Welcome to our guide to B2B marketing on LinkedIn.
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- Does B2B marketing work on LinkedIn?
- The purpose of B2B marketing on LinkedIn
- Inbound marketing on LinkedIn
- Outbound marketing on LinkedIn
Ready to put LinkedIn to use to grow your B2B business? Read on.
Does B2B marketing work on LinkedIn?
Given the fact that you’re reading this post, you probably already know the answer to this question. Yes, B2B marketing works on LinkedIn. Really well, in fact.
There are plenty of reasons LinkedIn is so effective. To start, there are a ton of people on the platform. According to LinkedIn’s news center, there are 722M+ active users, with 191M in North America and 174M in the US alone.
But, even better, LinkedIn’s members are the right demographic and they’re there for the right reasons; this is a professional social network. That means that, while there are still some cat memes and obnoxious political posts, there’s a lot more business networking happening here than on places like Pinterest or Facebook. Most members join to job search, network, make sales, and learn.
If you’re in B2B, LinkedIn is a good place to be.
As the following stats show, B2B marketers overwhelmingly agree.
- Neil Patel notes that LinkedIn is responsible for 97% of B2B businesses social media leads.
- 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.
- 1 in 3 B2B marketers say LinkedIn is generating revenue for them.
The opportunity is there.
The bottom line: Yes, LinkedIn works for B2B marketing. If you approach this platform correctly, it can build your bottom line.
The purpose of B2B marketing on LinkedIn
Okay, we’ve clarified that B2B marketing on LinkedIn can be worthwhile. So, what can you do to make your marketing worthwhile?
As with marketing on any channel, the first step to success is to define your purpose.
There are two main purposes to using LinkedIn:
You can use LinkedIn to build your brand.
Oberlo defines branding this way:
Branding is the process of creating a strong, positive perception of a company, its products or services in the customer’s mind by combining such elements as logo, design, mission statement, and a consistent theme throughout all marketing communications. Effective branding helps companies differentiate themselves from their competitors and build a loyal customer base.
This is top-of-funnel stuff – the marketing that will get you in front of people, build an audience, and create a “positive perception”. If you want to stand out in your market, using your LinkedIn profiles for inbound marketing is a great approach.
The second purpose of LinkedIn marketing is to generate leads for your business. This is a lower-funnel approach. While there may be overlap with branding, this will more likely involve more outbound activities – reaching out to qualified prospects, running LinkedIn ads, and so on.
While branding and lead generation are both worthwhile, it’s typically wise to focus on a single purpose as you begin your LinkedIn marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing on LinkedIn
Inbound marketing, as HubSpot explains, is “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.” Instead of going out and finding people, inbound marketing relies on your target audience finding you.
On LinkedIn, this methodology typically entails three key tactics: optimizing your personal profile, optimizing your company profile, and posting content regularly.
1. Optimize your LinkedIn personal profile.
The first step to LinkedIn marketing is to optimize your personal profile.
An optimized profile has:
- A clear, recent profile picture showing your face. Hopefully, you’re smiling.
- A header image that provides additional context on who you are, what you like, or what you do.
- A compelling header that explains what you do and who you do it for.
- An audience-focused description that gives more detail on the problems you solve and provides viewers with a next step (i.e. a link back to your website).
- Relevant past experience linking to appropriate company profiles.
- Accurate educational background.
- Volunteer experience at the organizations you care about.
Neil Patel’s video below has some solid info on how these components can work together to benefit your business.
It’s important to note that the more customer/client-facing your role is, the more important it is that your personal profile is optimized. It might not be important for back-office staff, but it’s definitely important for anyone in the following roles:
- An executive position (CEO, CFO, COO, VP, etc.)
- Client service
If you’re serious about investing in LinkedIn marketing, I’d recommend compiling a list of all of the employees who should be part of the initiative. By involving them, you can vastly increase your reach when you reach the third tactic on this list – creating and posting content.
2. Optimize your LinkedIn company profile.
Once you’ve optimized personal LinkedIn profiles, you’ll want to ensure that you optimize your business’s profile, too.
The best approach to optimization, generally, is to use all of the fields that LinkedIn provides. Besides the basics (photos, header, description), you can go pretty deep here and add information like:
- Product listings
- Service offerings
- Upcoming events
- Job openings
- Special sections (i.e. “Life at Your Company”)
Here’s an example of a nicely optimized company page from Salesforce:
Finally, to sum things up, here’s a helpful video on company profile optimization from Hootsuite.
3. Create content and post regularly.
Now that you’ve optimized your personal profile and your company profile, it’s time to put them to use and start posting content.
There are two keys to success here.
First, your content has to be good – and by good, I mean helpful for your intended audience. It can be entertaining, informative, or both, but it has to connect to the audience. Otherwise, you’re posting for vanity’s sake.
Second, to successfully build your brand, you need to post consistently. Ideally, that means at least once per day, and, at the very least, you should be posting 2-3 times per week. If you can’t get to that level of consistency, you probably won’t be able to use LinkedIn as a viable marketing channel. Best practice is to post during business hours between 8am and 3pm on weekdays – but, timing aside, the most important thing is simply that you post.
What should you post?
Great question, and, really, the answers are endless. Here’s a basic formula to follow, though:
- Post 1-2 news-related pieces each week; share a post and add your own insights.
- Post 2-3 original posts each week; videos work particularly well.
- Post 1 call-to-action post each week; share something that will lead your audience toward an engagement with your company.
- Post 1 article to LinkedIn itself each week.
How to Expand Your Company’s Reach
The easiest way to expand your company’s reach on LinkedIn is to tap into your employees’ networks. Basically, encourage all of your employees who are on LinkedIn to share company posts.
Here’s an example of Simon Sinek taking this approach himself. Notice how his company created the post, and then he shared it to his personal profile. This broadens the reach of each post.
If you follow the steps above (optimize your personal profile, optimize your company profile, and create and post content), you’ll build your brand on LinkedIn, start driving traffic to your website, and, over time, generate meaningful business.
If you want to move faster, though, you may want to try outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing on LinkedIn
While inbound marketing is about drawing people in, outbound marketing is about finding people. In my opinion, this is the ideal way to use LinkedIn for B2B marketing.
Here’s a three-step process to put it into action.
1. Identify your target audience.
The first step in any outbound marketing campaign is to identify your target audience – the people you want to reach with your offer or message.
You likely have some idea of who your target is – what size company you serve best, what industries, and what roles make buying decisions. If you don’t, you’ll need to do market research. Even if you think you do, make sure that your assumptions are based on data.
If you have data, LinkedIn rocks.
LinkedIn is particularly great at reaching targeted demographics because it’s a business-centric platform, which means that it’s packed with company data. Let’s say you’re selling office management software to folks in the IT industry. You can use LinkedIn to identify office managers at IT companies of a certain size in a certain location – and then you can reach out to them directly.
Depending on how targeted you want to make your search and how many people you want to reach out to, it may be worthwhile to use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator. This is paid functionality that gives you advanced search capabilities. Honestly, if you’re serious about outbound marketing on LinkedIn, it’s table stakes. User seats start at $65.
2. Reach out consistently.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to reach out consistently.
Sales teams are all about this. And for good reason; while B2B sales have shifted online, as I’m sure you know, many (most) are still closed with a personal touch.
This isn’t an article on personal selling, so I’ll refrain from giving too much advice in that arena. But I do want to note that there are some awesome marketing tools that can make reaching out to prospects very efficient while maintaining customization.
At New North, we often recommend Reply. Basically, it lets you customize messaging campaigns; you pick a prospect, then target them with a campaign that can include LinkedIn messages, email, and more. Although it’s automated, you can set things up so that your messages are tailored based on contact info and appear as personal as possible. Then, when a prospect responds, you can jump in and close the deal.
As with content production, the key to any outreach strategy is consistency – both with individual prospects, and over the long-term. Many people will ignore your outreach efforts, but if you do things the right way, over time, you will see results.
3. Use LinkedIn Ads.
And, last but not least, you can use LinkedIn ads to power up your outbound marketing efforts.
LinkedIn ads can be extremely powerful because of the business data that’s on the platform. However, they also tend to be fairly expensive, especially compared against Facebook and YouTube. We’ve found ad campaigns on LinkedIn often double the amount we pay to drive a similar amount of traffic on other platforms – but we’ve also found that they tend to have a far more targeted reach.
The platform is always changing, but remember: In advertising (as in most things), what’s most important is the thinking behind the tactics. If you know the rationale (what you’re trying to accomplish and why), it’s easier to figure out the how (what buttons to click), even as the tools change.
So, before you begin a LinkedIn ad campaign, define what you’re trying to accomplish. Will you drive website traffic? Form submissions for an ebook? Consultation calls?
In my view, middle-funnel campaigns purposed to drive website conversions tend to be the most efficient; they balance volume with cost-efficiency.
Now, to the basics. There are four major components to consider in any ad campaign. These are:
- The goal. As noted above, this is the desired outcome or action that you’ll be seeking from your ads. In LinkedIn’s Ad Manager, you’ll define this at the Campaign level.
- The audience. This is the carefully defined segment of people you will be showing ads to. You’ll define this at the Campaign level.
- The content. This includes ad copy and collateral like videos and images. You’ll define this at the Ads level. You should run 2-3 ads per group so that you can compare for effectiveness.
- The budget. This refers to the amount of money you’ll spend on your ads over a specified amount of time. You can define this at a Campaign or Ad Set level.
Again, the specs for ads are always changing, but here are general guidelines from LinkedIn to help you create compelling content.
Choose words that catch the attention of your target audience. People use LinkedIn to gain unique insights relevant to their profession or skills, so put yourself in your audience’s shoes as you create your ads.
Give people a reason to take notice and click the ad by highlighting whitepapers, free trials, unique benefits, or demos.
Include strong call-to-action phrases like Try, Download, Sign up, or Request a Quote.
Include an image with your ad that’s relevant to what you offer. The LinkedIn background color is neutral, so images with bright colors are more likely to capture the attention of your audience.
Review the LinkedIn Ads Policies for details on what’s appropriate to include in your ad.
Final Word of Advice on Ads
Always be testing – specifically, at the audience and content levels. Tweak your targeting, compare your results, and move forward with what’s more effective. Do the same for content.
As you optimize your campaigns, you’ll lower your costs and improve your return on ad spend.
Want more B2B marketing help?
So, that’s it: the complete guide to B2B marketing on LinkedIn in 2021. If you want help putting these strategies into action – or if you simply want to generate more B2B leads – get in touch with us.
Schedule a free consult today, and let’s review your current LinkedIn marketing strategy and identify the key areas where you can improve.
Here’s to your success on LinkedIn!