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LinkedIn Publishes New Report on Marketing Challenges for Tech Brands

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LinkedIn Publishes New Report on Marketing Challenges for Tech Brands

LinkedIn has published a new report on the rise of ‘Tech Challengers’ in the B2B space, which are mid-market tech brands that utilize emerging technologies to take on much bigger, more well-resourced incumbents in their respective sectors.

As explained by LinkedIn:

Bigger than start-ups, but smaller than enterprise firms, Tech Challengers face the same customer expectations as their larger siblings, but without the gargantuan budgets. To stand out, they need to be agile as a startup, and make their marketing budget stretch further, through innovative, creative, and increasingly digital strategies.”

Given these parameters, Tech Challengers are a good segment to study for marketing examples and tips, which could help in your strategy.

To glean more insight, LinkedIn surveyed more than 200 marketing managers, directors, VPs, executives and CMOs from these challenger brands to learn about their digital advertising goals and challenges, which has culminated in a new, 21-page overview.

You can download the full Tech Challenger guide here, but in this post, we’ll take a look at some of the highlights.

First off, LinkedIn looks at the marketing budgets of Tech Challengers, to get some comparative scope on available ad spend.

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LinkedIn says that Tech Challengers spend between 31% and 60% of their marketing budget on digital marketing, with the average being 44%. That equates, on average, to $57,900 per month, with 67% of brands in the segment spending between $10k and $100k.

The majority of that budget goes towards product launches and growth initiatives, with building company profile (brand awareness) not too far behind in the priority list.

LinkedIn Tech Challenger report

In terms of key challenges, the majority still struggle with maximizing conversion, with 70% of marketers selecting ‘converting engagement to sales’ as their biggest issue.

Which is fairly universal. It’s one thing to get people to Like and comment on your posts, but it’s a whole other level when you get them to actually take real action as a result, and get in touch with your brand. That’s long been a confusing element in the digital marketing sector, with some brands hiring people that are great at generating engagement, but not so great at optimizing for sales.

It’s worth considering this in your process, and ensuring that your efforts are focused on the end goal, rather than simply feeding into on-platform metrics.

The report also looks at the most popular CRM and marketing automation platforms used by Tech Challenger brands, as well as the top sources for insights about digital marketing approaches

LinkedIn Tech Challengers report

I’m gonna’ assume that Social Media Today fits into the ‘Digital Marketing Influencers’ category so I can feel good about our input in this respect.

LinkedIn finally delivers some key action points, including crafting the right message relative to each platform and tracking your results to measure marketing spend.

Which, in all honestly, is a little disappointing – I was hoping for some more specific, practical action points based on this pool of marketers, but instead, the action notes are fairly generic, with improving collaboration between marketing and sales being another key point in the summary.

Like, yeah, using the right messaging for each platform is pretty obvious, as is measuring performance. If you’re not doing these, you’re unlikely to see much success – but if you’re working in marketing at all and you’re not focusing on these elements, what exactly are you doing?

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Maybe I’ve just read one too many of these reports (and I have read a lot), but again, I was hoping for more specific info from these innovative brands, when instead, this is a more a summary report of their challenges, as opposed to providing solutions.

There are some interesting data points either way, and if you’re working for a Tech Challenger brand, it provides some additional industry perspective for your planning.

You can read LinkedIn’s full Tech Challenger guide here.

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TikTok Scales Back Live-Stream Commerce Ambitions, Which Could Be a Big Blow for the App

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TikTok Expands Test of Downvotes for Video Replies, Adds New Prompts to Highlight its Safety Tools

TikTok’s facing a significant reassessment in its business expansion plans, with the company forced to scale back its live eCommerce initiative in Europe and the US due to operational challenges and lack of consumer interest.

TikTok has been working to integrate live-stream shopping after seeing major success with the option in the Chinese version of the app. But its initial efforts in the UK have been hampered by various problems.

As reported by The Financial Times:

“TikTok had planned to launch the feature in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the first half of this year, before expanding into the US later in 2022, according to several people briefed on the matter. But the expansion plans have been dropped after the UK project failed to meet targets and influencers dropped out of the scheme, three people said.”

TikTok has since refuted some of FT’s claims, saying that the reported timeline for its commerce push is incorrect, and that it’s focused on fixing problems with its UK operation before expanding, which is still in its roadmap. But the basis – that its program is not going as smoothly as planned – is correct. 

TikTok’s UK shopping push has also faced internal problems due to conflicts over working culture and management.

Last month, reports surfaced that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had been imposing tough conditions on its UK commerce staff, including regular 12-hour days, improbable sales targets, and questions over entitlements.

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Now, it seems like the combination of challenges has led to a new growth dilemma for the app – which once again underlines the variance between Asian and western app usage trends.

Social media and messaging apps have become a central element of day-to-day life in several Asian countries, with apps like China’s WeChat and QQ now used for everything from purchasing train tickets to paying bills, to buying groceries, banking, and everything in between.

That spells opportunity for western social media providers, with Meta, in particular, looking to use the Chinese model as a template to help it translate the popularity of WhatsApp and Messenger into even more ubiquitous, more valuable functionality, which could then make them critical connective tools in various markets, solidifying Meta’s market presence.

But for various reasons, Chinese messaging trends have never translated to other markets.

Meta’s Messenger Bots push in 2016 failed to gain traction, and after its Messenger app became ‘too cluttered’ with an ever-expanding range of functionalities, including games, shopping, Stories, and more, Meta eventually scaled back its messaging expansion plans, in favor of keeping the app aligned with its core use case.

Meta then turned to WhatsApp, and making messaging a more critical process in developing markets like India and Indonesia. That expansion is still ongoing, but the signs, at present, don’t suggest that WhatsApp will ever reach the same level of ubiquity that Chinese messaging apps have.

Which then leads to TikTok, the world-beating short-form video app, which has seen massive growth in China, leading to whole new business opportunities, and even market sectors, based on how Chinese users have adapted to in-app commerce.

The Chinese version of TikTok, called ‘Douyin’, generated $119 billion worth of product sales via live broadcasts in 2021, an 7x increase year-over-year, while the number of users engaging with eCommerce live-streams exceeded 384 million, close to half of the platform’s user base.

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Overall, the Chinese live-stream commerce sector brought in over $300 billion in 2021. For comparison, the entire US retail eCommerce market reached $767 billion last year.

Given this, you can see why TikTok would view this as a key opportunity in other markets as well – but as noted, Chinese market trends are not always a great proxy for other regions.

The decision to scale back its eCommerce ambitions is a significant blow to TikTok’s expansion plans, not only from a broader revenue perspective (and worth noting, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance recently cut staff due to ongoing revenue pressures), but also in regards to revenue share, and providing a pathway for creators to make money from their efforts in the app.

Unlike YouTube, TikTok clips are too short to add mid and pre-roll ads, which means that creators can’t simply switch on ads to make money from their content. That means that they need to organize brand partnerships to generate income, and on Douyin, in-stream commerce has become the key pathway to exactly that.

Without in-stream product integrations as an option, that will significantly limit creator earnings capacity in the app, which could eventually see them switch focus to other platforms, where they can more effectively monetize their output.

Which may not seem like a major risk, but that’s exact what killed Vine, when Vine creators called for a bigger share of the app’s revenue, then switched to Instagram and YouTube instead when Vine’s parent company Twitter refused to provide such.

Could TikTok eventually face a similar fate?

TikTok, of course, is much bigger than Vine ever was, and is still growing. But limited monetization opportunities could end up being a big challenge for the app – while it also continues to face scrutiny over its impact on youngsters, and the potential for it to be used as a surveillance tool by the Chinese Government.

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In isolation, it may not seem like a major move, scaling back its eCommerce ambitions just slightly as it reassesses the best approach. But it’s a significant shift, which will slow down TikTok’s broader expansion. And it could end up hurting the app more than you, initially, would think.

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