E-commerce Link: Engage With Purpose
Sure, it's possible to generate leads within LinkedIn groups by showing your target market how you can solve their nagging problems. But sometimes it takes more than providing tips or "micro-solutions." Sometimes you need to turn up the volume by prompting customers to behave in ways that provide benefit to them and, at the same time, identify them as qualified leads.
One of the questions I get most often about content marketing in general is, "How can I make the leap from information provider to trusted supplier, and how can I make engagement pay off?"
The truth is, there is no way to guarantee you'll ultimately make the sale. But setting up a system of value exchanges with customers dramatically increases the chances of generating leads. Instead of defining engagement as "occupying customers' time" think of it in terms of a series of purposeful exchanges with prospects. Oftentimes, the difference between success and failure is simply having a distinct purpose.
Let's say you're staring at your screen right now, trying to figure out how to start a LinkedIn group discussion that will serve to attract business leads. Think: What's your ultimate purpose? To earn response. Now crash test your discussion idea by asking yourself these questions:
- "Is this discussion topic relevant to my target customer?"
- "How can I make this discussion part of a larger (designed) discussion that connects to our product/service?"
- "How can I make this discussion (or status update) induce a response from my target customer at some point? How can I provoke and invite a response?"
- "Once provoked, how can I discover, collect and catalog each target's stage in the purchase consideration process and follow up with them in ways that remove obstacles to purchase behavior?"
Now you're focusing social media on your true purpose.
Don't Just Lead It
What I'm suggesting is empowering. Act on the fact that successful use of LinkedIn groups is all about what you're already good at—designing your marketing to induce response. Turning LinkedIn contacts or group members into leads is easy if you remember one idea: Effective content marketing is as enticing as it is engaging.
Your job isn't about producing thought-leading content—rather, thought-provoking content.
Ask yourself, "Am I designing engaging content to provoke behavior in LinkedIn groups, or am I just hanging shingles 'out there' in hopes of being perceived as a thought leader?"
The truth is, thought leadership is no longer enough. You've got to start provoking prospects to take action—sign up for a webinar, download a whitepaper and tell others to do the same. How can you make that happen more often?
The Ethical Bribe
When I use the term "ethical bribe," I'm talking about presenting tempting opportunities to prospects. Sometimes that comes in the form of a contest or giveaway, but think creatively. Bribes can also come in the form of knowledge (booklets, videos, etc.) that customers can use to create more success, drive more revenue or avoid risk.
The key is making sure these opportunities are genuinely new, never-before seen by your audience. That's the tough part, but not impossible.
Hot tip: Focus on giving customers solutions to problems they don't yet know they have. Now, don't hand it all out at once; keep some for your proprietary content (whitepaper, webinar, etc.). That's how you become addictive.
Sorry, LinkedIn gurus, the trick to generating more and more leads with content created on LinkedIn is showing customers ways to capitalize on previously unseen opportunities—and solve previously unknown problems—that ultimately connect to your products and services. Success is all about making everything you do on LinkedIn scratch customers' itches. It's not about broadcasting "quality content" into LinkedIn or "engaging in relevant discussions" or generating large numbers of connections.
Make It Easy: Leverage
The key to becoming addictive in ways that drive scores of leads is to leverage your subject matter experts. For example, ask your webinar speakers or experts featured in whitepapers to share what they're seeing in the market (ways to avoid risk, exploit opportunities) that most people (your customers) are not. For instance, what do your experts know—right now—that's relatively unknown and revealing?
Remember, keep it short, sweet and very digestible. Tease, be provocative. You can use text or 60 second videos embedded in LinkedIn group discussions. Make these alluring content tidbits work for you. Get started by asking yourself:
- "What unforeseen (dangerous) risks can my subject matter experts steer our target customers clear of?"
- "What hidden, lucrative opportunities can they point at that will cause my audience to react?"
- "How can internal or external subject matter experts move my target customers toward our webinar and compel them to sign up for it on-the-spot?"
Converting social media leads to sales leads using LinkedIn groups doesn't happen often enough through passive engagement. Take control and use ethical bribes when needed. Design (plan out) engagement to produce actions by solving customers' problems in ways that compel them to register or download. Connect your customers' desires to what your brand ultimately delivers.
Let me know how it's working for you. I'm always looking for success stories to profile!
Jeff Molander is the author of "Off the Hook Marketing" and adjunct faculty of digital marketing at Loyola University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blogs at www.jeffmolander.com/blog and www.makesocialsell.com/blog.