It's no secret that LinkedIn is the go-to social selling network for B2B companies. With over 3 million users worldwide (100+ million in the US), LinkedIn is where professonals go to improve business operation - whether it be increasing sales, hiring better employees or increasing brand recognition.
LinkedIn is also a natural fit for content marketing - with an audience of professionals seeking professional knowledge, subject matter experts have a great opportunity to enhance their reputations and generate business leads.
For knowledge-based B2B businesses like professional services firms and technology companies, content marketing is an ideal way to share "free samples" of their expertise to draw qualified buyers into their sales funnels. That's why so many B2B companies are turning to inbound marketing to grow their bottom lines.
But inbound marketing takes time - it's not a spigot that you can turn on and off. You need to develop domain authority, social media reach and consistently publish content before you get the web visitors, leads and customers that you need to get a return. If you're like most B2B managers, you want to see results sooner rather than later.
LinkedIn sponsored updates are an effective way to accelerate inbound marketing results while you're putting in the consistent effort necessary for long-term success. Here is a 5-step process to generate leads with LinkedIn sponsored updates.
How to generate leads with LinkedIn sponsored updates
Step 1 - Develop a premium content offer to promote on LinkedIn
The first step in LinkedIn lead generation is to develop a premium content offer that addresses a concern of your ideal customer. This will tyypically be an eBook, webinar, video or consultation offer. If you're selling project management software, it could be a webinar titled, "How to Minimize Project Management Costs and Maximize Profits". Whatever your offer is, it should be something that helps your target audience improve business performance.
Step 2 - Create a landing page for your LinkedIn sponsored update
Your next step is to create a landing page to promote in your LinkedIn sponsored update. A landing page has 2 primary functions:
To demonstrate the value of your offer and give the visitor a reason to exchange contact and demographic information for the offer.
- To collect the contact and demographic information by means of a form so that you can nurture the lead in your marketing automation process.
The copy and images on your landing page should be consistent with that in your sponsored update.
Step 3 - Create your LinkedIn update
Your LinkedIn update will serve as a call-to-action that links to your landing page. Your sponsored update should include an image that communicates your offer and a clear call-to-action that will entice the visitor to click through to your landing page. An unprofessional sponsored update will reduce your lead conversion ratio. A professional graphic design and a well-written call-to-action will increase lead conversion.
Step 4 - Choose your target audience
The main reason I recommend LinkedIn sponsored updates to accelerate B2B inbound marketing results is the ability to "narrowcast" your sponsored update to a segmented target audience composed of potential buyers. When targeting your audience, you can segment by the following criteria:
- Location - you can broadcast as wide as a contintent and as narrow as a metropolitan area. You can limit ad impressions to the geographies where you do business.
- Industry - no need to advertise to industries that aren't a good match, just choose who you want to see your ad.
- Company size - similar to the industry segment, you can focus your ad on the size of companies that are in your sweet spot.
- Job titles, seniority and functional roles - just as you're able to segment the types of companies to whom you will advertise, you can also focus your sponsored updates on the people at those companies that buy from you.
Step 5 - Choose your budget
The last step before running your ad is to choose a daily and a maximum budget and decide how long you want to run the ad. When you first start using sponsored updates, consider running a few ad variations with relatively low budgets. This will help you figure out what types of content and sponsored updates work best for your audience.
Step 6 - Run your ad and keep an eye on analytics
You're now ready to run your sponsored update. Another way LinkedIn helps you ensure your sponsored updates are effective is by giving you a robust analytics package to measure the success of your ad. Keeping a close eye on analytics lets you tweak your ads based on marketplace data to optimize results.
In my opinion, LinkedIn ads are a more effective way to accelerate B2B inbound marketing results than the alternatives. Buying an email list and sending blast messages to the list is very ineffective when you consider that the average open rates of opt-in emails are between 18 and 25%. That open rates drops dramatically for spam blasts. Search engine advertising can be a gamble - you have nowhere near the control over who sees your ads than with LinkedIn. That's why I recommend sponsored updates to my customers who want to accelerate their inbound marketing results.