With over 645 million users to-date, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site. B2B buyers turn to it to view company and stakeholder profiles, form connections and stay abreast of the latest news, gossip and thought leadership in their industry. When you consider that 65% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through LinkedIn, it’s definitely a platform to have in your marketing mix.
B2B companies tend to have a long selling cycle, involving several decision makers and influencers, and you can be certain that at least one of them is going to check out your company on LinkedIn. So having a company presence on the platform is not optional, it’s a necessity. Make sure you keep your company profile professional and up-to-date and that your posts reflect the image you want to portray.
While LinkedIn is the best social media platform for B2B companies to engage with prospects, do you need to go beyond posting content on your company page for free? You should certainly consider it. There are a lot of paid options on LinkedIn that will not only reach beyond your current circle of followers, they will actually capture more leads as well as more lead data so you can weed out those that don’t fit your ideal buyer profile. LinkedIn not only excels at B2B lead generation but their conversion rates are 3X better than other social platforms.
Here’s a breakdown of the paid options on LinkedIn for you to consider. Depending on your approach and campaign, some will be better than others at lead generation and capturing the data you need.
Sponsored Options for B2B Lead Generation and Data Capture
This looks like a regular LinkedIn post with text, a photo and a link. It appears in the newsfeed of members that fit your targeting criteria. Sponsored content is often called a “native” ad, because it looks and feels like it’s native to the page. It’s a smart way to build qualified leads without the perceived hard sell of an ad.
Sponsored content directs the reader to learn more about your company, by providing them with relevant content. You can select who receives your sponsored post by geolocation, industry, company size, title, experience, job function, interests and more, allowing you to be seen in the newsfeeds of a highly targeted audience beyond your followers. You can work to optimize your sponsored content if you’re not getting the anticipated results, by stopping one post and creating another to test what works better with individual target audiences. Sometimes changing the photo, the headline or the type of content being promoted (i.e. switching from a whitepaper to an infographic) can increase the response rate to your post. This flexibility enables you to make real-time adjustments to ensure you’re capturing the leads you need.
Sponsored InMail shows up in the inboxes of a targeted demographic or a curated list of your own contacts. It’s a personalized LinkedIn email message that can be effective to invite prospects by name to an event or webinar, factory floor visit or even to give them an advance look at your eBook, etc.
There are several ad options on LinkedIn:
Video Ads: These are native video ads that appear in the newsfeed. They are a great way to launch a product, demonstrate how a product solves a particular issue or showcase your company.
Text Ads: These ads are at the top or righthand side of the newsfeed. They consist of an optional stamp-sized image, a headline and a little text.
Dynamic Ads: These ads are highly personalized and can include the recipient’s photo, first name, company and job title, so your ad can speak to exactly who they are and what they do. They appear in a box to the right of the newsfeed and have been used effectively to invite people by name to an event, to request a demo or even to apply for a vacant job posting.
Carousel Ads: These ads can be swiped or scrolled through, revealing your message one “card” or frame at a time. They can be effective for running teasers, showcasing multiple products or providing insights one by one.
All ads include a CTA (call to action) so the prospect can click through to download more content, go to your website, register for an event, request a demo and more. LinkedIn ads come with a higher price tag than other platforms, such as Facebook or Google, but they reach a more targeted business prospect for B2B companies.
Elevate is not an ad medium, but a platform for companies to pay their employees to be brand advocates. It helps you steer or suggest the content that your employees share about you on LinkedIn. Should your employees be sharing your content anyway? Yes. But this gives them an added incentive to do so, and employee-shared content has a 2X higher engagement rate than when it’s just shared by the company.
Lead Gen Forms
This is a LinkedIn tool to capture valuable data. It enables prospects to click on the CTA in your ad (i.e. register for the webinar, download the eBook) and they get a form that’s pre-filled. This service is also available for sponsored InMail and sponsored content. Why is it a good idea? People don’t like to fill in forms, especially on their mobiles. Because of this, marketers tend to keep forms short and only collect the bare minimum of information. Lead Gen Forms, however, prefill from the user’s LinkedIn profile, adding more information than you would normally request, such as job title and seniority. The lead info is captured instantly, and it’s accurate because people tend to keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date. Plus, no more phony phone numbers and fake names from students downloading your content for their research. You’ll see exactly who your leads are and know which ones to nurture. Once the prospect has clicked through the form fill, the lead automatically receives a thank you page that connects them to your website, more content or any other page you want. You can download your leads or send them to your CRM or marketing automation platform. You can also receive data, like cost per lead and lead form completion rate, to help you optimize campaigns.
At the end of the day, whether paid or not, many small or medium sized B2B companies are posting content on LinkedIn to spread awareness, which is a necessity for lead generation. After all, a company can’t buy your product if they haven’t heard of it. LinkedIn’s audience is made up of business professionals connecting, networking and consuming business-related content – so they are the people you need to reach.
All of the above sponsored options come with associated costs, of course. But it’s worth it to sit down with a budget, your requirements (whether brand awareness, lead generation or both) and hash out some solutions to test, because 80% of B2B leads that come from social media are generated on LinkedIn.
If you want to learn how to create killer content for your next LinkedIn post, read our whitepaper: Drop Everything and Do Content Marketing: 101 Stats, Facts and Hacks to Help B2B Companies Drive Leads, Brand Awareness and Sales.