Friday, 12 April 2013 13:36

The Linkedin Zebra

Written by Brent Nauer

The goal of a Zebra is to have your entire company aligned to the concept of your perfect prospect. This involves the cooperation of sales, marketing, research/development and all customer facing personnel. You start by defining the 7 key attributes that indicate a perfect prospect as well as the characteristics of the anti-prospect. Knowing when to walk away and devoting resources is key. In much the same way you devote sales resources to your perfect prospect by looking at these characteristics, your marketing should do the same.

Online advertising used to be a shotgun approach, but if you have a complex sale, you might have gone mad trying Google AdWords in order to generate leads. You could spend $100’s or thousands of dollars in advertising that didn’t convert to sales. Remember a Zebra is your perfect prospect. What industry is your perfect prospect in, how many employees do they have, what’s the average revenue, and what is the job title of somebody who is most likely to buy from you? A complex sale requires a lot of sales resources to navigate these posed questions. So stop advertising to everyone because you’re spending more than just advertising money when you bring the wrong people to your website. You’re muddying the prospect waters and forcing the sales team to figure out if there is a fit before the prospect puts any effort into it. The prospect is in fact more willing now than ever to research you before they contact you. They are looking to see if you are a good fit, but you must try to make that job easy for them. One of the ways to do that, is for them to realize the only reason why they are seeing advertisements from you is because you only advertise to those that could use your solution. That is where advertising has lost credibility. Everyone thinks that ads are trying to sell you something you don’t need or can’t afford. If someone wants to sell me something that will give me a return on my investment, I would love to explore the options. I am also going to look at your website and how customers have interacted with you publicly.

Optimizing your costs by marketing to a Zebra

The promising future of social advertising and present reality is how relevant ads are becoming to individual users. What this means is that every person will be shown advertisements based on their own interests, habits and demographic. Some may call it creepy or invasive, but I embrace this intelligence and I predict it will be well adopted and accepted. Worries about privacy concerns will continue to gradually ease. Consumers will depend on the internet to help them make decisions and online advertising will continue to evolve until it’s standard that every advertisement knows something about you. I predict ad blindness will diminish as it integrates more fully with social profiles. I myself have actually started clicking on ads that have analyzed my shopping habits.

This ad for example offered me a 10% discount specific to bedroom furniture immediately after I browsed the site looking for a bed frame.

2 Reasons LinkedIn Zebra has a lower overall cost.

  1. Pay for clicks from your defined Linkedin Zebras
  2. Reduce internal resources spent redirecting prospects who don’t realize the full benefit of your solution and have a predictably lower close rate. Often times these deals become convoluted if they do mature. Shortening the sales cylcle is accomplished when the prospect contacts you and is well educated.The following area lets you collect those leads from interested parties


When you’re audience is properly defined, your CTR is not muddled by people who can’t afford, or need your solution and aren’t your prefect prospects. Your Linkedin Zebra should narrow company size for example if only larger corporations would be able to effectively justify the larger upfront cost of an enterprise solution.

Force Success

Split Testing or A/B testing is used on Linkedin to split traffic amongst variations of websites to see which designs garnered the most traffic. Linkedin has made it very easy for you to create ad variations(up to 15) of the same ad to determine which picture, or text is the most effective. Linkedin will automatically rotate the variations based on time so you can continually learn from your prospects behavior. Your perfect prospect is always going to be a moving target so this feature is essential in improving your sales and marketing performance. You will need to monitor your performance to make sure your Linkedin campaigns show measurable traffic and an impact on sales. Linkedins average click through rate is .025% but don’t congratulate yourself for a high click through rate just yet. It is more important that those leads are turning into sales or you are losing money. Create a specific Linkedin landing page that correlates to what was being advertised so that you don’t distract or confuse prospects. Use a program like google analytics to monitor referral links and overall traffic increases at the start and end of your LinkedIn campaigns. Use the Linkedin A/B testing, or ad variations, to help you design your website as well. If certain text or images are performing well on the ads, you can replace them on your website to improve organic search results for your company. As your business grows your perfect prospect may be changing as well so keep that in mind.