This LinkedIn Thought Leader Hack Cracks Open B2B Lead Gen

A red and a teal wreaking collide with a crumbling wall to start our post, Breaking down walls with a red and a blue wrecking ball

Some B2B sales take longer to convert. There are any number of reasons a customer’s pathway to purchase can require multiple touches over a length of time. Examples include: High cost, intensive learning curves, complex/one-off implementations, new technologies, 800 LB gorilla competitors, adoption requiring well-developed/networked relationships, importance of brand authority to decision makers, and/or cyclical consumption patterns (I.E. redoing infrastructure every 40 years and annual contracts).

Marketers frequently quip, “It’s SO much easier to sell when our client is famous, by way its key personnel.” If the CEO, top scientist, internationally known speaker, author, inventor, or other smart person is known and well regarded, the skids are greased for selling. “Famous” means many things. For the purpose of today’s tactic, famous means a person who represents a company well-familiar to target audiences – not necessarily the general population.

A LinkedIn post by Marty Weintraub that says use paid social like a TV ad

We know company leaders are gaining fame when they constantly receive LinkedIn connection requests from targeted individuals. Then the same targets become leads when directed to landing pages, and ultimately convert because of the personal relationships.

This blog post zooms in on a rarely used integrated marketing tactic in which we promote at least one notable person through PR/branding efforts.  Technical components required are the leader’s personal LinkedIn Ads account, company Twitter organic profile, company Twitter Ads account, IFTTT  account, personal LinkedIn Sales Navigator account, company LinkedIn page, company Facebook page, company Facebook ads account, and  Creative requirements include two LinkedIn Pulse posts per month, 2-4 organic tweets per month, 2-4 ads each month formatted for Facebook and LinkedIn.

The process we’re about to discuss is well suited for focused audiences of approximately 10-20,000 people. It can lead to domination of individual and corporate nameshare, and can be a powerful element in account-based programs.

Once implemented this integrated marketing tactic requires only minutes per week and is deadeye. These are the results to strive for:

  • A psychographic dossier: LinkedIn audiences of individual targets.
  • Your leader(s) receive numerous personal LinkedIn connection requests, powerful new relationships to develop.
  • A notable lift in long-game landing page conversions, associated with LinkedIn individuals and the companies they work for, measurable spoils of personal branding and enhanced company fame.
  • Personal brand lift measurable by sales.
  • Little time invested, relatively low cost.

OK, let’s roll up our sleeves and get some shit done.  When we describe platform menu items, we’ll do so with caps, I.E. “click the HOME button.”

1: Identify LinkedIn Audiences Using Sales Navigator
The search engine in LinkedIn’s standard and paid accounts is lame. Advanced Search was removed from LinkedIn proper and placed in Sales Navigator (SN), which is another account associated with your personal LinkedIn profile.  Starting at $79/month, SN is well worth the cost, if only for the purpose described herein. If you have LinkedIn Premium, you may want to switch.  Check features compared to Sales Navigator, as they are largely redundant.

Create psychographic audiences for each of your target market segments. The essence of today’s tactic is your intensive ability to define audiences using SN Advanced Search for organic networking, 1:1 with attributes we can also target later using LinkedIn Ads. For best integration, avoid the KEYWORD and KEYWORDS in POSTED CONTENT SN targeting attributes. Keyword themed organic search attributes in SN are not available to target via LinkedIn Ads.

Save each audience as a SN SAVED AUDIENCE. You can also copy the URL, but SERPs with numerous filters can choke. Saved audiences are a safer bet for preserving your audience for later use.

2: Visit  ~500 Profiles a Day, Leave Your Badge Behind
In your leader’s personal LinkedIn account, make sure the privacy settings make your name, picture, and headline visible when you visit other LinkedIn users’ profiles.

Screencap of how others see you LinkedIn activity

Enabling your leader’s topline profile details to be visible to those you visit, means she/he leaves his/her badge behind.

One of the top activities LinkedIn users undertake is to see who viewed their profiles. Healthy vanity grips many LinkedIn users. Be sure your leader visits up to 500 targets each day from the saved audience lists. Of those, for well-vetted targets, ~5%+ will “view back” to your leader’s profile. Of those, a percentage will request to connect with your leader.

My own LinkedIn presence has about 7,000 connections, yet I’m very picky about making/accepting connections. The graph below shows the curve of when I began crawling AIMCLEAR‘s LI targets, inbound views, and the trail off after ceasing an automated LI crawl. My natural organic rate is about 50 inbound views per day when I do nothing.  Full on target crawling jacks the inbound view rate up by ~3X.

a line graph that shows the number of people that have view your LinkedIn profile
Third-party gray hat tools can automate crawling Sales Navigator Advanced Search Saved Audience, feigning human behavior, randomizing up clickstreams and timing. Find one, write your own script, or have other team members log in as your leader and manually visit audience targets.  Be sure your legal team is comfortable with any approach to automation, because LinkedIn’s terms of service don’t provide as much guidance as we’d like with this. A good starting point might be to stay within 500 profile visits a day. A good third-party crawling tool monitors limits and maps around them. 

By visiting 500 targeted profiles each day, we create a steady stream of inbound profile views and connection requests for our leader from our target audiences.  BOOM! It’s a numbers game now. Visit 10,000 profiles and, if your leader’s profile picture and description are great, ~500 or more target users will view your leader’s LinkedIn account. A great LinkedIn profile header can garner can boost performance to about 10% of viewbacks driving connection requests.

3: Accept Only Focused Connection Requests
Connection requests from targets will be mixed in with other organic requests and annoying spam.  As a rule, only accept LI connection requests from real people your leader has a legitimate reason to relate to.  No need to muddy the community waters.

4:  Optimize Your Leader’s LinkedIn Personal Profile Header for Connection Requests
If less than 5% of LI users viewing back ask for connection, the problem may be an uninspiring personal LinkedIn profile header. Think of the header image and description (job title, etc.) as a big honkin’ banner ad for your leader. The KPI to watch is inbound connection requests.  For my profile, we tested colors, turn of the head, sunglasses vs. regular glasses in my profile pic, and other variables.

Marty Weintraub's LinkedIn Profile
~11% of targeted users who view my profile request connection. I accept about half of them.

5: Post to Leader’s LinkedIn Personal Profile with Periodicity
We want your leader’s LinkedIn profile to look (wo)manned. As such, post a couple times a week or more. Posts can be mostly magnanimous. Posts can illustrate the character, tone, and professional activities of your leader. Avoid posting sales material, at least not much, on his/her personal LinkedIn profile, though sales sometimes occur from posts.  We’re talking about posts to establish that the lights are on and somebody’s home. 

6: Publish Articles on LinkedIn Pulse, Associated with Leader’s Profile
Pulse is LinkedIn’s internal blogging platform, and it’s super cool. Individual users can post articles to Pulse. It’s not uncommon to cross-publish existing blog posts to Pulse. Stay in tune with the SEO implications of posting potentially duplicate content, but it can be worth it. The Pulse posts should focus on thought leadership, supplementing information necessary to convert readers to customers. A Pulse article is content marketing like a blog with layout tools. Here’s a Pulse article of mine.

This Retro PREtargeting Tactic Makes Performance Marketing Sparkle

7: Social Post Linking to Pulse from Leader’s Personal LinkedIn Account
For each Pulse article, post a link to the Pulse post on your leader’s personal LinkedIn profile.  Here’s a screen shot of my Pulse article posted on my personal LinkedIn profile.  Use keyword s in the post.

8: Craft Social Post on Company’s LinkedIn Page Linking to Leader’s Pulse Article
Community management 101:  Be sure to post about the Pulse Article on your LinkedIn company page. Use keywords in the social posts.

9: Map Sales Navigator Saved Searches to Linkedin Ads Targeting
Since we’ve only used Sales Navigator Advanced Search attributes that are 1:1 with LinkedIn Ads targeting, it’s easy to map the SN targeting to LinkedIn Ads targeting.  Set up campaigns in your company LinkedIn Ads account with the same audience segmentation as the SN saved searches.

10: Amplify Company LinkedIn Page Post to Mapped Audiences with LinkedIn Ads
Buy ads to amplify the Pulse article posted on the company LinkedIn page to the paid version of our audience targeting.  Now targeted users get the Pulse article from both your leader AND company profiles.

11: Rinse and Repeat
Run steps 6-10, twice per week for several weeks.  Keep those Pulse articles, personal and company page posts coming. Run more ads to the nurtured audiences.  Keep crawling the entire time (Steps 2 & 3). Continually optimize your profile header, accept, and reject inbound connection requests.

12: Run LinkedIn Lead Gen Creative via Ads to Nurtured Audiences, Driving Users to
Now, let’s sell to the audiences we’ve been warming up through all that connection and visibility work. After all, they’ve had an opportunity over days or weeks to learn more about your leader, request connections, be exposed to Pulse articles by organic and paid, and are getting riper as leads. you’re your creative, especially headlines, with conversion-themed keywords, the ones that might convert if your targets searched those terms. Your goal is to generate leads from the landing page.

12: Retarget Unconverted Landing Page Traffic in Facebook to
Keep the sales pitch going with Facebook retargeting of landing page traffic. Continue to use keywords in the creative text and include keywords placed directly on ad images.  Don’t let the audience escape the keywords.

13: Retarget Landing Page Traffic with Twitter Ads, Linked to Next Pulse Article
Also retarget unconverted landing page traffic with promoted Tweets, linking to the latest Pulse article on LinkedIn. The combination of FB retargeting with continued selling and Twitter retargeting with further content nurture, can add up to a significant brand awareness and sales TAO.

14: Establish the Metrics to Study & Create a Unified Dashboard
There’s cool Mojo in reporting on this tactic because we can now associate Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn paid conversion with LinkedIn organic networking. This means we can understand how networking and the awareness of company leaders impacts conversion compared to other channels.   Data often shows that making connections in LinkedIn results in higher B2B long sales cycle social lead gen and aids the final step of lead gen – the actual sale.

As always, make sure to follow the tenants of GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act, because anytime we’re capturing personal data flags are raised. Consider correlation of pathway to purchase data at the company level rather than individuals.

Happy long cycle lead gen marketing!

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