While Linkedin may not be the best or cheapest place to generate B2B leads, people sure do seem hell-bent on using it for this purpose. There is no question about the enormous amount of available data but Linkedin does not make it easy or obvious to mine the information you want.
There are over 400 million users on Linkedin, 107 million of which are in the US.
Let's first discuss pros and cons of using Linkedin to find leads.
On the plus side, the search facets are excellent, information is reasonably current, and profiles are fairly rich. You can find contacts using search criteria such as keywords, titles, group affiliation, and company size so you can get very specific. When you do find target contacts, it's amazing how much useful and accurate background information you can obtain. When approaching contacts, I like to use this information draw attention to commonalities and also like it when people approach me that way. I may not have time to talk to another annoying salesperson (like myself), but I've usually got time for someone who went to my alma mater or someone who shares a similar passion.
Linkedin adds 2 users per second.
On the negative side, mass extraction is prohibited, contact phone numbers and emails are spotty, and company search criteria is fairly limited. Once you find a large number of contacts that interest you, there are few tools you can use to extract them without violating Terms of Service which I cover below. You can certainly contact targets through Linkedin but you will be limited by the number of Linkedin InMails depending on your plan. Also, there are many products and services that don't lend themselves well to targeting by contact profile. For instance, if you are targeting B2B companies (like we do), you can target people with the title VP Sales but you'll get all the B2C VP Sales as well unless you drill into B2B interest groups. A good way around this is to use a tool like LeadCrunch which will use your current customers to find your best target companies. Then you can go after the right contacts. However, the actual decisionmaker title for your product or service might vary wildly from VP Sales to CMO to owner.
All that said, let's get right to the 6 top ways to generate leads using Linkedin.
1. Linkedin Pulse
Posting high value content on Pulse is the best way to start an inbound marketing strategy on Linkedin. Pulse, a hybrid of a blog and social network, gives publishers a wide potential audience, and it allows for specialized targeting. The downside is that many people only visit Linkedin occasionally which may limit your reach. Although this takes time, posting good relevant content on Linkedin is no different than attracting leads using content elsewhere except that is might be more target rich depending on your industry.
Linkedin gets 100 million unique views per month.
2. Data Extraction
LeadGrabber is the only Linkedin extraction platform I've used and, although effective, it has some serious limitations. You can extract leads based on targeted searches and then they essentially guess each contact's email address for you. My email validation tool suggested that their email accuracy was roughly 75% which I thought was decent. But it also means that you should definitely validate the email addresses and test a small batch. Despite being effective, LeadGrabber is time consuming to use, tech support is poor and you must download a software that only works on Windows (really?). I couldn't even get it to work on Parallels on my Mac so I had to use a Windows laptop for my last lead gen campaign. The most important thing you can do before using it is to join all relevant groups before you start so that you can actually target and extract contacts from these groups. And you'll be limited to the first 1000 results of any search that you do -- then you'll have to do another search. This allows you to extract roughly 12K leads in a 30-day period for their cheapest plan of $1199.
I recently discovered Salestools.io which looks much easier to use than LeadGrabber except has lower volume plans.
3. Linkedin Groups
Although this takes time, posting good relevant content on Linkedin is no different than attracting leads using content elsewhere. You can post ungated content on your account or inside groups but ensure that it is relevant to a particular discussion in the latter case. Unfortunately, few groups really drive good discussions and are instead receptacles for drive-by content postings or just shameless self-promotion.
4. Linkedin Ads
Although I have personally found Linkedin Ads to be much more expensive and less effective than Facebook and email, others have been able to make it work at an acceptable cost. If you try it, you can advertise using sidebars or sponsored ads. Those who have had success say that sidebars ads are best done by harnessing value added informational items such as webinars, whitepapers, and events. Sponsored ads are best created by showcasing trials and demos for your product. Microtarget as best as you can and shoot for a CPC to $2-3 and conversion rate of 5-10%.
5. Linkedin Sales Navigator
Linkedin Sales Navigator (LSN) allows you to crudely select basic company facets, such as vertical and region, and contact facets to select targets. You can also import your targets from Salesforce directly into the platform. Once in the platform, you can track these targets and manage contact with them. Also, LSN can suggest targets based on your existing targets but I have not found this aspect to be very accurate. If LSN is too expensive, you can follow company targets manually.
6. Dig Deeper
Since Linkedin is a nearly endless topic, I'd like to suggest a few more resources if you are still hungry. The book The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success by Wayne Breitbarth is a good place to learn more about LInkedin. To learn about how to better hack and innovate your way down the funnel, read the excellent book Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine by Max Altschuler. If you are working with an inside sales team, you might like the free eBook 42 LinkedIn Inside Sales Tips by Ken Krogue and Jamie Shanks.
So there you have the 6 top ways to use Linkedin to generate B2B leads. Hopefully, this article simplifies the labyrinth that is Liniked and helps you be more focused, drive more leads, and accelerate your sales pipeline at a lower CAC. Happy hunting!