by Emma Jones, guest blogger
In just a few short years, LinkedIn has vastly outgrown its humble 2003 beginnings. From a small professional networking platform, it has evolved into a B2B marketing powerhouse with undeniable benefits toward business growth. Still, it does not suffice to approach it traditionally, especially as a manufacturer. So let’s see what are some best practices for using LinkedIn in B2B and industrial marketing.
What is LinkedIn, and is it effective for B2B marketing?
LinkedIn launched in 2003 and has largely remained a professional networking and career development platform. Since 2016, it has become a Microsoft subsidiary, but its B2B marketing beginnings had already preceded the acquisition. Indeed, by 2015, access to its users’ information had already become the platform’s primary revenue source.
Today, it has proven itself to be an immensely powerful lead generation tool for B2B marketers, regardless of industry. Data by InsideSales outlines this in no uncertain terms; LinkedIn sits confidently among the best.
Alt. tag: A graph on the lead generation effectiveness of various social media platforms.
LinkedIn marketing statistics
To illustrate this point, and LinkedIn’s value for manufacturers in particular, let us explore some data.
First, Neil Patel finds that “LinkedIn is responsible for 97% of a business’s social media leads”, a staggering statistic in itself. Hubspot confirms its subsequent appeal with B2B marketers, citing Statista and Wyzowl to assert that:
- In 2019, “LinkedIn [was] the second-most popular social media platform used by B2B marketers, ranking only behind Facebook.”
- “66% of video marketers in a 2019 survey said they would include LinkedIn in their 2020 video marketing strategy.”
- “In 2019, over 87% of video marketers on LinkedIn described the platform as an effective video marketing channel.”
Best Practices for Using LinkedIn in B2B and Industrial Marketing
All that said, however, approaching LinkedIn for B2B and industrial marketing requires planning and a thorough understanding of what the platform offers. It requires careful alignment with your other marketing tactics and assets, from your website to your social media activities. Finally, it requires effort and readjustments, as most B2B marketers will attest to, and absolute transparency. Indeed, misleading information alone is the primary deal-breaker for B2B buyers.
#1 Start with SEO
First and foremost, it should be undeniable that SEO is something worth investing in regarding B2B marketing. That’s because your company page, showcase pages, and even direct outreach will inevitably funnel traffic to your website.
Naturally, search engine visibility may not directly benefit your LinkedIn marketing efforts. However, it will help acquire traffic and leads from other practices, and SEO will optimize your website in other key regards to entice LinkedIn B2B leads. Among others, consider your website’s speed and responsiveness as examples. Both speed and responsiveness are crucial factors for lead generation, regardless of type or industry. Google/SOASTA research has correlated the former with higher bounce rates, and the latter spearheads Google’s Core Web Vitals.
#2 Define your goals
Next, with SEO foundations in order, you may begin defining your LinkedIn B2B marketing goals. For industrial marketing, manufacturers will typically aim for lead generation, attracting valuable prospects. You may, however, aim for brand awareness instead, depending on your overall marketing efforts. You may even seek to enhance engagement, which LinkedIn does facilitate as well.
To do so properly, you may adhere to SMART goal definitions, as Hubspot defines them:
- Specific – define your goals in as specific terms as possible.
- Measurable – set clear performance indicators to measure your goals’ success.
- Attainable – keep your goals realistic in relation to your resources and market position.
- Relevant – set relevant goals that complement your overall strategies.
- Time-bound – keep your goals strictly time-bound.
#3 Refine your company page
With your SEO and goals in order, you may now begin to delve into LinkedIn’s unique characteristics. The very first step should be to refine your company page, as it will often be your leads’ first contact with your brand.
A LinkedIn company page is, in many regards, similar to Google My Business (GMB) profiles. As such, many best practices for using LinkedIn in B2B and industrial marketing will follow similar steps.
- Claim your vanity URL. This will make your LinkedIn page more recognizable and easier to share. LinkedIn offers help with this step in this article.
- Optimize your About Us section. This will serve as your mission statement and highlight your history, achievements, and best offerings. As you do, remember to use your keywords for better visibility.
- Choose your specialty. Similarly, you may choose up to 20 specialties that best describe your business and skillsets. Here, you may pick ones most relevant to manufacturing, such as ones adjacent to the AEC industry.
- Add images and information fields. As with GMB, images will also work wonders toward establishing your brand’s visual identity. As you do, ensure you’ve added accurate Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) information, and any other relevant information such as hashtags that you deem appropriate.
- Add links to your website and social media follow buttons. Finally, remember to link back to your website and social media profiles to align your marketing efforts more closely. For the latter, you may use LinkedIn’s or third-party plugins.
#4 Use Showcase pages
Showcase pages offer the next step toward effective B2B marketing. LinkedIn explains that “Showcase Pages are extensions of your LinkedIn Page, designed to spotlight individual brands, business units and initiatives. Once created, they’ll be listed under ‘Affiliated Pages’ on your main LinkedIn Page”.
For example, SalesForce’s showcase pages list looks like this:
Alt. tag: SalesForce’s showcase pages on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn continues to note that “Showcase Pages have the same posting options and analytics as your LinkedIn Page to help meet your growth objectives”. However, they rightly suggest against showcase pages for specific areas or regions.
Thus, to effectively leverage showcase pages, you may instead carefully choose which of your branches, initiatives, and affiliates warrant one. You may create up to 25, but you will be fragmenting your audience considerably if you exceed 10. Once you do, prime them for conversions and target specific B2B audience segments through them, including through keywords of choice. Finally, remember to apply the same refinements as you would for your company page, including links to your website.
#5 Post engaging content and leverage sponsored content
Finally, using LinkedIn in B2B and industrial marketing requires impeccable content. Unlike B2C, where emotional responses are easier to trigger, B2B marketing hinges on informational depth and quality. In industrial marketing specifically, you will be targeting decision-makers who cannot afford to make poor decisions.
The primary means of enticing said decision-makers, as with SEO and all inbound marketing, is content. Organic content should primarily depend on your own keyword research and your buyer personas, enriching their customer journey to you. Analytics tools for this practice include:
- LinkedIn’s built-in analytics tools for demographics and firmographics
- Buyer persona and customer journey mapping software
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
Organic, inbound content is only one option, however. LinkedIn’s arguable strength lies in its outbound content, so you may also consider sponsored content. This primarily comes in two notable, different forms:
- Sponsored content. This includes sponsored posts, text ads, video ads, and image ads that will appear in your audiences’ feeds. For sponsored content, you may opt for Cost Per Click (CPC), paying for each click generated, or for Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM), paying for content views.
- Sponsored InMail. In contrast, InMail lands in your audiences’ inboxes. Here, you may include extensive body copy, tailored landing pages, Calls to Action (CTAs), and more. In all cases, to avoid having your messages discarded, you should ensure to present your audiences with clear, concise offers, timing your outreach appropriately. Sponsored InMail costs on a Cost Per Send (CPS) basis, so crafting the perfect message will also benefit your allocated budget.
With these practices in mind, will you shift your marketing efforts more towards LinkedIn, or at least implement some of the techniques we mentioned?