The fundamentals of sales have not changed but professional networking website, Linkedin offers opportunities not previously available. Whilst almost everything else about sales have morphed and developed as the internet has, the idea that the vast majority of people’s first engagement with a company does not result in a sale has not. Understanding and trust come first. Previously, salesmen would place huge amounts of time, money and energy in building rapport with potential clients through phone calls, meetings and long lunches. “People buy from people” was, and still is, the salesmen’s motto.
‘Traditional’ Lead Nurturing
In traditional sales, this trust was vital to a sale, as customers were at a disadvantage; information on products was not readily available. It was the salesman that had the facts and understanding of the products and how they would benefit the customer, and there were few places a customer could go to challenge his information. Trusting the salesman was key. This nurturing of leads is still important online. The playing field is dramatically different though. Potential customers now have a wealth of information at their fingertips. They now enter a sales point armed with more information than salesmen of old may have had themselves. Customers have now almost completely made up their mind before revealing themselves to a salesman.
The nurturing of leads, and the building of brand trust is now done through marketing. Statistics show that only 5% of visitors to a website leave their email address, and only 1 in 5 open follow up emails to that address, meaning that direct email marketing only gives access to 1% of site visitors for your messaging. Other methods of access to quality leads must be found. For years, the idea of generating and engaging online leads has gone no further than emails. Email marketing strategies have evolved greatly, and have shown great success, but it is time to evolve one step further.
How can LinkedIn Create Business?
Knowing your customer is vital in generating leads. In B2B sales, it is vital to be heard by the right people, the decision makers. LinkedIn gives you exactly that. Once you are infront of the right people, the right message is key. Knowing where a customer lies on the sales cycle is a huge part of this, but knowing as much as possible about their needs and their requirements from your particular service or product means that any marketing, or sales engagement, can be tailored closely to the client. Providing a tailored message to the right people is the holy grail of B2B marketing. In terms of lead nurturing, nothing builds trust more than believing that someone both understands your needs and can foresee the way you will use their services. While LinkedIn is the ideal place for some professional private eye style investigation, that is not what is being suggested! Whilst finding information on individuals may help close a sale on a small scale, that degree of client level investigation is not cost-effective most of the time!
What will make a significant difference is LinkedIn’s Lead Accelerator. Launched in early 2015, LinkedIn Lead Accelerator allows clients to “nurture and convert high-quality leads, on and off LinkedIn”; according to the marketing. How does it help you? In reality, there are two main problems faced by marketers trying to convert leads; firstly, the ability to contact a lead is vastly diminished when less than 5% of your website visitors leave their contact details, and secondly, knowing where exactly the lead is on the journey to purchase is almost impossible. The latter is important, as approaching a lead at the wrong stage along the decision to buy will be interpreted in two ways; as amateur if the lead is already a long way down that path and you start at the beginning, or pushy, if you try to close a lead that has only just started to investigate.
What does LinkedIn Lead Accelerator Include?
The Lead Accelerator is an amalgamation of tool. Having bought Bizo in 2014, LinkedIn have merged Bizo’s flagship lead generation tools and analytics programmes with their own display advertising, sponsored updates and auto fill programmes to provide a holistic lead generation package. Early pilots have provided B2B lead conversion statistics by a staggering 50%, with an added reduction in cost per lead, in some cases of 60%.
This amalgamation of tools helps throughout the sales ‘funnel’. The funnel model starts with reach – getting your products and services known. This is done through display advertising, sponsored updates and sponsored mail. The second step towards acquisition, lead nurturing, is where the Bizo platform comes in. This is done by ensuring that content is targeted towards quality matches for product, driven by careful analytics. If you are looking to be introduced to the IT department of a small business in North Island, the LinkedIn Lead Accelerator will place your adverts in front of them. This means that you can really tighten your message.
This analytics programme is then used further to refine results, meaning that content becomes more and more targeted towards quality leads, further reducing the cost per lead by only dangling the carrot in front of those with a genuine potential interest. This is done by analysing user’s website navigation, business demographic data and individual positions. This means that a sequence of adverts may be laid in front of relevant individuals and businesses, increasing recognition and interest with carefully tailored content.
In monitoring the results and reaction of each stage to each business segment, including heat mapping, click through and acquisition steps against exact marketing calls, the strategy can be closely refined. Marketing, especially when it is B2B marketing, relies entirely on trust. Repeatedly advertising a brand to an individual will not inspire trust if it is seen as an annoying interruption. Trust will come from gradually providing regular, different, targeted information.
How to Approach LinkedIn Lead Accelerator
There are many common analogies when it comes to nurturing leads; the conversation, the romantic relationship and the seedling being the most common three. Ignoring the semantics, these three analogies state that to begin with, it is all about finding out about the other person and their needs. The model involves finding out about their interests, their background and their hopes initially, before slowly bringing in the areas that you have a shared interest in, before finally forming a common path to a shared goal. In this case, their profitability.
To get the most out of LinkedIn Lead Accelerator’s many tools you need to know who you are trying to reach. Which positions from which companies of what size, in which locations? The idea of buying personas is absolutely crucial to a really successful strategy from the off. The better you understand your customers, the quicker you can engage and prove your worth to them.
The use of buying personas is crucial to success. There is one common mistake that people fall into; once you have created a handful of buying personas, there is no need to group them and reach out to the lowest common denominator. This is likely to turn off more than it attracts. Instead, you can use each buying persona as the starting point for a marketing segment.
The complexity and reach of LinkedIn’s lead tools means that there is ample room for segregation. Remember, the key to really successful lead nurturing is speaking directly to address individual’s needs. This form of lead nurturing requires the same, and whilst it is automated, this principle still applies. Deep segmentation means that leads will hear you above the mass of marketing noise that modern life provides. The platform allows you to create hundreds of segments, and really immerse in ‘the conversation’.
Refining the Strategy
The work does not stop at set up. Much of the power of the multi-faceted platform revolves around harvesting quality data and reinvesting it into the machine. The more data, the better your tests, the more accurate your targeting, the more you can remove the wheat from the chaff in terms of lead quality.
LinkedIn is an enormously powerful marketing tool. However, it is not an all-encompassing ‘one stop shop’ to success. The better the information fed in, and the more the resulting information is analysed and fed back into the system, the more accurate the targeting, and the more your message will meet, and engage the lead.