Price emphasized LinkedIn’s unique datasets, which are powerful, he claimed, because they represent individuals’ professional identities and therefore are extremely accurate. In partnering with BlueKai to further flesh out audience segments, LinkedIn could pack a data punch.
“The context is very different for travel when I’m at work or I’m with my family and LinkedIn would know that because they know where I live and where I work,” said Rob Brosnan, SVP of strategy at cross-channel marketing services and platform company StrongView, in a recent interview. “So it’s sort of like, ‘Let us be the broker for business context.’ Maybe I run Salesforce.com to be able to say what are my opportunities and accounts, but then LinkedIn is about business context."
Said Price: "We want to come up with real smart analytics to help a brand think about editorial calendars, and ‘how do I talk to executives or IT decision makers in a certain geography?’ It could help inform strategy around what content should I be developing?”
At the same time, he added, measurement is getting more sophisticated, which better enables LinkedIn to attribute activity to content marketing, or to qualify the value of using CRM data.
LinkedIn can already import and cross-reference business and personal email addresses through its “call-to-action” or “add multiple email account” functionalities. And the company’s recent roll out of a souped-up version of Sales Navigator was another step into sales automation.
“LinkedIn could conceivably get more into the CRM space themselves,” said Chris Golec, CEO of B2B marketing and advertising platform Demandbase, which serves ads on LinkedIn’s network and recently launched an app on Salesforce.com’s AppExchange to link marketing and ad campaigns to sales revenue and CRM. Separately, Salesforce.com invested an undisclosed amount in Demandbase for stake in the company.
“It’ll be interesting to see if [their data] gets leveraged off their network,” he added. “That’s the big privacy question because everybody that signs up for LinkedIn agrees their information will not be shared off network."
Price seemed cognizant of privacy concerns, however. In 12 months, LinkedIn will unlock new ways to take marketing leads and determine, for instance, how a prospect engaged with display ads or video. It will anonymize that information for privacy purposes and make those marketing engagements quantifiable in a marketer’s own sales channels, Price said.
“LinkedIn today is really focused on monetizing LinkedIn itself, and Bizo had done a great job building up an audience network and programmatic exchange,” Price said, referring to the recent acquisition of B2B marketing solutions provider Bizo. “Bizo developed great tech we will complement with our data and tech. The idea is to use your LinkedIn identity as a one-click to fill out any form on the Web.”
With LinkedIn gaining more access to data, such as accessing in real-time a businessperson’s schedule, a next step for them could be, "Let me surface those contexts back to businesses you actually have a relationship with?’" said Brosnan, feasibly taking on some of ExactTarget's customer journey conversioning characteristics.
This, unquestionably, brings to light Salesforce.com's "open ecosystem" approach, where its partners (in this case, LinkedIn) perform many of the functions of its own platform - a strategy that's appeared to work for it to date.