July 27, 2021

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How Akima Refined Its LinkedIn Ad Targeting Strategy

Why Akima is not your typical B2B organization

Akima, a global contracting enterprise sells primarily to one customer: the U.S. government. 

The government is a highly complex buying entity, with many levels, stakeholders, and logistical nuances. For this reason, many B2B companies can relate. 

Across all industries, buying committees and decision-making structures are growing larger and more challenging to navigate. Reaching the right person with resonant and influential messaging has never been more difficult nor more critical.

There are valuable lessons any business can draw from the way Akima was able to break through the masses with its advertising strategy on LinkedIn. Take a look at how they found success. 

As our marketing strategy has evolved, we’ve gotten more granular. We’ve started using more robust LinkedIn filters to target in various ways to see if we can achieve better engagement and get closer to our overarching goals.” –
Joseph Pendry, Akima’s VP of Marketing and Communications

From Broad Awareness to Targeted and Focused Engagement

In their early stages of advertising on LinkedIn, Akima primarily focused on growing brand awareness. As the company grew their investment, they decided to zero-in on priority segments to increase engagement.

Akima used LinkedIn’s robust targeting features to increase engagement amongst priority segments within their buying groups. According to Pendry, they:

Used geographical targeting to zero in: “There are certain parts of the U.S. where large sets of customers or potential customers are primarily located. LinkedIn allows us to zero in on those geographies to ensure our marketing investment is most effective.”

Targeted specific capabilities based on functions and specializations: “We want to have our brand in front of the right folks at the right time, depending on where they are within a given procurement cycle.”

Tailoring Content Efficiently

A sophisticated ad-targeting strategy is not just reaching the right people, but reaching them with a tailored message that speaks to their problem or challenge. For many marketing departments, this poses a dilemma, because there are only so many resources available for content creation.

“The capabilities we’re talking about may be the same for each customer, but the images and language we use is designed to talk specifically to a given audience,” Pendry said.

To align content with distinctly targeted audiences in a scalable way, Pendry said Akima:

  • Made small tweaks to higher-level messaging: “The ads we create to reach a military customer look and feel very different than, say, the ones we create to reach the federal law enforcement community. These tweaks are important so that people feel like the ad speaks directly to them, versus a general government audience.”
  • Developed a clear understanding of how the buying process works for their customers.
  • Applied industry insights by targeting not just end users, but also procurement professionals and other key personnel.

Finding the Right Ad Type

With this advanced targeting strategy in place, Akima needed to determine which LinkedIn ad format was most effective for achieving their goals. 

Pendry explained how they found ways to maximize value and impact using different ad formats:

  • Sponsored Content, and visual ad formats, such as Video and Carousel Ads, were key to stable engagement: “Video has performed really well for us. We also started using Carousel Ads, and we saw engagement almost double in some of the audiences we were trying to reach.”
  • Retargeting from video ads increased website traffic: “We can take that audience, build a LinkedIn audience based on video viewership, and then retarget them with ads that are more about clicking through to our website to learn more, since we’ve already caught their interest with the video.”

Stay Agile and Keep Refining

When reflecting on the drivers of their advertising success on LinkedIn, Joe credits the team’s fervent commitment to experimenting, tweaking, and constantly improving. The strong results of these efforts have enabled them to successfully increase their investment in the platform quarter-over-quarter.

What’s made a big difference is just our ability to pivot where we see opportunity, right? We went from awareness broadly targeting folks by region or by capability and then narrowing that down to what really works for us. You have to go into it with an agile perspective.” – Joseph Pendry, Akima’s VP of Marketing and Communications 

Like most B2B organizations, Akima sells to a complex and rapidly evolving buying audience. With help from LinkedIn, they’re keeping pace and continually delivering value to differentiate themselves in the market. 

Ready to get your own agile strategy running on LinkedIn? Click on over to Campaign Manager and connect with your professional audience.