The Many Ways B2B Companies Can Leverage LinkedIn in 2020

LinkedIn – The Epicenter of B2B Communication?

For the past year or so, everyone in the B2B world has been hearing about the power of LinkedIn for B2B sales. For some people this might seem strange. LinkedIn hasn’t always been known as a great place to spend time online. 

For others who have actually been spending time on the platform, they might find themselves annoyed by all the people on LinkedIn connecting with them, just to pitch their services, and wondering if that even works for these people. 

At Legendary Leadgen, we’ve been very active on LinkedIn on our client’s behalf for over 2 years now, and have learned a lot in the process. While outreach on LinkedIn definitely does work (when done RIGHT), there’s so much more available on the platform now that should be of interest to people in B2B sales and marketing. 

Since we’ve started using LinkedIn as a main driver of growth for our clients, I’ve gone back and forth on my predictions of how relevant the platform will be going forward. While the UI and interface of LinkedIn may be frustrating at times, I’ve seen firsthand how much effort the LinkedIn team is investing in making it the true epicenter of B2B sales, marketing and communication. 

Most people in the B2B world are completely unaware though of all the different ways LinkedIn can be utilized to market themselves, gain awareness for their company and services and bring in new customers. 

Below we’ll go over the different marketing strategies on LinkedIn and what type of company each one is best for. 

Direct Outreach on LinkedIn

Outreach on LinkedIn is by far the most common marketing method on the platform. It’s usually the first thing people think of when they consider using LinkedIn. To be frank, most people are not only overdoing the outreach, but are simply doing it wrong from the start. 

Gone are the days where it’s enough to simply load up a LinkedIn or Sales Navigator search, and blast out the same generic message to all of them. You can certainly still do this, but you’re unlikely to experience very good results, or any results at all. Worse, you can damage your brand and reputation in the process. 

These days, outreach on LinkedIn requires going really in depth to only target the right prospects for what you sell, as well as sending a compelling message that’s been personalized for the person receiving it. If it’s obvious that you’re sending the same message to everyone, people will be very unlikely to reply or want to engage with you. 

While I’ve taught seminars and webinars in the past about how to do outreach on LinkedIn effectively, the truth is there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Each campaign is going to be unique, every target market different, and it will require trial and error to figure out what works for your company. 

Many companies will try outreach, not see immediate results and abandon the approach entirely. Which honestly, may be for the better, because it’s exactly these types of companies who aren’t interested in refining their approach, who are polluting the platform if they do continue on with their campaigns. 

What types of companies direct outreach on LinkedIn is best for: Just about any B2B company (regardless of size) can see success using LinkedIn for direct outreach if done correctly. It’s also the first strategy I recommend most companies invest in when getting started with LinkedIn. Whether you’re a one-person company or have a robust sales team, direct outreach can work for you – but at risk of sounding like a broken record, it needs to be done the right way to produce results. 

How to get started with direct outreach on LinkedIn: The first thing to know is what NOT to do: use automation tools. I’ll make the differentiation that Chrome extension-based tools are the most risky, but I also believe you’re putting yourself at risk using cloud-based solutions also, which claim to be perfectly safe. 

The best way to get started is to start creating targeted lists of prospects in Sales Navigator and start reaching out with personalized messages. This might sound tedious and it is – you might be tempted to just outsource it all to a cheap freelancer – which is a great idea in the long term. I highly suggest for anyone who wants to see real sales success from their outreach, to first understand the process they’re outsourcing, and how to explain to your freelancer what you’re looking for.

Alternatively, there are many agencies and companies out there who can help to manage your outreach on your behalf, and take responsibility for all of the research, sending and other tedious tasks. While we are expanding our suite of LinkedIn services, outreach has always been the backbone of our company, and if it’s something you need help with, feel free to get in touch with us. 

Going Viral and Gaining Attention Through LinkedIn Posts

One thing that isn’t so well known (for better or for worse) is that the reach you can achieve through your LinkedIn posts is massive – so much more so than Facebook and other social networks. This is because LinkedIn is much less restrictive about who’s content it shows to users in it’s newsfeed. My newsfeed on LinkedIn has many more people from my 2nd and 3rd degree network than it does from my 1st degree network. 

What this means is that when you post something, it won’t just be seen by people in your network, but people in their network also, and also the people in those people’s network. The reach is exponential and it’s much easier to get exposure and establish yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn by posting regularly. 

Most people upon finding this out, use it as an opportunity to post promotional information about their company hoping it gets a wide reach – but that’s not the kind of content LinkedIn’s algorithm likes. Many people will post a promotional article or piece of content, get very few (or no) views or likes and stop posting. 

While the topic of viral content on LinkedIn could be a standalone post, there’s a few keys to gaining lots of views and awareness for your LinkedIn posts. 

  • Don’t take people off LinkedIn (meaning don’t post links to external sites)
  • Text posts do really well, as long as you’re saying something of value
  • If you need to post a link, do it in the first comment instead of in the main post
  • The real key is getting lots of likes and comments in the first hour since it was posted – otherwise the algorithm lets it fizzle out and die
  • This isn’t an opportunity to promote your company – it’s an opportunity to position yourself as an authority within your industry

This type of writing and working the algorithm is an art and science all of its own. The biggest challenge is making sure your post gets lots of likes and comments in the first hour. If you don’t have the initial network to support this, you can often offer something and ask people to comment to receive it, which has the same effect on the algorithm. 

On average, we expect a post to receive anywhere from 3,000 – 10,000 views in the first 24 hours. The large majority of these people will be from outside of your network and learning about you for the first time, so make sure to put your best foot forward, as first impressions mean a lot. 

What types of companies viral posts on LinkedIn is best for: This works great for just about anyone who wants to establish themselves as an authority in their industry. Lots of people get stuck thinking “there’s not enough to post about my industry multiple times per week”, but these posts don’t need to (and preferably shouldn’t) be primarily focused on your industry. The best and most viral posts are focused on general business advice, management strategies and lifestyle as it relates to business. 

You can still slightly promote your business in these viral posts, but it’s best to make it not the focal point of your post. For example, you can tell a story of something that happened recently within your business, that resulted in a valuable lesson learned for you and your team. It doesn’t come off as promotional, but also allows people to learn more about your company and your values. 

How to get started with viral posts on LinkedIn: Just start posting! Keep your posts under 1,300 characters and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate traction. You’ll need to go through a bit of trial and error to figure out what works to get your likes, comments and views up. 

I’m not aware of too many companies offering this as a service, but it’s something we’ve started doing for our current clients, so if trial and error doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, feel free to reach out and see how we can help. 

Content Marketing on LinkedIn

By this point, just about everyone involved in digital marketing is aware of the benefits of content marketing. Content marketing was a buzz word several years ago, but now is widely regarded as a great way to drive inbound leads, although it will take time for all this content creation to actually pay off. 

The biggest reason content marketing takes so long to pay off is it takes time for your content to actually reach the people you want it to. Luckily things are a bit different when it comes to LinkedIn. In the previous section I mentioned how LinkedIn’s algorithm makes it easy to reach people well outside of your network – which is definitely true. LinkedIn also does a great job though at keeping you top of mind with your current network too. 

If you’ve been running any type of outbound campaigns at all (even if you feel they aren’t a success), then you’ve been actively building out your network on LinkedIn. Even better, is that if you’ve been targeting things properly, then these new connections are exactly within your target market. So even if they aren’t responding directly to your outreach, you still have lots of opportunities to get them interested in what you do. 

Many B2B companies are seeing success with posting their content on LinkedIn, so people in their network can see it, interact with it and learn more about their company and philosophies. Similar to the viral content though, this is not a good time to be overly promotional about what you do. These long form articles are a much better opportunity to share something of value, teach something or present some little known information to your target market. 

The biggest mistake people make is the way in which they post the content to LinkedIn. They add it to the blog section of their website, and then head over to LinkedIn and make a post linking to it, only to see a very small handful of likes and no comments – because they’re going against the LinkedIn algorithm and trying to take users off of LinkedIn. 

The best way would be to post it on your blog, but also to add it as a LinkedIn article and then post the link to your article directly on LinkedIn – and keep the users on the platform. You’ll get much more reach this way and over time will start to develop a library of content on LinkedIn that users can browse through and get to know you better. Just always remember to lead with value first and not be tempted to pitch your service here. 

What types of companies content marketing on LinkedIn is best for: Any B2B company with something of value to say can experience success here. Ones whose employees have already been focused on making connections with those in their target market will see the most success though. 

Try to focus your content on things that will actually be relevant to your target audience. Lots of content ideas tend to focus on “how can we get people interested in our product?” when the thought process should really be more focused on “how can we write about something that will resonate with people in our target market?”. 

How to get started with content marketing on LinkedIn: You can just start writing, but chances are, you already have relevant blog content or articles that can be repurposed into articles for LinkedIn specifically. Whether you’re using old articles, or writing new ones from scratch, just be sure you’re actually putting forth something of value here. 

There’s enough noise and self promotion that exists on LinkedIn already, so a fresh take on things is likely to stand out a lot more. 

This is another area we help our clients out with, not just helping them to identify the best pieces of content to create, but also to ensure their content is treated properly by LinkedIn’s algorithm for maximum exposure. 

LinkedIn Ads

If you’ve heard anything about LinkedIn ads before, it’s likely included the word “expensive” somewhere in the conversation. It’s true, LinkedIn ads are very expensive when compared directly to Facebook ads or Google ads. It’s not always a direct comparison though. 

On average, LinkedIn ads will cost around $6-9 per click, which can be anywhere from 2-10x more expensive than what you would expect to pay for a click on Facebook or with Google. 

So why would a company choose to spend exponentially more on a click when they don’t need to? It all comes down to lead quality. 

People use the different platforms very differently, and the ads that are displayed to users need to match the way they use the platform. Google ads are aimed at people who are searching for a solution to a problem they already know exists. Facebook ads are aimed to capture the attention of people who are casually browsing social media. 

LinkedIn ads are aimed at bringing in awareness and leads from people who are actively looking for information and solutions as it pertains to their business. 

So in a dollar-to-dollar comparison, LinkedIn will bring you less leads for the amount you spend, but the leads you do bring in should not only be more qualified, but in a much better position to actually purchase something from you. This means less time getting on the phone with leads who are tire kickers, or having to remove a good percentage of your “leads”, after putting them through a qualification process. 

LinkedIn ads aren’t for everyone, and you should already be offering something with a high lifetime client value in order for the economics to make sense for you. 

In my opinion, LinkedIn is doing a poor job at marketing it’s ad platform to people who won’t see value from it. I think they should spend less time promoting it as a solution for everyone, and more time marketing it to the types of businesses who will actually see success with it. Otherwise, they risk the platform gaining an even further negative reputation, primarily from people who were never a good fit for it to begin with. 

What types of companies LinkedIn ads are right for: Companies who are selling a product or service with a lifetime value of one customer at least $10-15k, and have experience turning leads into sales for that service. If these two things aren’t already true about your business, then it’s likely you’ll waste a lot of money and time trying to run ads on LinkedIn, and walk away from the experience with a bad impression. 

It’s also a great move for B2B companies who are or were running ads on Facebook, but have started to see lower ROI and conversions along with rising costs on Facebook. If they can stomach the initial sticker shock at the cost of LinkedIn ads and understand that “you get what you pay for” in terms of lead quality, LinkedIn ads can be an amazings source of leads and sales for them. 

How to get started with LinkedIn ads: Of all the things on this list, LinkedIn ads are the most difficult to just get started with. Even if you already have experience running ads on Facebook or Google, the LinkedIn platform can present some unique challenges and quirks that can be difficult to work through. 

Given the cost of running ads on LinkedIn, we feel that most companies considering running ads on LinkedIn would be wise to work a performance based agency to get their campaigns launched. While it certainly is possible to get your campaigns profitable on your own, spending a little extra to ensure success here is better than saving a few bucks and hoping you can do it solo. 

Wrapping Up – Where to Begin?

For most companies, their natural first step on LinkedIn would be to get started running outreach campaigns to their target market. Unfortunately for most companies, this is also where their efforts on LinkedIn stop, and they never manage to harness the incredible power the platform has to offer. 

Once their outreach campaigns are running, they should invest time and energy into creating content, both short and long form, for viral posting and content marketing on LinkedIn. 

The types of companies who will be likely to receive a positive ROI from LinkedIn ads should get started with this as soon as possible, even if they’re not currently doing anything else on LinkedIn, as this will be their highest leverage activity if they can afford the ad spend. 

Questions or comments on anything discussed here? Don’t be shy to reach out!