As a marketer, you're undoubtedly aware of some of the major social media sites you can use for lead generation. I'm willing to bet you've already heard about the importance of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — and if you use all three as part of your lead generation strategy, you might think you're all set.
However, if you're not using LinkedIn you could be missing out on a major opportunity to grow both brand recognition and revenue, especially if you’re a B2B business. In fact, studies have shown that LinkedIn is the top paid and organic social channel for B2B businesses, and 82% of B2B marketers report finding the greatest success on the platform.
These statistics make sense, especially if we consider platform-specific demographics. The average Instagram user scrolls through their feed, like photos of their friends, watches their favorite celebrity’s Story, and occasionally uses the platform to find and purchase products.
Alternatively, the average LinkedIn user is on the site specifically for professionally-geared content. They're already seeking out information to help grow their businesses, so you should meet them where they are.
Of course, it's easier said than done. Without a clear strategy in mind, the task of lead generation on LinkedIn can feel challenging. Justin Shriber, Vice President of Marketing at LinkedIn, was interviewed as part of HubSpot's campaign, "Advertising, a Look Behind the Screens.” Take a look at the full interview series here, or keep reading to learn some of his key insights, as well as additional tips on how to use LinkedIn for lead generation.
LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategy
As a refresher, lead generation refers to all of the activities and strategies you use to attract potential customers. Generating leads is important because, with nurturing, potential customers can become paying customers that use your products and drive revenue.
LinkedIn’s typical audience comprises professional decision-makers with purchasing power, helping you speak directly to the potential customers that can become paying customers. Below, we’ll discuss how you can use LinkedIn for lead generation.
1. Make sure your executives have a strong LinkedIn presence.
When you're first getting started on LinkedIn, it can be tricky to know how to dedicate your initial efforts. Should you create a compelling LinkedIn Page and immediately begin posting content to your business's feed? Or should you start by posting all your job openings to attract new talent?
Shriber suggests another strategy: "We definitely want to fuel the growth of small businesses that have aspirations to grow to become larger, and we put together a playbook that allows them to do that. The playbook always starts with the individual LinkedIn profiles of the employees at the company, and in particular, the executives at the company."
"[Executives are] trendsetters. They can make statements about what they stand for, and in many cases, develop a strong following in relatively short order."
Consider the leaders at your company and their current LinkedIn presence. Could they contribute more thoughtfully to LinkedIn groups within your industry or post more often to their feeds? More likely than not, your executives could be doing more to grow their LinkedIn following.
For instance, let's take a look at Sallie Krawcheck's, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, LinkedIn activity:
Krawcheck uses LinkedIn wisely, leveraging the platform to promote content from her own investment company while also liking or sharing other relevant financial content geared towards women. Ultimately, Krawcheck uses LinkedIn to build a personal brand and help her followers find valuable content related to investing and women in finance. Ideally, your executives should be doing the same.
2. Create a powerful LinkedIn Page for your business.
Once you've ensured your own executives have a strong LinkedIn presence, it's time to cultivate an impressive page.
You'll want to ensure your page is active, with thought-provoking content and contributions to conversations already happening on LinkedIn.
Shriber notes — "Once you've got a strategy related to your executives and their presence on LinkedIn, step two is to think about the presence of your company on LinkedIn. We have a product called LinkedIn Pages, which has been incredibly powerful for businesses that want to establish their place in the world's professional community."
"[LinkedIn Pages is] a free product," Shriber adds, "and really, at the end of the day, it's a place for you to stage the content that you have to offer, and really promote all of the benefits that you have for people that want to follow you."
He continues, "So, when you come to a good LinkedIn Page, you'll find information about what the company does, but beyond that, some of the thought leadership that's happening. There will be video content as well as the written word, commentary from executives, but also in many cases, information that's curated from other sources. It doesn't just need to be from the marketing group or from an internal source."
3. Post relevant content and updates.
To ensure your LinkedIn page and profile are strong, consider posting various content types, including video. Featuring this industry-relevant content can help you position yourself as a knowledgeable source and establish relevance and credibility with potential customers.
When you’re recognized as an insightful, valuable source, you’ll begin to develop connections with like-minded professionals that fit your ideal customer profile. If you post often, you’ll become a regular on their feed, and familiarity makes it easier to initiate further conversations.
If you assume that the connections you have on LinkedIn are professionals within your industry, they can expose you to new audiences with the content you post. When your connections click ‘Like’ on a post you’ve made, it may show up on the feed of a new lead. This lead will see that your shared connection has liked your post, vouching for your credibility and authority, and possibly prompting them to send a request to connect.
To ensure that you’re creating content that people want to see, follow your page analytics to figure out what resonates with them the most and create accordingly.
4. Join LinkedIn groups your clients and customers are in.
LinkedIn, at its core, is a social platform like any other. Just as you can on Facebook, users can create groups centered around industry-relevant interests, and you should join these groups and have conversations with other professionals.
You can post content and updates to encourage discussions about relevant topics or simply talk about the services you offer. If you’ve joined groups wisely, your potential customers can see what you say and begin to recognize you as a source of valuable information.
You can also use groups to learn more about your audience. If members are active, learn from what they say and discover common industry pain points and how leads want these issues addressed. Use this information to your advantage, and create hyper-targeted value propositions when you reach out that speak directly to your customer’s needs.
5. Use paid products to ensure your content reaches your intended audience.
Businesses with small marketing budgets may be wary of putting money behind paid campaigns on LinkedIn. They often ask — We have a small marketing budget, and we want to use it wisely. Where should we spend it? Given that LinkedIn is the top paid and organic channel for B2B businesses, spending your money on the platform would be worth your while.
Shriber told me, "Once you've built that strong LinkedIn Page, companies tend to realize that that audience that's consuming information is incredibly valuable, and it's different than what they're finding on other platforms."
He adds, "We have a series of paid products that you can then move into that allow you to insert content into the LinkedIn feed. Now you've got a series of followers or you've got a set of targeted members that you care about. Suddenly, they're seeing your content appear in the feed itself and there are some really rich ways to turn that engagement into actual activity."
While LinkedIn has a native ads management service, you can also use HubSpot’s ads management tool to create, organize, and execute advertising campaigns on LinkedIn. You’ll also get access to high-quality reports that explain ad performance, helping you optimize a strategy to meet your customers’ needs.
6. Ensure you have strong sales and marketing alignment.
You're likely all too familiar with the recent shift in consumer buying behavior. Nowadays, customers are researching online ahead of time and typically use marketing content to inform their purchasing decisions before even reaching out to a sales rep.
Shriber describes the shift like this: "What you're seeing now, is consumers are becoming more savvy about learning about products and services that they need and progressing deep into the sales process before they reach out, raise their hand, and say that they need help."
He adds, "It's becoming incumbent upon marketing to really meet the needs of customers that are investigating and exploring, and then seamlessly handing that off to salespeople so sales has context on the journey customers have already traveled."
"I've got a number of customers that have come to me and said, my salespeople know my target customers better than my marketing group. They've been in the business for 20 years, and they know all the key people, so I'm going to use them to create awareness, build a brand in a way that historically has been reserved for marketing."
On the flip side, of course, marketers play a heavier role in closing a deal. Shriber told me, "Imagine, for example, that you're procurement and you're trying to negotiate a contract. Historically, that's been the domain of a sales professional, but today, savvy marketers know that that's where you are in the sales process."
Shriber adds, "They're able to target that procurement person, send in some relevant content related to validation of the solution, why it's valuable, what other customers are saying about it, and all of a sudden, that marketer has played a key role in getting the deal closed."
All of which is to say — it's critical you align your sales and marketing teams since they play equally valuable parts in finding prospects and closing deals, and they overlap more heavily now than ever before.
To figure out strategies for better aligning your sales and marketing departments, take a look at this Ultimate Guide to Sales and Marketing.
7. Leverage connections with current customers and clients.
LinkedIn’s main draw is networking, and you should use this feature to your advantage for lead generation.
Connect with current customers and clients on LinkedIn and learn from who their industry connections are, as they may be relevant to you as well. If you have relationships with existing clients you connect with, ask for referrals, references, or simply learn how to get in contact with a connection they have that matches your customer profile.
As LinkedIn is a professional network, such requests are less pushy, spammy, and salesesque than cold calling someone after finding their number online. Leads can receive your request to connect, browse your profile, and see your shared connection as a guarantee of trust.
In addition, when you connect with new leads, you’re using warm outreach. This means that you already know a bit about them and can immediately make propositions that relate to their interests, providing value to them off the bat.
8. Maintain a consistent presence on the platform.
Just like all of your other social media sites, LinkedIn requires consistency. If you post an article once a week and then log out, you’re not establishing yourself as a consistent presence with your connections. You also want to communicate consistently with your leads. Disappearing in the middle of a conversation is not a good look and does the opposite of furthering their interest in doing business with you.
As mentioned above, use platform analytics to learn about your audience’s interests, when your posts get the most traction, and create a strategy that will keep you consistently present and visible on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Can Help You Attract Your Ideal Customers
Ultimately, if you aren't using LinkedIn or using it often enough, you're likely missing out on significant opportunities to grow your business.
As Shriber told me, "We've really tried to think through the full spectrum of what you might care about, from building a brand to generating leads, whether you're a small business or a large enterprise — and we built playbooks that address you where you are, and help you to get where you're going."
Learn more from Justin Shriber and other advertising leaders by accessing an exclusive interview series with LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook.