How to use LinkedIn as a B2B marketing tool to generate free leads

Prospecting and finding new leads, and actually converting those leads to sales is a lot easier said than done. For some, the thought of actively engaging with new prospects invokes images of door-to-door salesmen pounding the ground and giving the hard sell. 

But there is some good news. As you may already know, the best business marketing solutions are found online via social media, and they are often free or close to it. Furthermore, 80% of B2B leads sourced from social media come from LinkedIn. Needless to say, failing to utilise LinkedIn to help generate leads will most likely be a major missed opportunity. 

In this article, we will explore the power of Linkedin as a marketing tool for generating free B2B leads, and some tips on how to begin using LinkedIn as a first step in part of a larger digital marketing campaign.

Is LinkedIn really a powerful B2B marketing tool?

B2B companies generally avoid the trap of overgeneralised marketing approaches. However, constantly tailoring marketing materials to match each prospective client’s needs can be time-consuming and costly. 

That’s why LinkedIn is such a valuable resource for B2B companies: it has the power to connect you with highly targeted individuals based on such criteria as geographical location, current company, past company, job title, industry, interest and alma mater. And perhaps most valuable of all, it allows you to research these people and companies before even approaching them.

With over 160 million active users in the United States alone, LinkedIn is easily one of the best platforms for finding and researching highly qualified leads, and successfully reaching out and converting them to real sales. There’s a reason why 92% of B2B companies look at LinkedIn profiles for trust signals. 

That all being said, there is a delicate art to taking your social media approach to new heights, which we’ll discuss next.

The first step is the hardest step

There is no better time than now to get closer to your audience, especially since we are living in an unprecedented global health crisis of 2020 that has led businesses to rethink the new normal of their day-to-day operations.

However, with the COVID-19 epidemic and the number of remote workers growing rapidly, connecting with future and current clients online is more important than ever before - and some businesses actually prefer doing everything online.

90% of decision makers never answer a cold call, yet 75% of these same buyers say they used social media in their decision making process. It’s clear which channel they prefer to use, and that “social” media has become a lot more business-oriented.

With that in mind, remember that it’s important that you actually use LinkedIn before expecting to be connected with a vast network of hot prospects. Users who post at least once a week, engage with other users, and interact with posts have much greater visibility on the profile. Ensuring that your profile is fully complete is an essential step to gaining credibility on LinkedIn, and choosing a professional profile photo is also essential.

After all, the whole point of using LinkedIn as a marketing tool is to get your company acquainted with new prospects and to take your conversation off the platform eventually. And that is the first, and most difficult, step.

Connecting with prospects on LinkedIn 

If you are new to LinkedIn, it is important to connect to all your old leads and clients first. B2B marketers need to listen to customers to get an idea of what they think, feel and need, and speaking to former clients and leads are a great way of doing that naturally.

Then, you can use the Sales Navigator to find people by company, job title, find decision makers who can authorise sales, and locate company pages to see if they are a good fit for a business partnership. 

Once you have found a few prospects that you think would be interested in your business, research their profile a little and send them a Connect request with a personalised message. 

It is also helpful to keep track of who is looking at your profile, as they are already interested in you. Joining LinkedIn groups is another successful way of getting connected to people who are potential clients in an organic manner. 

It may also prove beneficial to upgrade your LinkedIn membership at some point to LinkedIn premium, which offers you better features such as advanced search, the ability to send messages to anyone regardless of whether you are connected or not, and full visibility of everyone who has viewed your profile. 

LinkedIn is a perfect way to stay remotely connected to all your past, future and present clients and to find valuable, qualified leads. However, it should still only be one part of your lead generation strategy as a whole.

With the connections and information you’ve gained from using LinkedIn, you can create a targeted list of emails and phone numbers of hot prospects. Keep in mind that email marketing campaigns are still the most effective form of marketing, so be sure not to lose sight of this important next step. 

People are rightfully wary of unsolicited emails and they know about dangerous email attachments that they should avoid, so starting off with cold emailing will often land you right in their spam/junk folder. 

But a prospect recognises your name from LinkedIn, the chances are much higher they will read your message and respond because you’ve already established credibility and trust.

Conclusion

Remember that the goal of LinkedIn is to move the conversation off the platform. Experts all agree that while LinkedIn is a great tool for lead generation, it is only the first step in a larger marketing plan and not the avenue for closing a sale. 

With a little time and patience, your business will be connecting with more and more future clients, building up that sales funnel for your company’s growth. 

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