a man who has clearly never eaten a jelly donut before in his life
LinkedIn offered B2B marketers some tips for how to improve their pitches on the site, but they come at a cost PHOTO: Gratisography

Five hundred million professionals now use LinkedIn to advance their careers and network with fellow professionals.

But despite the network’s success, LinkedIn’s power as a B2B marketing platform is often downplayed in the face of other social networks like Facebook (although Facebook’s powerful ad manager may also have something to do with that).

To shift the conversation back in its favor, LinkedIn recently unveiled an e-book titled, "Introducing Secret Sauce: How LinkedIn Uses LinkedIn for Marketing."

Making a Case for LinkedIn Marketing

LinkedIn kicks off the guide by making a case for the platform as a B2B marketing tool.

According to its data, 92 percent of B2B marketers choose LinkedIn to engage professionals over all other social networks. Furthermore, 79 percent of those marketers say that LinkedIn is an effective source for generating B2B leads.

LinkedIn’s Secret Marketing Sauce

The e-book then walks through the basics of getting started with an organic presence on LinkedIn.

“You can build your brand and content presence on LinkedIn on your LinkedIn Company Page and specific Showcase Pages, through long-form posts, and by uploading content to LinkedIn SlideShare.”

It cites the 70 million unique visits LinkedIn SlideShare attracts a month, before swiftly shifting the discussion to paid advertising options.

The guide goes on to explain the four principles that should govern sponsored LinkedIn content:

  • Get Visual: The guide stresses the use of visuals, and recommends tools like Canva and Pikotochart to get the job done
  • Keep It Short and Sweet: LinkedIn says that shorter updates — meaning 150 characters or fewer — tend to perform best
  • Snackable Stats Work: Like elsewhere, stats on LinkedIn convert extremely well. The guide recommends presenting stats within visuals
  • Variety Is the Spice of Life: Finally, LinkedIn makes the case that you should aim to diversify your marketing messages, “whether it’s [changing the] background color or the [changing the] verbiage used”

Now, while that’s all solid LinkedIn marketing advice, it isn’t groundbreaking, nor is any of it specific to LinkedIn’s unique environment.

Unsurprisingly, the guide continues with a discussion of LinkedIn’s paid advertising and marketing options — including sponsored Inmail, display ads and dynamic ads.

The guide also touches on the power of targeting and personalization, and how to leverage that power through LinkedIn’s ad manager. Its tips on how to target audiences is useful, laying out the pros and cons of hyper-targeting, encouraging experimentation and explaining how audience expansion can positively impact brand awareness.

“If you target an extremely niche audience, you may see amazing click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates (CVRs) but your reach will be minimal. If you target a broad but relevant audience, you will likely see a high volume of delivery and conversions but perhaps not as high CTR and CVR."

The guide wraps up with answers to some frequently asked questions, such as, “My campaign has gotten a lot of impressions, but the click-through rate is still kind of low. How can I raise the click-through rate?”

The Not-So-Secret Sauce

In its guide, LinkedIn concludes that the vast majority of B2B marketers have the following three objectives in mind:

  1. Raising Brand Awareness
  2. Thought Leadership
  3. Lead Generation

But aside from revealing a few research results, LinkedIn’s guide fails to cover all the bases required to give B2B marketers the edge they need to achieve those objectives. 

For example, LinkedIn claims that its platform is home to 61 million “senior-level” influencers, but there’s little mention of how to leverage influencer marketing on LinkedIn. I suspect that might have something to do with the fact that LinkedIn doesn’t directly profit from such marketing tactics.

Furthermore, I was hoping to see LinkedIn provide some guidelines and best practises for setting up business pages, publishing articles, contributing to groups and optimizing organic content. Instead, it focused almost entirely on how to manage paid advertising campaigns — which is fine, it just isn’t enough.

So while LinkedIn conveniently insists that the secret sauce is actually the most expensive sauce, here are four tried but true tips on how to achieve your B2B marketing goals on LinkedIn without breaking the bank:

  1. LinkedIn Influencer Marketing: The influencer marketing is becoming more lucrative by the day. If you can find the right influencer in your niche, you could leverage their voice and their audience for a relatively small sum.
  2. LinkedIn DM Marketing: Sponsored InMail is great, but a good old fashioned message can be just as effective. Just be sure to send messages that can’t be construed as spam.
  3. Publish: LinkedIn gives you the ability to publish articles for circulation within its ecosystem. It’s an excellent way to build a following and demonstrate thought leadership.
  4. Join Groups: This final tip is an oldie, but a goodie. Groups related to your industry are full of like-minded businesses and professionals. Within the confines of a LinkedIn group, you can make connections, start discussions and court some clients.