4 LinkedIn Strategies B2B Software Companies Can Leverage to Generate Leads
LinkedIn has grown by leaps and bounds since it first launched over 15 years ago. As of April 2017, there are 260 million monthly active users on LinkedIn (individuals that log in at least once per month). In addition to its exponential growth, LinkedIn has become the top platform for B2B social selling. According to the 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report, 97% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their company’s content. This means if you aren’t on board with LinkedIn yet, you’re way behind.
This resource will cover four strategies you can use to optimize for lead generation on LinkedIn.
Chapter 1: What can I do to optimize my page?
Social selling over LinkedIn isn’t easy. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make on their profiles is optimizing for self-selling, not social selling. Many people began using LinkedIn as more of an “online resume” and haven’t updated their profile or behavior to reflect their current goals for growth and sales.
Optimize your personal profile
Your LinkedIn profile starts with your literal profile, your face. Increase response rates by updating your profile photo with something professional that also expresses your personality. You want prospects to see you as a trusted individual.
If you’re also a thought leader on other platforms, consider keeping your profile photo the same across channels to ensure consistency and personal brand recognition.
Optimize for SEO
Create a custom LinkedIn URL featuring your first and last name to make your profile easy to find. Link to your profile from other social media sites or your personal website.
Utilize your prime real estate
Use your LinkedIn headline as a space to write your value proposition. What do you do and what services can you offer to help fill a void a prospect might have? You want to establish confidence that will be further reassured with other elements of your profile.
Grow your audience
Make the right connections
Building your network with the right people is one of the most important steps to social selling. Don’t just blindly add anyone who wants to connect. Find commonalities and points of interest that could be useful conversation starters.
Send invitations to anyone you have had a personal interaction with or whose online presence you admire. Always take the time to customize your invite to describe your reason for connecting. (This should be about your interest in them, not why they should buy your product.) These connections may lead to sales, in the long run, so make them early and often. Be sure to pay special attention to nurturing the extra valuable leads.
Become a thought leader
Sharing advice, tips and resources and helping your audience solve business problems can position you as an expert. Creating this type of content is a way to share thoughts on an issue for your demographic and provide value they can’t get anywhere else. Well-developed content should help address the concerns of prospects directly while providing answers to their questions.
If content creation isn’t your strong suit, curating industry articles is another great way to add value and build credibility. Share educational articles and industry updates while providing commentary from your point of view.
Engage with your network
Leaving thoughtful comments on your connection’s posts grabs the attention of an audience that might fit your potential target market. Participating in LinkedIn discussion groups also gets a foot in the door with prospects and related audiences.
Add a personal touch
After meeting someone new, continuing the conversation online can enhance your reputation. Send a note with a question, comment or something you noticed on their profile that could lead to a broader conversation.
Start social selling
Once you’ve developed and nurtured these relationships, take the conversation offline. Meet in person or schedule a call (with your video on!) to better establish a connection and convert the prospect into a client. Face-to-face sales meetings—whether in-person or virtual— are a great way to present a personalized service for clients that will keep them engaged much longer.
Social selling on LinkedIn helps you tap into an unexplored market or direct a larger audience into the sales funnel—ultimately increasing the chances of a client relationship. By optimizing your profile and participating in business-related conversations, you can use LinkedIn to your benefit and ultimately boost your sales revenue.
Chapter 2: How can I become an industry expert and thought leader?
Now that you’ve optimized your personal profile, let’s dive into publishing on LinkedIn. LinkedIn publishing is an untapped opportunity for many B2B companies looking to drive leads. It’s a great opportunity to interact with connections and drive website visitors.
Step 1: Write your article
To start, select a topic. Consider what your audience will care about and their level of knowledge to ensure the article will be engaging. Compose your thoughts in a compelling, concise post. As a best practice, publish your posts on a company blog or website first. At the top of the article, include a link back to the original post on your website.
Once you’ve written your article and published it on your main website, go to the LinkedIn news feed. There, you’ll see an area where users have the ability to share different types of content. You’ll want to select “Write an article.”
From there, add a headline and text. LinkedIn has very simple formatting tools, but be sure to use them to your advantage; no one wants to read an enormous block of text. Include headlines and bold important text throughout your article to make it easier for your audience to skim.
Don’t forget to identify any conversion opportunities within your article. Look for places to link back to the original post or other related content you’ve created to drive website visitors and increase SEO. Don’t go overboard with linking; try to keep it to one link per 150 words.
Step 2: Add videos/images
Visuals are key for posts (they’re so important we wrote a blog about it). So pick wisely and make sure the top image is representative of the article content.
Adding videos and images throughout posts is very useful. To do so, simply click the “+” sign in the margin of the draft page. From there, you can add various types of media to keep your audience engaged and demonstrate your points visually.
As a best practice, any media should match your company’s brand. One great example of a LinkedIn publisher who has strong, cohesive branding is Liz Ryan. She keeps imagery consistent yet unique, so her audience can immediately recognize her posts.
Step 3: Make sure there’s a call-to-action
Having links back to your website throughout a post will drive website traffic, but ask yourself, “What do I want readers to do once they’re finished?”
This is a great opportunity to drive readers to your other content, as they’ve already self-identified as interested in what you’re writing. If you don’t have much content, or don’t have anything relevant to link back to, don’t worry. It’s easy to ask your audience to leave feedback on what you’ve shared. In fact, one of the biggest missed call-to-action opportunities is simply asking for people to share their thoughts in the comments. If you don’t know what readers should do next, ask them to engage further with your post.
Step 4: Publish
Once you have added and reviewed all of your post elements, the article can be published by clicking the blue button in the top right-hand corner of a draft.
Your connections will then receive a notification that you’ve published a new article, and there’s an option to share your post on LinkedIn’s news feed as well. Take advantage of this opportunity to promote your article and make sure to add text to your post that talks about why someone should read it (let readers know what’s in it for them).
Tag your company’s LinkedIn page in the news feed post if possible as this will make it easier to share the article from your company’s page as well. Don’t forget to also share links to your article across social platforms. Promote it on Twitter and Facebook to drive more traffic.
Step 5: Expect a response
Simply publishing a blog isn’t where this story ends. Expect your audience to respond to posts by liking it, sharing it and commenting on it! Be ready to engage with these people. For example, if someone shares a post, send them a quick thank you. If someone comments on your post, respond back in a timely manner.
The point of posting on LinkedIn is to engage an additional audience, and if you can do that well, you can extend your network and eventually obtain new clients.
Chapter 3: How can I create engaging and helpful LinkedIn videos?
While republishing articles to LinkedIn is an excellent way to establish yourself as an industry leader, video has also become increasingly popular on LinkedIn as a personal branding tool.
Video on LinkedIn is a great way to:
- Tell compelling, visual stories
- Generate awareness and leave a lasting impression on your viewers
- Establish a personal brand
- Drive conversions and gather leads
Anyone can create video
Unlike high-production marketing videos found on other platforms, most marketers on LinkedIn favor content that’s inexpensive and easy to create. You can easily create a quality video with very little equipment. In fact, many marketers stick to using only their smartphones to create videos on LinkedIn.
Look beyond your network
Since social videos are 1200% more likely to be shared than text or image posts combined, they naturally have a higher organic reach. This gives you the ability to reach individuals who are second or third connections.
Drive traffic to your website or LinkedIn profile
Similar to articles on LinkedIn, when uploading a video, you can include links to your business or personal website to drive traffic. You should also always remember to include a call to action (CTA). Again, like articles, this can be as simple as asking your audience to interact further with your post.
Get started with B2B SaaS video
Step 1: Own your “Why”
What are you hoping to achieve by diving into video production? Identify your key metrics of success so you know what you’re working towards. Otherwise, you are producing with no direction.
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
Use the SMART Goals framework to build out your “Why.”
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
Don’t forget to include a call to action to encourage your audience to take the next step, such as reading more content, contacting you or requesting a demo.
Step 3: Give the content a home
Where will your video live once it’s finished? Are you publishing to LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram? This will help you decide how long your video will be and if it’s shot vertically or horizontally.
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
Tailor the location to the audience. Where does your audience spend their time? Based on the stage in the buyer’s journey will they be viewing on desktop or mobile?
Step 4: Pick a topic
It’s time to dive right into the creative part of the process. What topic would you like to discuss? Figure out what it is you’d like to share with your audience.
Your topic should be something you’re an expert in. Find a topic that you can educate around that’s related to your business and is of interest to your audience. You should be able to talk freely on the subject without needing to reference notes or a script.
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
Research keywords and be sure to include them in your title and any descriptions.
Step 5: Create
The step we’ve been waiting for: making the actual video! At this point, you should have a topic, an audience, a destination and someone responsible for creating it.
As we mentioned before, video production doesn’t have to be expensive. Here is the equipment you’ll need to film quality (but inexpensive) videos:
- iPhone, another smartphone or a high-quality webcam
- Headphones or a lav mic*
- Tripod or somewhere stable to set up your recording device*
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
The last two items are optional. If you are loud enough, in an area without much background noise and have a steady hand, you can shoot with just your camera of choice.
Generally, you don’t want your video to come off as scripted, so don’t write out what you’re going to say. Instead, keep it off the cuff. Before filming, run through your topic a few times and maybe come up with some bullet points you want to hit.
Set yourself up in front of a window or somewhere else with good natural lighting. Make sure you aren’t washed out or backlit and impossible to see.
Now is when the magic happens. Flip the camera on and start talking.
Your shooting checklist:
- Speak loudly and clearly.
- Sit facing the light. The main source of light in the room (e.g. a large window or a lamp) should be in front of you and your recording device at all times.
- Keep it casual. Don’t use scripts or read off of your computer.
- Keep it short. Generally, videos should be 30-90 seconds. We recommend maxing out at around 4 minutes if the topic warrants a longer discussion. Or, consider breaking up the topic into several shorter videos.
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
High-quality audio leaves room for lower quality video, although high-quality everything is always ideal. If you can nail the audio, that’s most important.
If you have an Apple device, you already have access to a great editing tool! Included in Macs, iPhones and iPads is iMovie, which is a simple software perfect for cutting and splicing video.
If not, start with finding an editor right for your capabilities. This is a great resource to figure out what fits your needs.
People often watch videos in public or at work with the sound off, so it may be necessary to include captions in your videos so people understand what you’re saying. If you don’t want to learn a software tool to do this, there are services available. This service provides captions for $1 per video minute.
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
Use stock B-roll in places where the shot didn’t work out.
Step 6: Promote
Now that you’ve created your video, it’s time to send it off into the world. Back in step 3, we identified where your content would live, but you should absolutely promote it via other channels.
ACCELITY VIDEO MARKETING TIP:
Create an integrated strategy for your content. Instead of only writing a blog on a topic or only making a video, create both. Sometimes it’s appropriate to create multiple supporting videos for just one blog.
Chapter 4: Advertising best practices
While there is a lot of success to be had on LinkedIn organically, there is a great deal of opportunity to be found in LinkedIn advertising. LinkedIn’s advertising options are similar to Facebook’s, providing users with the opportunity to create a variety of different types of ads with varying goals. This chapter will highlight some of the best practices for being successful with LinkedIn advertising in 2020.
Plan for success with a free company page
Before launching a LinkedIn advertising campaign, it’s essential to lay a strong foundation for your company. Start by creating a free company page for your SaaS business. This will establish your company’s brand on LinkedIn—and is actually required for specific ad formats.
In addition to setting up a company page, you need to create a campaign manager account. This account allows you to properly manage the ads platform. You can set up ad accounts, run campaigns and control budgets just by signing in.
Understand the value you want to provide
Before you begin conceptualizing ads or trying to segment your audience, it is crucial to develop a purpose and added value proposition. Trying to generate more leads? Focus on a sales angle that is still informative and engaging. Aiming to drive more traffic to your website? Develop ads around previously produced content, including blogs. Figure out the why before the what when developing these ads. It’ll save time, money and headaches.
LinkedIn ad formats are important to understand—these are how you’ll reach your audience. There are four different forms they can take:
- Sponsored content
- Sponsored InMail
- Text & image ads
- Lead gen form ads
Each of the above will help you achieve different goals.
Target specific audience segments
Figuring out the audience you are trying to reach is vital for Linkedin Ads to ensure the ads are most effective. The LinkedIn ads platform is unique because you can target your ads based on what a person does professionally, including:
- Job title
- Job seniority
- Company name
- Years of experience
LinkedIn provides plenty of targeting facets but requires advertisers to use the location field—whether that be a specific city or broader area. It’s a good practice to add one or two more fields based on your targeted audience. However, hyper-targeting, or selecting too many fields, is not encouraged as it could hurt an initial campaign’s effectiveness. After discussing with LinkedIn, we found they recommend an audience size of 200,000–300,000 for optimal results.
Audience Expansion is a feature unique to LinkedIn, soon to become your best friend. When enabled, LinkedIn’s algorithms will identify additional audience members who are similar to the targeting criteria that have been established.
There are also options to re-engage website visitors with Website Retargeting, nurture prospects with Contact Targeting or run account-based marketing campaigns with Account Targeting.
Set Goals & Execute
First, before creating ads, set SMART Goals. Doing so ensures you have a clear vision of who you’re targeting and why, and your desired outcome. Identify both the buyer persona and the stage of the buyer’s journey for your intended audience.
Create captivating content
Once a target audience is figured out, creating captivating content is the next step. This is where the meat of the matter lies for your ad strategy. Produce valuable ad content or the audience might ignore it.
Most people use LinkedIn to gain unique insights relevant to their profession or skills, so consider what would catch your attention when creating content. Choose language that will appeal to this audience and use clear, compelling words that encourage leads to take action.
Additionally, it’s recommended you follow these best practices when creating ads:
- Include a creative and compelling image that’s relevant to the advertisement
- Link to a landing page that matches the message, so leads can take the next step such as downloading content
- Address specific audiences directly—“Are you a social media marketer?”
- Use a strong call to action
- Refresh ads at least once per month with new text and/or images
Set a competitive bid
Determine what you are trying to achieve and then set and measure your budget accordingly. LinkedIn recommends testing with at least $100/day or around $5,000 in total. We recommend aiming for $100/week to start.
For each campaign, you will set a payment method as well as a bid. The payment method can be either pay per click (PPC) or pay per 1,000 impressions (PPM), and the bid is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for those clicks or impressions.
If the goal is to be competitive, you will want to set a bid that’s on the higher end of the suggested bid range—this range is an estimate of the current competing bids by other advertisers. LinkedIn will discount the click or impression bid so that you are only paying the minimum necessary to outbid the next advertiser.
Keep in mind: if you don’t enter a bid that’s within the suggested range, an ad will be less likely to beat the competition.
As with emails, landing pages and more, the best way to ensure you’re optimizing your efforts is by testing. With LinkedIn ads, there are many opportunities for optimization including audience, headline, copy and graphics.
Run identical ads simultaneously with one small tweak to test out different parts of your ad. Remember to always change only one piece and to run your tests for at least two weeks to produce accurate results. Once your first test is done, hypothesize another improvement and continue to optimize.
Analyze the campaign’s performance
LinkedIn provides professional demographic data you can use to discover and target new audiences. Once your most responsive demographic is determined, you can adjust your audience for more efficient reach.
Furthermore, LinkedIn campaign insights allow you to easily understand how your ads are performing and provide recommendations to improve bids and budgets, which helps increase your ROI. Additionally, you are able to test variations of your ad and adjust ads based on your findings.
Advertising on LinkedIn helps businesses achieve their goals—whether the goal is to promote a brand or capture leads. It’s designed to be convenient and easy to comprehend, allowing more work to be done with less stress involved.
Last updated: September 2022