Overview: Before you can build an effective LinkedIn strategy, you need to know your options. This article outlines the 3 main LinkedIn B2B marketing strategies companies use to generate leads, awareness, and revenue.

By now, you’ve heard of or seen LinkedIn marketing at work. Chances are you’ve had direct experiences with it on the receiving end, that range from positive to negative.

The positives might be, “Huh, that’s a cool ad. I’ll download that thing” or “That’s awesome, I love that my friend Emily is sharing interesting stuff like this at her new job”.

One negative we hear from companies is, “Why is this annoying type of post showing up in my LinkedIn feed? This is dreck”; and from the marketers, we hear a great deal of lament over the supposedly high cost of LinkedIn advertising relative to Facebook. “Prohibitively expensive” is the term we hear quite often.

But what’s underneath all of this is an undercurrent of excitement and opportunity: LinkedIn is one of the best places for B2B professionals to network, market, and develop their businesses and reputations. If you sell to businesses – and even sometimes to high net worth consumers – LinkedIn belongs in your strategy.

With that in mind, let’s go over the main LinkedIn techniques and how they each might fit into your strategy.

LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategy #1: Paid Advertising

This is the first thing that comes to mind for most people. After all, it’s one of LinkedIn’s three main moneymakers, second to their Talent Solutions business which comprises about ⅔ of its revenue. (LinkedIn sells about as much to Marketing leaders as it does to Salespeople, as a percentage of revenue contribution.)

If you look at the trends in LinkedIn marketing and advertising costs, you’ll see that LinkedIn still looks quantitatively very expensive on a per-lead basis compared to most other channels:

top 3 linkedin b2b strategies ads

Is LinkedIn Your Best Ad Channel?

Now, of course, LinkedIn may simply be a better channel than others for your specific use case: or the advertising benefits may not be worth the added costs, for you. It depends on where your audience spends more of their time, which will be proven right or wrong in the data that emerges from your experimentation.

What you should be asking yourself when it comes to LinkedIn ads is the following:

  • Does my audience primarily engage on LinkedIn, but not on other social media channels?
  • How much reach do we have on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and other channels?
  • Does our product’s average sales price merit the extra level of spend on LinkedIn advertising?

If the blended answer to the above questions amounts to an overall “Yes”, then you should consider including LinkedIn ads in your digital marketing portfolio.

If you aren’t sure how to weigh those factors, and/or you’ve never advertised on LinkedIn before, you’re probably better off hiring an agency to help you set this up, and perhaps run your campaigns for you, as well.

Bolster Your Content Promotion Strategy

If you write the world’s best article, and no one reads it, was it ever really written? Campaign Monitor defines Content Promotion as “The process of distributing blog posts and other resources via both paid and organic channels, which may include pay-per-click advertising, influencer outreach, PR, social media, email marketing, and syndication.” In order to really amplify the reach of your content you need to understand the purpose and goals you have for your content, which will help you determine what types of content promotion make sense for each individual piece you’ve created.

LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategy #2: Organic LinkedIn Posting

One of the big reasons why people log into LinkedIn is to see valuable and original content from other business professionals.

Even when people have no intention of looking for a job and they aren’t selling anything or recruiting, they are still logging in so that they can see what their network is doing.

Naturally, LinkedIn understands this and wants to encourage people to write posts, thus keeping people engaged on the platform. This increases their user metrics and, in turn, the performance of their ads.

The more active users they have, the more ads they can serve.

How Does Organic LinkedIn Content Affect the Bottom Line?

Getting leads through unpaid, organic LinkedIn posting can be tough. Most people write posts that don’t do a good job of generating leads,.

The idea behind using posts from your personal account to bring in business is to establish yourself as a credible expert in your field and to simultaneously increase the size of your audience to the point where you’re influencing hundreds or thousands of people every time you write.

At that point, you can almost think of the metrics of your organic posts as being similar to advertising: you have Viewers (Impressions), Engagements (Clicks), and people who contact you directly after seeing your post (Conversions).

If you’re wondering what types of posts are good examples of this, skim through this quick article with example LinkedIn posts we wrote and why they worked well.

Who Should Do Organic LinkedIn Posting?

We get it: personal account LinkedIn posting is a messy subject for a lot of big, enterprise revenue teams.

You’re probably better off looking at this as a strategy if you’re a private company on the smaller side. That way, there are fewer guidelines in place restricting personal social media use, and you probably have a closer-knit team with members who are more likely to want to post on LinkedIn about the industry and company in order to get business, to help with the overall team mission and goals.

Eventually, we hope that more revenue professionals will see LinkedIn as not just a place to log in when you’re looking for a job but rather a place to develop your professional network overall, whether you’re developing your business, reskinning your resume, or learning from and teaching your professional peers.

The service providers that have deep knowledge of how to use LinkedIn posting to drive marketing and lead generation results are few and far between. The strategy is nascent and not widely-known. You’ll find hundreds of advertising agencies that are competent in LinkedIn ads, but only a small handful other than RevenueZen that understand Organic Content Marketing on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategy #3: Outbound Marketing (Prospecting)

The last major way that revenue teams use LinkedIn is by treating it as a prospecting channel. You might think, “this is a post about marketing – why are we talking about prospecting? That’s what salespeople do!”

There’s some truth to that, but because prospecting is a similar method to advertising in its activities and goals, it deserves a place on this list. Both ads and prospecting messages interrupt the workflow of a target customer and try to engage them for their attention when they weren’t looking for you already.

That being said, we see a far higher level of general competency at how to use LinkedIn for advertising, than for prospecting. We also see an overwhelming plethora of service providers claiming to do LinkedIn lead generation, where in reality they merely prospect badly on behalf of your profile, at enormous scale, try to muscle their way into a large volume of responses. To the untrained salesperson or marketing manager, this can look appealing.

But LinkedIn prospecting isn’t a bad idea if it’s executed properly. Done well, it can be a major revenue generator. After all, LinkedIn sells millions and millions of dollars’ worth of solutions to sales teams every month, to help them prospect better.

How Is LinkedIn Prospecting Different Than Other Channels?

The main key to your LinkedIn selling strategy is to understand that LinkedIn is a social network, first and foremost. While it is a professional business network, and thus you are allowed – expected! – to have commercial intent when you use the platform to connect with others, people expect you to do more than go straight for the kill (sale) when approaching them.

They want to see your profile demonstrate credibility, they want to read your posts to understand your thought process, and they want to keep the discussion of how you can help each other somewhat more open-ended than on a cold call, where time is tight and you need to get to your point extremely quickly.

Takeaways

Once you’ve decided which LinkedIn B2B marketing strategy is the best fit for you, or what mix, then it’s time to start planning. For early-stage companies, or companies that need to stay lean, you’ll probably start with a mix of prospecting and organic. If you’re a larger company with a bigger budget, you might be able to start with LinkedIn ads.

Either way, the key takeaway is that you need to build a LinkedIn strategy if your market is on LinkedIn. As a B2B marketing channel, ignoring LinkedIn means ignoring the number one place where business professionals are spending their time.

For more detailed guidance on how we’ve used LinkedIn for ourselves and our clients, check out our guide to social selling on LinkedIn.