When it comes to B2B social marketing, LinkedIn is the best choice by far for generating leads and driving conversions. As the world’s largest professional network with over 750 million members, LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to cut through the chatter of social media. Which means your business-related posts are not only in context but welcome. In fact, according to Neil Patel, 97% of social media leads come from LinkedIn.
Elevation has an integrated LinkedIn marketing strategy that empowers B2B agencies to build their industry (and prospect) network, build authority with thought leadership, promote events and generate leads. A successful B2B LinkedIn strategy is contingent on a strong approach in each of these three pillars:
1. Post great content
2. Engage within your community
3. Leverage LinkedIn’s paid sponsorship
Our Director of Digital Marketing Robert Lyman explains:
“Great content does not create engagement. No matter how great your content is, you will not get engagement unless you engage. You must participate in the community. But great content and engagement as a tactical organic strategy is table-stakes. They’ll get you part of the way there. Paid advertising gets you the rest of the way.”
In this article, we break down these three steps and provide methods to facilitate each step.
1. Post great content
The first pillar in our LinkedIn strategy is to post great content across LinkedIn on your company profile, your feed, groups and ads. Great content is relevant to your target audience, timely and authentic. It speaks in your brand voice to educate, inform and demonstrate your expertise as an industry authority and thought leader.
Optimize your business page
Great content starts with your business page, which must be optimized for lead generation and conversions. This means completing your business page…completely. According to LinkedIn, a complete business page receives up to 30% more views.
When you fill out your business page information, ensure that your links are working and your photos meet LinkedIn requirements and your details are up-to-date. For example, do not use an outdated logo, an old tagline or a defunct telephone number. When Elevation performs a social audit, we make sure the business page is in good standing with LinkedIn by checking that the following is complete, correct and current:
- Logo/profile image
- Banner image
- Phone number
- Website (link)
- Company size
- Company type
- Links to other social profiles
- Company specialties (at least 10)
Neil Patel further recommends generating leads with a banner image that attracts attention and a compelling pitch in the first three lines of your company description, which is truncated to those three lines.
Here is an example of Elevation’s own company page:
Post to your page(s) regularly
While LinkedIn is an effective channel for B2B advertising (more on that later), for it to be truly successful, you must build up your business presence, industry authority and following with regular organic posts. According to LinkedIn, daily posts generate 2X more engagement.
While conversion-centered content that clicks through to your website is the surest way to generate leads from your posts, keep in mind that the goal of any social media channel is to keep users on that channel. This means that LinkedIn organic posts that don’t take the user outside the LinkedIn channel will be shown to more of your followers. You can build up your audience and extend your reach with posts that don’t link externally.
So what do you post? On any social channel, we recommend using the 4-1-1 rule to guide your B2B content:
4 pieces of relevant content
Shared from external sources
1 piece of original content
From your company that informs, educates or entertains
1 piece of promotional content
Focused around your brand
Whether it’s external, original or promotional content, effective organic content demonstrates thought leadership and showcases your industry expertise by sharing or discussing any of the following:
- Case studies
- Industry-related articles and news
- How-to content
Be sure to incorporate video into your content, which LinkedIn claims generates 5X more conversations than any other type of post. Anything that goes into organic content can go into a LinkedIn video. For example, you can summarize a blog or a case study in a video. You can inform, educate or discuss industry-related news. You can also show behind-the scenes videos of your team. However, keep in mind that LinkedIn is a jealous social channel. As such, it prioritizes native video. This means it shows video that’s uploaded directly to LinkedIn to more of your followers than it shows videos that are shared from YouTube or Vimeo.
Segment your content (and your audience) with Showcase pages
If you have an established presence on LinkedIn, you can segment your audience by industry with Showcase pages, sharing targeted content and engaging with each audience on a separate playing-field. Showcase pages can be used for different verticals, business units, or even products. Not only do Showcase pages allow you to focus on specific niches within your industry, but they also have the following advantages over LinkedIn company pages:
- Larger header image
- More above-the-fold update posts
- More links to your company page
A word of warning about Showcase pages: they require more work. Before you niche down, ensure you have the audience, content and time to devote to your Showcase page. Lyman explains:
“Don’t make a Showcase just because. Make one because you have a community interested in that vertical or product. And once you build that Showcase page, treat it as a mini-me. Support that page with great content, engagement and even paid ads.”
When done correctly, a Showcase page can be a powerful tool. In this case study, LinkedIn explains how Blackbaud launched a Showcase page for a new vertical to increase engagement across a targeted audience and added over 1,000 followers in just three months.
2. Engage within your community
As a professional networking platform, LinkedIn highly values engagement within the business community. Rubbing elbows with prospects and thought leaders in your community is about more than that introductory handshake. It’s about engaging in meaningful conversations. Engagement is two-sided conversation. You must both acknowledge the engagement and be acknowledged when you engage. Those meaningful conversations increase your LinkedIn reach.
Work with the algorithm
LinkedIn’s algorithm ranks the quality of your posts and post engagement. The higher your content ranks, the more it is showed to your network. Here are some of LinkedIn’s rules of engagement:
- LinkedIn shows your content to connections you’ve engaged with and who have engaged with your content
- The more quality engagement on your post, the more your post will be shared with your connections
- Comments rank higher than a high volume of reactions (likes, etc.) – lengthy comments rank even higher
- Content from individuals ranks higher than content from a business – thus LinkedIn employee ambassadors and industry influencers have a greater reach than your company (more on that later)
- Users who have something to say about the post they share have a greater reach than users who make no introductory comment on a shared post
- You must engage with engagement – this means when someone comments on your post, you need to respond and the sooner you respond, the better your post performs
- While post reactions in general aren’t as effective as post comments, reactions to those comments do increase reach
- Post comments that receive reactions within 24 hours perform even better
Join groups to gain authority and industry connections
Joining and participating in LinkedIn groups is a great way to make industry connections, increase your engagement and boost your authority to increase your reach. For this tactic to be truly effective:
Join groups that are relevant to your industry and your target audience.
You can find these groups using LinkedIn search feature and through your connections. If you’re using your connections to find relevant groups, check out the groups that industry thought-leaders and your clients/prospects belong to. Read the group description to ensure the group is relevant to your industry and target audience––and that your engagement will be welcome.
You can only belong to 50 groups at any one time and the more groups you belong to, the more difficult it will be to actively engage and manage those conversations, so pick and choose the groups you belong to wisely. A group with too many members may have too many conversations going at once to have quality engagement with any one post. A group with too few members may not have enough interest to generate effective engagement.
Actively engage, both responding to and initiating conversations.
When you initiate a conversation, create native content within the group rather than forwarding or sharing content from your page.
Never promote your business in groups.
Promoting your business inside a group isn’t just spammy, but it fractures your reputation within the group. Instead, build your brand voice with your target audience with quality conversations.
Make strategic connections
LinkedIn is the perfect social channel to extend your Accounts Based Marketing (ABM) strategy by building 1-to-1 relationships with buyers, decision makers and leaders within your ABM target prospects. Not only can you connect with members through groups related to your industry, but you can perform searches to find key decision makers.
LinkedIn Advanced Search allows you to find and connect with your target audience and narrow your search specifically, by industry, business, business size, job title, location and more. You can also use search to locate and connect with individuals you’ve met at webinars or other industry-related events. After you find desirable connections, be sure to introduce yourself through InMail.
Use influencers to increase your LinkedIn engagement
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: your employees make great influencers, especially on LinkedIn, where members are putting their most professional foot forward. Because your staff share your company’s professional interests, employee ambassadors extend your network and connect with your target audience in meaningful ways.
Here are some tips to using employee ambassadors:
- Ask your staff to connect with your business page
- Ask staff to join and participate in industry-related groups
- Provide content that your staff can use to make native posts
- Ask staff to comment on your posts and share your posts
- Engage with your staff’s original or shared content
When SMEC used employee ambassadors to extend their global reach, they reached 756,000 members across LinkedIn, achieving a 5% engagement rate and increasing their Net Promoter Score 3.3%.
Another way to use influencers on LinkedIn is to hire a thought leader to generate conversations around your brand. A thought leader might be an industry expert or a client who is an active member of industry-relevant groups and whose conversations and engagement builds more engagement and additional conversations.
You can use an influencer to represent your brand in a group that your target audience belongs to and where you are not welcome. For example, if you market risk management software to public agencies, you won’t be welcome in a group specifically for public agency technology officers. But one of your clients may already belong to that group. Effective influencer marketing within groups must be authentic, in-tune to the group conversations and never promotional.
Add LinkedIn functionality to your website
As odd as it sounds, adding LinkedIn functionality to your company website will increase your LinkedIn reach, community and engagement. This is because LinkedIn functionality enables your website visitors to follow you on LinkedIn and share your content with their LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn functionality will also enable you to target LinkedIn ads to your website visitors, an audience already interested in your business.
If you have a social media presence, you most likely have social media buttons in your website header or footer. But you can take your LinkedIn marketing to a whole new level if you incorporate a few changes:
Make it easy for visitors to follow you.
Adding a Follow Company button to web pages is an easy way to generate LinkedIn followers from your web traffic.
Make your website sharable.
If you want to drive traffic to your website from LinkedIn, you need:
A LinkedIn share button
Enables web visitors to share your blog page, product page, or landing page with their LinkedIn connections
This should be sharable on LinkedIn and uses Open Graph Protocol (OGP) meta tags and adheres to specific image requirements
Retarget to web visitors with the LinkedIn Insights Tag.
When you add this snippet of code to your website, you optimize your LinkedIn campaigns. You’ll be able to track conversions, view demographics, retarget to web visitors and create look-alike audiences (which we discuss later).
3. Leverage LinkedIn’s paid sponsorship
“LinkedIn may be a free social media platform, but it’s pay to play. In fact, only 3–7% of your network actually sees your posts. Unless you use paid sponsorship to get your content out to your industry, they’re not seeing it,” says Lyman.
Paid sponsorship, also called native advertising, blends in with the surrounding content, decreasing banner blindness and increasing engagement up to 60%. When you sponsor LinkedIn content, you can select your goals and target audience by industry, job level and description and even by years of experience. We recommend A/B testing to perfect your audience selection. We explain exactly how to perform A/B tests in this blog: Drive your Marketing Decisions with A/B Testing.
Target your community with matched/lookalike audiences
When you advertise on LinkedIn, you can use Matched Audiences to retarget LinkedIn members who visited or engaged with your LinkedIn company page. You can expand your Matched Audience with a Lookalike Audience of LinkedIn members with similar characteristics. LinkedIn also allows you to upload your email list or CRM data to create Matched or Lookalike Audiences. And if you’re using the LinkedIn Insight Tag, you can generate Matched or Lookalike Audiences from your website visitors.
Use LinkedIn Lead Gen forms on ads
To be effective, paid sponsorship and advertising must generate complete and accurate leads. LinkedIn Lead Gen forms, which are automatically prefilled with profile data, make it simple for members to send you their details in a couple clicks. Lead Gen form data can be integrated with your CRM or downloaded in a CSV format and uploaded into your database. Lead Gen forms also make it easy to measure your campaign success with built-in reporting.
This LinkedIn case study demonstrates how PayCor leveraged Lead Gen forms to generate 75% net new leads in one year.
Use storytelling to increase ad engagement and leads
When your ads connect emotionally with your audience, they get better engagement and more leads. A study by Google, Motista and CEM reveals that 50% of B2B decision makers are more likely to commit to a purchase if they connect emotionally with your brand. Stories use empathy to humanize a brand and generate emotions in the target audience. Good storytelling starts with social listening to understand the target audience, what their pain points are and what drives them. Then it uses a narrative to create an emotional connection. A good narrative has four elements:
- A hero who the target audience identifies with
- A conflict that resonates with the target audience’s pain points
- A guide who leads the hero to a solution
- A solution that solves the conflict
By using storytelling in a LinkedIn ad campaign, Philips was able to increase engagement, leads and ROI.
Use Conversation Ads to start conversations with targeted members
If you’ve targeted key prospects and connected with decision makers in your ABM strategy, Conversation Ads, which are displayed in Messages, are an effective tactic to start conversations with those targeted individuals. With Conversation Ads, you can select multiple calls-to-action, linking to landing pages, opening a Lead Gen form, or increase engagement with further conversation. Because there is no subject line on a Conversation Ad, open rates are influenced by the first line of the message.
When Freshworks incorporated Conversation Ads into their LinkedIn campaigns, they saw a 50% Lead Gen form submission rate and reduced their cost per lead by 55% in one campaign. Here is the strategy they used:
- Send conversation from a person instead of the company which increases open rates by 10%
- Personalize the message with the recipient’s name, job title, and company name to increase open and click-through-rates
- Introduce the sender
- Keep the message short and concise
- Use two to three CTAs
- Use a banner image for desktop views
A successful LinkedIn marketing strategy follows three tactical pillars—great content, engagement and paid sponsorships. Great content begins by optimizing your business page and regularly posting relevant content. Good engagement means making strategic connections, being active in industry-related groups, engaging with your network and utilizing influencers to extend that network. Successful sponsorship leverages LinkedIn’s business tools and puts campaign strategies such as storytelling to work. The magic of our three-pillar strategy resides in the business focus of the network and the incredible number of business professionals that use it, putting your campaigns into the perfect context to leverage conversions.