaign. If you set auto bid over the weekend when maybe traffic does drop down over the weekends, LinkedIn is going to bid more if that same amount of traffic because there’s lots of it available.
So if you set a max CPC in your campaigns, you’re going to bid consistently, whether it’s during the week, there’s a lot of traffic, or during the weekend and there’s not much traffic. You might see less lead volume coming in, but if cost per lead and performance is important to you, then set a max CBC. If you’re just trying to get as much reach as possible out of it, then maybe consider auto bid. But for the most part, we’re just using max CPC on all of our campaigns.

Stacy Jones (20:39):
With that, is there a certain level that someone needs to be willing to advertise that? We have listeners who are all levels of their companies. They have big companies and small companies, and some people might think that LinkedIn is out of their reach for advertising. Is there a certain point of entry that you need to have dollar-wise before you start spending?

Anthony Blatner (21:04):
Yeah. So I’ll give you some best practices. To start, anyone can open an ad account and it’s kind of like Facebook and Google where you can set a daily budget and you can run campaigns as much as you want. So you can run just a couple of days, and LinkedIn’s campaign minimum is 10 bucks per day. So you can run just a couple of days and play around with it, but usually for our campaigns, if we’re trying to build a full campaign for a client where we want to be able to split test a couple of audiences, a couple of lead magnets, and have enough data there to really make decisions based off of them, then our recommendation is to have at least two to 3000 for the first month’s ad spend to get enough data to make those decisions based off of it.

And then after that first month and you’ve established your baseline, you can decrease a little bit from there because you know your [inaudible 00:21:51], you know what’s working and at that point, you can also then add more to it or start a new audience or launch something new. But we recommend two to 3000 for that first month [inaudible 00:22:02] ad spend.

Stacy Jones (22:04):
And then what are some other things that people do wrong when they’re approaching LinkedIn advertising?

Anthony Blatner (22:13):
One big thing is, so a lot of people come to LinkedIn from the Facebook advertising world. And in Facebook, you usually give it a big audience and you kind of let the AI algorithm of Facebook go find the best people for you. LinkedIn is kind of the opposite of that. So one of the biggest challenges or mistakes I see people make is doing that really big audience on LinkedIn and be like, oh, I’m just going to send a million people here and then the algorithm will find the best people for me. But the reason you’re using LinkedIn is because of the specific targeting capabilities that it offers. So on LinkedIn, you’re usually paying CPC, so every time somebody clicks. So you want to be very targeted on those clicks that you’re getting and you want to eliminate as many untargeted clicks as possible.

So you want to be very specific in targeting as far as… Usually it’s like industry, job title or job function, maybe company size, and be very specific about who you want to target. Don’t give it the giant audience and rely on the AI algorithm. So I think that’s the biggest problem you see people make.

Stacy Jones (23:19):
And then with this, what are some more best practices that people can follow?

Anthony Blatner (23:26):
Yeah. So best practices is, using LinkedIn as that top of funnel lead generation strategy, that’s really what stands out as the targeting options it gives. So you want to use LinkedIn to start the conversation. So using it for generating leads and then continuing that conversation usually via other means. So maybe it is calling out to your leads or emailing them. LinkedIn is an expensive platform so you usually want to use it as a part of a broader strategy. Acquire your traffic on LinkedIn and then follow up via other means and continue the conversation via other means. It is very hard if you’re going to just rely on LinkedIn to sign up and convert people for your service, usually it’s got to be part of a bigger strategy.

Stacy Jones (24:16):
Yeah. That makes sense. And then for our listeners, if they want to learn more about you, where to find you, how to get help from you, how can they do that?

Anthony Blatner (24:27):
Well, you can find me on LinkedIn, I think I’m the only Anthony Blatner that’s out there. And you can email me at [email protected], our websites, modernmedia.io. On our blog, we have a lot of good tips and tricks for LinkedIn Ads, some best practices, some breakdowns of different funnels and kind of some of these approaches that I mentioned. On there, we also have our modern guide to lead generation, which is a kind of good guide of breaking down this whole lead generation process and some best practices in there. So yeah, either our website, shoot me an email or find me on LinkedIn.

Stacy Jones (25:06):
Awesome. Any last words or parting advice to our listeners today?

Anthony Blatner (25:11):
Parting advice is, especially now, while we’re all kind of stuck at home, LinkedIn’s the largest centralized business community online. Look into it, and who knows how long we’re going to be stuck at home for, but LinkedIn’s activity has gone through the roof since we’ve all been forced at home. Our reps sent us a graphic, it’s up like 2000 and some percent, that’s crazy. So start using it and try it out.

Stacy Jones (25:46):
Well, I want to say, Anthony, thank you so much for joining us today. You gave some really helpful advice and insights to LinkedIn, something that is very confusing, I think still for a lot of people. So thank you.

Anthony Blatner (25:58):
Yes. Well, thanks for having me. It was good to talk with you.

Stacy Jones (26:01):
Of course. And then to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them today, and I look forward to chatting with you on our next podcast. Until then, be safe.

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