Another milestone, but what’s the future of LinkedIn for B2B marketing?

LinkedIn hit another major milestone this week, as the 200 millionth member registered on the site. The network has become a highly potent weapon for most B2B marketeers for three main reasons:

  1. Reach. It sounds obvious, but if you are marketing IT, professional services or telecommunications there are few members of your target audience who can’t be reached through LinkedIn.
  2. Accuracy. Individuals have a huge incentive – there own careers – to keep their personal data on LinkedIn up to date. As a result, LinkedIn is one of the few sites where a B2B marketeer can reach their audience with confidence that there will be minimum wastage. That in turn helps senior client-side marketeers to justify their investments to management teams.
  3. Integration. LinkedIn do a great job of enabling marketeers to use a combination of traditional display, communities and LinkedIn Today to reach their audiences. This integration is now evolving intelligently with social sign on, which should do the same thing for LinkedIn in the business space that it does for Facebook in the consumer world: to make them the ubiquitous social network of choice.

So LinkedIn has done a fantastic job in a browser-based world. The key question for B2B marketeers now is whether they will be able to evolve their offering to B2B advertisers from the browser into mobile environments?

The LinkedIn apps are fantastic for users, but primarily because they don’t include advertising. Unfortunately for LinkedIn sales in traditional PCs are nosediving: according to Gartner, sales were down 4.9% in Q4 2012 compared to Q4 2011. This is similar to IDC numbers last week, which recorded a 6.4% decline. This change is not limited to consumers. Businesses are also buying tablets in large numbers, especially for the very decision makers that B2B marketeers want to reach.

Will LinkedIn enable marketeers to achieve their objectives in an increasingly mobile world? Or will they struggle to achieve this in the same way that Facebook has for consumers? The effectiveness of one of the most important channels for B2B marketeers will depend on the answer to these questions.

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