LinkedIn Is A Serious Alternative To Traditional PPC

Having built the Suits&Sneakers business from the ground up (on the smell of an oily rag) using LinkedIn, I can now see that it is often a misunderstood platform.

Many think of it as just a social community of people that they must pre-qualify only by meeting them in real life. It is like some elite club, and often with quite disengaged contacts too, sitting dormant and irrelevant to business growth.

Each to their own of course; but the reality is that LinkedIn is a powerful marketing machine and if used the right way, is competing strongly up against traditional Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.

Agencies and marketers need to consider LinkedIn as a serious alternative to traditional PPC to remain relevant. Niched services are popping up now and are dominating in this space. Some new thinking about customer acquisition needs to be had.

An added bonus of this platform is that there is no mention of demographics, and no opportunity for diversity bias, when many PPC campaigns focus on demographic targeting only, with a lot of media budget wasted in misaligned customer segmentation. Recently a potential client came to see me and was curious about how I might be able to help them attract more leads for their business and improve their Google Ads campaign and Facebook advertising. This business is a coffee cart vendor for the corporate sector as one an example.

The real eye opener to me was how ingrained some business owners are about their marketing choices and often without the right facts behind them. I thought it might be worth exploring the metrics here to open up the possibility of a new way for digital marketing.

This particular client was spending about $1000 a month (not a lot, some say, but a LOT some others say) and was achieving about 20-25 leads a week this way. Essentially this is around $9-$12 per lead. That is a lot, particularly when this product unit price is only $4.50 retail before overheads. The maths just don’t add up to me, and yet many people blindly stick to marketing tactics that they think are the only way and some don’t even count the cost per acquisition.

Evangelistic marketers in our industry tell everyone to focus on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and that’s it! These methods work for some brands, but not for all. The metrics just don’t always add up, so don’t blindly follow the pack. The unsung hero right now is LinkedIn, enabling direct contact to a higher paying, pre-qualified B2B network.

Many business owners who think their product is just consumer based often forget that there are buyers for their product at volume, and who have an existing network to do on-selling, and even affiliate arrangements can be created as well. There is no reason why generalist products can’t have a meaningful place in niched industry groups, one at a time, through LinkedIn marketing if done the right way as well. People on LinkedIn are still people.

In some campaigns I’ve tested with LinkedIn, the results have ranged from, on average, 30 new contacts per day and some automation businesses claiming 38 a day on average.

In my own case, I’ve also experienced up to 70 a day quite regularly. I’m also using these same methods tied in with a strategy I call ‘Reputation Marketing’ involving heavy content strategies which I believe this is the key to increasing conversion rates.
I’ve personally even had 1000 relevant contacts connect with me overnight on LinkedIn, as well as 198 personal emails and 1 international client jumping on the phone to talk to me in person (yes, phone calls still happen) as an inbound result.

This is a fairly typical result for me below, personally, for a connector campaign with 60 in 24 hours, and with the campaign only running weekdays the average at 58.4 per day:

All this has been achieved at a fraction of the cost to acquire than the previous coffee cart vendor example above and for a greater customer value per lead too. Costs to run the campaigns depend on how much is done for you, but let’s say a business owner can manage the process themselves for around 14c a contact, and for an agency to manage the process more like $1.08 (and some less), plus the cost of any content production. Using Sales Navigator the cost per InMail connection message is around $10, however, if the person connecting doesn’t respond you have the ability to recycle this, improving the conversion costs. The average cost per contact is uncertain as I write this, but it doesn’t seem to come close to the other tools available out there in cost efficiencies (nor simplicity).

Using the tools outside Sales Navigator, depending on the campaign and the agency involved it seems like conversion is around 1% to 5% of all contacts moving to a purchase. In many instances, one project win for higher value products and service means you have just paid for your LinkedIn marketing for many years to come.
In my exploratory work in this space, it is the tools outside the Sales Navigator system that are offering the best value. (But, maybe we shouldn’t talk about them yet so they don’t get shut down!?)

There are a few key elements to making LinkedIn work like this:

1. Create a targeted LinkedIn profile written with an intention to meet all personality types and with appropriate industry keywords
2. Add some meaningful and leading edge content to your profile to add value to connections
3. Strategic alignment with a highly qualified customer found using keywords and job title by region (think about who is the actual person to pay the bills for what you sell)
4. Connecting with a very personal and non-invasive script in the message field
5. Add value when they do connect and create a personal connection to find out more about what they do and need. Send some information of value or something to file to remember you for another day. Encourage a meeting in person
6. When you have a process that works, automate this with Sales Navigator or other automation tools to save you a lot of time in your day and push the results further
7. When automated, you will need to allow about 30 mins a day to manage the process and answer all enquiries on top of the sales process

"LinkedIn is a misunderstood platform"

LinkedIn is not only a credible place to relate to a customer in business, but it is also providing great value returns, highly competitive to traditional PPC work. Time to give it a rethink.

At least do some split testing, and trial it for yourself. Most of all, let’s get off marketing on autopilot and remember to test new techniques and opportunities while the going is good.

My pet topic is diversity and the impact on customer performance through a better strategic focus. I can’t sing the praises of dropping a demographic approach more highly to get some awesome results for the right brand with LinkedIn.

Anne Miles, Managing Director of Suits&Sneakers is available for speaking and training on Unconscious Bias in the marketing and creative process, and produces content as an outsource solution.