B2B marketing with LinkedInMichael J. (MJ) Allen
Contact | LinkedIn
If LinkedIn is new to your B2B digital marketing arsenal, then like most you’ll kick-off with the begging question “Is LinkedIn right for my business?”.
As more brands dive into the social space developing out their marketing fit in the social media eco-system, you’ll soon find the multiple opportunities each relevant social platform offers your business.
In the case of B2B marketing, I’ll introduce you 5 tips to begin to build a B2B LinkedIn strategy and ways to use integrate LinkedIn into your marketing and sales plans to support your lead acquisition, and retention programs.
Understanding the expectations around SSM (social media marketing), similar to investing in the markets, achieving long-term sustainable success takes time. The same applies to your social media strategy and any platform or media you get involved with. The same applies to a LinkedIn strategy.
Building a LinkedIn strategy, an understanding of where, and how it plays a role in your holistic digital strategy is important. What I mean by this is how does Linkedin align to your business objectives, especially for startups core roots is typically market adoption and growth?
Remember, LinkedIn is not a strategy, but a platform or digital playground where your audience connects for various reasons; professional engagement, peer education, research, etc.
It just so happens that this audience are those who have giving up a different kind profile data (vs. Facebook profile data) on their profession, and built a network around those who provide value, influence or relevance to their professional and relationships.
Like your own reputation, both personally and professionally, it takes a long-term commitment to build up equity. From this you harness unconsciously the value that comes with it. Same works for a LinkedIn strategy. To deliver and sustain results, a long-term commitment is required. Time will be to manage, test, learn and optimize your Linkedin strategy to get back the equity it offers.
And like all things to reap its rewards, first start with evaluating how much time, resources (people), and budgets you can invest to support your LinkedIn, and social media strategy.
Now that you’ve checked those off, let’s get into 5 LinkedIn marketing areas that your business can integrate into your holistic digital marketing program.
#1: Build an Optimized Company Page on LinkedIn
Plant the first seed and set up your brand page that is optimized for your audience and Search. The user-experience you dictate in throughout your digital strategy should convey the similar used-based experience in the content you publish in your LinkedIn page. Yes, optimize it for Search, but first view it from your audience perspective.
Does your LinkedIn company page articulate the same bullsh*t mission statement and text-book vision that a conversation with legal counsel once put it so eloquently….”fluff”.
Your Linkedin marketing page should speak the same language and tone and translate all the UX principles you put into your digital presence. You already did that, right?
Nevertheless the reason I put building a LinkedIn company page as a #1 item here, is that almost the entire arsenal of marketing opportunities available through this business platform, all links back to your company profile. Consider it an extension of your brands visibility in the marketplace of Linkedin, and central voice on Linkedin to showcase your business, services and products.
Build Follower Connections
Tie the virtual threads to your LinkedIn company page and invite your clients, employees, vendors, affiliates, partners and peers to follow your page. There are numerous organic ways to build Linkedin followers from pull tactics, but for those seeking an injection to build them today can consider LinkedIn’s targeted advertising feature.
If you use LinkedIn’s paid advertising program, ensure you establish the value of a follower, just as you assign a value to a leads email address (you do quantify the monetary value of your leads and customers email, don’t you?)
Consider also the KPI’s of obtaining a LinkedIn Follower to quantify the value of the investment. Value meaning the value of what a follower can bring your business, vs. value and ROI from other mediums and channels of your marketing investment, especially if you’re bootstrapped B2B start up.
Advocates from Recommendations
Encourage your followers and Linkedin contacts to endorse and advocate your company page through LinkedInÂ recommendations. These recommendations display on your LinkedIn company page for others to see, and you can serve them up as endorsement fuel that may help build brand credibility, but also consider the possibility how Google and other key partners may use your company pages recommendations as a social indicator to dictate your business influence in the search results or other ways your business can be served to get found.
Targeted Content Curation & Syndicate
The growth in your follower base contributes to the growth in reach you can curate your content for greater brand visibility and top of mind.
It’s an effective way to syndicate your meaningful content to those who see value in it, as you can segment your audience and target the most relevant updates, and in turn amplify its visibility with them through social share features.
LinkedIn groups are like private (or open) conference rooms within LinkedIn’s playground where individuals with similar professional interests can connect and engage.
Collaboration in niche groups is an effective piece of a social strategy as it helps attract the selective audience you may need to connect with, influence or simply get on their radar.
I don’t want to say groups are a way to become a thought leader. But it can help drive thought leadership and position you as an expert. Just because someone or business can post a semi-intelligent or stimulating conversations that give the perception of an expert, doesn’t make you or your brand an authority in that space. Thought leadership is earned through time and experience.
Thought leadership comes with experience and innovation, and often by those who are disruptive in a particular space or elevated themselves to the top through success and highly sought after. So unless you’re another Richard Brandson or Steve Job, you and your brand are an expert, and the Linkedin groups are best to build creditability and reputation.
I dissected this distinction to help you understand the difference and the expectations that come from others who need you to drive the social conversations through not just Linkinin, but any social platform, whether it be Linkedin groups, the blogosphere or a co-author on a major industry media partner.
Linkedin groups can be powerful to bring together relevant people who all have a similar alignment and common goals. One tip to help foster this is host a group on your subject matter that brings together your connections (employees, vendors, partners, etc.) around a common thread that is compelling enough to get their participation and contribution too. This organically will spread like the flu to their own networks, and help attain a strong impact on growing the visibility reach of your business.
#3: Paid LinkedIn Content Ads and Sponsored Updates
Studies support Linkedin paid ads, while still somewhat new and fresh, provide around a 3.6% referral rate to a business website among all other Linkedin channels that refer visitors.
Its important to understand this because a) this will likely diminish over time from user blindness, b) it’s a decent ratio compared to Google paid ads, and c) the CPA is attractive compared to Google’s PPC program.
What I like about Linkedin Paid Ads is the level of targeting it offers. Between targeting users by title/position, location, personalization and the multiple functions of pushing a poll or video vs. the standard contextual ad, the new bells and whistles are interesting.
Its place in the B2B space though may be limiting. There are far better ROI decisions to be made on your Linkedin marketing investments then in their paid ad. model, however its not a on-size-fits-all situation. Should you try the Linkedin paid ads, have your goals in mind, and a methodology to apply a Test, Learn, Optimize management approach. Similar to Google Paid search, it may take up to 3 months or more to optimize your campaign to achieve your target CPAs. And Linkedin paid ad channel is no different.
Linkedin paid ads and sponsored updates have their place in the B2B space, but how it’s used within your Linkedin strategy and how applicable it’s to your business, are answers you should seek before investing.
And should you find the Linkedin advertising has a place in your social strategy, then consider there 5 Linkedin advertising strategies:
- Increase awareness
People can’t buy from your business if they don’t know it exists. And while I’m one for “awareness” as a vanity metric, consider the place for online display in the B2B space for prospecting and brand awareness. Online display performs +95% as an assist channel to influence and contribute to the next-touch channel to drive the user to towards your goals.Â What this means it may take repeated awareness of your brand before it influences your audience behavior to connect with your brand.
- Support content marketing
Curate your content as white papers, webinairs, articles, etc. that prospect new leads.
- Amplify media coverage
Media coverage published through this when targeted to select media professionals can help to seed a viral effect for greater media amplification. Ex. target the specific editors of media publishing companies you otherwise don’t have a direct relationship with.
- Segment the market
Segment those who you need to reach to make a bigger impact. Speak the same message and language your niche segment connects with.
- Persuade presales
Persuasion through a video ad for prospecting? Yes, all possible with Linkedin paid advertising. Segment your audience and hit the right cords with your audience to warm them up and get their attention.
Sponsored updates on the other hand have shown decent performance promise. Sponsored Updates allow you to promote your message to others outside your company page following. At the same time, you can target who sees that message, so your marketing efforts can be focused on the right people.
The Sponsored updates are designed to boost visibility with your company page before your valuable message trickles down the users news feed and below fold and into blindness.
5. Linkedin Single Sign On (SSO)
If you’re a B2B company that has found value in Linkedin, then Linkedin single sign-on (SSO) is for you. SSO is similar to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus that allows a user to sign up or sign on through using their Linkedin account.
The convenience this may give the user for one username and password to sign-in to an account, the value to a B2B marketer is the profiling and data-mining it offers.
As many B2B marketers may find webinars or white papers a strong way to prospect and build lead gen, then incorporating LinkedIn’s SSO allows for greater convenience for the user to solicit their information in your online web forms to access the content.
While the convenience side is great and plays into the overall UX of your website strategy, what I like best about LinkedIn and other social platform SSO features is how they can be used to safely access and transfer user account data .
Think about how it allows you as a marketer to data mine the prospect to pull additional profile information from their Linkedin profile, and append to their account within your CRM. The ongoing tactics you can employ to build up a profile of the prospect is gold to the sales team.
An example of this is the promotion of a white paper through various channels on Linkedin, driving prospects to an optimize landing page with the option to register with one-click using their LInkedin account. As the X% users who perform this action, allows you to capture specific sets of profile data of the prospect, and maintains strong integrity of this data. Think how many times you’ve entered a fake email or inaccurate data in a form to download a white paper or webinar? Garbage data in gives the sales team little to work with, let alone your Demand Gen. team to target the appropriate lead nurture program .
The downside to SSO is it allows companies like Linkedin, Facebook and Google to also develop detailed user profiles to share with their partners and advertisers, and makes mining and selling customer data significantly easier.
Where we sit today, LinkedIn is a very powerful social platform in the B2B space with hockey-stock growth to help you reach more business and attract new customers. Regardless of what stage you are in with your business or product lifecycle, Linkedin presents some valuable opportunities to support your acquisition and retention strategies and stay top of mind, nurture, convert and influence industry advocates.
Got a question or comment to throw at the wall? Leave me your comments below and I’ll be sure to respond.