5 Ways to Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Attract Inbound B2B Leads

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoMy friend Tom Skotidas and I are at it again and this time we talked about how anyone, but especially B2B sales pros, can use their LinkedIn profile to attract inbound leads. Tom calls this inbound social selling. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but there is more to it than just that.

1. Re-Think the Purpose of Your Profile

Rather than just create a profile that shows your job history and qualifications, create a profile that shows how you can solve your target audience’s problems and serve their needs. Think of your profile as a piece content that reflects your company’s capabilities, rather than your resume.

2. Use the Right Keywords

Throughout your LinkedIn profile you should use keywords that are related to your products and services. Not just any keywords, but ones that your prospects commonly use. One way to determine those keywords is by using Google’s Keyword Ad Planner Tool. It is designed to help determine keywords for Google ads, so you need an AdWords account (connected to a regular Google account), but you don’t need to place any ads to use the tool.

3. View Your LinkedIn Profile as a Web Page to be Indexed

As you are re-thinking about your LinkedIn profile and using the appropriate keywords, remember that this is a web page that is indexed by Google and other search engines. LinkedIn is a high-ranking domain and can show up as a top result in searches for your keywords.

4. Don’t Forget About LinkedIn Search

Active LinkedIn users use the search functions within LinkedIn to find what they are looking for, beyond people’s names and companies.

5. Optimize These 9 Fields in Your LinkedIn Profile

Once you have your keywords to attract your prospects, what do you do with them? There are several fields in your LinkedIn profile that Tom identified as the most relevant.

  • Headline: The default is your current job at your current company. This is the most important thing to change to appeal to prospects.
  • Contact Information: This should include the best ways to contact you, plus a website or landing page that includes information to your target prospects
  • Summary: This is where you can really speak to the prospect about how you and your company can solve their business problems, using a good selection of keywords.
  • Experience: What you do in your job is another opportunity to tell the story of your success helping customers solve problems.
  • Marketing Assets: Work with your marketing team to get Powerpoints and PDFs to add to your LinkedIn profile and use your keywords in the title of the pieces.
  • Skills & Endorsements: Have others endorse you for skills that are most relevant to your target prospects. You have the ability to edit your list of skils.
  • Publications: Relevant blog posts, ebooks or articles quoting you can be listed here. If you don’t have any, this is a good time see if you can collaborate with someone to create some things to list.
  • Recommendations: Ask your customers for recommendations. They will use the terms that others in your industry use, and they will also validate your position as someone who is helpful.
  • Groups Joined: The Groups you join show on your profile, so make sure you join relevant Groups with names that look and sound good.

What have you done on your LinkedIn profile to attract B2B prospects?

The Difference Between B2B and B2C Digital Marketing

I was tempted to write a list of seven or so ideas on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. Traditionally there’ve been several, but in 2013 (and soon 2014) I think there’s only one, albeit with seven or more consequences and considerations.

It’s important that we recognize the shift in how similar B2B and B2C have become. The method by which people find information has largely become the same, thanks to computing technology and of course Google’s drive to make vast information searchable on every level. Whereas B2C was traditionally led by outbound broadcast and press tactics — and B2B by outbound direct mail and sales calls — we’re seeing an always on consumer now searching online and leading the charge for information, creating an inbound approach from the perspective of both B2C and B2B marketers. This starts to reveal a common set of planning imperatives that we’ve outlined below.

What remains the real difference then?

It’s the number of decision makers and influencers involved in the sales and marketing process. The nature of influencing a purchase decision in an individual or household is of course more obvious and directed in B2C, whereas in B2B we have hierarchies and people in decision chains. Though the same B2B decision makers are as emotional and irrational as they are at home, it matters that there are so many of them in one chain. It sounds simple, but it’s not. The reality is that there’s not a uniform B2B hierarchy that we can expect either. These differ by market, and most of all by business size. It’s OK though, since it’s about employing key observations on strategic planning.

1. Product or service explanation

Some might say that B2B products and services require a lot more detail than B2C. I’d suggest the specific insight here is that those products and services require explanatory content in variable levels of detail and format for more audience types at different stages of the buying cycle. This makes it a longer planning process, with more variables to consider. For example, the requirements of a Finance Director at the closing stages of the sales process are wildly different to those of the Sales Director who becomes motivated to short-list the product initially.

b2b-content-matrix

2. B2B is naturally more targeted

Thankfully, there appears to be a little more common sense for customer targeting in B2B, something that we’d hope would exist in B2C, where the attention is more sporadic and possibly distracted with vague ideas of viral and a misplaced value on collecting fans and followers — only to underserve them afterwards. B2B companies, on the other hand, have a better handle on who they’re targeting and where they are, a natural inclination which is also easier to solve. After all, buyers of a particular chemical product or future technology are inherently more findable that 16-19 year old males interested in football.

3. Creative, marketed content fuels inbound

Placing excellent content where buyers already are, or likely to be, and amplifying that with paid media is good sense for targeted marketing. It’s never been more important for B2B and B2C marketers alike to invest heavily in content that solves the problems of the prospective buyer. For B2B that’s also handling content that the potential buyer may need to manage influencers, too. Especially those holding the purse strings.

b2b-inbound-marketing

4. Content strategy

Related to the above is recognizing that our content exists in an eco-system with our own content hub at the center of that. We must appreciate the difference between content requirements around a sales funnel on owned media platforms, whilst at the same time promoting content to an audience away from owned web properties. The quality of process and planning needed to do this well, and affordably, can’t be over-stated — targeted content can be re-shaped, re-purposed and re-created in multiple formats, for multiple applications. Considering long-form content first, and planning the process of atomizing it, can save time and money. Is it here that B2B marketers can seek inspiration from their arguably more creative B2C cousins? After all, all buyers are people, and entertainment and inspiration does not have to come at the expense of credibility, does it?

5. Integrating email and social media

It’s easy to abuse both social media and email, with poorly targeted ‘blasts’ of information that matter to a hungry sales division. This is something that B2B marketers have been notoriously bad at. Planning how to nurture those vaguely interested enquiries to qualified leads is something different again — and there have never been so many tools and strategies to make this affordable for even the smallest of businesses. Returning to the question of “how do I serve the needs of [the target audience],” at every stage of the buying cycle, will enable prospective customers to take the next step towards purchase by showing intent and re-engagement, not one giant and unrealistic leap. Both B2C and B2B marketers are still learning how to enter the conversational, and in the moment, nature of social media, the power and genuine one-to-one potential for slow and steady relationship building — using the networks, portals and platforms for what they are, catalysts for connection, rather than the be and end all.

The key remains to plan appropriately- to plan to succeed through a combination of targeted, integrated marketing that works in the service of the audience first and foremost.

B2B Social Media Wins with Inbound Marketing [Infographic]

B2B social media becomes a winning approach when marketers change from expensive outbound marketing tactics to more cost-effective inbound marketing efforts like blogs, ebooks and webinars that provide value to prospects and customers. The content you create needs to be educational, entertaining and remarkable so your followers share it with their networks, thereby extending its reach.

The below inforgraphic includes many of the B2B social media statistics we included in a previous post, but we know that some marketers like to share infographics as a way to make their case for social media.

What elements below resonate most with you as you move from outbound to inbound marketing?

6 Ways To Optimize Tweets For Inbound B2B Marketing

If you are in a B2B organization that has decided to included Twitter as part of its marketing strategy, then this post is for you. Like blogging or creating any type of content on the web, there are always ways to optimize the information you share to not only maximize its relevance to audiences, but also to make your content as discoverable as possible. Countless Internet users type search terms into Google every day, and Twitter users do the same thing using Twitter Search.

Today we share a few ideas to help make your Tweets easier to discover through Twitter search, in an effort to expand the audience for your information.

1. Use The Right Hashtags – Twitter users use hashtags to tie messages to events, memes, etc. If you do not know what a hashtag is, here is a good article with the basics. Now that you know what a hashtag is, it is important to use them when possible to help further describe your content. Don’t be afraid of using generic industry hashtags. If you make financial software use tags like #finance, #software, and #stockmarket. Using hastags makes it easier for people to find you and also lets you import certain messages into widgets or blog posts, based on which hashtag is included.

bit.ly, a simple url shortener

2. Create Custom Shortened Links With Keywords – URL shorteners are extremely popular with Twitter users, because they make long links short, and give back valuable real estate in the 140 character message box. What many people overlook when using shorteners is the ability to create custom short URLs with keywords. See the image about to see how this can be done with Bit.ly. Twitter search actually searches custom short URL text, which means that you have an extra word or so to help tag your tweet for search users.

3. Treat Your Tweets like Mini Blog Posts – Tweets are short. They can be written in seconds, however, what if you treat tweets like mini blog posts. Take the time to write a good headline, share the correct link, and tag it appropriately. Because a tweet is short, doesn’t mean it is unimportant. Remind yourself to give it the attention and thought it deserves.

4. Turn-off Auto Direct Messages – Twitter has third party services that enable users to send an automatic direct message to anyone who follows an account. Don’t do this, and if you are, stop doing it. This is impersonal and considered by many to be spam. It is perfectly appropriate though to send a personal message to some of your followers in the effort to establish a relationship with them or to find out more about their business. Would you send a thank you letter to every person that sent you something in the mail? No, so don’t do the same thing on Twitter and turn-off those auto direct messages now.

5. Remember Location Matters – This post has talked about about content and keywords, but one way of tagging tweets that you should not forget is location. Twitter search and other third party search tools use the location set in a profile as a way to filter search results, so make sure you have yours set. Twitter is also getting ready to launch location data attached to each tweet. Additionally people do a lot of searching by location so add geographic data or locations into tweets, when it is appropriate.

6. Mention People When Appropriate – This is not last on this list because it is the least important, actually it is the most important item to remember from this list. People spread information, not software or search engines. Mentioning people in your tweets when applicable facilitates conversations that generate interest and awareness of issues. Be kind, ask questions and share relevant information.

Twitter is simple in almost every way and because of this, we forget to do the little things sometimes. I hope this post serves as a reminder. Do you have other tips to share?

Boston Firm Launches B2B Social Media Contest

A Boston inbound marketing agency has started a B2B social media contest for marketers. 451 Marketing is soliciting entries from business to business companies asking them to explain how social media can help their company grow. The winning entry will receive a 6 month lead generation program worth $42,000.

This simple contest does a lot of things for 451 Marketing. The first and most obvious one is that it has the potential to get their name out in front of a lot of people, many of whom could be prospects. It gives them something to tweet about for the next three months, and longer, as the entry deadline is September 1, 2009. It also drives traffic to their site, since all entries will be posted on their blog for review and generate comment by their readers. It also gives them a collection of social media examples to refer to in conversations and customer pitches. Since we are still in the early stages of adoption of social media in B2B, everyone is looking for good examples to talk about.

The two requirements for entry are that you must be a B2B company with over 50 employees and that your company sales are over $10 million. Don’t tell their competition, but they just identified their target market. Companies can submit entries by email to B2Bsocial@451marketing.com. The five top entries with the most comments of the blog will be finalists, and the winner will be chosen by 451 Marketing.

Overall, I like the idea of using social media to promote a contest about social media, but there is always the concern that the contest will not receive enough entries. This is something that we will know as the contest progresses. This means they need to target the potential entrants (business prospects) with their message and make sure it is seen.

There are two ways to improve the visibility of the contest. One is to provide a link to the contest from their home page. The other is to get more social. Yes, there are lots of tweets about it, but they are only informational. What about fun tweets? What about targeted tweets to potential entrants? What about encouraging tweets? What about links to a video showing the advantages of lead generation? What about more than just a blog feed on their Facebook fan page? And being more social would allow people to enter the contest in ways other than email? Why not Twitter, Facebook, or even video?

So check out the contest if you meet the requirements, and maybe you can get a free boost to your marketing mix.