Linkedin, with more than 2 new members joining every second, is quickly becoming one of the most popular professional networking sites, but it can be used for a lot more than finding a job.  LinkedIn is one of the most effective and useful tools one can use to find new leads, if you utilize it correctly.  LinkedIn is used by over 200 million people, and is often the first place customers look while researching a company or business.
LinkedIn can help in driving inbound leads for your business as a tool to market your company to potential prospects. 85 out of the Fortune 100 companies use it to help generate leads or new hires.  The most beneficial part of using LinkedIn to find potential new customers is the quality of leads LinkedIn provides.  Compared to other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn users have a much higher expectation of conversion.  A prospect researching your company on LinkedIn has a much higher chance of being a marketing qualified lead than a prospect who “likes” your company of Facebook.  Now that you understand the potential of LinkedIn, let’s dive into how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile to accomplish your goals.

Optimizing your LinkedIn

Creating a profile on LinkedIn can be extremely helpful when establishing your business, however it is crucial that your profile represents you and your company in an accurate and beneficial way.  Good things to think about while creating or updating your LinkedIn profile are your goals for the company:  What is your desired prospect looking for?  Are there certain companies that you directly compete with?  What do you want to accomplish?  What makes a company successful in your industry?  All these questions and countless others will help you design and use your LinkedIn profile to reach your goals.
First things first, you need to create and complete your profile.  As you set up your LinkedIn profile for business there are a few things to remember:

1. Content. Content. Content.

Hopefully you are utilizing a content marketing strategy now, and just like with any social media platform, you need to be careful and conscious about what you post.  LinkedIn is different from other social media platforms because it is the most respected business related form of social media.  People use LinkedIn to market themselves for jobs and business connections, not social events.  Because of this, you need to be aware of what your prospective customers are looking for.  When you post content make sure it is interesting and useful to your prospects, your goal should be to make them want to engage with your content in a professional way.  When posting content, it can be helpful to ask a question or ask prospects to respond to an idea, use your content as a means for conversation and engagement. You are trying to create or further a professional discussion about a relevant topic to your target prospects.

2. Goals are critical

When posting content (or anything really) you should have clear goals for what you hope to get out of it.  Whatever your goal, you should focus on creating content that facilitates accomplishing that goal and you should figure out which metrics will best measure the success of your efforts.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your goal is to increase the quality of the leads entering your funnel. To do that, you should have a defined idea of what a “quality lead” looks like and create content based around that type of lead. Let’s say that for your organization one type of quality lead is someone who is already using a competitor’s solution, but is dissatisfied with it and is looking for alternative solutions. Now cater to that type of lead. You could provide content on LinkedIn that helps people find the right type of solution for their needs, you could offer comparison guides for your solution vs. your competitors’ solution, etc. You know that anyone looking at those comparison guides is likely to be using a competitor’s solution and wouldn’t be interested in the content if they weren’t open to the idea of switching.
Measure the conversions on your optimized content for the audience you are targeting. For this example, good metrics to measure would be number of clicks and number of interactions for a particular piece of content by your target audience. All of this is possible with the measurement tools within LinkedIn.  The analytics tools that are built in to LinkedIn offer very helpful tips within them to help you understand which metrics mean what. This helps you know which metrics are the most valuable for your goals.  When setting up these metrics don’t forget to decide on a time frame you feel comfortable working with. We use a week-by-week tracking system, but you must decide what will be most useful to your business based on your goals.

3. Find a target and aim at it.

LinkedIn provides a lot of helpful tools for lead generation, so make sure you use them!  Know whom your audience is and what they want to learn about, targeted messages will lead to more conversions than mass posts.  If you have assets for prospects to download, frequently post them as company status updates or in related LinkedIn groups, as well as on your company’s Products and Insights page.  Remember to post content downloads with captions, questions and thought provoking ideas that encourage engagement.  Utilize targeting tools on LinkedIn to filter updates by different criteria. Good criteria to start with include company size, industry, job function, seniority, and geography.  To do this just click the “targeted audience” option. A box will pop-up where you can choose your target.  Fine tune your targeting; remember not to have criteria that is too specific or too wide. Criteria that is too narrow is just as big of a problem as criteria that is too wide. Correctly segmented audiences will have the most direct impact on your goals.

4. Clearly outline your products and services and show feedback for them

The Products and Insights section of LinkedIn is often missed by company pages, you should be using this area to outline the products or services your company provides.   This area can too be targeted toward any market you choose.  Once you define your segments, LinkedIn can help you create different variations within this section to cater to them.  LinkedIn also allows users to recommend or review your products. Reviews are a huge part of prospect’s decision to use your company, and many organizations don’t use reviews to their full potential.  Ask past clients who have strong positive feelings about your company to write a review and always remember to thank them for it.  If your reviews are positive enough, it may even be a smart idea to include them as testimonials for your sales and marketing pieces.  Any prospect, no matter the service or product, will feel better when they see positive reviews from a third party.
You should constantly be monitoring and adapting your marketing strategy to sync with trends in your industry.  LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools for targeting QUALIFIED leads, make the most of your efforts by optimizing your LinkedIn to directly target the prospects most likely to convert. Tweet This! An effective marketing strategy should be constantly evolving. Expand on these ideas, how have you used LinkedIn to drive Inbound leads? Have you seen results from any best practices you’ve implemented on LinkedIn?

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