This article will give you a detailed overview of our lead generation campaign using LinkedIn’s personal profile. This specific niche was chosen for this review as a large chunk of our clients are outsourcing companies offering their IT services worldwide. That’s why due to our experience in this field we can give you a detailed overview of the problems such companies usually face, how they overcome them and what results they usually achieve.
Client: IT Outsourcing company from L’viv, Ukraine targeting the US market
Problem: Most of their leads currently come from word of mouth, which is very unstable. The team is struggling to build an efficient and stable marketing channel that will constantly bring them a good amount of leads.
Usually, companies supply us with different initial data, which is why there is no standard approach to setting up these campaigns. However, most of them follow 3 main steps: setting up a target audience, creating a message script, and optimizing the profile that will be used during the campaign. Below, I will describe these 3 components in more detail.
A lot of companies (especially those from the IT Outsourcing vertical) have a very broad vision of their target audience. A typical answer to the question “Who is your client?” might be, – “everyone who is in need of software development”. As you may have already guessed, this is a very inefficient approach. In order for most marketing activities to be successful, you need to have a very clear image of your ideal client (aka buyer persona).
“…Let me give you a little example. Imagine yourself as a COO of a big retail company. You receive 2 messages on LinkedIn:
- “…we are a software development company helping businesses to build efficient IT tools to optimize their processes…”
- “…we are a software development company that has worked within the retail vertical for more than 5 years, and help COO’s optimize their processes and reduce their workload on the warehouses…”
Which one you are more likely to pay attention to? This question is obviously rhetorical, as you should already know that focusing on a narrow audience is the way to go with marketing (google will help you answer the “why” question).”
So, what do we usually do to narrow down the audience? We take a look at the client’s recent portfolio and try to find some patterns.
||Going a bit deeper into the details of these projects, we identified the size of the companies, their locations and the decision-makers in charge of providing the solutions offered by our IT vendor.|
||Match the criteria with the filters available on LinkedIn, in order to save the search results in the Sales Navigator and use them to connect with the appropriate target audience.|
||Location: USA (a list of states was prepared in a specific order)
Company headcount: 51-500
Title: CTO, CIO
Now that we know who we are going to target, – our next step was to create a script ( messages we are going to send to all these prospects).
…There are a few ingredients required for an efficient outreach message:
- Personalization. A prospect needs to understand within a few seconds of looking at the message that you are writing it specifically for him and not copy/pasting it to all your connections.
- Benefit. One of the most important points here is to show the benefit your potential client can get from you and your business. It shouldn’t be a list of your achievements, but a short and understandable description of your strongest selling point that will catch their attention and create a desire for them to learn more about your service or product.
- Smoothness. You don’t want to start your communication by sending an offer. This will be treated as spam. We advise building a dialogue first, which might start by sharing something of value to your new contact. Which leads us to the next point…
- Value. It is always better to provide value before asking for something, which is why we usually advise our clients to share something interesting with their prospects – an article which might be related to their business, some business insights, a relevant case study, etc.
- Size. It matters. You don’t want to be the person who sends A4 format messages right after the start of the conversation. It’s always better to send a few short messages and even space them apart, rather than send a big chunk of text that won’t be read anyway.
In the end, our script was as follows:
The profile is the last step in preparing a campaign, but certainly not the least important. The strength of the profile we are going to use in the campaign can play a crucial role. You want your target audience to be willing to connect with the profile and they need to understand the value of the connection just by looking at the connection request menu. In short – your profile photo and headline are the two most important sections in most cases.
We’ve covered this topic in a separate article (What makes a good LinkedIn profile), so we won’t go into too much detail here. However, I will give you an idea of its importance below.
In our campaigns, we are limited by the number of connections we can send daily/monthly. These limitations come from LinkedIn, and we can’t break them to ensure LinkedIn doesn’t flag the profile. Let’s say we send 3,000 requests and 20% of people are accepting them. This will give us 600 connections per month, and all of them will receive our messages. An average reply rate is 15%, so around 90 people will write to us. Out of those 90 people, 15 might be positive/progressing leads. Now imagine, if we can just improve the acceptance rate by 10%, you can start getting 30% more leads a month! And sometimes, you can do this simply by changing your profile picture.
So, we had everything ready in order to proceed with the campaign and start delivering those new hot leads.
||We began slowly, in order to avoid triggering any LinkedIn algorithms aimed at detecting suspicious behavior (which is how they detect and suspend all those spam accounts). Within one week we were already at our normal speed of adding 150 people/day.|
Every person who accepted our connection request was added to the spreadsheet, where we tracked their name, profile link, email address and phone number (if available), connection date, country/state, position and company name. You can find an example of the table in the image below.
||Sometimes, we would receive a unique question that we have no reply to. Those messages are redirected to the client’s team and are answered manually by them. Later, we add these questions and answers to the script, so the next time we encounter the same situation – we are able to answer on our own, without bothering the client’s team.|
Those who replied to us were moved into a separate tab of the spreadsheet, where we pay special attention to them, along with the client. This new tab included some extra information:
- Link to chat directly with that person (so the client doesn’t need to waste his time finding the lead in the chat)
- Message sent. In order to track progress.
- Status. This is how we mark the leads that need to be picked up by the client.
- Notes. Usually, we put the last message sent by the lead here.
Above, you can find an example of such a spreadsheet. As you can see, we mark leads with different colors, so it will be easier for the client to pick them up and create the proper response, prioritizing those who are marked as positive.
||During the preparation stage we setup a channel suitable for our client. In this case, it was a Skype chat with an account manager and project manager from our side and a business developer and CMO from the client’s side. Besides Skype, the most popular channels we use include email, Slack and WhatsApp.|
Every day we send information regarding leads which that require a reply, along with some information about the lead. Below you can see an example of such an update.
Once the lead is picked up, we mark him in the spreadsheet and never touch this contact again from our side.
Every week and at the end of the month we send a report with all the important data to recap the period. We compare the numbers with other campaigns and average numbers we currently have in order to make sure that everything is running nice and smooth. If we see a way to improve conversions, – our project manager would work on this together with the client.
||In this particular case, we had already made a bunch of changes. Starting with the target audience, because the first one we chose was very limited and we ended up doing a complete overhaul of the message script. Now, we are only A/B testing different small parts of the campaign to optimize it a little.|
|(!)||Within the first month, most of our power was used to calibrate the campaign. We were constantly testing the audience and messages we send until we saw some good traction. By the end of the 3rd week, we started to receive a good amount of replies, and some of them were marked as hot, which means that those are leads have expressed interest in receiving more details about the offer.|
This campaign, like many similar campaigns where we contact a very busy target audience, has a lower connection rate than usual (ratio of outgoing request to connections). In this particular case, it was at 6% (where our average connection rate is above 15%). But this is not a surprise, as such people get dozens of such requests daily, with a very similar offer. When you are someone from an IT development team in Ukraine trying to target C-suite management from the US, your chances of being accepted are.. not so high.
|(!)||But, we have to consider this with the quality of the responses, and we are getting more than a 20% reply rate here, which is slightly above average overall, not taking into account this specific field. A mix of a narrow audience and very personalized messages are doing a good job here, as you can see.|
This ratio is based on the 3 messages we send and doesn’t include additional follow-ups that would increase the number dramatically.
But, you’re probably wondering, what does this mean for the company? How many clients are they actually getting from this campaign?
|Well, while we do not go beyond the lead generation stage to participate in meetings with the leads or the process of closing deals, we do know some facts for sure:|
- On average we send 8 hot leads a month from one profile
- Those 8 leads convert to 3-4 meetings with the team to discuss the possible projects
- With the monthly price of our campaign, a single closed deal within half a year could cover all the marketing expenses and bring a positive ROI. And from what we know, there are more than a few deals being closed already.
To summarize the benefits of the campaign, here is what the client has received:
- 3,000 people matching the target audience are receiving a connection request and a short blurb of information about the company (for some campaigns, 3000 impressions are more expensive than our monthly lead gen pack).
- Hundreds of people are becoming 1st connections (aka friends), which means that they are getting more information about the offer and will see all the updates from the profile we are using in the future.
- A spreadsheet with information about all the connections, their emails, phone numbers and level of interest. This information can be used later in order to start cold (but not really cold, as we are already connected) email outreach, or direct calls from the biz dev team.
- And most importantly – a good number of leads are sent daily/weekly to the client.
“The creative solutions they presented to us for an otherwise too complicated and underutilized social network were excellent. Previously, we were sharing content without any ROI, but now we benefit from our presence on LinkedIn.” – Company’s CMO
The IT Outsourcing filed is a very competitive market, especially in Ukraine, and for that reason, we are not disclosing the name of the company. However, all the numbers are real and we are able to provide you with references upon your request.
More case studies from different industries are coming soon. Stay tuned with us on social media: