Never before have small and medium-sized businesses (SME’s) had the ability to generate new customers through as many unique methodologies as they do today. Of the most influential developments impacting growth into new channels is the direct result of the success of LinkedIn, a medium that didn’t even exist at the turn of the millennium.
LinkedIn yields unprecedented opportunities for businesses of all sizes to attract new users, buyers, purveyors of their products and services, far more than owners and campaign managers are even aware. What most professionals, the actual user base on LinkedIn, don’t know is how to optimize and capitalize on its effectiveness for lead generation.
Do you feel that the marketing vehicles available online only apply to big companies with endless budgets? If so, you’re in the right place. If you are not taking advantage of the lead generation opportunities on LinkedIn, you’re missing out. LinkedIn is the gold standard for generating new business, the uncontested leader of all the social networks for creating rich and rewarding connections that enhance value and return on investment (ROI). Anyone and everyone can succeed at building meaningful connections and generating new leads for your business by following a few simple steps. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the daunting task, relax. You’re not alone. The perception is far worse than the reality and is not nearly as complex as it appears.
If you currently have a LinkedIn profile, the battle is already half won. This blog includes guidelines, a set of steps that even a one-man show can deploy, can have you on your way to generating new leads for your business in no time. Big or small, experienced or not, we assure you that this time-tested approach will position you for success.
LinkedIn has remained mystifying to even the most seasoned marketers, but especially small to medium-size enterprises (SME’s). Why? Unlike Facebook or Instagram that encourage sharing of personal events, LinkedIn encourages networking of a professional nature, sharing of corporate information, best practices, and new viewpoints. When was the last time you saw a selfie or a family vacation to Costa Rica on LinkedIn? Have you ever asked someone to refer to a good Italian restaurant on LinkedIn? Not unusual but not commonplace either. LinkedIn’s purpose is to foster relationships and connections related to careers.
LinkedIn is a career-driven social network. Historically, people thought of networking as a group of industry professionals who met monthly to share recent changes and developments, fosters discussions, topics, and subjects related to their industry. Today, most networking is done online with posts related to business, best practices, insights, and education. You’ll find thought-leadership from authority figures, strategic decision making concepts and endless groups made up of professionals in related industries in private chats. The bigger a company, the more employees it has and the more news is generated, implying greater attention. Quite simply, the larger the company, the more the narrative. By default, the myth that LinkedIn is solely for large companies has manifested itself to a level where small companies feel alienated. This myth keeps many SMEs from pursuing lead generation opportunities afforded by LinkedIn and, thus, missing out on high-quality leads.
There is a second myth surrounding LinkedIn that is also frequently overlooked as it relates to SMEs. A bigger assumption is that lead generation is done in mass to attract large numbers of leads. Day in and day out we hear about big data, paid search, display, email blasts, and Facebook groups to drive eyeballs to ads, banners, emails, mobile messaging, etc. In which business school books does it say that a small business must purchase ad space on any platform in mass to have millions of prospects see their pitch? Where is it written that anyone must buy ads or perform organic strategies to generate new leads for their businesses?
For as far back as advertising response has been measured, it has been well documented that person-to-person advertising is most effective. With the growth of the digital economy, new opportunities have been presented. They go by various names, i.e. referral programs, affiliate marketing, direct sales, etc. They are all designed to accomplish the same results. They are all forms of generating new business leads by establishing one-to-one connections, to make some form of B2B or B2C connection. For a small business, two new clients in an entire year could change their trajectory dramatically.
Digital marketing, customer acquisition, lead generation, performance marketing, conversion rates, paid search, display ad campaigns, traffic - all popular buzzwords that adorn the pages of the press, websites, and just about any and every public medium in the world. We take for granted that this new genre of terminology is well understood and assume that everyone not only understands what these fancy terms mean but also how they impact demand and decision making in our everyday lives. -suite executives at SME’s what these terms mean they will respond in kind with blank stares. As a result, there is a whole universe of SMEs out there with valuable products and services but are at such a disadvantage due to the lack of education and stigma associated with admitting they just don’t understand.
The reality is that growing your business with the assistance of online channels is not all that different than in prior generations as long as you take the time to understand what it means, how to deploy and some best practices. At the end of the day, all the acronyms in the world are meaningless unless they fuel growth in your business with a favorable return on investment. ROI is all that matters.
All it takes to get started generating leads on LinkedIn is a personal profile. Through your personal profile page, you have established connections. Sometimes these are the same connections on other social media platforms but, more so, LinkedIn connections are professional colleagues, partners and people with whom you’ve established a working relationship so that you may follow what they are doing in their careers. Many times, as a result of using and maximizing the opportunities afforded by LinkedIn, you are availed avenues to make new professional contacts and connections. You know the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
If you intend to engage aggressively with LinkedIn for lead generation, we highly recommend a Premium account. Premium account holders have access to greater features and functionality than free members which will be beneficial to the 3-step approach we are about to unveil. Instead of paying for wasteful ads, invest in a Premium account that will provide a higher ROI than any paid ads could.
The 3-step approach is designed to connect you with potential leads directly instead of by mass mailing or expensive advertising mediums. You aren’t going to use the expensive tools that LinkedIn offers to blast sponsored InMail messages or send bulk emails with this approach. Instead, you will use the LinkedIn platform to identify appropriate leads and then connect with them directly.
When combined, the three steps, produce an invaluable technique for generating leads on LinkedIn. The three-step technique consists of:
Once an individual accepts your connection request, you are free to respond with a short “thank you” note as an ice-breaker. Alternatively, you can use an approach developed exclusively by eCuras, the “Synergies” approach. A Synergies message would look something like this:
Hi [first name]
I wanted to thank you for the connection. We [very short one-sentence pitch]. Is there a current project that I can help with, or other synergies that we can explore?
I look forward to hearing from you.
[When signing off, do not include links. You don’t want to appear promotional, this message is designed to be personal and authentic.]
The 3-step process is an absolute prerequisite in the lead gen process but now that you have the names, it’s what you do with them that counts. Your first message should focus on introducing yourself and starting a conversation. Keep it brief, no more than 5-6 sentences, be clever, be sincere and keep it warm and friendly. The first message is not the time nor the place for hard-sell tactics. You will have other opportunities to send messages again in the future. Depending on whether you are a Premium member you will have access to different features, including 10 free InMail messages a month. InMail should be reserved for the most exclusive of contacts.
Lead generation on LinkedIn is a journey, not a destination. Periodically, you will want to freshen up your profile, review your keywords, etc. If your profile has not changed in six months, you’re doing something wrong as you should always have new and exciting highlights to add to your profile. Have you taken a course? Engaged in a new strategy? If you’re active in your career, your LinkedIn profile should reflect the same.
Your business will gradually grow to a level where commencing a paid effort will make sense. Until you have factual data and/or evidence to support investing in an intense approach to lead generation on LinkedIn, or anywhere, it is highly recommended that you commence with a balanced approach. If you’re not already familiar, in marketing you will hear much about inbound vs. outbound methodologies. In layman’s terms, inbound would be an agent of “pull” whereas outbound, a technique of “push.” An inbound process seeks to draw, or pull, a prospect into your sales funnel by guiding them. Contrarily, an outbound scheme would push the offer to the prospect wherever on the site/page they may already be viewing. Understanding inbound and outbound concepts is a key element in online marketing. The 3-step approach is clearly an outbound tactic as you are pushing the introductory message out to the lead.
And, finally, a review of lead generation on LinkedIn would be incomplete without mentioning LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms. While Lead Gen Forms are free to use, they are part of the “paid” advertising suite as they can only be used in conjunction with native ads.
A newer tool to the LinkedIn lead generation suite is “LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms” which has proven to be a useful and effective medium for marketers to fuel the sales funnel. Lead Gen Forms are available for sponsored content campaigns.
Lead Gen Forms add a call-to-action to sponsored posts asking users to register or download a case study or eBook, or any other defined action you are looking to accomplish. When the member clicks on the CTA, they’ll be presented with a sign-up form but, instead of having to fill out the form themselves, LinkedIn will automatically populate each field with the details from their personal profile. There is nothing more annoying than filling out those forms, especially on a cell phone. Lead Gen Forms not only remove the pesky details but also makes the process faster and more convenient for the user and the marketer. The user will do nothing more than confirm their email and click “submit.” Next, they will see a thank you message and a link to your content or website.
The creation of LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms was a game-changer in online lead generation. It’s difficult enough to persuade a prospect to share their contact information but combining that with data capture forms that are simply annoying is quite beneficial, especially considering the target audience are the busiest decision-makers on earth. How many CEOs would you imagine would stop what they are doing to complete a data capture form? Your most valuable source of leads is the group least likely to complete the information you need. The more variables you can remove from the process of capturing a user’s details, the more leads you will generate and the lower the cost. Given that LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are optimized for mobile, and 57% of all LinkedIn engagement occurs via mobile, you can imagine the impact this tool has had on B2B marketing worldwide.
Without question, learning the tools of the trade is resource-intensive, particularly resources of time. It is well worth the investment. Why go through the effort of mastering a full suite of campaign tools if you can’t measure their results? LinkedIn makes it a cinch for marketers to measure results, contemplate successes and failures and optimize their approach? The beauty of online marketing vs. traditional offline marketing is that redirecting efforts, rechanneling resources can be done expeditiously and without losing time or money in the process. LinkedIn provides a superior tracking and analytics suite that makes measuring success efficient.
As a result of the growth of the digital economy, new online marketing agencies are opening by the dozens. Don’t be confused, quantity doesn’t mean they provide quality results. Finding a reputable can be difficult. We cannot emphasize the importance of working with a firm that has direct experience and can demonstrate measurable results. It’s very difficult for a small company to create, manage and support a complete LinkedIn lead generation program alone, but agencies can be expensive.
Stories about small companies hiring an agency for support. If you are like many of our clients, you have hired agencies that swoop in with their teams of 20 somethings who promise that your CR, AOV, ROAS, MAU, ARPU, CAC, LTV and a host of other meaningless acronyms will improve and their expertise in SEO will have you on the top of page one of the SERPs in no time. Several months and many thousands of dollars later you find yourself exactly where you started. There are, however, diamonds in the rough.
eCuras, a distinguished full-service digital marketing agency celebrated for being an agent for change for small and medium-sized enterprises, has developed a set of proprietary techniques and methodologies for SME’s to take advantage of online marketing opportunities that were previously unavailable to them. The firm, based in New Jersey and serving clients worldwide, offers tools and services designed to simplify the web and make digital life for small business owners more manageable.
eCuras was created by a team of accomplished marketing leaders who decided it was time to minimize the complexities of online marketing for small businesses by creating a new breed of digital agency that eliminates technical terms and presents solutions in a language that real people understand. In doing so, eCuras has become an agency of choice for small businesses. They have developed a system easy to launch, simple to manage and effortless to modify. The 3-step technique explained here, employed by eCuras, generates returns 10x higher than those of traditional lead generation campaigns.
eCuras enjoys expertise in lead generation for LinkedIn, specializes in web design, full-scale e-commerce site development (website development company New Jersey), domain hosting, graphic design, programmatic solutions, and SEO and other online marketing disciplines.