How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads

Contributed content / By Taras Prystatsky / 27 November 2019

As a B2B networking platform with millions of decision-making professionals, LinkedIn is an ideal platform to generate qualified leads. Following the basic marketing approaches below can help you funnel leads into your business.

With more than 40 million companies and counting on its platform, LinkedIn presents a clear opportunity for B2B generation. 

That’s because businesses can now better tailor their networking and marketing efforts by targeting key decision-makers directly.

630 million professionals use LinkedIn.

Source

Of the 630 million professionals that have LinkedIn profiles, 10 million are C-level executives, 90 million are senior-level influencers, and 17 million are opinion leaders. And the numbers continue to go up.

According to Statista, the number of LinkedIn users grew from 37 million to 467 million in 7 years. Now, there are more than 600 million professionals.

The number of LinkedIn users grew from 37 million to 467 million in 7 years. Now, there are more than 600 million professionals.
 
Source

LinkedIn’s steady user growth solidifies it as a leading platform for professional networking. By leveraging the platform’s potential through strategic digital (social) marketing tactics, B2B companies can drive more revenue to their business.

My agency has more than 5 years of experience implementing these B2B lead generation strategies, so I’m confident that they work. This article will explore the most up-to-date approaches that we use for our clients.

How to Capitalize on LinkedIn to Generate Leads

  1. Follow basic marketing practices
  2. Figure out your audience
  3. Optimize your profile
  4. Create a chain of messages
  5. Launch your outreach
  6. Improve your lead generation strategy and repeat

1. Follow Basic Marketing Practices

Enthusiasm is great, but it should be aimed towards specific, measurable, and realistic milestones. Let’s go over a brief step-by-step of marketing.

Define Your Goals

Your ultimate goal might be to make money, but that’s not very specific nor helpful. What are the key, actionable milestones that you need to achieve that goal?

Set up clear business goals before starting the campaign, and make sure they are measurable and performance-based. These goals will be used to create key performance indicators (KPIs) for your campaign later.  

Define Your Offer

The better you understand what are you selling, the more chances you have to target a proper audience. If you have a wide range of services, be sure you have a separate lead generation campaign for each one.

This way, you will be able to segment your audience and target your marketing efforts precisely. 

Figure Out Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

I know it sounds basic, but you can’t underestimate the importance of this aspect. If you don't know what makes you different from your competitors then all of your lead generation efforts will be a waste of time.

Be Prepared to Process the Leads

It’s very common for startups and small companies to stop their lead generation campaigns because they don't have the capacity to pick up the flow of leads from LinkedIn

To prevent that, you have to be sure that you have your sales processes are streamlined or even automated.

Figure out which form of communication is the most suitable for you (e.g., calls, meetings, emails) and make sure that you can process leads with minimal delay. 

Completing these basic steps is crucial for defining your target audience as well as creating an effective messaging script. Spoiler alert, we’ll be covering these processes in depth further in the article.

2. Figure Out Your Audience

We’ve answered the "Why?" and "What?" of your business proposition. Now, it’s time to figure out the "who?"

You might think that the world is your oyster when it comes to your product or services — who wouldn’t want to work with you? But you shouldn't encourage your “Marketing Sancho Panza” to run toward the windmills. 

To target your campaign properly, you need to define your primary buyer personas. LinkedIn's Sales Navigator allows you to use an extremely wide range of search filters to narrow down your search, many of which are included in their starter package.

  • Keyword – It is one of the most widely used filters. Basically, it displays only profiles containing your specified keywords.
  •  Geography
  • Relationship – You can choose between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd connections to better leverage your sphere of influence. If you primarily earn business by word-of-mouth, targeting 1st and 2nd connections might be better.
  • Company – The search will come up with the company page, as well as the list of employees of a particular company.
  • Industry
  • Company headcount
  • Title – This filter allows you to make your targeting more specific. Besides screening for a person’s current position, you can also look for descriptions like “Speaker” or “Investor” in their titles.

Once you have your buyer personas, you can translate them into LinkedIn filters. That will enable you to conduct a precise search, flooding your network with relevant connections.

3. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile 

It's crucial to remember that each of your targeted prospects will likely visit your profile. Therefore, your profile should be able to convince audiences that you are the right person to work with.

Just make sure that:

Your Profile Photo Looks Professional

Your face should be clearly visible. It doesn't have to be a boring corporate photo. You can still be creative with it, but don't overthink it. 

This picture is quite creative but not really suitable for LinkedIn. 

This picture is quite creative but not really suitable for LinkedIn.
 
Whatever your photo, keep your image professional and consistent with your messaging. 

Your Headline Is Descriptive

Avoid the simple "Position at Company" pattern. Since this is the most visible part of your account, make it more creative and tell people how can you help them. It is SEO-sensitive, so you should include your main keywords, too.

Here’s a nice example of a descriptive headline: "Innovation and disruption theorist, keynote speaker, best-selling author, executive, and performance coach." 

Your Summary Accurately Sums You Up

This section helps readers learn more about you. Don't hesitate to mention your greatest achievements, virtues, life purpose, and hobbies. 

Use these 2,000 characters to show your competence and don't forget about the personal touch. It is also the most SEO-sensitive part of your profile, so be sure to include all relevant keywords here. 

Quick tip: Don’t be afraid to get emotional. Outline what you love most about your job to make people see that you really enjoy what you’re doing.

Treat Your Profile Like a Resume

Make sure your positions and skills are up-to-date. Add some relevant experience and main achievements on those positions. Then, list your relevant skills and get endorsed for them.

You might even ask your previous clients to write recommendations about your past project. This would be another check in the reliability test. 

Simply put, make sure that every section is filled properly, and remember to stay relevant.

4. Create a Chain of Messages

Now, it’s time to write the script for your lead generation campaign. These are the messages that will be sent to your target audiences. 

The basic script follow a general flow chart: Your initial connection message will lead to an offer, which will generate a positive, neutral, or negative response.

Your initial connection message will lead to an offer, which will generate a positive, neutral, or negative response.
 
Based on your audience’s reply, you can choose the best way to engage (or stop engaging) with them.

Connection Message

This is the first thing that prospects get from you. You’re not trying to sell anything yet. Just say "Hello," be polite, and express the reason why are you contacting them. 

Once they accept your request to connect, send them the next message.

Offer Message

This is the main part of the script. Here you should add your offer and list potential benefits a person can get from your cooperation. It should be no longer than 5–6 sentences. 

Afterward, you have to be prepared for 3 types of responses: positive, negative, and neutral. 

  • Positive – The prospect is interested in your offer. Feel free to proceed with your communication. Send them all the details, schedule a call, and add +1 to your lead list. 
  • Negative – The prospect doesn't show interest in your offer, but you shouldn't abandon communication at this point. 

According to my experience, a negative lead that was picked up by an experienced sales manager can be converted into a sale anyway. Just accentuate the possible benefits once more and let them think for a couple of days.

  • Neutral – This is the trickiest type of reply because they are usually suggested by LinkedIn. They usually include something like: "Ok, thanks," "Sure," or something similar. 

You can't be certain if the person is interested but busy or if they are just indifferent. The answer should be similar to the previous one. Accept their response, stay patient, and remind them about all the benefits you have to offer. 

To sum everything up, you need to create a chain of messages that will get the person acquainted with your expertise, offer, and potential benefits. Besides that, you need to strike a good balance between a salesy, straight-to-the-point message and a personalized friendly message. 

Quick tip: You can never over-personalize messages. Personalized messages are 45% more efficient in email campaigns. This is also true on LinkedIn.

5. Launch the Outreach

Now that preparations are ready, let's start some actual lead generation. 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the perfect tool for this task. It allows you to filter your audience by all characteristics mentioned in the second step of this strategy. Just enter your parameters to receive a list of potential clients. 

Remember that LinkedIn will ban your account for doing too many daily actions. Actions include pretty much every click you perform, so you have to make sure you work only with your target audience. 

Don't send more than 150 connect requests per day. If your LinkedIn profile has less than 300 connections, limit your reach to 50 invites per day.

Send the offer message to everyone who accepted your request, and respond to every reaction on your offer. Repeat this process for at least 7–10 days. Remember to use additional software to track your actions.  
You will need a significant amount of patience and coffee. And may the salesforce (or just any other CRM) be with you. 

6. Analyze the Results

After the first lead generation cycle is finished, you have to sit and analyze your results. Create a table with all of the names, emails, and answers from your target audience. 

On this stage you have to evaluate:

  • Percentage of people who accepted your request to connect (acceptance rate)
  • Percentage of prospects who replied to the offer message (reply rate)
  • Percentage of positive, negative, and neutral answers 
  • Number of hot leads generated
  • Number of leads converted

Here's a graph that represents Acceptance (invites/connections) and Reply (connections/replies) Rates throughout different industries. 

Here's a graph that represents Acceptance (invites/connections) and Reply (connections/replies) Rates throughout different industries.
 
In this example, you could summarize that certain industries were more receptive to your initial messaging while others weren’t. You could then focus on your largest open prospect opportunities or rethink your messaging/strategy for the industries with the lowest reply rates. 

This graph represents an average number of hot leads throughout different industries. Please keep in mind that your number of leads depends on various factors and these numbers may vary during your campaign. 

Please keep in mind that your number of leads depends on various factors and these numbers may vary during your campaign.

This will help you know how to staff your sales team so that you can convert those leads efficiently. In this example, engineering, fin-tech, and marketing are your leading segments.

7. Improve Your Lead Generation Strategy and Repeat

A perfect lead generation campaign doesn't exist. There's always room for improvement. The best way to improve a campaign is to change one of its parameters and analyze the results again.

You can change:

  1. The audience (company size, position, niche)
  2. The script (timing, offer, personalization) 
  3. Your personal account information (headline, cover photo, summary) 

Just change one element at a time. Don't change the script and audience during one circle because you won’t be able to determine which factor improved or worsened the results.

It may take up to 5–10 cycles until the results are close to your initial goals, so be patient. 

Generating LinkedIn Leads Takes Time and Perseverance

LinkedIn is a B2B lead generation platform by design. The combination of a LinkedIn audience and the available tools enable marketers to generate a sustainable flow of leads using only this platform

Nevertheless, this process requires time, deep analysis, and huge amount of A/B testing. If you are looking for a ready-made strategy that will bring great results, keep in mind that there’s no perfect lead generation strategy. There are only marketers who are ready for constant self-improvement.

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