Case Study: How Vestas Used LinkedIn to Launch Their Largest Marketing Campaign Ever

Posted by LinkedSelling in Uncategorized

Vestas is a global leader in wind energy, solutions, and infrastructure.   Over 30 years since its founding, and with 2011 revenues of $7.68 billion, the company is certainly no stranger to big marketing campaigns. Most  recently, the company has faced increasingly intense competition, an uncertain regulatory environment, and a global recession that has kept demand in check.

To combat declining revenues as a result of these external threats, in mid-2011 the company put in place the largest marketing campaign in its history.

So where does a company that builds wind power plants go to accelerate name recognition, increase awareness around its issues, and get their message in front of more decision makers?  LinkedIn, for a number of reasons, was the platform they chose to use.

Why the Vestas' Campaign Included a Big LinkedIn Focus

Vestas LinkedIn Adobe Banner Ad
Vestas LinkedIn Adobe Banner Ad

LinkedIn is the most well-known and used professional social media website and we felt we would have a stronger impact working with them. Our own email campaign would not be able to generate this type of continual effect with banner ads, for example.” – Morten Kamp Jørgensen, Director, Vestas

We reached out to Vestas’ Corporate Brand team to ask some questions about their LinkedIn campaign.  The insights provided by Morten Kamp Jørgensen (Director Brand Management, Group MarCom and Customer Insight, Vestas) give a very clear picture of the effectiveness that a creative and thoughtful LinkedIn campaign can have.  All following quotes are attributed to Mr. Jørgensen.

Here is the opportunity that Vestas saw in LinkedIn:

  • The largest active network of business decision makers.
  • The ability to segment their efforts in countless, extremely meaningful ways.
  • An opportunity to market in a creative way, more likely to be noticed.

To get their message in front of key decision makers in carefully selected prospect firms, Vestas designed a laser-focused campaign that they called “Energy Transparency.” Before getting into the specifics, it’s first important to understand the objectives that Vestas was seeking to meet:

The goal of the campaign was to start a discussion and education process for carbon conscious corporations to directly invest in wind energy rather than just buying Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Many corporations are already investing directly in renewable energy and we wanted to encourage this and engage corporations who have sustainability targets that make them more likely to invest in wind.”

Defining the goal is the first step.  But more specifically, who exactly was Vestas aiming to target?

“Our ideal customers for the Energy Transparency campaign were decision makers in carbon conscious corporations – this includes c-suites, heads of sustainability, heads of renewable energy procurement and heads of marketing. LinkedIn allows us to connect with these individuals effectively.  We targeted 622 individuals from carbon conscious corporations and 35 individuals that are Renewable Energy industry thought leaders. The corporations we targeted were 50 and they included companies that are part of the Corporate Renewable Energy Index and companies that were part of the Global Consumer Wind Study.”

It’s very important to note that the company targeted specific companies who were already prequalified via their participation in the aforementioned Corporate Renewable Energy Index (produced by Vestas in partnership with Bloomberg) and Global Consumer Wind Study (commissioned by Vestas and conducted by TNS Gallup).

By conducting independent studies, the company was able to ascertain definitive consumer preferences toward corporations who are perceived as more environmentally friendly.  For one of the world’s foremost leaders in wind energy, this is a powerful message with which to market.

Armed with this data, Vestas built a multi-faceted campaign which included:

LinkedIn InMail to send targeted messages to 622 individuals from 50 carbon conscious corporations, as well as 35 individuals that are renewable energy industry thought leaders.

Customized banner ads on LinkedIn, tailored to each of 50 companies and targeting over 400,000 employees of these firms.

Vestas HSBC LinkedIn Banner Ad
Vestas HSBC LinkedIn Banner Ad

Businessweek advertising that included 600 custom-wrapped issues of the magazine, sent to the same individuals targeted via the direct InMail component.

Vestas Launches Businessweek Campaign
Vestas Launches Businessweek Campaign

16-page insert with company-specific (prospect) data in the same Businessweek issue.

Vestas Businessweek 16-Page Insert
Vestas Businessweek 16-Page Insert

Customized versions of the website, including company and industry-specific data.

Vestas Custom Landing Page
Vestas Custom Landing Page

Let’s focus on each of these components more specifically.

LinkedIn InMail Messaging Campaign

LinkedIn InMail provides a highly targeted tool for your LinkedIn marketing campaign. It allows for extremely targeted messages delivered to exactly the right person. In fact, LinkedIn offers a “guarantee” on these messages. But Vestas knew that a stock message wouldn’t make the greatest impact.  They crafted a unique message for each company at every stage of the campaign, including the InMail messages.

The InMail messages were sent to a smaller set of prospects as compared to the overall campaign (which reached over 400,000).  Yet the messages were each personalized with regards to the recipient’s name and company name.  Further, each InMail provided a link to a customized version of which included company and industry-specific data.

Customized Banner Ads

As part of the overall campaign, Vestas targeted over 400,000 employees of these corporations via banner ads placed throughout LinkedIn.  According to Mr.  Jørgensen,The ads were tailored and according to LinkedIn our CTR is so high because of the customization.”  As opposed to a standard ad used for every impression, Vestas created a slew of custom ads specifically featuring each company.

Vestas LinkedIn Banner Ad - Starbucks
Vestas LinkedIn Banner Ad – Starbucks

How did this work?

“So a Starbucks employee who logged onto their LinkedIn page saw a banner that talked about Starbucks and their investment in renewable energy and took them to a website specifically made for Starbucks.”

Vestas LinkedIn Campaign - Starbucks
Vestas LinkedIn Campaign – Starbucks

As previously stated, this paid off in a big way as the company saw higher than normal click through rates on these ads.  The lesson here is clear; a message specifically crafted for a particular prospect company is far more likely to be viewed than a generic marketing message.

Businessweek Advertising

This isn’t the first time a company integrated a marketing campaign across traditional advertising and online methods.  But the combination of a huge LinkedIn component with a truly unique Businessweek promotion is indeed notable and extremely creative.

Vestas not only sent InMail to the 600+ top executives identified, they also sent them each a custom version of Businessweek that included:

  • Custom-wrapping of the magazine, featuring a letter from Vestas top brass individually lettered to each “prospect” executive and providing an overview of the company’s role in the Energy Transparency campaign.  The letter prompted each executive to visit a “personalized website.”
  • Each of these 600+ magazines included a 16-page insert with company-specific data, further information about the Energy Transparency project, and a call-to-action to visit the custom website.
Vestas Businessweek Custom Wrapped Magazine
Vestas Businessweek Custom Wrapped Magazine

How important was the Businessweek component of the campaign?

Just a LinkedIn campaign or just a Businessweek campaign would not have given us maximum coverage. Using both media, offline and online, we were able to create a bigger stir and get more mileage out of our campaign.”

Custom Landing Pages

As mentioned a number of times, a key strategy of this campaign was the degree to which the messages were customized to the individual recipients.  Not only were the advertising messages customized for each company (and for the 600+ executives targeted who received personalized communications), Vestas also created over 50 unique websites targeted at each of their prospect companies.

Vestas Custom Landing Page - Energy Efficiency Calculator
Vestas Custom Landing Page – Energy Efficiency Calculator

This approach allowed Vestas to deliver the most precise message possible.  Not a general marketing message, or broad statements about consumer preferences, but real findings and insights pertaining directly to their target prospects.

Further, by developing these distinct “landing pages” Vestas was able to capture extremely accurate data on the interest level within the various firms targeted as well as the overall success of the campaign.

As Mr. Jørgensen noted, Since the URLs for all our target audience were customized, we have been able to successfully track and measure the campaign. In addition, the media attention we got for the campaign has also been successfully tracked. In 2012, we hope to have a follow-up campaign as well. The success of the campaign is already something we can measure and hopefully as this year proceeds we will be able to see conversion into megawatts for this marketing effort.”

A Lesson for Brands of All Sizes

The Vestas team felt strongly that the relative “newness” of LinkedIn as a marketing platform gave them confidence that their messages would be better received than more traditional marketing methods.

“We believed that tapping into a well-established network with LinkedIn would give us more bang for our buck than traditional marketing methods.”

In a world where cold calling is increasingly ineffective, emails have become mostly junk mail, and there is a constant battle for the attention of prospects, LinkedIn remains one of the most effective platforms for B2B marketers to get their message directly into the hands of key decision makers.

LinkedIn offers unprecedented opportunities for directing hyper focused messages right at businesses most high value prospects. Combined with an integrated marketing mix, Vestas showed just how powerful this approach can be.

We would like to thank Morten Kamp Jørgensen and the Vestas Global Campaigns & Brand Management, Global MarCom & Customer Insight team for their participation in this case study and for providing the images and screen shots used.

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