LinkedIn can be a powerful sales tool when used as part of lead generation and networking activities. As social selling and reaching social influencers becomes ever more important in raising awareness of a company, brand, product or service it is important to use LinkedIn effectively.
However, before any lead generation can happen, it is important to build up your network and influence across the social groups on LinkedIn. Every business, marketing and sales person should focus on 3 key actions.
- Give to receive: Share quality, relevant content and news from multiple sources.
- Behaviour: Buyers are well informed and knowledgeable so be genuine and insightful.
- Connecting: Invest time connecting to people you know plus customers, influencers etc.
Here is some pointers to maximize LinkedIn for lead generation:
Tip 1. Profile: Yes, it seems obvious that you need a profile but the point is you need a full profile (photo, career, articles, social pitch) that will support the lead generation activities, not just any profile mashed together.
Tip 2. Think of your profile as a commercial that clearly spells out “what you do”. So make sure you complete the entire profile (also state that you are open to connecting with people), you could also import your resume or CV.
Tip 3. Make sure maximize the section below your name by using keywords. Select keywords that promote your products or services. If a potential buyer is searching for someone to do “sales and marketing” they are more likely to find you than if you list your company name.
Tip 4. Spend time completing your work history, summary and employment sections (again using active keywords), highlight any accomplishments or achievements. This builds trust within the LinkedIn community.
Tip 5. On-line users can be very visual, so try to include Slideshare content, presentations or videos on your profile and not forgetting any articles you published on LinkedIn pulse. This builds authority.
Tip 6. Unless you are a major social influencer, it is best to keep your LinkedIn profile pretty open as you are using LinkedIn for lead generation, so the easier it is for “social ties” to connect with you, the better. This builds connections to business people and weaker social ties.
Build Relationships Steadily
The whole premises of using LinkedIn is to build relationships with business colleagues, potential buyers, existing customers, business people you know and to build connections with weak ties via group participation
LinkedIn suggest this 5 step process for building effective relationships based on social media best practices:
- Establish presence (Give to receive)
- Attract followers (Give to receive)
- Engage followers (Behaviour)
- Share your message (content, news, articles) through your network (Connecting)
- Analyse results and refine your strategy
As I keep stating, you will attract more followers and connections if you post fresh, valuable content on a regular basis.
Use Content Marketing
I have written elsewhere on The Bitter Business site about the power of content marketing. On LinkedIn stories that have a social twist, that educate, that gives insights or have a human element will attract the highest readership.
Posting articles with a variety of content, on a regular basis on LinkedIn or indeed any social network is best practise. The content should consist of sharing blog (links) updates, as well as unique written content for LinkedIn to share with your connections.
Remember content marketing creates awareness of your company and puts you on the road as an authority within a group or subject. Also, as with all content marketing, make sure your content is SEO optimized. Without being overly promotional try to include a subtle call to action (CTA) in your LinkedIn posts. Including a link back to your company website is a great way to increase your lead generation performance.
Content marketing is not just about self-promotion, it also includes content curation and is a good way to encourage connections by sharing updates from social influencers and industry experts in your own updates. It is all about, giving to receive as you cannot expect sharing of your own content unless you are willing to share quality content written by others.
Try to give LinkedIn updates daily, maybe once or twice a day (with no more than a couple per day). Some social media gurus believe sharing posts in the morning works best, my own view is either late afternoon or just after lunch. Experiment to see what times work best for you.
Match the Buyers Journey
Content marketing is aimed at matching the needs of potential customers as they travel the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration and decision. We now know from studies that in today’s on-line world, B2B buyers do most of their information and awareness gathering on-line, not waiting for some salesperson to ring them up. In fact, many B2B customers prefer to purchase on-line — that’s how Dell created a global business selling computers online.
It is critical that you DO NOT view your content shared on LinkedIn as some sort of teaser or preamble in B2B lead generation — it is the main tool in creating buyer awareness!! Always give readers all the information they need to work with you, not just a few selected sound bites or customer success stories. Your tactics is to carry potential customers on the buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration, on to decision and through post-purchase. So the content shared should include information on using the product or service, answers about installation or how to use, any industry recommendations or awards plus encourage feedback on the articles are all important factors in providing for the entire buyers journey.
Analyse and Tweak
No lead generation or marketing campaign is complete without capturing data to assess performance and provide information to tweak the campaign. LinkedIn provides some good analytic tools to track performance of your LinkedIn company pages including clicks and other interactions. Make the most of these analytic insights by doing conscious testing — article headlines, post types, post times — not just monitoring passively. With patience and work, LinkedIn social selling can not only generate leads but also influence buyers considerations.