Articles about the future of LinkedIn, next steps for LinkedIn and basically anything regarding the potential for LinkedIn have permeated social media and marketing news blogs and magazines since at least early 2013. (TechCrunch and diginomica articles show two examples.) Many reference the popular CRM tool, Salesforce, and discuss a partnership, takeover and even competitor status. LinkedIn has claimed it does not see Salesforce as a competitor, but you can’t help but wonder if they might take a stab at their own CRM-system in the future.

And you can easily spot some of the most obvious nods to a LinkedIn/Salesforce hybrid tool in LinkedIn’s current platform itself:

  1. You can’t export an Excel list of followers from a company page, but you can review analytics on them within LinkedIn.
  2. A free LinkedIn integration for Salesforce plugin was released in January of 2014.
  3. LinkedIn has the contact information sitting and waiting. Salesforce and other CRM tools require inputs. Why start at step one, if you can start at step five?

I previously posted a video blog around the fact that LinkedIn was not a prime source for PPC advertising in comparison to Google. I stand by that claim today, but I cannot deny the future potential LinkedIn is building. In pulling their current PPC program and removing the option to gather and export leads, LinkedIn is able not only to reposition their effectiveness within the sales funnel, but also widen the funnel itself. This creates a situation where marketing and sales can still have a clear view of their prospects and prospective customers still feel autonomous in their search for product/service solutions.

To learn more about the progression of LinkedIn over the past year, check out the following blog posts:

Case Study: LinkedIn Ads vs. Google AdWords PPC

Ling Ying, or LinkedIn China, Partners with WeChat

LinkedIn Knows Content is King

Or contact a globalHMAer to find out more about integrating LinkedIn into your 2015 marketing strategy!