You’ve probably heard the news by now – Microsoft are buying Linkedin. There have been countless opinion pieces on what the acquisition means for those two businesses. But what could the repercussions be for B2B marketing? We at The Marketing Practice are particularly interested in what it could mean for three core areas – inbound, social and data – and decided to ask the experts for their opinions:
“More and more businesses use Microsoft’s cloud propositions each day, providing Microsoft with increasing volumes of insight that they can leverage. They will be building a wealth of valuable data into what businesses consume and how they behave. Marry this with LinkedIn’s insight into decision makers’ behaviour, and this could provide Microsoft with the opportunity to predict and recommend business solutions that are bespoke and delivered at the optimum juncture.
If B2B marketers are also provided access to this insight, they too can get their propositions in front of potential customers at a point when it will be most pertinent to them. This would unlock huge opportunities for B2B inbound marketing if it were to happen. Once a user has been identified and a proposition married to them, Microsoft will then have the option of reaching them via their vast ecosystem: the Office suite, Skype, search, Windows devices, and now of course Linkedin too.
On a more basic level, we are likely to see Microsoft Dynamics go on a feature enhancement drive, integrating information from LinkedIn to deliver ever more personalised communications. I’d like to see Microsoft thinking about how this data could be used to personalise the user’s experience across the full bought, owned and earned ecosystem.
The biggest challenges? How they grow LinkedIn’s user base to deliver these opportunities and ensure users feel comfortable about the use of their data. For me, it has to come back to the value exchange for the user. Get that right, and businesses have much more reason to buy in.”
“Satya Nadella aims to create a ‘connected professional world’ but in its current state LinkedIn will struggle to deliver this. InMail struggles with spam, the news feed serves up irrelevant inspirational posts, not to mention the pushy yet untargeted recruitment messages. Of course, this is not always the case but I hope that this acquisition will see Microsoft utilise their product suite and engineering capability to improve the overall experience. For social selling specifically I’d like to see InMail evolve through richer designs, in addition to taking advantage of Microsoft’s network to target individuals (such as Skype chat).
LinkedIn provides advertisers with a unique audience, a large percentage of whom are not active on other social media platforms. In order to maintain this unique user base, Microsoft need to ensure that they elevate and evolve what is currently working to provide value to their audience. From our own social listening we know that while marketers are excited about the opportunities this acquisition could bring, many LinkedIn users are worried about how their data will be used across the network.”
“The acquisition of LinkedIn will be a big boost for Microsoft Dynamics, automating the aggregation of insights across the database. For example, we know that contact X is discussing digital transformation and has engaged with person Y on several occasions (this data could also enrich the Microsoft Cortana AI).
LinkedIn have existing integrations with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. With the acquisition we hope to see this integration evolve at pace. One such example would be to refine the LinkedIn Discovery feature by overlaying Microsoft’s behavioural data, providing businesses with users who not only fit the profile but have shown cues that they are actively in market for a given product.
Whilst there are some obvious benefits for Dynamics, it does beg the question of whether they’ll maintain the Salesforce integration (or to what extent). I don’t expect them to remove this integration entirely as it would create substantial discord but I can envisage limited features versus those experienced by Dynamics customers. If this were to be the case, it could increase the footprint of Microsoft Dynamics across businesses in the UK who want to make use of these extra features.”
Whatever happens, we’ll be keeping an eye on the repercussions of this acquisition. What do you think? Are you excited for the possibilities from the deal? Or are you concerned about the use of data? Let us know!