How to Get Better B2B Results from LinkedIn
Facebook and Twitter get most of the hype these days, especially with Facebook’s IPO and rumours of a strategic investment by Apple in Twitter. Relatively speaking, LinkedIn seems to fly under the radar. Yet a recent study shows a LinkedIn visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.60% -- nearly 7 times more than Facebook (0.39%) and 3 times more than Twitter (0.67%). In many ways this isn’t hard to understand. LinkedIn is a purely professional social media site, so the conversations stay focused on business topics, uncluttered by photos of kittens and kids. Also, there tends to be a higher level of trust between site members because if their profiles are to be useful, they need to list credentials and work history – anonymity brings no rewards. Groups on LinkedIn can validate people who want to join. At the same time, the challenge behind any lead generation campaign is targeting qualified leads. A good conversion rate for “Download our White Paper” can get diluted by clicks from interested parties who will never buy from you – researchers, consultants, students, or job seekers. How then, can you get the most from your LinkedIn ads? There’s no such thing as a silver bullet. You need a complete battle plan.
Create a complete and branded LinkedIn page for your business.
First, make sure your page gives people reassurance that you’re legitimate and active on LinkedIn. Upload an image/logo for the page and fill out the summary information. Create pages for each product and service you want to feature. Then add interest to your listing with apps for LinkedIn. Take a look at the LinkedIn Applications Directory, where you’ll find apps that allow you to:
- Connect your blog to your LinkedIn profile
- Add presentations
- Conduct polls
- Recommend helpful books
Segment your target audience.
Who gets to see your ad? LinkedIn lets you target by:
- Company Name
- Company Size
- Job Function
- Job Title
- LinkedIn Group
LinkedIn displays your ad via the LinkedIn Audience Network, which means everyone who surfs LinkedIn (and who meet your criteria) and on LinkedIn partner sites such as the New York Times, BusinessWeek, and CNBC will see your ad. When your ad shows up on LinkedIn, it could be displayed when a member:
- View pages from a relevant group
- Signs in to their LinkedIn home page
- Views the messages and invitations pages
- Views profile pages of other members
- Views the search results page when looking for another member
Here’s where you really need to do some testing to get best results from your ad dollars. For example, if you sell energy management building controls, you may want to target LinkedIn groups that discuss building automation systems but also see what results you get from targeting individuals with ‘energy management’ in their job title. Don’t assume.
Give, Don’t Just Take
This is the mantra for engaging with any target audience on social media sites. Yes, you can place ads. But you also need to be visible and contribute usefully to discussions, and not just push your product.
One VP of Marketing provided a link to a useful white paper during the course of a group discussion. “I got more downloads than from my ad campaign.” At the same time, his his LinkedIn ad campaigns deliver better results than campaigns on other social media sites, so he will continue with LinkedIn paid ads.
Businesses with real questions and problems ask questions on LinkedIn Answers, which is a Q&A database. If you make the effort to respond in a thoughtful, non-selling way, not only will you showcase your expertise, but your answer might get selected as “Best Answer” by the person who submitted the question. When you receive a "Best Answer" in a category you get to be on the "Experts" list for the category. That means more credibility and social proof of good citizenship.
Create Your Own Group
Feel ready to take the plunge? Create your own group. Technically it’s very simple, but what is the purpose of the group? Hint: it isn’t to sell your products and services to members. Again, you’ve got to give to get. Your group name and the summary description (aka “mission statement”) need to be focused and attract your target audience. Going back to the building automation systems example, perhaps you want the group to promote some certification standards for your industry, or want the group to be a source of expertise on local, provincial, and Federal environmental regulations for buildings. And then you need to monitor and moderate the group! Generate discussions, take polls, announce industry events, and perhaps use LinkedIn to organize a group get-together at a conference many of you will be attending.
Keep Working the Network
Keep growing your personal contacts. Review your first degree contacts on a regular basis and check whether they have added any contacts. Increase your base of first degree contacts. Without first degree contacts, you can’t build out second degree relationships, which is where most business opportunities happen. Keep searching out former colleagues and classmates, suppliers and business partners. Remember – the beauty of LinkedIn is that it gives you the ability to network one-to-one.