Your business can never sustain only on its existing customers. It needs to relentlessly fill the sales funnel with new prospects who show interest in your business offerings. For your marketing and sales teams to direct prospects to closure, it’s important to first have quality prospects. Hence, your marketing efforts must essentially be directed towards first part of your sales funnel, the lead generation.
According to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report, lead and traffic generation is the biggest marketing challenge faced by most companies in 2018.
But, what have companies been exactly doing to fill their sales funnel with quality leads? Well, they are increasingly using social selling to tackle lead generation challenge with considerable success.
According to a SalesforLife 2017 report, social sellers:
- are consistently able to drive 18% more volume,
- experience 28% faster pipeline fill and
- have 15% better conversion rates when compared to non-social sellers.
All this brings us to the fact that social selling is an indispensable part of your lead generation process.
But which social media platform should you harp on for B2B lead generation for your business? After all, you don’t want your huge sums of marketing budgets to be invested on a platform that gives you dismal returns.
When it comes to B2B lead generation, LinkedIn is the most preferred platform by marketers. Before we go any further, let’s funderstand what makes it the most favored choice for B2B lead generation.
I. Why Linkedin Is Most Preferred By B2B Marketers?
World’s Largest Professional Network
LinkedIn is the largest online platform for professionals to connect for business needs. It has approximately 590 million users across 200 countries. Such is its potential that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. Further, 92% of B2B marketers leverage LinkedIn over all other social platforms.
Not only this, an average decision maker reads 10 pieces of content before making the purchase decision. Hence, it makes you reach out to potential customers by devising content around your target market’s needs and lure them into the sales funnel.
Strong LinkedIn User Demographics
What really differentiates LinkedIn from other social platforms is the strong demographics of its user base.
It’s not a platform which younger age groups use for entertainment. Instead, it’s used by middle age groups for meeting professional needs. A glance at the demographics of LinkedIn users further authenticates why its most powerful network for connecting for business needs.
Source: Pew Research
Precise Targeting That Generates Business
LinkedIn users come together for meeting professional needs. Hence, they have the incentive to keep their profiles accurate and up-to-date. You can reach these user profiles in a much targeted way with the help of precise filters. This helps you to focus on the chunk of audience you want. Here are some of the filters that help you do that:
- Company – Company name, Company size, Industry, Followers, Connections
- Experience – Job Title, Job Function, Job seniority, Years of experience
- Education – Schools, Degrees, Fields of study
- Interests and Identity – Groups, Skills, Age, Gender, and Location
That being said, LinkedIn is indeed going to be your choice for B2B lead generation. Now let’s see how you need to do it.
II. How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn
1. Define Your Lead Generation Objectives
The first step is to identify your LinkedIn Lead Generation goals. Ask your self questions like the ones below to understand your lead generation objectives.
- Is there a dearth of genuine prospects?
- Is the sales team facing issues with closing the deals?
In order to figure these out, sit with your sales team. Try to understand the issues it is facing in the lead generation phase.
2. Know How You’ll Measure Success
The next step is to set the Success Measurement Criteria. Figure out the metrics you will use to measure lead generation success. You can choose from the following four major types of metrics. Or come up with some that are suitable for your company.
Marketing Qualified Leads or MQLs
Set criteria for leads to be taken as MQLS based on their demographics, activity, behaviour. These are prospects that show more interest in company offerings over others. They are an early indicator of the quality of your LinkedIn lead generation techniques and measure the volume of leads you are generating.
Sales Accepted Leads or SALs
While generating leads, it is important to keep in mind that you are creating enough opportunities for sales as well. How do you create such opportunities? Generate leads with characteristics and behaviors that make it a relevant opportunity for sales. These are prospects who are ready to talk to the company sales reps. Set criteria for SQLs so that marketing and sales teams are on a common page.
A step further down the road, conversions indicate the number of leads that result in closed deals.
Return on Investment or ROI
ROI is a direct indicator of the success of your LinkedIn lead generation. It is shown in the revenue that is produced from your leads that finally lead to conversions.
3) Optimize your LinkedIn Profile
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile ensures your placement in the top listings in the search results. Here’s how you can do it effectively.
- Include long-tailed keyword phrases in your LinkedIn strategy for specific targeted efforts and generate a higher quality traffic
- Complete your profile including a cover photo, a compelling summary, experiences, education, skills, and endorsements
- Create a custom URL so people can find you easily
- Create projects that highlight your past work and skill set while letting you post URLs
- Post relevant articles and interesting content on your page
4) Drive Leads Using Organic Content
A whopping 9 billion content impressions per week delivered in the LinkedIn feed has transformed the way LinkedIn works. Content impressions now outweigh the number of job postings by 15 times. This indicates that users on the LinkedIn now consume high-quality content from professional publishers .
Hence, B2B marketers can use organic content to lure quality B2B buyers. There are a variety of ways in which you can achieve this on LinkedIn.
Company Pages: These are your company’s identity on LinkedIn. Use this space to share industry insights and thought leadership articles to lure followers.
Showcase Pages: These are the extended company pages. Use them to highlight a product, service or brand that cater to a separate segment of audience and need to convey a different message.
Long-form Content: Sharing content, that answers queries of your target audience and establishes your company as an authority, can do a lot towards lead generation. Publish articles, white papers and other types of content to get leads in the marketing funnel.
5) Use Paid LinkedIn Marketing Solutions To Support Inbound Marketing Efforts
Generating content to engage interested prospects works any day over traditional sales tactics. But your content marketing efforts need a boost to reach out to large number of target prospects.
This can be achieved by supporting your organic content with outbound marketing tactics. Let’s understand how LinkedIn paid marketing solutions can be used to give your content the real boost.
Sponsored Content is an update posted on your company page, which then is distributed in the feed of your target audience. There’s also something called direct sponsored content. In this, you don’t need to post the update on your company or showcase pages. Rather, you can publish directly to the feed of your targeted audiences, without the update being shared on your company page.
Some of the best practices for publishing sponsored content are:
- Keep It Visual – Use rich imagery with little-written content on top. Also looks great on mobile screens
- The shorter the better – Shorter updates, meaning 150 characters or less, attract a lot of visitors
- Keep it Statistical – Eye-catching stats and numbered lists make for the best-sponsored content
- Try Everything – Experiment with different varieties of sponsored content to learn and evolve
With open rates of 52%, In-mail is a combination of mail and instant messaging that delivers private messages to your target audience.
Best practices for sponsored mail include:
- A personalized approach towards sponsored mail
- Indicating what value the reader will get in the message headline
- Keeping the message concise
- Using a friendly Call-to-Action
Text Ads are short 100-character messages that appear on the right-hand column of a user’s desktop screen.
In order to do your text ads right, do not forget to:
- Address your target audience directly
- Use multiple variations for each campaign and implement the LinkedIn strategy that works best
- Include images in your LinkedIn Ads for maximum impact
With Dynamic Ads, you can use your audience’s profile data to display LinkedIn ads that are customized for each one of them.
Do not forget to:
- Personalize the ad with content that your audience can relate TO
- Enable the profile image feature for better engagement
- Make creative use of company logo space with icons and striking images.
Target Right With Matched Audiences
It’s important that your lead generation efforts help you get audience that you seek to target. There are a number of ways in which you can do that with LinkedIn.
Web Re-targeting: There is a section of audience who has already visited your website, but could not be converted into leads. You can re-target them via LinkedIn’s web re-targeting feature under Matched Audiences. This is done with the help of an Insight Tag, which can be easily embedded in your website.
Contact Targeting: This is for the audience who already know you. They can be existing customers, content subscribers etc. You can target such people for new products, brand etc by uploading a list of email addresses from your database under LinkedIn Matched Audience.
Account Targeting: These include people who have neither shown interest nor are a part of your existing database. These include people who you think can have a need of product or service you offer. You can target such accounts with Account Based Marketing. Under Matched Audiences, you can upload 3,00,000 company names and target such accounts for lead generation.
Lead Generation Forms
LinkedIn lead generation forms are shorter data capture forms that can be placed anywhere These are automatically filled from the user’s profile details. This way, users don’t have to go through the pain of filling forms only to give up in between.
LinkedIn Lead Generation Forms can be incorporated in Sponsored content and Sponsored In-Mail as well. They prove as efficient tools to collect data and generate high-quality leads.