Here’s Why You Should Use LinkedIn® for B2B Marketing in 2015

Hello … and thanks for visiting. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned about LinkedIn B2B marketing with you today.

Anthony Ragland, Atlanta Digital Marketer

My name is Anthony Ragland. I’m a digital marketing consultant with 15 years of hands-on experience helping companies and clients achieve online growth and increase revenue.

Linkedin-marketing-B2bPersonally, LinkedIn is my favorite social media network. Why? Because it adds value to my career, makes me a smarter professional, enables me to strengthen business relationships, produces inbound leads, and ultimately … LinkedIn has made me money.

A few months ago, I began noticing several modifications to LinkedIn’s platform … and the modifications made me curious. I thought to myself, even though LinkedIn has been good to me … perhaps I am underutilizing it.

After all, we’re talking about direct access to:

  • over 313 million members worldwide;
  • 40 million business professionals in the U.S.;
  • 2 million c-level executives;
  • and 1.3 million small business owners.

Linkedin B2B Website Traffic ChartThis my friends, is a dream scenario for any B2B company or marketer.

Being the curious digital marketer that I am … I needed to explore further and truly understand the set of LinkedIn possibilities from a big picture and granular details perspective.

And I want to share it all with you. So let our journey begin …

Meet the thought leaders behind LinkedIn’s user experience and content marketing solutions

If you’re like me, I log on to LinkedIn almost everyday. LinkedIn Pulse is like my morning newspaper.

So my initial curiosity began with the LinkedIn user interface and user experience (UI/UX). It doesn’t matter if I log on via my desktop, tablet or smart phone … the UI/UX is easy to use, simple and sticky.

For that reason, I wanted to understand more about their user experience philosophy and vision for the future.

Thus … I stumbled upon a gentleman named Steve Johnson, VP of User Experience at LinkedIn. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, his design thinking kinda blew my mind.

Steve Johnson, LinkedIn VP User Experience

I found this captivating YouTube video of Steve giving a talk at Carnegie Mellon University in 2013. I’m not sure if I was more impressed by his design brilliance or surprised that the video only had 115 views (at the time of this writing). Perhaps it’s a best kept secret. But if you like design talks, you should check it out (it’s 70 minutes).

Next, I wanted to learn more about LinkedIn content marketing solutions and best practices … most of these answers were right under my nose.

Jason Miller, Content Marketing at LinkedIn

Jason A. Miller, is leading Global Content Marketing for LinkedIn. Jason and I were already connected on LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve been a fan of his work for years and previously attended a few of his webinars.

Welcome to the Content Marketing Funnel, by Jason Miller He recently published an awesome new book called “Welcome to the Funnel”. I received an invitation from Jason to purchase his book for only $.99 cents on Amazon. I promptly obliged, read it, and loved it. If you’re into B2B content marketing, this book is a must read. If you’re not, then hire me (shameless plug).

Steve’s user experience design, and Jason’s content marketing philosophies ignited my curiosity even more.

I began to see LinkedIn differently … not just as my personal favorite social media network, but as an unparalleled marketing platform for any B2B company to increase brand awareness and inbound leads.

LinkedIn is perfectly positioned to be the quintessential B2B marketing platform in 2015, and for many years to come.

If you’re reading this blog post, then you have an opportunity to be an early adopter of LinkedIn B2B content marketing solutions and seize the moment. Not many businesses are using LinkedIn anywhere near its potential.

Here’s why you should leverage LinkedIn B2B marketing over traditional B2B marketing

Traditional B2B marketing can be arduous. No question about it.

B2B Marketing Process

The traditional B2B marketing process involves strategic planning, branding, prospecting, networking, consulting, problem solving, and nurturing … doing your homework is required, before you can effectively pitch your product or service to a prospective client.

And after you’ve pitched your solution, the process is far from being over. Then comes the long multi-layered B2B decision-making process. Who will it be … you or your competitor?!

Seriously, B2B marketing and sales is not for those of us who are faint-hearted.

Fortunately for B2B companies like us, the digital age and platforms like LinkedIn have ushered in the ability to automate and expedite the B2B marketing process … allowing us to increase brand awareness and generate a pipeline of leads more efficiently.

In addition to the arduous process, traditional B2B marketing is very expensive. And it’s extremely hard to quantify your return-on-investment.

B2B marketing roi

Yesteryear … traditional B2B marketing was limited to direct mail campaigns, print ads, TV ads, radio ads, billboard ads, trade show exhibits, and other indirect marketing techniques. What’s more … you have to allocate time an resources to train your sales team to support the various traditional marketing campaigns and initiatives.

While these B2B marketing techniques of yesteryear may still be effective today, the cost to increase brand awareness and generate consistent qualified leads is exorbitant and the risk is high.

LinkedIn lowers the cost and risk of B2B marketing, brand awareness and lead generation. Since LinkedIn is a social media network for “professionals”, people use it differently than other social media platforms.

LinkedIn members log on to the platform with a different mindset.

They’re looking for information and opportunities to:

  • increase their subject matter knowledge;
  • enrich their business relationships;
  • advance their professional career;
  • or solve a personnel issue or company problem.

Because people are who they say they are on LinkedIn, the data is accurate and authentic.

Accurate and authentic data enables a B2B marketer to target market to audiences based on industry sector, job function, job title, seniority, location, and other profile variables. For a savvy B2B marketer, this is like having a super power (booyah, too easy!).

linkedin B2B Marketing Logo

Smart B2B marketing strategies include LinkedIn

Linkedin B2B Marketing Channel
click to enlarge
It has been said that 2012 was the year of social media marketing; 2013 was the year of content marketing; and 2014 was the year that social media marketing and content marketing fused together.

With that being said, I believe 2015 will be the year of LinkedIn B2B marketing.

Numerous research reports and surveys have shown that LinkedIn is considered to be the most effective social network for disseminating B2B content.

In a study conducted by LinkedIn, 50% of LinkedIn members report they are more likely to buy from a company they engage on LinkedIn. That’s astounding. What’s more … 80% of LinkedIn members are considered key decision makers. Those two percentages add up to equal opportunity for you and your business.

A smart LinkedIn marketing strategy can position your company to rapidly grow its brand, produce consistent leads, and acquire industry growth.

But here is a very important distinction you should understand …

  • LinkedIn is best used as a content marketing platform.
  • LinkedIn is not merely an advertising platform.

Allow me to clarify those statements.

LinkedIn B2B solutions were built for content marketing. Platforms like Google AdWords were built for text and display advertising.

Just like AdWords, LinkedIn offers text and display advertising solutions … but unlike AdWords, LinkedIn offers native sponsored ads, InMail ads, company pages, SlideShare ads, LinkedIn groups, blogging, and other unique B2B marketing solutions.

That said … great results on LinkedIn requires a commitment to produce a marketing mix of useful and relevant content that connects, engages and adds value to your target audience. This in turn, will lead to optimal success.

Linkedin Content Marketing

Good content marketing requires an investment of time and resources. I like to refer to good content as, “Smart Content”.

Smart content is the type of content people would be willing to pay for … it’s the type of content that will produce the most engagement on LinkedIn.

Smart content will position your company as a thought leader and industry voice, which will have positive implications for you and your bottom line.

LinkedIn can help your company achieve a full-range of content marketing objectives, such as:

  • increase your B2B brand awareness and produce interest;
  • inspire engagement and increase B2B product/service consideration;
  • drive targeted website traffic and generate B2B leads;
  • enhance business relationships and build organic communities;
  • and ultimately produce B2B sales and revenue.

Linkedin Content Marketing Solutions

Below is an overview of LinkedIn content marketing solutions and advertising platform

Linkedin B2B Marketing FunnelAs previously stated, the foundation of LinkedIn content marketing solutions and its advertising platform is authentic data and accurate targeting.

LinkedIn data is authentic because people tend to keep their profile pages up-to-date, which is something they rarely do on other social networks.

This gives B2B marketers the ability to accurately target member groups with content that resonates with their desires, interests and problems.

LinkedIn content marketing solutions offer a precision approach that drives engagement, relevance and response. This translates in B2B website visitors, leads, opportunities, and customers.

Need Help With Your LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategy

Let’s Talk About Your Company Vision, Goals and Objectives

Below is a complete breakdown of LinkedIn content marketing and advertising solutions [click the thumbnails to enlarge images]:

LinkedIn display (banner) ads are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin Display Ad 300x250

Mid Page Unit (MPU) Display Ads (300 x 250 pixels): MPU banner ads are the most popular. LinkedIn offers premium placement, an above-the-fold banner ad position on their homepage, profile, company, group pages and LinkedIn Today. The MPU banner ads can also be used for content ads, social ads and polls.

Skyscraper Display Ads (160 x 600 pixels): Linkedin Skyscraper Display Ad 160x600
LinkedIn skyscraper banner ads appear on LinkedIn member inboxes and message pages. If bigger is better, then skyscraper ads are a good solution for your creative elements. LinkedIn also allows skyscrapers to be used for content ads and social ads.

Leaderboard Display Ads (728 x 90 pixels):Linkedin Leaderboard Display Ad 728x90
LinkedIn leaderboard banner ads are positioned at the bottom of their pages, in a memorable position. Leaderboard ads are likely the final piece of content a member consumes before leaving a LinkedIn page. The leaderboard is the oldest banner ad size of them all.

LinkedIn Text Link Ads are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin Text AdvertisementsText Link Ads (90 characters): A highly affordable option for targeting LinkedIn audiences; positioned across the top of homepage, profile, company and group pages, as well as member message pages and inboxes.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail is ideal for lead generation.

Linkedin InMail Marketing 300x250LinkedIn Sponsored InMail is equivalent to a personalized sales letter to a target audience. With InMail, you can reach anyone on LinkedIn without an introduction or their contact information. LinkedIn members are alerted when they receive a Sponsored InMail with a prominent notification on their LinkedIn homepage.

LinkedIn company pages are ideal for branding.

Linkedin Company PageCompany pages are a must have for all businesses. Your company page should market your business by telling your unique story. A good practice is to relate your story back to your ideal prospect’s problems or desires. Your story can focus on the founding, evolution and growth of your company … and you can display links to supporting testimonials or case studies. Make sure people understand that your business success is a result of the value you provide to your customers and clients.

LinkedIn company updates are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin Company UpdateCompany updates enable you to deliver highly targeted content to the newsfeed of your LinkedIn company followers, which will increase your brand awareness and keep your company top of mind to your target audience. Publishing “smart content” as your company updates will resonate with your followers and drive engagement in the form of likes, comments and shares.

LinkedIn follow company ads are ideal for branding.

Linkedin Follow Company AdsFollow company ads deliver personalized messages on the homepage of your target audience. Follow company ads position your business as relevant to targeted LinkedIn members, while simultaneously building your company page followers. Once members choose to follow your company page, their new status will be shared with their full network. This adds more value to your company brand and sends a powerful social signal to build your audience further.

LinkedIn showcase pages are ideal for branding.

Linkedin Showcase PageLinkedIn showcase pages are an extension of your company page, designed for spotlighting a brand, business unit, or initiative within your company. You can create a showcase page for specific areas of your business, and distribute unique messages to audience segments. For example, if you’re Apple … then you can create showcase pages for the MacBook, iPhone, iPad, iPod, AppleTV, etc.

LinkedIn sponsored updates are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin Sponsored Update AdLinkedIn sponsored updates will allow you to deliver content updates into the newsfeed of members beyond those already following your company page. Sponsored updates expand your content reach to targeted members on LinkedIn, driving higher engagement and creating more likes, comments and shares.

LinkedIn SlideShare content ads are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin SlideShare Content AdsSlideShare ads enable you to distribute your company presentations directly to LinkedIn members. SlideShare is a form of visual content that people engage with far more often than text-based content. SlideShare ads are delivered through MPU 300 x 250 banners ads— which allow members to click-through to a custom slideshow embedded within LinkedIn to drive brand awareness, interest, consideration and leads.

LinkedIn content ads are ideal for branding and lead generation.

LinkedIn Content Marketing AdsLinkedIn content ads will allow you to mix attention-grabbing content, images, videos, case studies, and white papers in a branded ad unit with precision targeting, viral engagement and detailed reporting.

LinkedIn custom API solutions are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin API PossibilitiesLinkedIn APIs and plugins will enable you to drive engagement and bring valuable features and professional content directly to your website or app.

LinkedIn Groups are ideal for branding and lead generation.

Linkedin GroupsLinkedIn groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.

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