Does LinkedIn Really Work for B2B Sales? 6 Factors to Consider
September 9, 2020
Are you looking for a way to drive your B2B sales? Have you considered leveraging social media platforms? Of course, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are three of the biggest names in the social media world. However, in the B2B context, there’s one platform that stands out from all others: LinkedIn.
Let’s not mince words here: LinkedIn is an absolute goldmine for B2B sales reps. It’s where Fortune 500 executives spend their spare time; where corporate decision-makers network and look for new opportunities; and where individuals and organizations from all industries establish themselves as thought leaders.
The best part about LinkedIn? Almost every user is actively searching for valuable content related to their business. In terms of B2B marketing, that means that search intent is already high. Basically, you have an audience that’s already inclined to respond to your content.
Why LinkedIn Works for B2B Sales
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for sales representatives across all stages of the funnel. Since business professionals visit LinkedIn with the expectation of finding valuable insights and opportunities, sales reps can leverage the platform to draw prospects in regardless of where they are located along the buyer’s journey. For instance:
Top of funnel: Sales reps or marketers can distribute high-level content to drive brand awareness and pique interest in the company’s product. Publishing such content to LinkedIn can increase reach across the target demographic while boosting credibility.
Middle of funnel: Sales reps can leverage hard data to generate leads for their organization via white papers, case studies, comparison charts, etc. Again, these MOFU pieces of content are often what LinkedIn users are looking for in the first place.
Bottom of funnel: Reps can close the sale by means of special promotions, free trial offers, or other incentives. LinkedIn’s advertising platform gives users a lot of flexibility in terms of when and how they want to publish their BOFU paid ads.
Of course, LinkedIn is only as effective as the advertiser that uses it. When your sales reps have the proper training on how to use LinkedIn as a lead-generating, sales-closing tool, then your company’s bottom line will grow.
At the same time, your sales initiatives on LinkedIn must work hand-in-glove with effective marketing strategies. A top-notch LinkedIn marketing plan will provide crucial support for your sales team. It also enables them to open and close many more sales than they would otherwise.
In that vein, let’s discuss 6 factors that contribute to the effectiveness of LinkedIn as a marketing powerhouse:
Factor #1: Context
B2B marketing isn’t about simply reaching the right people. It’s also about reaching them at the right time, in the right place, and within the right context. This can present daunting obstacles on other social media platforms. After all, even professionals tend to use Facebook and other sites for personal rather than business use. For example, most Instagram users are more interested in funny cats than white papers on how to improve fulfillment logistics!
LinkedIn is different. LinkedIn users expect to find insightful and actionable professional content on the site — it’s typically what they’re looking for when they sign up. Research indicates that 4 out of 5 LinkedIn users drive business decisions; thus, LinkedIn provides the perfect context for B2B marketers wanting to expand their company’s reach. As a result, B2B marketers can leverage their content delivery campaigns into leads, conversions, and sales. In fact, LinkedIn drives a whopping 80% of B2B social media leads!
Moreover, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter combined drive 90% of social traffic to B2B sites — but more than half of that traffic comes straight from LinkedIn. Even though Facebook may have many millions more users than LinkedIn, the results speak for themselves: LinkedIn is the undisputed king of B2B content distribution.
If you want to find B2B prospects at the right time, in the right place, and within the right context, then LinkedIn should be your top content delivery channel.
Factor #2: Reach
Even though we’ve headed up our list of reasons why LinkedIn is a B2B sales powerhouse with “context,” don’t believe for a second that LinkedIn has a small reach, either nationally or globally. Numbers don’t lie. Here are just a few of the statistics that demonstrate how widespread LinkedIn’s influence has grown over the years:
An estimated 61 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers, while 40 million are in decision-making positions. Those are huge numbers for B2B marketers trying to reach key stakeholders at targeted accounts.
Every week, users view 9 billion content impressions in the LinkedIn feed. That comes out to over 36 billion impressions per month. However, only 3 million users share content on a weekly basis. In other words, there’s a gigantic opportunity here for B2B marketers to establish their company as a “go-to source” for thought leadership and consistent advice — and with less competition than what’s found on other online platforms (we’re looking at you, Google Search)!
These and many other statistics demonstrate just how many B2B prospects you can reach by marketing on the LinkedIn platform. LinkedIn’s senior management team is not going to stop expanding anytime soon; the platform’s reported user goal is 3 billion people, so they have a lot more work to do! As the company expands, you can expand your marketing efforts alongside it. Then you will reap the benefits of a wider reach across your target demographic.
Factor #3: Engagement
We’ve talked about context and reach, but what about engagement? Are LinkedIn users truly more quick to engage with B2B marketing content compared to users on other platforms?
Again, the numbers speak for themselves. Just as one example, sponsored InMail (InMail is LinkedIn’s internal email client) has an average open rate of 52% — more than double the average open rate for typical email campaigns, which is 21.3% according to MailChimp. Again, this is in large part due to the nature of the LinkedIn platform. Many business professionals that log into the site are actively looking for solutions to a problem they have. If you can develop a clear, crisp message that outlines how your product or service can solve their pain point, then you may be able to win several new clients.
Of course, it should be noted that LinkedIn is not just for “one and done” marketing initiatives. Since LinkedIn is (basically) a combination of social media site and professional networking platform, many B2B marketers focus more on long-term relationship-building than standalone ad campaigns. For example, if you are targeting one company in particular as part of your account-based marketing plan, you can engage in the following practices:
Follow the organization’s activities
Occasionally comment on their blog posts, videos, and updates
Share interesting content with key decision-makers
Reach out via instant messaging when appropriate
Over time, your consistent presence on the platform and your valuable insights may encourage the targeted organization to investigate the possibility of a partnership with your company. The bottom line is that whether you’re investing in “quick hit” advertising or slow, long-range marketing, LinkedIn is the place for you.
Factor #4: Credibility
Professionals that use LinkedIn want to consume content from thought leaders in their respective fields. This tendency naturally spills over into B2B sales as well. One study found that 92% of B2B buyers engage with sales professionals that have a reputation for thought leadership in their industry.
The point? LinkedIn offers you an excellent avenue for establishing, maintaining, and growing your reputation. While salesy, self-promotional tactics may have their place, B2B prospects will respond more readily to marketing content from a recognized source — especially a source that is known for providing trustworthy, valuable, and actionable insights.
Moreover, LinkedIn networking can open doors for your business that would otherwise remain firmly shut. For example, research indicates that only 4% of B2B buyers had a favorable impression of a salesperson who contacted them “cold.” In contrast, 87% had a favorable impression of a sales representative who was introduced to them via someone in their professional network. Therefore, one of the best ways to position yourself as a credible vendor in the eyes of a prospect is to make an organic connection via LinkedIn’s network.
Factor #5: Flexibility
Any effective B2B content marketing strategy should take into account different types of material to target different users and different stages of the sales funnel. These content types could run the gamut from blog posts to videos, from infographics to podcasts and more. B2B marketers should investigate how best to leverage tools for both organic and paid reach. Fortunately, LinkedIn’s platform allows companies to use all of these content types and marketing tools.
For example, visual content has become increasingly popular on LinkedIn. In fact, a 2018 report from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs found that three of the top six content types that marketers are currently prioritizing are visual in nature (videos, infographics, and images). The versatility that LinkedIn provides B2B marketers ensures that they’ll effectively match the content type to the target audience, and drive sales as a result.
Factor #6: Measurability
Apart from its functionality in terms of content marketing, LinkedIn also has a built-in feature for paid advertising. Of course, paid advertising campaigns have to be accurately measured in order to determine effectiveness. Here too, LinkedIn allows for highly accurate measurements that help you track who is interacting with your content and how.
The site-wide Insight tag. This tag allows you to see which visitors come to your company’s site as a direct result of LinkedIn. As a bonus, you can also set up LinkedIn retargeting ads once you have this Insight tag installed.
Event-specific pixels. This kind of pixel is especially useful for lead generation objectives. For instance, if you have a lead capture form associated with your LinkedIn ad without a “thank you” or landing page connected, you can use this code to track a “conversion event” each time a user completes the form.
LinkedIn’s flexibility in terms of marketing metrics can help you to A/B test advertising campaigns as a whole. Or test specific elements within those campaigns (such as particular images, headlines, copy, color schemes, fonts, and so forth). There’s a saying that “if it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved,” but with LinkedIn’s advanced tracking and data collection capabilities, you won’t ever have to worry about that!
Leveraging LinkedIn to Drive Your B2B Sales
As the above information clearly demonstrates, LinkedIn, when used properly, is a B2B sales and marketing powerhouse. It can:
Enable you to reach the right people (business professionals and decision-makers) within the right context (LinkedIn’s professional network)
Boost the reach of your marketing efforts, both on a national and a global level
Increase your engagement rates, either in terms of one-off ad responses or long-term relationship building
Help you to position yourself as a trustworthy source of thought leadership in your industry
Allow you to publish a wide variety of content to match different target demographics and stages of the sales funnel
Give you the ability to precisely measure meaningful metrics, and make improvements to your strategy as needed
If you want to learn more about how LinkedIn can become a powerful driver for your B2B sales, reach out to our team at Leading Linked today. We specialize in providing LinkedIn services for our clients and have helped many entrepreneurs and organizations increase their brand awareness, generate more (and better) leads, and ultimately boost their bottom line.
In summary, there’s one main point we want you to take away from this discussion: if you are serious about B2B sales, then you absolutely must use LinkedIn. We can guarantee that you won’t regret doing so.