Here were the resources we covered in the episode:
Contact us at Podcast@B2Linked.com with ideas for what you’d like AJ to cover.
I think B2B marketing and CRMs go together like chocolate and caramel. Today, we’re diving into CRM reporting on this episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there, LinkedIn Ads fanatics! If you listened to the last episode about the cookiepocalypse, you know that conversion tracking as we know, it probably isn’t going to be reliable in the future. Luckily, B2B and E commerce have something in common here. In E commerce, marketers will always have purchase data, whether or not it occurred, what the sale value was, etc. And no cookie can affect that. There’s a very clear line all the way from ad impression to a purchase. In business to business. When someone fills out a form it goes into your CRM. So if you’re doing it right, there’s never a challenge in figuring out how many leads came from a specific effort. If someone filled out a form and submitted it, it’s in the database, it’s become increasingly important in business to business to make sure that we’ve got data available to us as marketers, so we can close the loop on reporting. That way, when a platforms conversion tracking is way under reporting, because cookie data is limited, or when a platform may be way over reporting because it’s using some algorithm to calculate the estimated number of conversions, you can be totally carefree. On this episode, we’re gonna dive into the connection between your ads efforts, and your CRM platform and show you what you can do with the day that to close that reporting. Another hat tip to Mark Bissoni for requesting this topic. And any of you out there who have a topic you’d like us to cover, please do reach out to us at Podcast@B2Linked.com. We are always looking forward to helping you become more super powered and hear about the topics that you’re interested in. In the news, for you listeners who are attending HubSpot Inbound conference in Boston, I’m going to be speaking on Thursday there. So I’d love to get to connect if you’re going to be in town. I heard a couple of weeks back that my session was totally filled up. So I hope you got registered early. But if not get there early to stand in the standby line, I speak at quite a few digital marketing conferences every year. And Inbound is by far the largest one that I speak at. And it’s one of the ones I most look forward to every year. Okay, for the topic at hand, let’s hit it.
What is a CRM?
What is a CRM? First of all, we talk about it a lot in business to business, we may use the acronym, or we may say customer relationship management platform. But realistically, we’re gonna say CRM, because the other one just hardly makes any sense. It’s basically a database of your customers, your prospects, really anyone you’d want to keep track of. There are so many different types of CRMs out there. Really, anything can qualify as a CRM. If you just keep an Excel sheet, or a Google sheet of all of your current customers with some data about them, that is a really basic CRM. So don’t be daunted when you hear the term if you haven’t heard of it before. Some of the major CRMs that you’ve probably heard of before, are like Salesforce, HubSpot, Constant Contact. There’s way, way, way too many to list all here. And all of them have their own personalities. Some are very tailored to sales, some are tailored more to marketing, some are better for email versus reps who are making calls. We B2Linked we actually went through several CRMs testing this, and we would have one that worked really, really well when we were doing outbound. And another that was much better with handling inbound. One connected to email really well and made it easier to do newsletters. And ultimately, you’re gonna have to study all of the different capabilities based off of what you need your CRM to do. I would say most of our larger clients use Salesforce. And what’s so cool about Salesforce is it’s infinitely customizable. You can literally make it do whatever you want. But along with that customizability it means it’s incredibly complex. Most of our clients who use salesforce.com have an internal Salesforce admin whose job it is just to keep the platform up and running. So if you don’t want to hire a full time admin, there are certainly simpler CRMs. But it’s great because you can make it do whatever you want. HubSpot has recently become a pretty great contender in the enterprise space. It offers the CRM functionality for free, but then the fees really start to kick in when you add on different marketing or different sales packages. I should say that HubSpot relationship with LinkedIn really makes it special. Because HubSpot and LinkedIn communicate really well. A lot of these integrations that we’re going to talk about are done pretty much automatically. So as a marketer, why would you want to do this? Why should you care about a CRM? The simple fact is that your CRM extends your data, your ability to analyze, and your optimizations, beyond just those front end metrics. If all you do is rely on just LinkedIn’s campaign manager, the deepest insights that you can get are things like a cost per lead, or a conversion rate, which as you’ll remember from the last episode, those metrics are even getting muddy. So that means you can’t actually get accurate lead counts, or number of qualified leads, or figure out your lead quality by campaign, or even solve the Holy Grail, which is calculating your ROI. You can’t do any of this without involving your CRM.
Getting the advertising data into the CRM
In order to connect your advertising data in with your CRM, you have to get the advertising data into the CRM. And there are two different ways to do that. The first is if you’re using LinkedIn lead generation forms. If you want to know more about this, go back to Episode 17, where we did a deep dive on them. And these are really, really great, they tend to have super high conversion rates. But because that data actually lives on LinkedIn, you then have to get that data out. Of course, you could log into LinkedIn every day, and download the leads that have occurred in the past 24 hours, and then manually process them. But good heavens, if you are listening to this podcast, you are paid way too much for doing that activity.
The LinkedIn Ads Show is proudly brought to you by B2Linked.com, the LinkedIn Ads experts.
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Weaknesses of URL tracking
Alright, let’s jump into the weaknesses of URL tracking. So first off, since it captures only traffic that submitting forms, this is best suited for what we would call the trust stage. We tend to break our stages down into three different stages, your awareness, your trust, and your advocacy. So you could have tracking parameters in your URLs. But if no one ever fills out a form, it really didn’t do much except communicate to your analytics solution where the traffic came from, but nothing is going to make it into your CRM. So you wouldn’t be able to tell from your CRM, about view through conversions, or assists from other platforms. The cool thing though, is that your analytics platform can still track what you define as a conversion. And the analytics solution is going to attempt to track all of the activity of that user. Of course, if you listen to our last episode about the cookie pocalypse conversion tracking may not be all that reliable in the future. So we’ll just kind of have to wait and see.
Nurturing Your Leads
So let’s get away from the geeky stuff. Now, what can you do to actually nurture your leads, once they’re in the CRM? Well, remember, your CRM is basically just a database of the people that you’ve put in there. So you could export from your CRM, all current customers, and then upload that into LinkedIn as a matched audience, to target and show messaging to those who are your current customers, which could be really good for retaining them. And once you have that list, you can also exclude it from your other targeting, so that you’re not showing prospecting ads to people who are already paying you money. Something else I really like to do from nurture, is download a list of active leads, especially the companies that who have become leads, but haven’t yet closed the deal. And I can upload that into LinkedIn, and create a warming campaign just around trying to inspire those active leads to close. But of course, if this is done inside of your CRM, most of the time, this is able to be pushed out through your marketing automation workflow, or as an email list. So the same advertising you could do to people who are active leads, but haven’t closed, you could also send them emails to keep them informed. Or maybe your marketing automation system does SMS or text messaging. If you have a list of emails, most ad platforms, at least the major ones, allow you to upload those lists of emails and target them with ads, just like LinkedIn. But Facebook, custom audiences can do it. Google can, Quora can, Twitter can. So there’s a lot here that you can do across all of your different platforms. And just another note here on lead quality reporting, you could wait for sales to give you some sort of a lead quality or a lead score on the leads as they come in. But I find if I have enough leads coming in just my graduation rate from MQL to SQL, or SQL, which might be stage two to stage three, whatever comes next is going to be really effective at telling me the quality of the leads that are coming through. If they’re not graduating to stage two or stage three in my sales process, chances are sales does not think those leads are very high quality. So for instance, if one campaign has a higher cost per SQL than another campaign, you can take action by lowering the bids or pausing that campaign entirely. Or if you have one ad that has a terrible graduation rate, you could pause that ad and go and try something else.
As you’re setting up your CRM to be able to do everything that we’re talking about, there are some pitfalls that you might come across. So let’s go through a few of those. We have had a situation several times with our clients CRMs, where our point of contact will ask us to send over the tracking parameters in advance so that they can set the CRM up to recognize and watch for that parameter to occur. We don’t want to do this, since it requires human work before every ad launch. And if you happen to launch ads before that work has been done in the CRM, then the CRM won’t properly track that traffic, which is not great. So just know that whatever CRM you’re using, it can be set up so you don’t have to do this. What it does is it just dynamically grabs every parameter from the URL and inserts it in the lead record. So make sure you’re set up to do that. I should note that hubs Spot does this really, really well, because of its integration with LinkedIn. As traffic comes in from LinkedIn to your website into HubSpot, I’m pretty sure this is already right out of the gate. Another pitfall that we’ve come across is multiple forms being filled out by the same user ends up overwriting the tracking parameters from the last time. So for instance, if I clicked on a LinkedIn ad, and filled out a form, and then came back three weeks later from a Google retargeting ad, and then filled out a different form, as they both go into the CRM, a lot of times what happens is the CRM goes, oh, we have an update on this user and so I’m going to delete the tracking parameters that say that they came from LinkedIn and update it as now they came from Google. And I’m sure you can see why this is a problem. If you’re trying to track your LinkedIn performance, you don’t want to lose those leads that are just taking further action with the website. So what you want to happen is you want to stack all of their tracking parameters. So every time a user comes through, and fills out a form, and they come up with new tracking parameters, it just keeps record of all of the steps that that user took in their journey. You might also have some logic that decides how to treat duplicate form fills. Some teams really care about net new leads. So sure, you’re gonna drive traffic from LinkedIn. And the same person over a two month period maybe has filled out a form twice so there’s two conversions. But if the team says we only care about net new conversions, they might treat that just as a single conversion. I get asked a lot about different attribution models. Do we recommend first touch attribution, last touch, W shaped multi touch? Well, I definitely have an opinion here. But I don’t have a blanket opinion that boosts one model up over another. The model I care about is what I call any touch attribution. Since we’re managing only one ad channel, but our clients, our points of contact, they need to judge the performance over multiple channels that they oversee, they’re going to need to select the attribution model that they care about and want to use. And we do of course, hope that it’s one that fairly attributes the performance across all the channels. So that’s attribution done by the manager. But I suggest every individual channel owner gets access to every single lead that was touched by their channel. And I call this any touch attribution. What this means is when we go to do reporting on LinkedIn ad performance, every ad and every conversion that was driven, I can then link up to spend that occurred on the platform. So we have a precise calculation for the cost per lead, and their cost per qualified lead, etc. And ultimately, if the manager decides that they want to give the credit for a deal, partially or fully to another channel, I don’t care. What I care about is getting as much data about which of my ads and campaigns are driving actions. So I can then go and optimize towards those data points and make the LinkedIn account better. So as a recap here, managers over multiple accounts should be using a general attribution method. But individual channel owners should be running off of any touch attribution, because you’re definitely going to want as much data about performance down funnel as possible to help improve your ad creative.
All right, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up. So stick around.
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.
We mentioned lead gen form ads on LinkedIn, that’s episode 17, so go and make sure you’ve listened to that. Also, Episode 69 is all about reporting so make sure you’ve caught up on that. To build UTM parameters onto your URLs, that’s just utmbuilder.com, You can see the link in the show notes as well. There’s also a link to our YouTube channel where you can see future reporting breakdowns that I’m gonna do. If you or someone on your team is looking to learn more about LinkedIn Ads, definitely pass them the course you’ll see the link down below. It’s the LinkedIn Learning course all about LinkedIn Ads that I’m the author of. It’s by far the least expensive and the most in depth training that you can find on LinkedIn Ads right now. So check that out. Also, look down at your podcast player right now. If you haven’t already, hit subscribe, and everything I’m sharing with you absolutely is free. But I hope you’ll consider going to actually leave us a review in your podcast player. It is the biggest way that you can say thanks for us putting these episodes together with any questions, tips, tricks, suggestions, anything like that, hit us up at Podcast@B2Linked.com. And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.