4 Ways LinkedIn is All-In for B2B Content Marketing

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoLinkedIn has always been the professional social network and the most effective network for B2B marketers. The mission of LinkedIn is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive. As they focus more on content marketing, there are strong parallels, as the right content can also make users more productive.

The context of LinkedIn is professional. This is important to understand as LinkedIn is a customer first company. Even though customers go to Facebook at night, the next morning they come back to LinkedIn with their professional hat on. They are aspirational as they think about their career and other professional goals. They are investing time in the platform, rather than spending time.

Marketers need to put their prospects and customers first when it comes to content.

Here are the four ways that LinkedIn is all in for B2B Content Marketing:

1. LinkedIn Today

LinkedIn Today promotes content from the web that is shared using the LinkedIn Share button. The most popular content is surfaced to LinkedIn members, and shown to their based on their industry, interests and self-selected categories.

2. Influencers

LinkedIn selected 150 influencers to launch this program by offering the opportunity to post long form content about any topics, or blog, on LinkedIn. The only guidelines LinkedIn provided were that members are interested in content that informs, educates and inspires. These posts generated rich, deep comments from real thought leaders. The program has expanded to 400 people since its launch last year.

3. Slideshare

The acquisition of the world’s largest collection of business presentations really brought the idea of visual content to LinkedIn. There was always a strong connection between two platforms, as they both focused on the business side of things, but by using the Slideshare technology, LinkedIn has created more opportunities to post richer, visual content on profiles and company pages.

4. Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn took their time developing an in-stream, native ad product because of their customer first focus. These updates appear across mobile, tablet and desktop versions of the site. One example of a company that has achieved success with these updates was marketing technology company and power content creator, Hubspot. They got 400% more leads from their sponsored updates than any other source.

Change the marketers mantra from always be selling to always be helping

The key ingredient to better content experience is relevance and as marketers move from information to insights they can create more relevant content. Three ways to create more relevant content in real time:

  • Waiting for the Moment:
  • In the Moment:
  • Anticipating the Moment:

What is LinkedIn doing to help marketers make sure they have relevance content?

  • Highlight content types
  • Quantify content influence
  • Provide recommendations

How have the changes to LinkedIn and their approach to content marketing affected your B2B marketing on the platform? Have these new opportunities driven more traffics and leads to your own content?

What is Harder about B2B Blogging? Starting or Continuing?

b2b-blogging-getting-startedThere is no doubt that blogging for a B2B company is hard. Every day, or every week if you are getting started, you need to publish well-written, thoughtful posts that speak to your audience about their own business issues, while at the same time avoiding product-focused sales pitches and repurposed press releases. Seasoned content marketers don’t see this as a problem. They create content all day long. Night and day. With eyes opened and closed.

But for traditional marketers it is not that easy. And team-of-one marketers. And small business owners. It can be hard to find the time. Or the existing content. Or the creative ideas. But if you start dedicating a bit of time each day or week to focus on creating great blog content, it will become easier and more natural.

Trying to figure out how to get started? The links below provide different perspectives on blogging that are relevant for B2B marketers, and will get you thinking. But don’t just sit around reading blog posts on the internet. Talk to your salespeople. Talk to customer service. Learn what issues keep customers and prospects awake at night. Can you provide resources that can help? Not product pitches, but education. Use your blog to become a trusted resource.

Remember that B2B blogging is a long game. Whether you are looking at the ongoing search traffic or supporting a long sales cycle, both ideas should inspire you to keep blogging. Several of the posts below should provide some new inspiration to keep you going. And if you are the kind of person inspired by stats, according to Hubspot, 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog.

Are there other recent resources that have inspired your B2B blogging? Share them below.

People Do Not Follow Blogs – They Read Articles
What do you do when you enter the URL of a highly established blog into your browser? Do you read every article you see on the front page? Likely, you don’t. Instead, you quickly skim through the headlines to see if there is something that actually interests you. You click on those headlines that seem relevant or intriguing, then you read the first several lines.
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Blogging best practices: 8 ideas for curated blog posts
The blog is a critical centerpiece to your content marketing efforts. And it is also the content platform that is most difficult for organizations to maintain the pacing and quality necessary to compete. One of the best things you can do is curate. My only warning is that curating done poorly and cheaply can turn people off. However, curating done well is a scalable way to create great content.
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Is Blogging Still Relevant in a World of Social Media?
I must hear this question – or a variation of it – at least once a week. So I thought I’d open it up for some discussion to the wider community. My feeling is that blogging is a very relevant option for developing a web presence but as the question states – there are other legitimate options too.
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13 Dumb Mistakes Making Your Business Blog Drab, Smelly, and Sleazy
Let’s be honest. Creating a blog is tough. Blogging requires writing skills; enthusiasm about your company; and industry expertise. It requires energy, creativity, and perseverance. You can’t expect your blog to produce results straightaway. Depending on your industry and online competition, it may take three to six months, or sometimes even longer to generate results.
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The Unremarked Death of Another Business Blog
The biggest issue with content marketing is, clearly, THE CONTENT. There are many great tools to solve the issue of how to promote and manage your content: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and the social networks themselves. For most organizations though, as we can see, that is the least of their worries … as they have no content to manage and share.
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Photo credit: Flickr

How to Optimize Your B2B Landing Page

B2B-landingpage-exampleTraffic from social media must come to a landing page to convert those visitors to B2B leads. Knowing the conversion rate of a landing page is the first step to optimizing that landing page.

The conversion rate of a landing page is the percentage of visitors that complete and submit the form on the page divided by the total number of visitors to that page. Generating leads with social media can be increased in two ways. The first is by increasing the amount of traffic to a landing page. The second is to increase the conversion rate of a landing page to enable more of the visitors to become leads. While improving conversion rates for a landing page is a long-term task, following best practices will help you start out with higher conversion rates and more leads.

Landing pages are different from website pages. Most of the pages on a business website are about education. Landing pages are about action. When a person visits a landing page, the most important aspect of the entire page is that it clearly directs the visitor to take an action. Most often that action is to fill out a form in exchange for an offer.

1. Provide One Clear Action

When looking at a landing page, take a step back from the computer. Take a quick glance, really only a second. During that oh-so-brief time and from that further distance, is the action that should be taken on that page clear? Simplicity is key to many aspects of social media marketing, but most important when it comes to landing pages. Part of simplicity on landing pages is removing options for the user. Too many choices are a bad thing. The more choices that you give a landing page visitor, the higher the likelihood that they will do nothing and simply leave the page without becoming a lead.

2. No Top Navigation

One of the easiest way to remove choices for the visitor is to remove the top navigation. Include a prominent logo in the uppper, that can link back to your home page, but do not include the standard menu across the top. Once you have gotten someone to the landing page, do not distract them with other paths. Let them finish the path they are on and complete the form. This means that you can’t use the standard web template to make these pages, but you need a clean landing page design.

3. Limited Bottom Navigation

The same is true about bottom navigation. Get rid of it. Lots of sites have a full menu and other resources in the site footer, which in this case would distract the visitor and keep them from completing the form. If your site needs copyright or policy links at the bottom of every page, add those very limited items to the landing page design, but don’t take the lazy route and include the entire web site footer.

4. Match Look and Language of Call to Action

A visitor clicked on something to get to the landing page. They were promised an offer. It had a compelling headline. It had a look to it. You set their expectations with that something (blog post, social media update, sponsored post) and now you have to pay off those expectations. The offer itself is part of that, but so is the look and feel of the landing page. You don’t want to create the disconnect of the visitor questioning what they just clicked on because there is no visual connection or pay off to their expectations.

5. What’s the Promise of the Headline

The headline on the landing page should continue with the promise of the offer. Will the visitor learn something? Everyone wants to be smarter. Will they get access to premium information? Everyone wants to feel like an insider. A simple way is to use the title of the ebook or webinar, which should already be optimized for attracting the right visitors with the right promise.

6. Keep Copy Short and Direct

Give them a brief summary of what they are signing up for. Include a few bullet points focused on benefits to the visitor, not features. And provide a clear call to action on the page so they know what to do next. Most landing pages have too much copy. See A/B testing below to determine if your pages have too much copy.

7. Include an Image

The correct image reinforces that the visitor is in the right place. It can show them what they are getting, although ebooks are often shown as physical books. Very confusing. It also helps someone scan the image and keep moving towards the form.

8. Limit Number of Fields

This is the most important part of the landing page. This is where you need to get the visitor to provide their information. Even though business contact information is much more available than it use to be, it still feels like an invasion of privacy to ask for certain information. Keep to the information you require and the number of fields at a minimum. Only ask for information you really need. If you are never going to follow up by phone from this offer, don’t ask for a phone number. Email is enough. Asking for a phone just reminds prospects that a salesperson will call. That will prevent some people from filling out the form. Many small businesses are reluctant to indicate their annual sales. Use number of employees as less intrusive way to gauge company size. Again, if you don’t need it, don’t ask for it. No matter what your sales team wants down the road.

9. A/B Test Everything (One at a Time)

A simple A/B test involves changing one thing on your landing page and driving traffic to both versions of the page to compare the difference in conversion rate. The more you can hold constant, the better your test will be. You should A/B test the big things like the headline, amount of copy, number of fields, even the button color and button text. Once Google A/B tested 50 different shades of blue buttons. Extreme, but they knew what drove more conversions.

10. Track the Right Metrics

And finally, to optimize your conversion rate, you have to have the right metrics. Start with how many people view the page. Next, you may have data telling you how many people started the form, but abandoned it. And lastly, how many people completed it. You conversion rate is the number of completed forms divided by the visitors to the landing page. This is the main number you are working to increase. The middle number of people who start the form and don’t submit it can provide specific feedback on the number of fields and the information requested. You will see a definite increase in conversion rate with fewer fields. But make sure the prospects are the right ones that lead to sales. And that is another set of metrics.

Do you have any examples of well-optimized landing pages or have you seen any particular fields that made you abandon a page without completing the form?

9 B2B Social Media Lessons from Buzzfeed CEO Memo

b2b-content-buzzfeedJonah Peretti, Founder and CEO of Buzzfeed, the content site that is the source of those crazy Facebook posts that your friends share but you never do, posted an internal memo with the year’s upcoming plan on LinkedIn. In it he revealed that Buzzfeed drove 85 million unique visitors in August, that they are 3X bigger than they were last year, and by this time next year they will be one of the biggest sites on the web.

How did they grow to become this content behemoth? By publishing list posts, or listicles as they are now called. There is a list about everything and everywhere. No matter what you are interested in or where you come from there’s a post like The 29 Most Minnesotan Things That Ever Happened. There’s a lot of retro and nostalgia posts like 15 TV Shows From Your Childhood You Didn’t Know Had Book Versions and there are even posts that appeal to the social media set. This post, Who Tweeted About It First? A Peek At Twitter’s Early Archives, uses a new Twitter search archive and discovers the first tweets around certain topics. I would share that post. And the title of the post is not as sensational as others on the site.

In true Buzzfeed fashion, Paretti’s memo was written in list form, and I have adapted his headings to the lessons in this post, so B2B marketers can improve their own social media and content creation efforts.

1. News

Even though Buzzfeed made their name on fun posts, they take their news coverage very seriously. While you are here to watch cat videos, read more about what Congress is up to. And it seems to be working. Company news may not be the best content for your B2B company, but industry news filtered through your subject matter experts or industry leaders is. News is becoming personalized, so anything you can do to show your site or blog visitors how the news is relevant to them will be to your advantage.

2. Formats

Yes, they live by the list, but Buzzfeed creates a variety of content, including some they have invented. Have you seen a “rubbable” GIF that you can control with your mouse? Thanks Buzzfeed. Different members of your audience consume different types of contents at different times. Experiment with different types of blog posts. Explore visual content. Even consider audio or podcasts, especially if your mobile audience is growing.

3. Video

Nobody is expecting B2B Marketers to build a video studio and hire a full team of video producers like Buzzfeed did, but video is an easy way to tell a story, highlight a customer or employee, provide customer service how-tos and even entertain. Choose from 6 seconds, 15 seconds or even 2-3 minutes. Make sure you consider the environment in which your customers and prospects watch video. It is as likely to be on a smartphone or tablet in the middle of a train or bus.

4. Mobile

The Buzzfeed CEO freely admits that all their mobile traffic is due to luck. The same is true for you. Visitors are turning to mobile devices and B2B companies are not following. If a prospect can’t find what he’s looking for due to a poor mobile experience it is unlikely he will return from a desktop. And Google mobile search penalizes sites that are not mobile optimized. Learn what responsive design is and talk to your web team about it.

5. International

If your business serves a global audience, follow the Buzzfeed lead and don’t create separate outlets for every country but maintain one central repository and build dynamic localization processes into the site. Even social media posts, especially LinkedIn company updates, can be targeted by geography and language.

6. Business

You better believe that Buzzfeed is a business and their goals are to create interesting content that people share and to find interesting ways to get companies to sponsor that content. It’s a business model and it’s working. Social media needs to be core to your business activities for anyone to take it seriously. If a small group of B2B marketers are running a blog and posting updates on social channels, but nobody in management understands the business value, the activities could be all in vain. As companies change course this team can fall by the wayside.

7. Advertising

Buzzfeed is building a site that advertisers must include in their plans. The business model dictates that companies pay to participate. But is there something in your social media activities, for example, a leading blog, important video interview series, even an ebook that becomes wildly popular in your industry, that customers or prospects just have to be a part of? Would they pay for that privilege? Companies pay to sponsor corporate events? Is this idea that different?

8. Team

You may be a social media team of one, but always look for additional support from other teams, even on an ad hoc basis. If you are successful, you will need additional people. It seems like Buzzfeed’s structure is flexible and as teams get too big, they break apart into smaller teams. Make sure you have the right balance between strategy and execution as a team grows or changes. In a team of one, it is mostly about execution with a little bit of strategy, but you can control how the team grows by who that next person is.

9. Focus

And finally, hard as it may be to believe, there are lots of things that Buzzfeed doesn’t do. They focus on their core activities and soundly reject ones that don’t help drive them to their goals. Focus on goals that are important to building your social presence, important to other company marketing activities, like lead generation or customer retention, and important to executives. Single-minded focus on what matters is how you can succeed.

And just to honor Buzzfeed, here’s an animated GIF of two corgis playing tetherball. I can watch this for hours.

21 Unbelievable B2B Content Marketing Statistics

21-B2B-content-marketing-statisticsB2B companies continue to be interested in content marketing as a means to connect with their prospects and customers, as a first step to generate leads with content and social media. While last year’s B2B Benchmark study has not yet been updated, here’s a recent grassroots study from the 50,000 member strong B2B Technology Marketing community on LinkedIn. Here are some key statistics from the study. If you are interested in the breakdown of the 815 respondents, or any other details of the study, I have embedded the slideshare presentation below.

Do these statistics seem to reflect the content marketing activities at your B2B company or clients? All these sorts of studies seem to be a little high compared to what I see in the wild. Active LinkedIn members would be more likely to work for company who understand the value of content marketing. If you have thoughts, or disagreements with these stats, please let others know in the comments below.

  1. 71% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for lead generation
  2. 50% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for thought leadership and education
  3. Only 25% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for customer retention
  4. 89% of B2B Marketers cite customer testimonials as the most effective content marketing
  5. 88% of B2B Marketers cite case studies as the most effective content marketing
  6. Less than 40% of B2B Marketers indicate ebooks as effective content marketing
  7. 71% of B2B Marketers say audience relevance is the most important element of content marketing
  8. 85% of B2B Marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective social network in delivering content
  9. 73% of B2B Marketers say YouTube is an effective social network in delivering content
  10. Only 39% of B2B Marketers say Facebook is an effective social network in delivering content
  11. 93% of B2B Marketers create content from scratch
  12. Web traffic and views or downloads tied at 63% as key metrics to determine content success
  13. 5% of B2B Marketers have no metrics to determine content marketing success
  14. 56% of B2B content is created by corporate marketing
  15. 47% of B2B content is created by product marketing
  16. 82% of B2B Marketers are increasing content production in the next 12 months
  17. 55% of B2B Marketers say their biggest challenge is having the time or bandwidth to create content
  18. 30% of B2B Marketers do not categorize their content by buying stage
  19. 37% of B2B Marketers use marketing automation for lead generation
  20. 36% of B2B Marketers use marketing automation for lead nurturing
  21. 39% of B2B Marketers don’t use marketing automation at all

Photo credit: Flickr

Topsy Turvy: The Shifting Relationship Between B2B Marketing and B2B Sales

We used to talk to a real person as a first step. To get familiar with the company. To learn more. To create bonds. Not now. Now we talk to a real person as a last resort when we’ve exhausted the supply of Zero Moments of Truth and have a query so specific only a human being can answer it.

This is most egregiously true in a category where the transactional stakes are often the highest: business to business marketing. In 2011 the Corporate Executive Board surveyed 1,900 B2B customers to uncover insights about purchasing behavior and found that customers will contact a sales rep only after independently completing 60% of the purchasing decision process. Sixty percent of the decision is made before the prospect identifies himself. Sixty percent of the decision is made before a call, or an email, or an entry into your lead tracking database. Customers are ninjas now. They are stealthily evaluating you right under your nose.

This has manifest consequences on the role of salespeople, whose job used to be to develop and nurture relationships. No longer. The role of the salesperson is now to answer specific questions capably and quickly, and to close deals that became possible due to the self-serve research performed by the customer. What does that 60% figure mean for marketers? A lot, according to the Corporate Executive Board’s Ana Lapter:

“The 60% mark is in that part of the mid-funnel that is critical in terms of driving the buyers’ consideration of a supplier for a potential purchase,” Lapter says. “Therefore, marketing needs to de-emphasize tasks like thought leadership and white papers, and focus more on advanced activities, such as diagnosing purchasing needs and identifying internal barriers to purchase.”

Marketing needs less top of mind awareness and more Youtility – marketing so useful, people would pay for it. Sounds about right to me.

Life Technologies Offers Self-Serve B2B Product Information Through Interactive Video

Global biosciences company Life Technologies operates in a business category not typically known for its cutting edge use of YouTube, nor its embrace of new marketing principles. But, in 2011, Life Technologies launched the most quintessentially useful video program with the best utilization of video annotations I’ve ever seen. (Annotations are words or phrases embedded in videos that serve as a call-to-action, and sometimes provide a direct link to other videos.)

Their “Interactive Selection Guide to Immunoprecipitation” is actually 42 short videos chained together with an elaborate annotation scheme, giving Life’s customers – working scientists – an easy, self-serve way to determine which products are the best fit for the job.

According to Oslo-based Andrew Green, Life’s Divisional Lead for Video and Interactive Marketing, the original plan was to create a customary, Web-based product finder. Realizing, however, that online arrays of pull-down menus and such are ultimately devoid of personality (and only passively educational), they decided to build it entirely in video, where they could better anticipate some of the questions customers might have, and actively incorporate them.

Mapping the content and determining how the videos would connect and branch was the most difficult part of the project, says Green – who sent me a photo of the wall-sized chart they used to plot it all out.

The videos have accumulated more than 75,000 YouTube views, extraordinary, given their extremely narrow customer target.

Smart B2B companies understand that providing self-serve information and giving customers and prospective customers the opportunity to find answers for themselves, without being burdened by personal, synchronous communication, isn’t shirking their duty as marketers; it’s become their duty as marketers.

Excerpted from Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype by Jay Baer, published in late June by Portfolio/Penguin. See YoutilityBook.com for other resources.

Photo credit: Flickr

Integration, Content and Analytics Drive B2B Digital Marketing Success

In a recent study, CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council and Google found that 57% of the buying process is complete before a B2B buyer ever contacts a salesperson. And their results showed an even higher number, 70%, in some instances. The researchers used their interviews with more than 1500 decision makers and influencers in a recent major business purchase at 22 large B2B organizations (spanning all major NAICS categories and 10 industries) as the basis for their Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing whitepaper. The authors contend that mastering the following three topics are required for succeeding in the world of digital B2B marketing:

The project itself is a great example of content marketing. It is featured on the Google Think site, with a narrative written in an informal, friendly style. The research also has its own landing page, complete with an overview video. There are links to download the complete whitepaper or a presentation version (both as PDFs), with no registration required.

Each of the three subject areas (Digital Integration, Content Marketing and Analytics) has its own page including a short video, links to download just that chapter of the whitepaper or the whole whitepaper. There is also a link to take an assessment survey on each topic.

Rather than summarize each section, I have included the key findings below.

Digital Integration Key Findings:

■ Companies still struggle to integrate digital tactics deep into broader marketing campaigns, but there are a few key points of leverage (such as pushing to mandate an objective “Channel Consideration Review” early in the process) that can help weed out reflexive channel bias, opening the door for digital influence.
■ Armed with past performance data and evidence from external best practices, a growing number of marketers are pushing to develop standardized campaign architectures, which offer a strong platform for promoting the best applications and integration points for digital tactics.
■ Increased digital marketing efforts demand continuous and collective management, something few companies are designed to support. The value destroyed by this misfit approach—although hard to quantify—is potentially very large. Several companies are taking steps to restructure as a result.

Content Marketing Key Findings:

■ Many companies are attempting to overlay a coverage model on their existing campaign-oriented content production efforts; this helps to orchestrate a continuous flow of content aligned to the topics and issues customers care about but introduces a hidden danger.
■ Many companies display a troubling overemphasis on tools, shallow consumption metrics, and process—placing a greater emphasis on producing a steady flow of content than the quality of the content.
■ More progressive companies have consolidated strategic and creative guidance for content, to help business units get more impact from their content and to stitch together cross-BU points of view that have broader impact in the marketplace.
■ In selecting what content to create, marketers should place greater emphasis on the power of communication channels versus the competitive noise they have to contend with; many organizations seem to pursue content strategy with little regard for the clutter they are competing with.
■ B2B marketers have been slow to push into more visually engaging content (typically relying largely on text-based content) due to concerns about skill and cost but most directly due to perceiving it as a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have.

Analytics Key Findings:

■ The smartest companies dedicate a greater portion of their marketing budgets to improving their fundamental understanding of effectiveness, interactivity, and causality across marketing programs.
■ A central hub for marketing data is becoming more common but is still a long-term aspiration for many companies. Regardless of the data environment, marketers should be focused primarily on extracting insight and decision-support value from the data they do have (which is a lot of data). The single most important factor for success is getting the smartest people you can find to tackle your most important analytical challenges. Ninety percent of your analytics spend should be on people.
■ Pipeline analyses often overemphasize contact-level web analytics data, neglecting important off-site and social behaviors and collective account-level behavior.
■ Conversion attribution modeling efforts typically ignore key aspects of a supplier’s engagement with potential customers (especially nondigital touchpoints). Marketers should make a greater effort to place estimates of digital impact in proper proportion and context of broader marketing strategy and the market environment.
■ Experiments are difficult to design are often executed poorly, rendering results unreliable and wasting time and money. It is a worthwhile effort to create very strict process guidelines to validate experiment design in advance of execution, so results can be confidently applied to decision making.

If any of these findings reflect situations at your company, download this study for details about these findings, recommendations how to overcome them and examples from companies like EMC, CSC and Level 3.

20 LinkedIn Tips for B2B Social Media Success

B2B marketers are looking for ways to improve their social media marketing results, and one of the platforms that helps with that is LinkedIn. Many B2B companies have seen success on the professional social network by getting employees to represent the company in addition to their own experiences, managing company pages and even running industry groups.

Below are 20 tips that will help with many aspects of LinkedIn, both personal and for your company. Each one of the tips has a link to the original source, so many more tips can be found by clicking through and reading more. If you have other great tips for B2B companies, please share them in the comments below.

Personal Profiles

1. Use a professional-looking photo that is tight and well-lit with limited background distractions. (Source)

2. Customize your website listings. (Source)

3. Use LinkedIn to follow up after other communications. (Source)

4. Teach LinkedIn strategy and tactics to your employees. (Source)

5. Endorse others first and endorse fairly. (Source)

Company Pages

6. Choose keywords in your company description that your potential customers might look for. (Source)

7. Target your posts by Industry or Location. (Source)

8. Build followers for your LinkedIn company page. (Source)

9. Amplify through your network. (Source)

10. Monitor and focus your efforts. (Source)

Networking

11. Use “Tags” to categorize your connections. (Source)

12. When you think it could benefit your business, ask your contacts for introductions to their contacts. (Source)

13. Understand the psychological needs of people on LinkedIn when connecting with them. (Source)

Groups

14. Have sales reps join industry and local LinkedIn Groups. (Source)

15. The best groups have discussion topics that do not always begin with blog article links. (Source)

16. Send messages to a large number of people for free. (Source)

Lead Generation

17. Target searches for keywords you’ve identified as central to your business. (Source)

18. Create free banners on your products/services page. (Source)

LinkedIn Advertising

19. Each element must attract the audience you’re targeting and inspire people to click on the ad. (Source)

20. Create a special landing page just for LinkedIn ads. (Source)

What are some things you have done to grow your B2B network or expand your company’s presence on LinkedIn?

3 Tips to Optimize Your B2B Social Media Marketing Mix

Having spent a number of years marketing B2B products in the financial services space, the concept of marketing mix modeling has been beaten into me. For those who aren’t familiar, marketing mix modeling or MMM is the process of assigning meaning to changes in incremental sales volume based upon specific tactics used within the marketing mix, and is done by looking at historical data over a period of time. I won’t bore you with linear, non-linear and multivariate regression, but in a nutshell, it’s cause and effect analysis.

If you are a marketer, you’re always testing, and testing yields insight into how the marketing mix performs. The process should tell you how the control acts vs. the test with respect to several KPIs including response rate, conversion rate, cost to acquire, customer lifetime value, return on investment, and perhaps others.

B2B marketers often ask me how to apply traditional marketing mix modeling concepts to their social media efforts. Although the answer I give is not scientific in nature, my goal is to show them how analyzing data can lead to data-driven decisions for the marketing mix, which then can be measured in terms of KPIs. Here they are:

1. Learn to Think (and Speak) Like the Customer

What impact does copy selection have on your social media campaign? This means listening intently to what your customers and prospects are talking about within social, how they’re talking and ways you can meet them on their terms. You can leverage word cloud technology to see common keywords associated with specific social media audiences which can lead to testing calls to action within social media.

2. Correctly Interpret the Data

One of the most frequent problems with analyzing social media data is misinterpretation. A data set yields valuable insights only if it’s read correctly. One piece of criteria I use when looking at B2B audiences online is number of conversations by channel over the course of about 2 years. For instance, if I want to use the data to guide a decision about where to focus my social media marketing efforts, I will build a data set using monitoring software that shows mentions of a B2B brand, industry term or product beginning two years back, then comparing the same query with data from a year back assuming all else being constant. This helps me validate the selection of social media channels to focus the message.

3. Segment Your Target Audience

Part of being successful in B2B social media marketing is to really understand who the target audience is. Who specifically is the decision maker you traditionally market to by use of other marketing channels? Is it a C-level executive or someone else in the organization? In the past, one of the B2B companies I worked for targeted a person with the title of “Fleet Manager” because it was proven that this person had the most leverage in making a purchase decision. When building your social media campaign, make sure to take this into account when you go to market. Focusing on the decision maker can have a profound impact on how the message resonates and ultimately, how the campaign performs.

What other attributes do you look at optimize your B2B social media marketing mix?

B2B Companies Can Target LinkedIn Updates

LinkedIn now lets companies target their status updates by a variety of factors. One of the tactics I mentioned in a post about B2B companies generating leads on LinkedIn was to use status updates to share content with your LinkedIn followers. If you have various lines of business, you can now focus those updates to the right people. If you have content created for certain industries, functions or seniority, LinkedIn updates can be directed to those who are in those segments. And remember, only company page admins can post company status updates.

The first thing to note is that if you want to start segmenting your updates, you need to grow your LinkedIn followers. Some easy ways are to cross-promote on your other social channels, add a follow company button on your website or blog, and you can even write a blog post that you are segmenting LinkedIn status updates for improved relevancy.

When posting a status update, the default is to send it to all followers. Click the drop down to change to targeted audience, which brings up the targeted window seen below.

Company Size

In the targeted window, notice you can remove employees from your company updates in the lower right (indicated by the red arrow). While there may be good reasons to do this, sharing updates with your employees give them content to share with their own networks on LinkedIn.

Each of the five segmenting characteristics has their own tab to make your choices. As you click your selections, LinkedIn will show you how many followers this update will go to. As you work your way through the segments, this number will go down, but it will be more relevant to the people who see it.

Industry

Do you have a message for a particular industry? Are your salespeople aligned by verticals? Use these targeted industry selections to support their work in the verticals. Create a vertically focused ebook and share it this way. This can help you better understand your vertical audiences on LinkedIn.

Function

Do different functions in an organization use your product or service differently? Do they have a different evaluation process for purchase? Can you clearly communicate that message? If so, you can talk to them differently now on LinkedIn too.

Seniority

We have different conversations with managers, directors, VP and C-suite executives. Do you know where they are in your decision process? Do you know what ideas, benefits, metrics have convinced them of your value. What does an ebook for a CMO look like? Share it on LinkedIn with just those C-levels.

Geography

This segmentation can can very granular, down to the metro region within states. Unless you have a local product or service, be careful about targeting this one too tightly. You are probably better off staying broader with regions like North America or Europe, or even countries.

Does this kind of targeting and segmentation make sense for your B2B company on LinkedIn?