To make the most of the unparalleled opportunities LinkedIn presents in your quest for generating high-quality leads, a bit of planning goes a long way. In this post I'll give you the lowdown on the makings of a winning LinkedIn marketing strategy.
This is Post 1 in the series How to Generate Leads from LinkedIn: The Essential Guide
Why LinkedIn is your number one connection tool.
LinkedIn has firmly cemented its place as the go-to business connection tool. If you're not actively using it to generate leads, you're missing out.
- 60% of the UK's working and student population use LinkedIn. (21M+ UK registered members)
- 59% of LinkedIn users don't use Twitter.
- 13% don't use Facebook.
- 40% of users check LinkedIn daily.
In total there are 433 million registered users. That's equivalent to the combined total population of the US, UK and France. And 40% of them check LinkedIn daily.
LinkedIn has also proven to be the most reliable source of B2B social leads, when it comes to the most popular social networks as this graphic shows:
So where’s the best place to start to your LinkedIn marketing strategy?
Defining your objectives for LinkedIn
One of the biggest mistakes people make with LinkedIn is that they don’t define a clear objective and then build a strategy and plan to achieve it.
Getting great results from social media is a bit like trying to climb a mountain. If you wanted to get to the top you wouldn't go to it unprepared, have a wander around and then wonder why you weren't getting anywhere.
It is easy to set up and optimise your LinkedIn profile, connect with people when the requests come through and pretty much forget about it. That's as far as people often get. Then they're surprised they don't get anything from it.
People use LinkedIn for a variety of reasons, common objectives you could have include:
- Generating sales leads and customers
- Finding partners and affiliates
- Increasing your personal profile
- Finding new job opportunities
- Keeping in touch with existing customers and contacts
- Recruiting new staff
It’s also fine to want to use it for a few different reasons. The main thing is to be clear on your objectives. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to define an effective strategy for how you can use LinkedIn to get the results that you want.
You can learn more about defining your objective by attending our on-demand webinar, LinkedIn strategies to generate leads and sales.
When you have defined your overall objective, it’s time to set some specific targets.
For the rest of this post we will be working with the objective of generating sales leads and customers.
Is this LinkedIn marketing strategy for you or your team?
If this strategy is just for your own personal use, it is going to be easier to roll out. If you need others in your team and business to buy into it and take action on it, then you need to take that into account early on.
Common issues that people come across are:
- A limited understanding of LinkedIn
- Keeping a sustained pattern of activity
Whether your looking at this for yourself or your wider organisation it is likely that you'll experience these issues. So it is important to:
- Build a vision for how LinkedIn can help you achieve your objectives
- Provide regular training for yourself and your team to understand how to best use LinkedIn
- Run quarterly reviews to keep everyone focused and resolve any issues
Set targets for how many customers or sales you want to generate.
Give yourself specific numbers to aim for. Ideally use historical marketing and sales data to work this out. If that's not possible then make some sensible estimates to measure your results against.
For example, let’s say I know 100 contacts will typically result in 20 sales conversations and 3 of these will become high quality opportunities from which I expect to convert 1 into a customer. I can apply these same ratios to my LinkedIn target setting.
I can set myself a target of finding 4 new customers, knowing this means I need to make 400 relevant contacts. If I know how much each new customer is worth, then I can extrapolate this to revenue targets.
You should also make sure that you've set yourself a time frame in which to achieve the targets. If you can make your targets SMART - Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time bound, you'll significantly increase your chances of achieving them.
With your initial targets defined, you can then get to work on exactly who it is you are targeting.
Have your perfect customer in mind.
Define your target company
Be clear about your target audience. Think about the types of businesses you want to approach. Criteria might include industry, size, location and stage of growth.
Define your target contacts
Consider the specific people you want to be speaking with in those companies and who will actually be making the decision. What are their job roles, seniority and influence? (Later, when we look at LinkedIn Groups, I’ll show you how you can get ultra-specific with this.)
Ask yourself what these individuals want. What challenges do they face? What specific words or stories would resonate with them? What skills or expertise would fit their needs?
The more you can learn and understand about the people you’re targeting, the easier you’ll find it to craft relevant and engaging messages.
What value are you providing?
After you’ve spent time understanding your target customers and the specific people you want to be getting in front of. You now need to be clear on the value that you will provide them with.
What makes you unique and why should they choose you?
It is important that this matches the challenges you have identified they are facing.
If you are very clear on the value you provide, you can communicate that value while developing a relationship. Which leads us neatly to social serving over social selling.
Commit to social serving in your LinkedIn marketing strategy.
Everyone’s talking about the need to add value at every touch point. In other words, if you’re knocking on someone’s social media door, you need to bring something your target audience wants and will welcome.
It’s common to curate content on social media. By finding and sharing the best content in your space, you keep your audience up-to-date with what they need to know. You provide value, because they don’t have to read everything to find the important information. And you increase your profile, because they are getting that information through you.
Plan how you can provide value through your LinkedIn activity.
Create a compelling offer
At the heart of providing value is your offer – it’s a way of giving people a taste of what your business can do for them, for free.
At its simplest, this could be a link in your LinkedIn profile summary to a downloadable resource.
A good offer will require a low commitment from your target audience, for example all they’ll need to do is give you their email address in exchange for the download. By making sure that you offer really provides them with valuable information – you’ll increase their trust with you and the likelihood that they’ll buy from you when the time is right.
You can showcase your offer through the Posts and Activity section. This could be in the form of a post about your offer or an image. For added impact, upload a specially made video or SlideShare presentation. Just remember to make sure that whichever format you choose it provides value in its own right.
You want to lead people naturally to your offer, rather than forcing it on them. In the social world the more you give, the more likely you are to get. You just need to make sure that you’ve created an obvious path to move people from where they are to where you want them to be.
So work out how you can attract people to your offer rather than shouting about it to them.
Your engagement plan
As part of your LinkedIn activities it is vital that you engage with your existing and potential contacts to build your network and start sales conversations. At this stage of building your strategy it is a great idea to plan what that should look like and the time that it is going to take.
Do some research on LinkedIn. Join groups and read conversations that are taking place in them. Find others who are doing a good job in your space and understand how they are engaging on LinkedIn.
You can then plan how you'd like to engage. What would you like to post? Where will you source content to share? Are you happy to write content that can be shared as LinkedIn articles? How much time can you assign to LinkedIn marketing each day and week?
Summary: What should your LinkedIn marketing strategy look like to generate leads?
At LexisClick we’ve come up with a simple overview of the steps to a successful LinkedIn strategy that you can see below.
We’ve been looking at the Define step in this post. We'll be looking at the next steps in the process later on in this series.
When creating your LinkedIn marketing strategy to generate leads you want to make sure that you have captured the following:
- Your objective
- Your targets
- Your target company profile
- Industry sector
- Growth stage
- Your target contacts
- Job role
- Your value proposition
- Your offer
- Your engagement plan
Attend our free on-demand webinar, LinkedIn strategies to generate leads and sales, that will guide you through everything you need to create a powerful LinkedIn Marketing Strategy for your business.