What if there was a free social tool that:
- Provided great access to quality B2B leads
- Offered industry-leading ROI
- Was simple to use and user-friendly
- Had not become oversaturated
You’d be foolish to ignore it, right? Well, that tool does exist. Many people already have an existing account that they at best underutilize and at worst, ignore.
That tool — as you may have guessed from the title — is LinkedIn.
Does LinkedIn Really Work for B2B Companies?
LinkedIn is no longer the obscure professional networking site or job board that many have come to know it as. Through a number of recent acquisitions and product enhancements, LinkedIn has grown from the site you once stalked your co-workers on to a tool B2B companies shouldn’t live without.
With LinkedIn, the proof is in the numbers. Did you know that:
- 80%+ of all B2B leads generated through social media come through LinkedIn. (Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn)
- LinkedIn is 277% more effective at lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. (LinkedIn Pulse)
- LinkedIn is the most-used social media platform among Fortune 500 companies. (LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog)
- About 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions, including managers, VPs, Directors, and C-level positions. (LinkedIn Official Blog)
Statistics like these are hard to overlook but they’re meaningless without a plan of action. With that in mind, we’re offering our top tips on how to add LinkedIn to your B2B business’ marketing strategy.
1. Create a Company Page to Generate Leads
This may sound like a simple recommendation but many of the other recommendations in this article hinge on your organization actually having a dedicated page for your business.
Luckily, setting up a company page is free and easy. Simply log into LinkedIn with your active personal profile (If you don’t have a personal profile you’ll have to create one and log some activity first). Hover your cursor over the “Work” icon in the upper right-hand corner. A drop-down will appear, click “Create a Company Page +” at the bottom.
You’ll be guided through a couple of short questions to help accurately define your business and a new company page will be created. Simple.
Once created, it’s important to take some time and develop your profile to match your brand identity and the audience on LinkedIn. Here are some things you’ll want to make sure you cover when creating a company page:
- Upload an iconic logo and header image, one that showcases your brand. For many leads, this will represent the first impression of your business, make it stick.
- Keep your company summary short, compelling, and user-focused. This is a great place for your mission statement.
- Go into more detail in the “about us” overview. This is a great place to talk about the history of your company, who you serve, what gets you up in the morning, that kind of stuff. The overview section is also a great place to add relevant keywords to make your page more discoverable by LinkedIn’s excellent search options (more on that in a minute).
- LinkedIn has a professional user base, shadow that in your content (ie. stay away from photos of cats and offbeat jokes). Stick to quality photography and clean, purposeful content.
- Include your location, your website, and your industry on your profile. Join featured groups and communities you’d like your business to be associated with.
These practices will help your B2B business earn attention, inform your audience, and properly nurture new leads that find you on LinkedIn.
2. Publish Quality Content That is Useful
Once you have an established company page on LinkedIn it’s time to start adding engaging content. LinkedIn has great publishing tools that allow you to create and upload articles, images, and video. We recommend you use all three to offer value to your followers and position your business as a credible resource in your industry.
The average user on LinkedIn is hungry for new and useful content with the majority of them self-identifying as “news-junkies”. But, be forewarned, there is a ton of content published on LinkedIn daily and generic techniques simply won’t cut it.
Take the time to create high-quality content that is useful and informative to your audience. To stand out, make sure your article provides added value or a unique perspective to the alternatives in the industry.
To help your content be distinctive, OkDork analyzed 3,000 LinkedIn blog posts and identified the following best practices:
- Long-form content (between 1900-2000 words) receives the most social shares.
- How-to and list posts performed the best on the site.
- An easy reading level (ie. readable by an 11-year-old) got the most views.
Content marketing is a great way to put your lead generation efforts on autopilot. It helps prospects find your business, it helps position your business as an authority in the industry, and it solves their problems. The infographic below by marketing software company Hubspot showcases where content fits within the inbound marketing funnel.
Ultimately, good content can reduce your sales cycle and guide prospects every stage.
3. Join/Start LinkedIn Groups and Provide Value
A great feature of LinkedIn is its group pages. LinkedIn Groups provide a great way to connect and network with professionals already attentive to your industry.
Search for relevant groups that match your business’ interests. Connect, ask questions, provide answers, and before you know it you’ll be developing relationships with people that can directly or indirectly impact your business.
As a word of caution, LinkedIn only allows you to be a member of 50 groups, so choose wisely. Choose groups that are active, not too large, and closely mirror your target buyer personas.
Do you see a need that isn’t currently being served by other groups in the community? Or, would you rather provide an invite-only experience for your audience? Start your own group. Starting and maintaining a group is a great way to position yourself as a leader in your industry. The keyword to remember with groups is value. Don’t join or start groups with the sole focus of selling something. Group members that feel they are constantly getting a sales pitch won’t stick around long.
Position yourself as an authority by providing value and you’ll develop relationships within your target audience that will last for years to come.
4. Search Smart and Develop Warm Leads
While most of the tips we’ve shared so far position LinkedIn as an excellent B2B inbound marketing tool, it also shines when used in your outbound efforts. Of all the social media tools available today, there aren’t any that provide you the advanced search features of LinkedIn.
To access LinkedIn’s advanced search features click the search bar and you’ll be given an option to search specifically for “People”, “Content”, and other related categories. Click on one of these and you’ll be provided a search bar that offers additional buttons to target your search and an “all filters” link that allows for much more customization and helps you to narrow your search results even further.
LinkedIn’s search features allow you to easily find and build relationships with like-minded professionals based on their job title, where they went to school, where they live, who they know in common, and a host of other very useful filters. Once you’ve narrowed down your prospect search, you can start to initiate conversations, build relationships, and start introducing them into your sales funnel.
It may be a little more work than just picking up the phone and giving a prospect a call but the extra work will ultimately help your sales team create a pre-filtered list of “warm” prospects that are more attentive to your product or service and thus, more likely to buy.
5. Get More with Paid Features
We mentioned how useful LinkedIn’s search is for finding people. But, once you’ve found them, you really only have 2 options.
You can “Connect” with them for free, which is a good option but if you don’t have a pre-established relationship, this can be challenging. Connecting is the equivalent of “Friending” someone on Facebook. The request is often deleted if the recipient doesn’t recognize the person immediately.
The other option is to message them with LinkedIn’s paid messaging service, InMail. InMail is a premium feature but it allows you to connect in a much more personalized fashion, making it less likely to be ignored. InMail has been proven to be highly effective and, according to LinkedIn, has 2.6x the response rate of regular email. In fact, one B2B company found InMail to be 11x more effective!
In addition to InMail, the subscription-based LinkedIn Premium offers upgraded features like analytics tools, skills training, expanded search features, and the ability to see who’s recently been “stalking” your profile, just to name a few. While LinkedIn Premium doesn’t come cheap, reviews have been very positive and subscribers say the service is well worth the additional cost.
A Strong Case for LinkedIn
To circle back, if a service could offer more leads to your B2B business, better conversions on those leads, and great ROI on your efforts, it would make sense to incorporate it into your marketing strategy, right?
If you’ve ever had your doubts about LinkedIn, we hope we’ve put them to rest, remember:
- Your company page allows you to create a compelling first impression. Optimize it.
- Outstanding, valuable content published on a regular basis will help shorten your sales cycle.
- Groups can position your business as an authority in your industry.
- Use advanced search features to initiate warm conversations with prospects.
- Once you’ve become comfortable with the platform, use paid features to add a boost.
LinkedIn is a wonderful resource and is still in relative infancy as a marketing tool. While what we’ve provided is a rather “high-level” approach to LinkedIn, it gives you a lot of room to test and experiment to find the right fit for your business’ marketing strategy (hint: it might not be).
While LinkedIn is a great tool, having a comprehensive marketing strategy is important for any business interested in social media. If social isn’t your thing, the team at PHOS can provide insights and resources to help. Check out the social media marketing services we offer to help grow your B2B business.