Landing big-ticket clients is like a solar eclipse: It doesn’t happen often. Plus, the acquisition process is brutal.
It takes multiple, maybe dozens of unreturned phone calls to reach the right person—the one who keeps ignoring your emails and sending you straight to voicemail.
Decision-makers don’t want to get on the phone with you when you’re a nobody. Reaching top-level contacts that you need to land big deals for your business is almost impossible.
But not with LinkedIn’s new Matched Audiences feature.
If you’re currently landing big-ticket clients using inbound marketing tactics like blogging or lead magnets, kudos to you. You’ve probably gotten some incredible brand awareness. But if you’re like most of us, that’s not the case. We have to do a little bit more work.
Inbound marketing is great, but it generally doesn’t bring in big-ticket clients. You know, the clients that would literally turn your business from zero to hero overnight. The elusive unicorns that we all wish we could get.
Inbound marketing focuses on casting a wide net and bringing in as many leads as possible. Things like blogging and long-form content are the tools for doing that.
But take a second to think about the daily life of a C-suite executive. In the tech industry, they work on average 14 hours each day, 300 days a year. Their daily schedule might look something like this:
TL;DR: they are busy. Busier than most of us can imagine. Meaning your blog posts don’t even appear on their radar. They aren’t sitting around reading about the best SEO tactics. They aren’t Googling for eCommerce tips and growth hacks. C-suite decision-makers at big companies don’t have time for the small stuff.
More than likely, inbound tactics will only reach the gatekeepers, if that.
If you want to stand out and make a great impression on big-ticket clients, you need to sidestep gatekeepers.
Here’s how you can do that using Matched Audiences.
In April of 2017, LinkedIn announced a new, game-changing feature to their online advertising toolset: Matched Audiences.
LinkedIn Matched Audiences come in three different toolsets. The first is website retargeting. But that’s the least important one for now. When reaching hard-to-reach clients, this feature is pretty much irrelevant.
The two that you need to focus on are account targeting and contact targeting.
Account targeting allows you to market directly to decision-makers at a given company.
You can upload a secure CSV file of specific company names which LinkedIn will match against the 12 million company pages on their platform. Meaning you have full access to account-based marketing campaigns where you’re reaching qualified decision-makers instead of gatekeepers.
You’re qualifying users up front, before targeting them with ads. This allows you to reach the decision-makers you need to land the big deals.
Similarly, with Contact Targeting, you can upload a CSV file of email addresses or connect it directly to your CRM to import contacts.
So if you already have contact info for your top big-ticket fish, you can quickly upload them and match them to a live LinkedIn account for ad targeting.
If you don’t have any specific contacts, you can always fall back on the account targeting option.
What kind of results can you get from the Matched Audiences feature?
In a six-month pilot program, LinkedIn allowed 370+ advertisers to create 2000+ campaigns to beta test.
On average, customers using account targeting saw a 32% increase in conversion rates after a click and a 4.7% decline in cost per click.
Plus, users saw a 37% increase in CTR with contact-based targeting.
Targeting contacts and accounts with account-based marketing tactics is one of the best ways to sidestep a gatekeeper and reach real decision-makers. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using LinkedIn’s new Matched Audiences feature to reach the right people.
The first step in landing a big-ticket client is to find target accounts. Up-front qualification is key.
While inbound marketing is all about bringing in as many leads as possible and disqualifying them later down the funnel, account-based marketing tactics are all based on prequalification.
You’ll save tons of time down the road by qualifying prospects ahead of time. Start by listing the ideal firmographics (like demographics for companies) of your high-level clients. That includes everything from company size to location.
Using LinkedIn, if you have Premium, you can conduct an advanced lead search focused on all of these firmographics:
You can focus on everything from keywords to company size and seniority level of the accounts you do target.
If you don’t have Premium, your target search will be a bit broader, but it’s still effective. You’ll just have to narrow down firmographics on your own rather than using the diverse filters.
For example, if you land on a company page and notice that they only have a few employees, but your ideal target is a company with 500+, then you can instantly rule them out:
Cross them off your list and move on to the next one.
If you don’t have Premium, keep searching on LinkedIn based on keywords.
On the right-hand side, you can sort the results by a few basic filters:
While these aren’t the best filters in the world, they’re better than nothing if you don’t have LinkedIn Premium. Add keywords, locations, and industries to narrow down your search results.
Once you’ve located a group of companies, start building a list in a separate document.
By now, you’ve done a bit of prequalification. You’ve listed some accounts based on ideal and target firmographics.
But sometimes, that isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to get specific with it. You need to see what current systems they have in place or better yet, what they lack.
This can open huge opportunities for you to slide in for the sale or to leverage them as talking points later down the line.
Using a tool like BuiltWith, you can analyze different software and tools that your target company is using:
This can help you understand a few major things about your target company/client:
If you notice that your target company isn’t using any technology, it could mean that their marketing budget is low. If they’re already using a competitor’s product or service, use that as a talking point to undercut them with a better offer.
Use this tactic to disqualify any companies that don’t fit the bill or simply won’t convert on your offerings.
Once you’ve whittled your list down, it’s time to build it on a Google Sheet and upload it to LinkedIn to get going.
Remember: your list must contain target company accounts, not individuals on LinkedIn. After you’ve uploaded a target account list, you can begin to segment your targeting within that list based on seniority or any other factor you’d like to target.
Create a new spreadsheet on Google Sheets and structure it with a single column titled “companyname”:
Add each company you want to target under the first column.
Now head to LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager and navigate to the account assets tab to click on Matched Audiences:
From here, select the “Upload list audiences” tab and click to upload your new CSV file:
Now simply give your new list a name, upload it, and click “Next” to continue:
This will display a message letting you know that they’re processing your list.
Once they’ve processed your list, you can begin creating and delivering ads to your target accounts and individual employees at those companies.
Now that your target account list is uploaded, processed, and ready to go, it’s time to get your campaign off the ground and land those big-ticket clients that you’ve been chasing after for years.
During the ad setup process, you can narrow down your target account list by even more factors to target specific employees at those companies – meaning you can reach decision-makers and bypass gatekeepers to ensure that your content and brand get in front of the right contacts.
This involves anything from excluding specific groups to making sure that you are targeting only high-level employees.
To get started, create a new campaign from the LinkedIn Campaign Manager:
From here you can choose between a few different ad formats.
Each has its own purpose, but the best two for reaching big-ticket clients are display-style Sponsored Content ads or message-based Sponsored InMail ads.
Sponsored content is great for building passive brand awareness and simply getting your company in front of the right eyes.
It’s a great starting point, allowing you to reach out with relationship-focused InMail ads once a target is familiar with your brand.
Select the campaign that you want to run and continue the ad setup process.
You can quickly create Sponsored InMail messages from templates that they offer:
Or you can even promote your latest content as an ad based on Sponsored Content:
If you don’t want to feature an old post, you can click “Create Sponsored Content” to tailor-make your ad for your targets.
Building out your content is the first step. But now it’s time to narrow down the audience list that you uploaded earlier for maximum impact.
Be sure to select your newly uploaded list in the target account section first:
Next, scroll down and start sorting the audience further using key identifiers of your decision-makers:
For example, you can sort by things like job seniority, member groups, titles, and functions.
Bypassing gatekeepers is incredibly easy with this feature, as you can exclude or include anyone from the target criteria. For job seniority, be sure to exclude any gatekeepers like middle managers and only target decision-makers like C-suite executives or department heads who make the final decision.
Now you can passively build brand awareness among these high-level executives who otherwise wouldn’t see your content. Once you’ve built some passive awareness and brand recall, you can start to personally message them with LinkedIn InMail to build a relationship and get their contact details.
And from there, you’re in the sweet spot of warm emails and successful, account-specific outreach. Now you can develop specific, personalized drip campaigns and automate your follow-up emails with tools like GMass. Then, you simply let the drip campaign run its course and wait until your contact shows interest.
Combine the methods of account-based targeting on LinkedIn and finish it off with a personalized email campaign to keep the conversation going in a natural format.
No more wasting money on ads that only target gatekeepers and low-level employees browsing Facebook.
This tactic will allow you to reach the unreachable and forge real relationships with the top decision-makers at your target companies.
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