LinkedIn

Brett Jacob, Founder and Managing Director at Present Works

 

If you aren’t using LinkedIn to drive inbound leads, then what are you using it for?

‘Inbound’. It’s been the defining buzzword of 21st century marketing ever since the term was coined back in 2005 by HubSpot co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan. But it wasn’t until relatively recently that the potential of LinkedIn to become a powerful inbound marketing platform was discovered.

With 30 million companies currently on the platform, LinkedIn is nothing short of an inbound marketing machine. 80% of B2B leads come through LinkedIn. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs.

Those stats make one thing clear: if you’re in the business of inbound marketing, you shouldn’t be doing every social channel badly – you should be doing LinkedIn, and doing it well.

The trick to driving inbound leads through LinkedIn is to remember that you’re communicating with people, and not just their profile picture. At Present Works, we’ve developed our inbound LinkedIn marketing strategies into an effective ‘Find & Seek’ philosophy, connecting our clients with prospects through a three-step process of growth, content creation and engagement.

Grow a STRATEGIC network

Unlike the majority of inbound lead generators on the market, growing your professional network on LinkedIn doesn’t require any expensive tools or algorithms. It simply requires time, quality and consistent effort from your behalf.

How you do that is more than just a case of optimising your profile. It’s about frequent and meaningful engagements for a sustained period of time. Rather than simply liking someone’s post, comment on it. Likewise, if you have a noteworthy point to make, why not cement it in stone by publishing it as an article? At every point, ask yourself how you can add value to someone else’s LinkedIn experience, and step outside of your comfort zone to do so.

 

But remember not to overlook the key word here: ‘strategic’. In the rat race to grow our social media networks, we tend to prioritise quantity over quality, judging people by how many likes they get on Instagram and how many followers they have on Twitter. LinkedIn simply doesn’t work like that. Because, while 5,000 connections may well sound more impressive than 500 connections, 1 strong connection will lead to a hell of a lot more sales than any number of irrelevant ones.

Before growing your network, ask yourself “who am I talking to, really?” Once you know the answer to that question, you’ll have a much better understanding of whether they are worth your time, and the type of content you can use to grab their attention if they are.

Target your network with VALUABLE content

To be noticed on LinkedIn, you need to be a thought leader. And to be a thought leader, you need to produce content. Good content. Not only does content tell your story and show your worth, it’s also a driving factor for 55% of decision-makers on LinkedIn, which is why you want your LinkedIn content to be as valuable as possible.

You want to be known for what you do well, not for random pieces of information that don’t tell a story. Ensure there is an objective behind every piece of content you produce: Who is it for? Who does it benefit? Does it represent my brand’s core values appropriately? Will it lead to a conversation which benefits me?

Most importantly, you need to ask yourself what format will bring that particular piece of content to life. The variety of formats available on LinkedIn can make this a difficult question to answer, but there are a few general rules of thumb you can stand by:

  • Articles: Best suited for reflective content to demonstrate thought leadership and showcase yourself as a specialist in your field.
  • Native videos (with subtitles): Ideal for explaining more complex points, case studies or company updates in an easy to digest fashion.
  • Polls: Great for gathering relevant insights, quickly and easily, while also helping to facilitate more interaction and discussion with your audience.
  • Multi-image carousel posts: Perfect for sharing tips, insights, a short visual and branded presentation or case study.

Engage those leads with a HUMAN touch

As any inbound marketer will know, turning leads into sales is often the hardest piece of the puzzle. However, if you’ve taken the necessary amount of time to build meaningful and valuable relationships with your professional network, then the art of the sale will feel natural rather than forced.

When it comes to initiating a sale over LinkedIn, I find the most effective method is to identify how NOT to sell, and then do the opposite. LinkedIn isn’t telesales, nor is it your personal Facebook account, so ensure what you’re offering is actually relevant to what your prospect might need.

But the biggest no no of them all? Taking the power of inbound for granted.

You may have grown your network and produced a catalogue of great content, but you can never assume that people will be there to listen when you’re finally ready to talk. In focusing on the subject of the conversation, we often overlook the substance of the conversation, and all it takes to bring your inbound process crashing down is the right message at the wrong time.

Patience is a virtue, especially on LinkedIn. With the professional world quite literally at your fingertips, it can be tempting to try and win every lead under the sun.

Such goals are ambitious, but they are unrealistic. Target prospects who can reciprocate your value, have normal, human conversations with them and be a constant presence throughout  their LinkedIn experience. When they are ready for your pitch, they will come.

It’s up to you to make sure you’re open for business when they do.