Market research helps us define our product, messaging and our audience. The more we know about our market the more likely our marketing efforts will resonate with our audience. In this article, we explore how we can carry out B2B market research using data from the LinkedIn advertising platform. Both Facebook and LinkedIn give us access to great market insights for free. These valuable insights, which in the past would have required time and money to gather, are now available from the comfort of your desk.
I earlier articles I wrote about rapid market research techniques and LinkedIn marketing research is just one way to generate relevant insights, quickly.
How could you use this insight in your marketing funnel?
B2B market research can be used across all parts of the marketing and sales funnel. To add prospects at the top of the funnel and then nurture prospects through the marketing funnel, marketers need to craft content that will attract, engage and convince prospects to take the next action. Market research should inform the promotion of B2B marketing funnels and how prospects can be nurtured through the funnel with relevant content and messages.[Learn more: What is a marketing funnel? ]
Why use LinkedIn for B2B market research?
Facebook is where we live as consumers. It’s where we connect with friends and family. LinkedIn is where we live as professionals. It’s where we connect with our colleagues and peers. This gives LinkedIn a clear advantage when doing B2B market research. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn about our market using the free tools that LinkedIn ads provide.
Using LinkedIn for B2B market research, step-by-step
The first thing we need to do is start by setting up a sample campaign in LinkedIn, this gives us access to the tools we use to gather market research data.
Step 1: Login to the campaign manager
LinkedIn makes its audience insights available via the LinkedIn ads platform. To access it you need to log into the LinkedIn campaign manager. You don’t need an ad running or pay for any ads to access tools. You can access campaign manager via this direct link.
Step 2: Select your LinkedIn ad type
Our aim is to use LinkedIn advertising products to undertake market research rather than run an ad. On this screen, I will choose text ads as this is the easiest type of ad to create.
Step 3: Set campaign name
What you name your campaign in this context doesn’t matter as we’ll be using the tools for B2B market research rather than setting up a live campaign. For this example, I’ve called the campaign “research campaign”.
Step 4: Create a sample ad
The final step is to create a sample add. Again the content of the ad doesn’t matter it won’t be going live.
LinkedIn ads audience creation
Very much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows us to create audiences we want to target. As we create our audience we’ll see information about that audience. LinkedIn won’t tell us who our ideal audience is but we can use the tools to see how big a potential market we have, based on the parameters we select.
Step 5: Set a target location
To begin we need to select a target location. This can be a country, state, city or town. In this example, I’ve set my target location as London. I can see my total potential audience in London is 3.8 million LinkedIn members.
Step 6: Start filtering your audience
LinkedIn offers us targetted and business-focused targeting options. Compared to Facebook the options offered are very much more relevant to B2B advertising. For example, Facebook gave us the option to filter down based on relationship status, we don’t see that here. The screenshot shows all the various options you have to start targeting your audience with.
What can we learn from LinkedIn audience creation?
LinkedIn audience creation will tell us how big a segment is. If you want to run LinkedIn advertising, you could then target different segments with different messages to see what resonates most with that audience.
The information LinkedIn audience creation gives us isn’t as detailed as data we would have access to via Facebook, but it’s much more business-to-business orientated. Let’s see what information we can glean about your audience using LinkedIn ads.
How many potential customers are there in my target geography based on business size?
To begin I have set the target business size to between 1 and 10 employees. LinkedIn tells me that in London there are over 310,000 potential people I can target using LinkedIn who fall into the category of working in a business that has between 1 and 10 employees. Note that on LinkedIn there is a category of “myself”, in addition to 1-10 employees.
How many potential customers are there in my target geography based on business size?
To begin I have set target business size to between 1 and 10 employees. LinkedIn tells me that in London there are over 310,000 potential people I can target using LinkedIn who fall into the category of working in a business that has between 1 and 10 employees. Note that on LinkedIn there is a category of “myself”, in addition to 1-10 employees.
There are several criteria which you can use as filters to define your audience. This has multiple uses in a market research context, here are examples of what we could learn by using LinkedIn ads as a B2B market research tool.
- How big is a market in specific geographies?
- What percentage of people in a given industry have a specific job title or job function?
- What is the gender breakdown in a given industry?
- What type of skills do people working within specific companies have?
Using LinkedIn for B2B account-based marketing research.
B2B market research using LinkedIn is especially useful for account-based marketing research. The larger the company you’re targeting the more employees they will have who are also LinkedIn members. We can use the LinkedIn ads platform to gather information on employees and understand how best to target them with marketing.
Let’s take the example of targeting a company such as Vodafone. I’ve selected the United Kingdom as my location. I can then select the company name field and type in Vodafone. This tells me there are 16,000 LinkedIn members I could target. LinkedIn also gives me similar companies I might want to add to my targeting.
Next, I want to learn more about the skills people in the organization have and I’m interested in finding out who in the organization has social media or digital marketing skills. To do so, I can select member skills as a filtering option and type in “social media” and “digital marketing”. This tells me that there are 1,000 people that work at Vodafone and in the UK who believe their skills include social media or digital marketing.
Finally, I want to see how many people in Vodafone might be interested in buying my product. I’m going to add another filter this time to look at job seniority. I’m going to filter down step-by-step using the list of job levels LinkedIn gives me. I start at CXO and progress through to manager where I find LinkedIn members that are based in the UK, list social media or digital marketing as a skill and are at a management level or higher. The result is that there are 300 people within Vodafone I can target with a message on social media or digital marketing. I know these people are at a manager level or above so they either have a budget or can influence purchasing decisions.
Ready to get started with using Linkedin for B2B market research?
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