A couple of years ago, I published a post on the 4 Must-Haves for a Professional LinkedIn Profile. It's become one of my most popular posts of all time. I also included a link to download a handout that could be downloaded and used as a guide.
Well, times have changed and so has LinkedIn, and it's time for a new guide.
LinkedIn hasn't been standing still, that's for sure:
If you had one of the top viewed profiles it's likely you've received an email from LinkedIn thanking you and letting you know where you stood. Several of my connections posted their profile was in the top 1%, 2% or 5% viewed on LinkedIn for the year. I waited for my thank you, and waited.
Then, on Feb. 12, I got my email: "Greg, congratulations! You have one of the top 10% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!" I really have no idea why I'm in the top 10%. I can guess those in the top 1% to 5% are there because of how visible they are outside of LinkedIn. They have spent years building a blog, brand and/or business, have a strong following and tribe members who love what they do and seek them out on networks like LinkedIn.
To help you take advantage of the new LinkedIn profile design and all its features, I've put together another LinkedIn guide. This one, however, is much more complete and really goes into the details you need to know about and actions you need to take to optimize and polish your profile. It will help you tell your story, stand out and show you how to use the new LinkedIn features to your advantage.
I made this guide for myself first (my profile is still a work in progress). I've shared it with many of my clients. And I want to share it with you too. It's free. I only ask you to register for it as I will send out any helpful updates in the event LinkedIn makes improvements - as we know they will!
I'm pretty confident that if you follow this new guide and use it to build out your LinkedIn profile, your profile will rank within the top 5% of the 200+ members listed on LinkedIn. If you did that, I'd be shocked if you don't get the email thanking you next year for being a unique part in the LinkedIn community!
Go to the registration page to get your copy of the NEW and FREE guide for optimizing your professional profile in the new LinkedIn design.
Before diving into tactics, it's helpful to recognize B2B inbound marketing success is not about any one tactic or event. It's a process involving a series of tactical activities and campaigns that when integrated together, over time deliver top business value.
There is no silver bullet. No magic marketing pill that will deliver higher and higher levels of traffic, leads and sales. It takes a serious, intelligent and sustained effort involving a potentially wide range of tactics.
For example, The HubSpot inbound marketing methodolgy of combining SEO with blogging (content marketing) and social media has exponential impacts.¹ Whereas, if you just did any one of the 3 without integrating the others your results would not be as significant.
So, with that backdrop here are my top B2B inbound marketing tactics that DO lead to more traffic, leads and sales for the B2B inbound marketer.
Weekly Blog Posts
Much has been discovered and reported about the correlation of blogging with traffic and lead generation. For example, HubSpot data shows that companies that blog get...
- 55% more Web site visitors,
- 97% more inbound links and
- 434% more indexed pages.
The data also shows median monthly leads by range of Google Indexed pages increases dramatically, upwards of 236% from 176-310 to 311+. A key contributor to growing your indexed pages of course is the blog.
Additionally, new insights from HubSpot's The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing² report found...
- 57% of companies who blog have acquired a customer from a blog-generated lead,
- 72% who blog weekly have acquired new customers and
- 76% have acquired customers while blogging 2-3 times a week.
(Above graph from HubSpot's report: The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing)
From a tactical standpoint, blogging is probably the single most important thing a B2B company can do to grow their business online. But when integrated with some other tactics and channels it can be even more powerful.
Active LinkedIn Channel
The aforementioned report also pointed out an interesting and, what I believe, is a growing trend: LinkedIn is the most effective channel for B2B customer acquisition. In fact, with 61% of companies acquiring a customer through LinkedIn it is even more productive than other social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter:
(Above graph from HubSpot's The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing)
Having a robust professional and company profile on LinkedIn as I wrote about on 4 Must-Haves for a Professional LinkedIn Profile should be the first step towards maximizing your LinkedIn channel. Then, you can also link your Twitter account to LinkedIn. HubSpot users can also auto-publish notices (via the social media tool) of their blog posts to LinkedIn which will include a linkback to your blog. Of course you can also take part in groups or start up your own, post and answer questions and any number of other networking activities.
Knowing how to use LinkedIn will pay big dividends for B2B professionals and companies. It's not rocket science and you don't have to live on LinkedIn 24/7. Last month I received an email from a prospect asking about my services. He found me on LinkedIn, saw my profile was a potential match for a business opportunity, we talked and we're now doing business. LinkedIn works, but you have to invest some thought and time to make it work for you.
Well-Defined Buyer Personas
I'm going off the reservation a bit with this one, and should have listed it first. You won't find buyer persona development or marketing to your ideal buyer segments in the reporting. Still, it's a critical, strategic tactic that drives and sets up everything you do.
It goes beyond marketing segmentation which mostly has to do with selling to your market by effectively leveraging demographic and psychographic information. Persona marketing strikes to the heart of the matter as to what someone comes to your Web site to do - how they want to use it - taking into consideration their primary goals, behaviors and attitudes.
Lately, I've been writing about buyer persona marketing and development under these headings or posts:
I'm also in the process of writing an eBook on the subject so please stay tuned. I regard it as fundamentally important, a tactical exercise that leads to everything we do and the decisions we make. As Steve Mulder points out in his book and slideshare presentation, The User is Always Right³, personas lead to better all-around decisions in the areas of strategy, marketing and design.
(Above slide from Steve Mulder's The User is Always Right presentation taken from Slideshare)
After all, isn't that what B2B inbound marketing tactics is all about - making better decisions? Better knowledge of your personas are the impetus and glue to attract, inform and engage with them. It should drive everything you do.
- ¹ HubSpot webinar and presentation slides: Inbound Marketing: SEO + Blogs + ¹Social Media by Mike Volpe.
- ² HubSpot report, The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing, published February 2011 and based on a January 2011 survey of 644 professionals.
- ³ Steve Mulder's book (affiliate link) and webinar presentation, The User is Always Right - A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web.
What B2B inbound marketing tactics and resources have you found helpful to drive business results upward?
LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals was established in 2003. It currently has over 85 million members in 200 countries and is available in 6 languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese.
As I wrote in The Two Social Media Tools I Use and Why, I view LinkedIn as a business social network. It's a valuable tool B2B business professionals and companies can use as it is "all Business all of the time." To say, "it's a valuable tool," should be qualified to mean if it's used strategically and effectively.
Professional Networking on LinkedIn
It can be a great tool for professional networking on a business level: posting "what's on your mind" status updates, showcasing your expertise, keeping up with former colleagues, engaging in meaningful group discussions and much more. And yes, it also integrates with Twitter and other business-oriented apps to help keep you and your network connected with what's got your attention.
LinkedIn Company Profiles
It's also for companies. Businesses can build greater awareness of their products and services, as well their career openings by building and maintaining a robust, LinkedIn Company Profile. Here's the Netflix company on LinkedIn. Having your company profile on LinkedIn has the potential to increase visibility, trust and credibility with your brand. It's also a great tool for people outside your company to follow, get to know you/your team and what you've got going on.
Think of it this way, with Twitter you can follow people, with LinkedIn you can follow companies - through the people who work there and are posting updates. (Search and follow a company, click on the Employees tab, scroll down and you'll see the "Company ABC Activity on LinkedIn" section.)
A Complete and Optimized Profile?
The challenge it seems, in talking with colleagues and observing members' profiles is that many don't understand the importance of creating a complete and optimized profile. Or, they don't know how to go about it. In my mind, networking, participation, giving and receiving value hinges on a strong profile. If it's not up to date, complete and optimized it's not going to bring measurable value to the LinkedIn member. It may even turn potential net workers away. It's the value of a strong, first impression.
So everything begins with creating (and maintaining) a professional LinkedIn profile. Here are 4, easy-to-do, yet often overlooked steps for creating a professional, optimized and powerful LinkedIn profile:
1. Create a descriptive professional headline that highlights your specific area(s) of expertise
Your professional headline is what appears directly below your name in the "Profile" view. It also shows up for instance when someone clicks on your name in a Group discussion. It's important people viewing your profile or clicking your name understand what your specialty is, not your title.
Too many professionals put their title here instead of what they're known for doing really well. They then repeat the same title or information in the "Current" (position) section just below. This area of your profile called, "Professional Headline" is important real estate. Use it wisely.
The above is an example of a profile that could potentially be improved with a stronger headline that isn't then repeated in the "Current" position section. You may also note Shannon is not currently showing a profile photo. (I'll talk about considerations of using a photo in the next step.)
Think of this as your professional positioning statement. This is how you want to be known by the business community on LinkedIn. If you are a recognized expert on a particular topic declare it here. If, on the other hand you're not a recognized expert or specialist don't say that you are. Instead, state what your experience is, what your specialty or specific area of focus is and to which industry or market segment you serve.
LinkedIn offers the following examples:
- Experienced Transportation Executive
- Web Designer and Information Architect
- Visionary Entrepreneur and Investor
You might think about updating your professional headline as you acquire new specialties and become accomplished in a particular topic or discipline.
One of my connections, Mark Amtower recently changed his headline to: "B2G consultant, author, speaker, LinkedIn Blackbelt." I can attest to Mark's expertise as a LinkedIn Blackbelt. I took one of his webinars on LinkedIn and many of the tips I'm sharing here I learned from him.
Here's one that says it all in a nice succinct and clear way. Any doubt as to what Helena Bouchez's specialty is and to which market she serves?
2. Include a profile photo that's professional and aspirational
Next, make sure you have a quality photo. You might consider a professional photographer experienced at knowing how to draw out and capture your professional essence. (I learned that tip from Helena above.)
Here's one I think conveys what I'm talking about. It's the LinkedIn profile photo of Joyce Dobervich. I met Joyce (one of my wife's colleagues) at a recent company function (Stratford Fidelity Holiday Party) and we've since connected on LI. To me, her photo carries energy, thoughtfulness, professional looking but with a bit of intrigue mixed in. Kind of makes you want to have a conversation and get to know her. What do you think?
Like it or not, people will form opinions about you by your profile image. Leaving this blank, having a poor quality photo (no cell phone cameras please), or worse yet a shot of your favorite pet could be very detrimental to your "professional brand."
You may also want to consider using the same photo across the various social media platforms you're involved with. It will help create a consistent look or "brand" and fosters better recognition.
3. Optimize your Website links with your domain name keywords
When setting up your Website links, choose the "Other" classification instead of "Personal Website," "Company Website," etc., choices. Then type in the actual domain name of your sites in the middle box followed by the full URL of your sites in the adjacent field, like so:
This will serve to make your profile better optimized for the search engines and make you more visible for your domain name and brand. Try doing a search on Google for your Website or domain name and see if a LinkedIn listing is shown.
Here's my example (shows on the first page of Google for search term, "b2b inbound":
Keep in mind, your profile on LinkedIn is an online digital marketing asset crawled and indexed by the search engines. Assets like this online can be optimized to make you more visible. Why not take advantage of that?
4. Get a custom public profile URL with your name in it
Having a short, public profile URL that includes your name is another sign your profile is professional and optimized. The best practice is to select your first and last name for your custom URL. Like this:
Here's an example of the standard or default public profile URL:
Again, think of this in terms of not only a shortened, easy-to-remember URL, but think about search, your brand and being more visible when someone Google's your name.
I've seen some make this the name of their business or include a combination of their personal name with a business name. But, I recommend having this be optimized for the name others know best and would most likely use in search engines. Plus, what happens if you use a company or brand name and you leave that organization? You'll have to start over and request a new, updated and custom public profile URL.
Time to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile?
If you're not sure how to make these changes you may want to register to download my free guide: 5 Steps to Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile (PDF). In this guide I've also included how to add and configure your Twitter account(s) with LinkedIn.