LinkedIn outreach is changing and if you are in B2B – it’s time to adapt.
Those who have been in B2B for long enough know that LinkedIn marketing is no longer an additional tool for businesses – it’s a core channel in any organization that accelerates business growth. These days B2B LinkedIn marketing is about much more than brand awareness, it’s all about trust: trust your clients have in you, building relationships with people you trust, trust that your partners gain working with your company. Offline networking is pretty much gone for the foreseeable future which means B2B marketing on LinkedIn is swiftly changing. At the same time, lead generation is leaping forward towards a highly personal approach rather than cold outreach.
Disclaimer: forget everything you knew about LinkedIn B2B lead generation.
- Cold email campaigns are losing effectiveness. A few years ago, this type of outreach was highly effective in generating new prospects, but in the world of hyper personalized campaigns it’s considered ‘spamming’. And this isn’t just talk, numbers speak for themselves. People from Woodpecker conducted research which shows that emails that lack personalization are 100% less effective than personalized ones.
Not to mention, sending out cold emails at scale will give you a pretty good chance that lots of these emails will end up in spam folders. According to the research, 21% of legitimate marketing emails never make it to the inbox.
And for senders with low email sender reputation scores, less than 1% of their email gets delivered. The only way to avoid this is to have an excellent domain reputation and the right technical setup. Check out how we do it in this article.
- Reading your content does not equal purchase intent. While SEO is very effective in generating traffic, that traffic doesn’t equal leads. Even if you have evergreen content, people are so focused on what’s in front of them right now that we tend to move on after we think we’ve gotten the information that we need. This happens because the content doesn’t meet the prospect where they are and speak to the story in their mind–it’s a detour from what they’re thinking about or working on.
- Ad campaigns are too costly. Even though it’s a popular solution to generate more visibility, don’t expect to get the impressive results that companies in B2C and e-commerce get. Your sales cycle is way longer, and ads can’t tell you if you’ve got the main decision maker’s attention, so you can end up spending a lot more time and money than you think trying to get the deal flow and purchase intent with ads. The budget you spend on advertising doesn’t always have a quick payback, not to mention the fact that conversion rates always depend on the quality of the ad campaign. Let’s put it this way: both you and your prospects’ time is precious and it costs money. You don’t want to spend time talking to people you don’t know will buy your product or service instead of talking to those who with purchase intent, close to buying.
If all these things don’t work, then what does? LinkedIn outreach does. Let us be clear it’s not a cure for all your pains, and even LinkedIn is about to change…dramatically.
LinkedIn is, first of all, a SOCIAL network, thus it should be used for being social: building relationships and trust instead of cold selling. Unlike advertising, whose results are either successful or not right away, there is a snowball effect in lead generation activities on LinkedIn. This is why you have to bring actual value to the table: whether it’s quality content or meaningful conversations. Not just spamming them over and over again trying to sell them something.
This is exactly why as a user-centered community, LinkedIn is changing the rules of the outreach game to protect people from all those cold and spammy interactions. Are you still using a mass approach? Well, we’ve got bad news for you. Sooner or later you are going to experience warnings or even suspension. Want to learn how to avoid this? Keep reading, we’ve got you covered.
Quantity approach: What LinkedIn lead generation used to look like
For the last 5 years, LinkedIn has allowed users to go for a quantity approach to generate leads; which, generated a few deals one way or another. This worked well in the short term because it didn’t matter if some prospects ignored the connection or didn’t reply to salesy and spammy messages. It worked so well that plenty of automation platforms, gurus, and agencies came up with products and services that maximized your connection limit, sometimes sending invites to people who actually have no interest in your product, service, or business.
The worst part was that your prospect’s social media inbox turned into a mess, instead of a source of meaningful conversations, it was full of spammy messages from people trying to sell them something, not knowing if their service is a fit for their business. And it hindered anyone legitimately trying to use it as a social networking platform to do business ethically: if you decided to connect with a few people, they most likely thought of you as a salesperson because that’s the type of request they get most often.
Now, warnings and restrictions are not new to LinkedIn, so if you took a mass approach in the wrong way, your profile was restricted and/or suspended.
Working with LinkedIn lead generation for the better part of the last decade, we had learned all the tips and tricks to more or less standardized our approach and manage to keep our clients’ profiles safe from restrictions and warnings. It allowed us to send up to 3000 invites to new connections per month safely with proper targeting, personalized messaging, and consistent prospect interaction. Depending on the industry and seniority of the decision-maker, our lead generation activities were able to provide a 25% average acceptance rate, meaning clients usually got up to 500 connections a month with an average reply rate of 20-30%.
We effectively managed to get our clients noticed and gave them a competitive edge, making them stand out from mass informational noise on LinkedIn. How?
We followed a golden rule at Respect.Studio: automate what needs to be automated and personalize the way you communicate.
Read more about how this lead generation approach brought our clients 40 SQLs in just 1 month.
Game of numbers vs Game of bonds
In the old days, most of us played a numbers game. Sales prospecting consisted of sending a large volume of connection requests to prospects who weren’t necessarily qualified to be ideal customers.
Basically, the ultimate goal was to put yourself in front of the lead when we had a chance.
We all know that we won’t close the deals with all, let’s say, 60 connections we make. Only a fraction would turn into customers – the key is understanding which fraction.
We asked ourselves 2 very important questions:
Are our clients ready to spend so much time on prospects who aren’t exactly sure what they were looking for?
And: would prospects spend time on conversations about things that aren’t valuable for them?
The answer is NO. This made the old cold outreach approach spam. Ouch!
So what next? The world and LinkedIn have changed.
Many in B2B are still thinking about how to reach more people rather than how to reach RIGHT people so it mutually benefits everyone. Well, LinkedIn is changing that.
For some time now, the platform has put into place some parameters to prevent spamming and inappropriate behavior so no one on the platform is bothered with the messages or interactions they didn’t want. LinkedIn would block your account if you sent too many Invites to connect or had too many clicks and page views from your account. This has intensified over the last 6 months.
And now here’s a notion that’s finally going to take out your kneecaps:
They’re starting to roll out limits of 100 max connection invites per week. And it’s awesome!! Thumbs up to LinkedIn for finally cracking down on things.
This limitation will definitely reduce the number of spammy accounts running on the platform.
The warning looks like this:
Yes, this limitation is a major hit for all B2B marketers who were using a mass cold outreach strategy, often with the help of automation tools. But let’s be honest, in many cases, this type of campaign could get you into deep waters if you don’t know how to use these tools correctly.
Read more on how and why LinkedIn automation can ruin your lead generation campaign here.
Now it’s a perfect time to shift from actions which could harm your LinkedIn activity to those that can benefit you and people you’re reaching out to.
What are they? Simple. Back to basics–establishing professional relationships, starting valuable conversations, and building connections and trust because in business it’s the same as in life: we spend time (and buy) from those we like, trust and have social bonds with. Read below to learn the best way to build these social bonds.
Simple as ABC. Always Be Connecting
It’s clear that marketers and salespeople should adapt to a new reality where mass outreach on LinkedIn won’t have a place anymore. So what to do then?
The number one solution experts are talking about is a switch to Account Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns. The golden rule here consists of three main elements: Personalization, personalization and of course… more personalization. Account based marketing without personalization is like a meal without salt–not good.
The key to a personalization done right is in depth knowledge of your ideal customer. Define your ICP and build your strategy to fit their needs and interests. And let the world revolve around these people…for a time.
But ABM technology is still in its early development stage. There are limits, especially when you have to identify the accounts, using IP addresses and Cookie Files. It may require a couple hours (or days?) of manual work to set up an efficient ABM system. And that’s the best case scenario. Also, this technology requires a new platform that you need to invest in first of all. And guess what.. you’d need to invest your precious time and thousands of dollars just to access and learn such platforms, and we’re not even talking about the other costs associated with ABM.
If you can’t afford yourself to spend all these resources for ABM, there’s an alternative – social selling. It’s not about simply posting on social media, it means building relationships and meeting prospects where they are.
When you know who your ideal clients are and know where to find them, then you can engage with them and build connections to start, and relationships that last.
Networking is an essential part of Selling on Social and a key to personalized outreach.
To make your selling on social effective simply stick to the rule of 3 Ps:
- Prospects – Interact and create conversations with people
- Posts – Interact with trending and relevant posts on your newsfeed
- Produce – Produce unique content to build engagement and expertise
Remember, before you send a request to connect, learn more about the person, show them that you’re interested in their thoughts and opinions, share your ideas with them, start discussions and get their answers.
Always keep in mind, people buy from those they like, trust and talk to. And there’s no better way to do that than getting their attention in a way that makes them feel good- by showing your interest and appreciation.
Just think about it. Let’s say you have a team project to work on and you can choose a colleague to work with. Whom would you rather choose? The guy you’ve seen one time on a coffee break and didn’t even talk to properly or the guy that came over to you 2 days ago to chat about your last project, sharing some thoughts and ideas and cared about what you brought to the table? It’s always going to be the latter. He seems to be nice, at least he cares about what you do, right?
Selling on LinkedIn is just like that. Be that guy who comes over just to chat, show interest and leave with a smile on your face–no ulterior motives. Next time they will meet you with a smile on their faces as well and be happy to talk to you again.
Remember: If they’re talking to you, they’re buying from you.
When a prospect knows you, because you’ve interacted with them in a social way on a social media platform, it is far more likely that they will pay attention to what you have to say, consider the solution you’re proposing, and remember you when it’s time to buy. Don’t be stuck in obscurity like 99% of businesses who fail to get enough attention from their prospects.
Look, we know that this approach is a longer way to the goal compared to how it used to be. But nowadays, that’s the only way to do things. Your name, brand, and reputation are your most valuable assets, only if enough of the right people know of them and use them. Yes, it will definitely add some work to your outreach process, add costs to lead generation, and make you spend more time nurturing leads and building trust. But herein lies the opportunity for your unfair advantage because not many companies will be able to execute personalized outreach campaigns effectively. After all, time = money.
In other words, the market will be now less saturated by spammy and salesy messages which makes this big shift on LinkedIn as a B2B Marketing platform an opportunity for you to make meaningful connections and break free from obscurity. If they don’t remember you, they can’t buy from you.
Don’t panic right away. Only a small number of accounts have experienced this change. That means new limitations are still in the testing stage and the rules can still change based on the outcome. Still, one thing is for certain: LinkedIn has started its transition to a quality type of approach and so should you.
While this transition is in development there’s still enough time for you to evaluate your current lead generation strategy and develop a competitive edge. Pay attention to each of your prospects, step into the conversation and bring your knowledge and personality into it instead of trying to control the agenda. As for our team, this change seemed risky, but it allowed us to step back and think strategically about how we can build upon the value we already bring to our clients. Spoiler alert: it worked! We managed to navigate through these changes and identify a working strategy to convert this into a massive opportunity both for us and our clients.
Want to learn how your business can benefit from embracing this change? Book a call to find out if our multi-touch approach is a good fit for you.