LinkedIn has long been known as a powerful tool for lead generation. Salespeople, especially, understand that LinkedIn's connection and InMail features are powerful tactics for finding B2B decision-makers willing to take a call.
However, there's less discourse about LinkedIn as a lead nurturing tool. When most marketers hear "lead nurturing," they think automated email. Today, I'd like to show you how LinkedIn is just as important for nurturing leads toward sales opportunities as email.
If you're only used to using LinkedIn idly as a networking tool, get ready to rethink your relationship with the platform. LinkedIn lead nurturing requires a different mindset and different set of tactics. As with most of social media, authenticity is crucial and automation is limited. Consider these four LinkedIn tactics to use to nurture leads.
1. Think of Your Connections as a Captive Audience
LinkedIn is first and foremost a social platform. Even if it is the professional social media network, it doesn't mean that people want to read your sales-y material all the time. Instead, it's a setting for sharing and promoting genuinely useful content.
Every LinkedIn connection you have receives regular digests to their email and likely visits their newsfeed at least once or twice per week. Because of this, your LinkedIn connections will see your content if you share it—it's just a matter of getting it out there.
LinkedIn's newsfeed algorithm is particularly friendly to individuals sharing content, rather than company profiles. Make sure that you're personally building lots of connections and sharing content on LinkedIn reguarly.
2. Engage in LinkedIn Groups the Right Way.
Every good LinkedIn marketer is active in LinkedIn Groups. However, very few use LinkedIn Groups well. In fact, many social media pundits argue that LinkedIn Groups are currently plagued by constant spamming (i.e., overly frequent promotional sharing by marketers). That's why LinkedIn made all groups private in October 2015, with the hopes of encouraging more maintenance and monitoring from group moderators.
In all contexts, principled inbound lead nurturing means being helpful first and promotional second. If you want to nurture leads in groups, then you should be less intent on posting new discussions and sharing your content. Instead, you should focus on answering questions and being an active participant in fostering good discussion. With a helpful approach in LinkedIn Groups, you'll quietly become a thought leader among peers, and in the longterm, that's far better than any potential gain from frequent sharing.
3. View Thumbs Ups and Comments as Touchpoints
Overall, LinkedIn has far less social activity than Facebook. People are generally more timid about engaging with their professional connections than their Facebook friends. This shouldn't intimidate you, however. This just means thumbs ups and direct messages are more impactful on LinkedIn.
Once you connect with a lead, remember that every interaction you have can be an important touchpoint in making sure he/she remembers who you are. A message is clearly a direct touchpoint, but so are comments and thumbs ups. Over time, having a social conversation can be an important start to building a relationship that could translate into a sales opportunity.
4. Lean Forward on Connecting with Leads
"Anybody you think you'd like connect with is somebody you should ask to connect with." This should be an inbound marketer's mentality on connecting with leads. Today, too many marketers are still hesitant to connect with people they don't know.
If your job is to develop your business and increase revenue, then you should be actively connecting with leads. Your job from there is simply not to annoy them. If you don't share anything, then you'll probably achieve that basic goal. If you engage them appropriately (steps 1-3), then you'll do more—you'll nurture them.
All Lead Nurturing Requires Content
As with all aspects of inbound marketing, lead nurturing on LinkedIn or in any other context requires content that's helpful and that fuels your sharing. Your leads need something to interest them, besides your profile picture. In the guide below, you'll learn about how to fuel your social media engagement strategy with content that will keep leads coming back to your website for more.