10 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Marketing and Lead Generation

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There was lots of chatter last week on the SIPA Forum about LinkedIn, praising its ability to target specific communities and generate leads but wondering about conversions. Here are 10 tips about making the most of LinkedIn in your business:

1. "LinkedIn is very good for targeting a specific group of people, but the conversions are very low," wrote Matt Bailey, digital marketing trainer, speaker and author—and a keynote at our upcoming Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Fort Lauderdale. "I have found that the key to any LinkedIn ad campaign is to retarget based on behavioral criteria. In one campaign, we were able to create three retargeting groups based on engagement. Doing this increased the conversion rates significantly, as it required the additional follow-up in order to get the lead."

2. "It's fantastic for researching and making contact with leads and then using direct messaging from there and bringing contacts into our CRM," Lee Murray, director of commercial strategy, Healthcare Business International, wrote on the Forum. "Less so with posts on the feed or in groups... we post blogs and free content there just to keep top of mind, which get seen but don't have much of a conversion rate."

SIPA hosted a webinar back in February this year—with Jaclyn Baldovin, Business Management Daily's online content manager, and Bob Coleman, founder of Coleman Publishing—on LinkedIn Marketing that can be accessed by members here.

3. Create showcase pages as your sub-brands and then tie those sub-brands back to the main company. "We want to tie our sub-brands back to Business Management Daily," Baldovin said.

4. Budget time. Focus on building a community around your brand, Baldovin said. LinkedIn marketing is really trial and error; it's not a one size fits all. It's also [designed to be] always changing, so stay on top of it. If you add a skill or win an award, add that. And keep continuing to grow your personal network.

5. Publicize your authority. "When I create my LinkedIn profile, I'm not putting up that I'm editor of The Coleman Report—I'm an author and expert of SBA. In the profile section, I'm a keynote speaker—I got a speaking gig that way. Put the specific duties you want to be known for." Coleman lists himself as Author, "Money Money Everywhere and Not a Drop for Main Street, SBA and Small Business Lending National Expert."

6. Embrace your reputation as an expert, said Coleman. "Take your blog articles and put them on LinkedIn." He also has downloaded an app where every time in his network someone publishes an article, it goes to his phone. Similarly his followers get what he publishes on their phone. He also advises taking advantage of the connections of your speakers, writers, etc. This can bring in a new audience for you.

Earlier this month, Smart Insights wrote about creating a strategy for using LinkedIn for B2B marketing. Though again, it's more about lead generation than conversions.

7. [Companies] should be clear about who they need to be building relationships with and be specific," said Steve Phillip of Linked2Success. "[Determine] industry sector, company, job title of relevant decision maker, geographic location and then share information: news updates; web resources; blog content etc., that will be of value to their network. Also make a decision to focus on one or two aspects of LinkedIn, such as networking and engaging in discussions in 3-5 LinkedIn groups maximum."

8. Post useful updates once a day from your personal LinkedIn profile and if you have one, your LinkedIn company page. "This activity has had a significant impact on brand awareness for our business and others we work with," Phillips said.

9. Don't just connect with other LinkedIn usersalways send a thank you response message, particularly to relevant contacts, then share useful content monthly that directs them to your website or email database sign up.

10. Check who's viewed your profile daily. This is a great source of hot leads; after all, they've looked at your profile for a reason.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…