With a user base of 160+ million and climbing, LinkedIn is a powerful and robust professional networking tool. In fact, maintaining an updated profile and regularly participating on the site is a great way to land a job, attract new clients, and stay up to date with your peers and colleagues.
And to my way of thinking, if your job description has anything to do with new business development (isn’t that all of us these days?), it makes sense to participate on LinkedIn.
If you operate in the B2B space and are not yet familiar with LinkedIn and using it as part of your lead generation tools, you may be missing out. According to data from HubSpot, LinkedIn is the most effective source of new business leads among the three leading social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). And a study of some 3,000-plus B2B marketers indicated that LinkedIn’s visitor-to-lead conversion rate is four times higher than that of Facebook and Twitter.
LinkedIn Announcements as a Lead Generation Engine
You likely know by now that features like LinkedIn Groups, Answers and Company Pages can help with lead generation. And if lead generation is your goal, LinkedIn Announcements is something you might like to experiment with as well.
Announcements are essentially an email marketing channel. If you’re looking to spread the news about a new product or service, or have other pertinent information that merits widespread dissemination, Announcements may be just the tool you want to check out.
When you use Announcements, messages are sent directly to the email inboxes of a particular group’s members. As with any marketing initiative, you want to be sure you have a well-thought strategy in place, a great call to action, and a compelling message.
It also makes sense to join and spend some time participating in various groups before hitting them with your email message—but you already know that, right?
How to Use LinkedIn Announcements
Of course, as with any piece of content, you don’t want to dive in without a little pre-planning and strategy. After all, LinkedIn Announcements are essentially a form of email marketing and should be treated as such.
For example, you’ll want to create a carefully crafted message. This is a valuable communication opportunity, and you don’t want to waste it—or, worse yet, annoy the group’s members with a poorly written or spammy message.
To get the most out of a LinkedIn Announcement, consider these tips.
Ditch the default subject line. Just as you wouldn’t send a default LinkedIn invitation to connect with someone (and if you do, stop it!), you don’t want to send an announcement with the standard subject line. Instead, channel your inner email marketer to write a descriptive and compelling subject line that will make recipients want to open the message.
Catch their attention. Make no mistake; this is an ad campaign. Treat your copy in your email marketing efforts as you do in any other campaign. As you start your message, make sure the opening lines are interesting enough to grab—and keep—a reader’s attention. This is a great place for stats—not only can they present a compelling case in a short amount of space, but they can also help readers visualize a particular topic or subject matter, which will help pique their interest.
Include a call to action. I’m guessing you’re contacting fellow group members because you want them to take some sort of action, right? Make sure you include that call to action in your message, whether it’s linking to an external piece of content, providing an offer or coupon or referring to a special event or landing page. By having a specific destination and using a link tracking service like Bit.ly, you can monitor the success of your lead generation campaign and use that information to refine future messages and initiatives.
Ask a question. All LinkedIn Announcements will also appear as featured discussions in that particular group, so it’s a good idea to pose a question about the message to prompt people to not only click through to the message content, but also spark dialogue within the LinkedIn group.
Don’t Be a Douche Rule
I hope this post has been enough to entice you to at least consider experimenting with LinkedIn Announcements as part of your lead generation efforts.
Before you get started, one last piece of advice---use the announcements sparingly. Around here, we call that the “Don’t be a Douche” rule. Nobody wants to be spammed and inundated with tons of email--- from LinkedIn or otherwise. So, use this tool wisely and respectfully.
After all, the last thing you want is to be perceived as a spammer who contacts a wide audience at the drop of a hat. Instead, save these opportunities for important information, and in the meantime, remember to build and invest in your networks before you need them (or what something from them). It’s always a good idea to regularly participate in group discussions, so that when you do send an announcement, recipients will not only know who you are because your face and name are familiar to them, they’ll be more likely not just to read the content, but also respond to the call to action and discuss your message within the LinkedIn group.
Have you experimented with LinkedIn Announcements? If not, are they of any interest to you? We’d love to know what you think.
It is with egg on my face that I amend this post to clarify and reflect that using LinkedIn Announcements as part of your communications strategy is--today, anyway--limited to Group Owners and appreciate all of your comments here to that effect. My apologies are extended to those excited about using LinkedIn Groups for messaging and new business development for not making that more clear.
I suppose it only makes sense - if any group member had the ability to message everyone in the group, it would potentially invite lots of spam. This does, however, show the value of creating groups around topics that are of interest to you and your customers and prospects, inviting people to join those groups, curating great content for members of that group and, as a result, building yet another base of people that you can direct your marketing messages toward. A component of building your list, if you will.
Thanks to everyone who piped in here and shared your thoughts--and my apologies for not making the fact that this is a tool available only to LinkedIn Group owners more abundantly clear.
(Image by Roland via Creative Commons)