(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
Once upon a time, Adobe made Flash and a popular PDF converter and of course Photoshop – that great desktop software for publishers and graphic designers. But times have certainly changed. Over the past few years, the company has leveraged its core offerings and morphed them into a number of powerful marketing tools that encompass videos, 3-D illustrations and powerful graphics.
So what to do with all this great looking stuff? Enter Microsoft. And LinkedIn.
According to an announcement the companies made at last week’s Adobe Summit, the company is partnering with Microsoft and LinkedIn (which is owned by Microsoft) to offer a one-stop-shop lead generation solution.
Here’s how it works.
You create a great looking advertisement using Adobe’s software which includes tools for making videos, editing photos or designing your own art and illustrations. Adobe – which will be using the profiling tools it purchased from Marketo (a business-to-business marketing software acquired last year) – will then leverage LinkedIn’s data to target your advertisement to specific people based on their demographics, history, professional titles and interest. When someone raises their hand or wants more information, the data is then moved into the CRM modules of Microsoft Dynamics where your sales people nurture, follow-up and hopefully close.
“The LinkedIn network is one of those clear holy grails for business marketers,” Steve Lucas, senior vice president of digital experience at Adobe and former chief executive officer of Marketo told Reuters. “It has just become such a huge lever for B-to-B marketers that it would be impossible for us to ignore it.”
This type of integration is a long time coming. Microsoft completed its acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016 and since then its Dynamics and Office customers have been offered – in my opinion – a frustratingly few options for leveraging the powerful professional data that LinkedIn contains. I get that one of the biggest reasons why is not to over-exploit the LinkedIn database, which – if barraged by too many uninvited marketing campaigns – could drive members away and decrease its value. Regardless, many of my Dynamics clients have wanted more access to the LinkedIn treasure trove. Now they can have it.
Think about this: you want to target your HVAC product to mechanical engineers. You design a killer ad. Now you target the engineer – and her connections – in LinkedIn. Is this intrusive? I don’t think so. If professionally done, why wouldn’t a community of mechanical engineers on LinkedIn appreciate getting good information about products that help them do their jobs?
Adobe will make sure the information looks great and is targeted towards the right audience. Microsoft Dynamics will ensure that once someone has expressed an interest there’s always another task for follow-up. And according to Kareem Anderson, a blogger who follows Microsoft, there’s certainly no shortage of consultants out there who would be willing to help. “A cursory view of resumes and skills listed in (LinkedIn’s) profiles seem to overwhelmingly include intersections of Office and Adobe experts,” he recently wrote.
I cannot imagine why my Microsoft customers – both big and small – wouldn’t want to take advantage of these offerings. And I also bet the people at Salesforce are thinking – and worrying about – the same thing.