With Microsoft spending a whopping $26.2 billion to purchase LinkedIn, the company is positioning itself with the likes of Salesforce to offer businesses a connected community and technology stack. However, thought leaders in the space are hesitant to call the purchase a win or a loss — It ultimately depends on how Microsoft intends to incorporate LinkedIn into its current offerings.
We asked five industry experts how Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn will positively and/or negatively impact B2B marketers in the coming future. Read on to see how experts in the space are evaluating one of the biggest martech acquisitions in history.
The potential impact, positive or negative, really depends on the direction that Microsoft takes with LinkedIn and its execution of that vision. Since Microsoft has very little experience building thriving online communities outside of its investment in Facebook and the Xbox Live community, which are consumer communities, my concern is that LinkedIn is going to transform from a professional networking site to something more like Facebook. Some might say it’s already starting to look and act like Facebook. If it becomes a B2B social community fueled by ads and random acts of content, the educational value of the content and the quality of the connections you make on LinkedIn will continue to suffer and ultimately drive members away. If, on the other hand, LinkedIn stays true to its original purpose of being a professional network and a place where keeping your contact information up to date is purposeful, then the value of that data and the network will be invaluable to B2B marketers and to businesses.
Just imagine the power of having every business and working professional on LinkedIn. Imagine the power to use LinkedIn for knowledge and research, staffing and staff development, as well as the ability to use it for the exchange of business resources and content. Accomplish that, and you’d have an invaluable database for B2B marketers. But go further, with the right interface and API’s, and you could create a whole new paradigm for CRM and communication. You could have an e-commerce exchange that would give Ariba some real competition. You could have a platform for exchanging contracts through it. You could manage shipments and inventory between suppliers through it. You could link business applications to it and through it. Done right, Microsoft could make LinkedIn the world’s network for business.
The potential upside for B2B marketers from the acquisition is significant. Integrating LinkedIn with Skype and other Microsoft-owned technologies could be a great enhancement to the platform that marketers will utilize. Of course, there is always the chance that this acquisition will cause LinkedIn to become too commercial for B2B, and instead of increasing the value of it as a media company and content resource, it will degrade it. Only time will tell, but I believe the positives outweigh the negatives for this acquisition.
In the short term, LinkedIn will apparently remain a separate company so the impact on marketers will be minimal. It’s reasonable to expect a slowdown in new offerings as the company adjusts to new ownership. But the overlap between LinkedIn and Microsoft’s other businesses is relatively low, so I don’t expect much disruption from consolidation, as acquisitions sometimes cause. Longer term, it’s possible there will be some clever ways that Microsoft can use LinkedIn data, although what those are is not yet clear. So maybe some good things will happen, and maybe not much at all will change. Either way, there’s not much downside for marketers.
The potential of a vertically-connected ecosystem in the digital channel is what makes Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn so powerful. Although Microsoft already has positions in all three stages of this channel, its primary strength was in client software (Windows, Xbox, Internet Explorer) and the company’s secondary strength was in marketing software (Dynamics CRM, Office, Cortana). Microsoft’s Internet services were a distant third, as Bing struggled against Google Search. They had no dominant exchange social media property.
Microsoft could probably use greater strength in the marketing software stage of the channel, as well — which is why the company was rumored to be interested in acquiring Salesforce last year and Marketo this year. I think something like that will happen eventually. (As an aside, I think Satya Nadella’s Microsoft might be a better cultural fit for HubSpot than when the firm was in the Ballmer years.)
For all these reasons, LinkedIn becomes a strategic crown jewel for Microsoft — and makes this the largest martech acquisition in history.
Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is a great fit. Why? Because emails are at the heart of the online experience — 85 % of people online communicate through email. Microsoft owns the lion’s share of business communications via Outlook in the e-mail channel. Microsoft’s ability to dominate the business communications channel is clear. With the acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft now owns business communications in the social channel. Bravo Microsoft! LinkedIn also benefits heavily with the umbrella of Microsoft in the enterprise space. It’s a match made in heaven.
After seeing success with its programmatic efforts for sponsored content, LinkedIn announced that it is preparing to offer advertisers the option to buy display ads for desktop devices. This new offering will enable marketers to purchase display ads programmatically through an Open Auction or through LinkedIn Private Auctions, giving users the tools required to better target their ideal prospects through the social network.
Microsoft announced a deal to acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share. The all-cash transaction is valued at $26.2 billion. The acquisition combines Microsoft’s professional cloud capabilities with LinkedIn’s extensive professional network to enable B2B sales teams to have more connected, intelligent and productive experiences, according to Microsoft.
After a not-so-successful attempt at implementing its Lead Accelerator product after acquiring Bizo, LinkedIn has announced the launch of Account Targeting, a solution designed to running account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns through the LinkedIn platform. The new functionality aims to help marketers tailor their Sponsored Updates or Sponsored InMail campaigns to a list of priority accounts.
LinkedIn has expanded its Marketing Solutions portfolio with the introduction of LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, a lead generation and nurturing product designed to connect companies to the right professionals with the right content as they make their way through the purchase decision process.
This addition reflects the integration and enhancement of Bizo’s Multi-Channel Nurturing product, which LinkedIn acquired in August 2014.
Social media has long been the darling of B2C marketers, as it lends itself to quick, on-the-spot interactions with potential buyers. While the B2B sales cycle is longer and more complex, there are many opportunities to use social media to generate and nurture leads and close more deals.
During a recent webinar, titled: Adding Social Fuel To Demand Generation Programs, Koka Sexton, Sr., Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, explained how sales teams can leverage social media platforms to expand their connections and bolster their demand generation efforts.
This webinar will demonstrate how sales and marketing leaders are adding social selling strategies to accelerate pipeline creation—including lead generation and qualification, and gaining access to multiple decision-makers.