How to Use LinkedIn for B2B Lead Generation
B2B marketing can be a tough, competitive sector. On the one hand, you may offer a product or service that several other businesses also provide; on the other hand, you may be constantly trying to grab the attention of high-value accounts that are being wooed by your counterparts at the same time.
Fortunately, with some effort and a little know-how, you can "cut through the noise" and take your B2B lead generation game to the next level. One of the most helpful tools in this regard is LinkedIn. It's no secret that LinkedIn is a veritable gold mine of B2B leads, with nearly 90% of B2B marketers focusing on this network as their main content distribution platform.
Let's talk about why you should use LinkedIn as an essential part of your B2B lead generation strategy, and some ways you can do so effectively.
Why You Should Use LinkedIn to Generate B2B Leads
First off, it's important to determine whether LinkedIn is really an appropriate channel for your B2B marketing efforts. In other words, are the platform's users really the right audience for you?
Consider this: LinkedIn is the world's largest database of business professionals, bar none. According to recent LinkedIn statistics:
- There are over 500 million business professionals on their network
- 100 million of these are daily active users
- About 40 million users have some measure of decision-making authority within their respective companies
Think about that! You may be able to target up to 40 million B2B prospects on this platform alone - and that just includes those professionals in decision-making roles. Clearly, LinkedIn can be an extremely productive B2B marketing channel... provided you use it in the right way. With that in mind, let's talk about some best practices you can follow.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Creating your LinkedIn profile is a fairly simple process, and doesn't require too much technical skill. Optimizing your profile, on the other hand, requires a little more effort. Remember, your profile may constitute the first impression of your brand for many executives and business professionals in your audience. It's important to construct your profile in the right way, so that it can serve as a good "top of funnel" portal into your sales pipeline.
Here are some suggestions that can help you optimize your LinkedIn profile for B2B lead generation:
1. Pay close attention to the headline in your summary.
Many LinkedIn users only describe their current role or position in their summary headline. However, you may be missing a big opportunity if you follow suit. Instead of thinking in terms of function (what your role is), think in terms of benefits (what you do for your clients).
As an example, let's say you're a content marketer who specializes in the development of buyer personas. You could incorporate a phrase like "Buyer Persona Development Specialist" in your headline, and this would be accurate. On the other hand, you could rework that headline into something like this: "Assisting clients to optimize their marketing efforts through well-designed buyer personas." Do you see the difference? The first headline focused on what you do; the second headline focused on what you do for your customers. It's a subtle but powerful shift in perspective.
2. Back up your value statements with hard data.
In your summary, provide an example of how your service or product helped a client in tangible ways. Use statistics to back up your claims. You could even include testimonials from previous clients. Engaging your B2B audience with such "social proof," backed up by hard data, will encourage them to give your solution extra consideration as they research their options.
3. Differentiate your profile through the use of professional images and videos.
LinkedIn isn't Facebook or Instagram - i.e., it tends to be more text-heavy, and less reliant on pictures and videos. Nevertheless, judicious use of visual elements can really help your profile to stand out from the competition.
For example, make sure that your personal profile picture is a professional-looking headshot: well-framed and well-lighted. Ensure that any images you use in your content are not only appropriate to the topic at hand, but are also crisp, with hi-res quality. And consider spicing up your profile with an introductory video, or even a series of videos. Can you imagine how unique that would appear to B2B prospects who spend hours of their time reading text on the platform?
Okay, now that you've optimized your profile, it's time to talk about ways to proactively reach out to B2B prospects and generate high-quality leads.
How to Find High-Value B2B Prospects on LinkedIn
There are a ton of different approaches that you could implement on LinkedIn for B2B lead generation. In the information below, we'll just focus on two methods that you could use: (a) reaching out directly to individual prospects, and (b) generating leads via LinkedIn groups.
Reaching Out Directly to Individual Prospects
When it comes to directly approaching LinkedIn users, you want to exercise due caution so that others won't consider you ill-mannered, or a "spammer." With that in mind, here is a simple 3-step process you can follow:
- View your target profiles. Before taking this step, you'll need to have a firm grasp of who an ideal lead would be. In other words, which prospects should you specifically target? LinkedIn's Sales Navigator feature lets you segment and filter users based on 20+ different categories, including Geography, Industry, and Job Function. Once you've compiled your list, make sure to only view profiles that are "second connections" to yourself. After you view a profile, you should show up in the person's "Recently Viewed" list.
- Make your connection request. If one of your prospects views your profile in return, you can take that as a potential signal of interest (or at least an initial touch point that could mark the beginning of their buyer's journey). Once the person views your profile, send them a connection request. This request should, if at all possible, be personalized to the prospect. Perhaps you can incorporate information they included in their own profile into your response. Also, give them a compelling reason to connect with you. Highlight any common ground that you share with them, and perhaps briefly reiterate the benefits that your product or service has brought to previous clients.
- Send follow-up messages to everyone who accepts your connection request. If a prospect doesn't accept your connection request after several days, they may not be interested in talking. However, once someone does accept your request, it's time to reach out to them with a brief thank-you message, and float the idea of setting up a time to talk. Remember, this message shouldn't focus on pushing the sale, but should further position you as a helpful advisor who can really add value to their business. If the prospect doesn't respond within a few days, consider sending another message to them, but be mindful not to appear pushy.
The beauty of this process is that you're not expending too much energy on people who don't really want to talk. Instead, you're gradually filtering out prospects with minimal interest in your company, and you're slowly building relationships with users who may already be interested in what you have to offer.
Generating Leads Via LinkedIn Groups
A second strategy you could use for B2B lead generation on LinkedIn is joining and sharing relevant content within groups. This process can also be broken down into 3 simple steps:
- Identify and join those groups that match your niche. For example, let's say you provide managed IT services for companies. If so, you'll want to focus your attention on groups that will find that service relevant, such as IT management, operations management, help desk support, etc.
- Develop relevant content for your group. Once you've joined a group, you need to create content that will be especially valuable for its members. Ask yourself what type of prospects are part of the group, which topics will interest them, and what needs they may be trying to fill at the office. Then compose an article that aligns with your answers!
- Give group members a reason to click through to your content. Your "social sharing message" (the block of text that accompanies your article share) is basically your "elevator pitch" to group members as to why they should click through to your content. Again, you want to focus on the value to them - if they read your piece, what will they get out of it? If possible, include hard data in your message, and use "power words" like "free," "immediately," "expert," and "incredible" to pique your audience's curiosity. Of course, once they click through to your content, you can nurture them as you would a regular B2B lead.
In summary, LinkedIn is an exceptional tool for generating B2B leads. If you use it the right way, it can take your lead generation efforts to a completely different level.
If you need any help developing or implementing your LinkedIn lead generation strategy, be sure to contact our team of B2B marketing experts at Leadium today. We'd be happy to help you leverage LinkedIn marketing into tangible results, and enjoy amazing business growth. Reach out today to learn more.
LinkedIn is the world's largest database of business professionals, bar none"