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The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Lead Generation

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The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Lead Generation

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January 5, 2021

LinkedIn is a gold mine for lead generation –  if you use it correctly.

If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn, you’re missing out. It sometimes gets a bad reputation, but, if you’re willing to invest time and energy into the platform, it’s going to generate qualified leads for you.

Your ideal customers are on LinkedIn. There are 690+ million people using the platform. No matter your industry and target market, you can find and engage with people that match your ICP (Ideal Client Profile).

But if you’ve been relying on strategies like paid ads, or cold email, LinkedIn can feel like a challenge to get started with.

  • How should you approach it?
  • What strategies works? What doesn’t?
  • What best practices and secrets should you know about?

We’re going to answer all of those questions, and more, for you in this guide.

Why Use LinkedIn for Your Lead Gen?

If you’re already successfully generating leads for your business or your own clients using tactics like cold email, then LinkedIn will likely work for you.

It’s always worth expanding your reach and having multiple channels available for you to ensure you hit your targets every month. 

Who Does LinkedIn Work For?

Before you start connecting with and reaching out to thousands of people on LinkedIn, you’ll need to decide if it’s right for your business.

Like cold email, it works if you can quickly prove to your potential clients that you understand their problems and can offer a solution to those.

To get results, you’ll need a specific focus and value proposition.

You can’t just be targeting people with the job title “Head of Sales”. You’ll need to be more specific.

For example, instead of Head of Sales, add more criteria like:

  • Company size: 20-50 employees
  • Funding level: Series A or beyond
  • Location: San Francisco

If you run an agency, tailor it to your target niche. For example, telling a SaaS company CEO that you run a “marketing agency for SaaS companies” will be more effective than saying you work with all kinds of companies, from eCommerce to SaaS to manufacturing.

The more granular and specific you are with your ICP, the better.

It’ll let you tailor your value proposition to match their pain points more effectively than if you were trying to write a message that appealed to people in any industry.

There Are No Shortcuts to Good Targeting

If you don’t put in the effort during this stage, your LinkedIn lead generation won’t deliver results.

Take the time to refine your targeting and understand your ideal customer.

If someone clearly doesn’t match your ICP, don’t reach out to them. They’re not going to be interested, and you’ll waste your time and theirs.

Optimizing Your Profile: Treat It Like a Landing Page

Treat your LinkedIn profile like a landing page.

The two key things that your profile should highlight are:

  • What you do
  • Who you do it for

People will visit your profile if you message them. Taking steps to optimize your profile will improve your message response rate, and the number of leads you generate.

But, what does a well optimized LinkedIn profile look like?

Clear Profile and Cover Photo

First impressions matter. Use a profile picture that’s simple, high-quality, and reflects the personal brand you want to convey (it doesn’t have to be a serious, expressionless headshot).

Your cover photo doesn’t have to be a picture of you. You can create a professional graphic with a headline and your company logo in a tool like Canva in ten minutes.

For example, check out Gary Vaynerchuck’s profile and cover photos.

They’re fundamentally simple, but they look professional, highlight his companies, and would make a good first impression if you’re landing on his profile for the first time.

Use a Benefits-Driven Headline

Like you would on your company landing page, use benefits-driven copy in your headline.

Instead of a purely descriptive headline, tell people what you do. Let’s see what this could look like in action:

Option 1: CEO at Advertising Agency

Option 2: I help SaaS founders get more customers with Facebook Ads

See the difference that makes? Option 2 will resonate with your target customer, and instantly conveys the value you can provide. If someone you connect with is in the market for help with their Facebook advertising, they’ll be happy to have a conversation.

Here’s an example:

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahdjohnston/

Instantly, we can see that Sarah helps people find ‘amazing jobs’, write resumes, and improve their interview skills.

A clear and compelling headline can be the difference between someone accepting your connection request and ignoring it.

In your work experience section you can link to your LinkedIn company page, but your potential customers will care more about how you can help them than what your company is called.

Finding Your Prospects

You’ll need to figure out who you’re going to be connecting with and messaging and build a list of prospects if you want to use LinkedIn for lead generation at any kind of scale. 

So, how do you find good prospects?

Use Sales Navigator

If you’re running lead generation campaigns on LinkedIn, you need a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account.

With that, you can run searches to find people that meet all of the criteria for an ideal customer. 

The advanced search filters let you find people by criteria like:

  • Job title
  • Seniority level
  • Company size
  • Listed on Fortune 50/100/500
  • Department size
  • And much more

 Source: Filter Your Search Results in Sales Navigator

With those filters, you’ll be able to quickly generate a list of target prospects and accounts who you can then start to reach out to.

LinkedIn will show up to 2,500 results per search. 

To bypass this limitation, run multiple searches with similar but not identical terms (e.g. “VP Sales” as a job title instead of “Sales Director”), export all your contacts to a spreadsheet, and remove duplicate rows. 

If you want to find easy conversation-starters, you can also use search features including:

  • Shared Experiences (e.g. went to the same college or worked at the same company as you)
  • See if someone changed job in the last three months
  • Find companies that were mentioned in the news

They’re simple ways to narrow down your search and ensure you’re engaging with prospects in the right way, at the right time.

Build Lists from B2B Databases

Another shortcut is to build your target list from contact databases like ZoomInfo or BuiltWith.

Use these to input all of the criteria that your target accounts need to match, and they’ll give you a list of people and companies that match them.

You’ll have to pay for access, but they can speed up your prospecting time by a big margin.

Once you have their LinkedIn details, you can start connecting with them.

Enrich Existing Data with Phantombuster

One of the best tools for automating your LinkedIn prospecting is Phantombuster

It lets you automate prospecting tasks including:

  • Finding LinkedIn profiles from a list of emails
  • Extract LinkedIn group members
  • Find emails from a list of LinkedIn profiles

 

If you’re serious about LinkedIn, Phantombuster is definitely worth trying. You’ll be able to quickly build qualified lists of prospects with minimal effort.

That said, it’s important to always check how automation tools like this will interact with LinkedIn before using them. There’s always a potential risk that your account could get suspended, so be careful.

Next, I’ll show you how you can use your new prospect lists to start connecting with prospects and start conversations.

Building Your Lead Generation Strategy

Once you have your list of prospects, it’s time to connect with them.

Let’s see how to do it.

Connecting with Prospects

Direct outreach by connecting with someone and sending a message is the simplest, and arguably, most effective way to generate leads on LinkedIn.

But, people are going to be quick to ignore you if you come across as being inauthentic, or too sales-driven early on.

Like with cold email, your connection request needs to come across as authentic and demonstrate why they should accept it.

Here are some example connection request notes that could work for you:

Example 1:

Hi {{prospect.first_name}}, saw your talk at {{conference}}, thought it’d be good to connect as we’re in the same industry. I run {{growth/sales/marketing/etc.}} at {{your company}}.

Example 2:

Hi {{prospect.first_name}} – really liked your blog post on {{topic}}. I share content on similar topics here, so thought it’d be good to connect.

The trick is to keep it simple, but aim for enough personalization to show you actually know something about your prospect. Highlight their pain points, responsibilities, or things they’re proud of, such as content they’re putting out.

Show you’re a real person, and people will be happy to accept your connection request.

Follow Up and Increase Your Response Rate

Your connection request won’t be designed to start a long conversation, but it will help someone remember you for when you next reach out.

In your follow-up messages, you’ll need to show someone how you can add value to their business.

Adding value is key. Even if someone sees that you’re pitching them, if your pitch is tailored to their needs, they’ll be happy to talk.

Again, keep it short and don’t make it hard for someone to understand what you’re asking of them.

Here are some example follow up messages you can use to start a conversation:

 

Example 1:

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Thanks for connecting – was wondering if you’re currently using Facebook Ads to generate more sales at {{company}}?

I recently helped {{similar company}} increase their ad CTR by 15% with a few simple campaign tweaks.

Interested in seeing how we did it?

{{your name}}

 

Example 2:

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

Loved your podcast episode on {{topic}}. I help podcast publishers get more listens by optimizing their podcast distribution. Is that something that you’d be interested in learning more about?

{{your name}}

 

The key is not to overthink it. Make sure your follow-up messages are highly relevant to your prospect. Do your research on them.

Show real examples of how you can help them, and explain the benefits they can expect from working with you in simple terms.

Your Call to Action is Key

You’re not going to see results if you ask people to become customers in your first message. 

Your main goal should be to get a reply and start a conversation.

Depending on your business and sales cycle, your call-to-action could be something like:

  • Is that something you’d be interested in?
  • Want me to send you some examples/case studies of work we’ve done?
  • Want to learn more?

Keep it as simple as you can without being vague. Don’t ask “Yes or No” questions that can quickly end a conversation. If your targeting is good, qualified prospects will be happy to reply if your pitch is relevant to them.

 

See more call-to-action examples in our guide here.

 

If you’ve written a sequence of messages you’re going to use but aren’t sure if they’re going to work, ask yourself:

 

  1. Is my offer something that this person will probably be interested in? 
  2. Am I making it clear what I can help them with?
  3. Is my CTA easy to respond to?

 

If the answer is yes to all three, then your message is probably good enough and you don’t need to painstakingly analyze every word of your message to improve it. 

How Many Follow Up Messages Should You Send?

Like with cold email, not all prospects will reply to your first message.

They might not check their LinkedIn inbox, they might miss your message, or they might simply not have time to reply, and because they don’t know you, replying isn’t a priority.

Like with cold email and other outbound lead generation strategies, you need to be patient.

Send 3-5 friendly follow-up messages.

To help make each one different, use a variety of call-to-actions.

For example, someone might not want to jump on a call with you, but they might be open to seeing a case study, or replying to an open-ended question.

Aim to space out your follow ups by at least three days. There’s no firm rule on this, but you’ll look like a spammer if you’re sending messages every day. 

What about Sponsored InMails?

You could try using Sponsored InMails for your LinkedIn outreach, but just because you pay for it, doesn’t mean you’re going to see results.

If you send an InMail to someone, people know you’re paying for it, so there’s a risk that they instantly write you off as a salesperson.

That said, if your targeting and messaging is perfect, InMails will still generate results for you.

Outreach to LinkedIn Leads using Cold Email

Another path you can take is to use LinkedIn for your initial prospecting to identify prospects, then reach out to them using cold email.

You can almost guarantee that the vast majority of B2B decision makers check their email daily.

It’s the ideal way to reach out after connecting with someone on LinkedIn.

But, how can you get someone’s email address and reach out?

Firstly, you’ll need their email address.

Some people will have this publicly listed on their profile under the “Contact Info” section.

Most people, however, won’t.

So, how can you find email addresses from LinkedIn? Let’s take a look.

Finding and Exporting Email Addresses

We’ve written previously about how to find business email addresses to use in your outreach – you can read that in full here.

From a simple Google search to signing up to their newsletter, there are a variety of effective options.

But, if you want to automate part of the process on LinkedIn, try Phantombuster’s profile scraping automation

If you input a list of profile URLs, Phantombuster will scrape the data from them, including their business email address.

Your data will be outputted as a CSV and you can then import that into QuickMail using the Import Prospect feature.

I’d also recommend verifying your emails. This will help improve deliverability and reduce your bounce rate.

You can do this automatically in QuickMail. Create a Bucket where you check the “Verify emails” option, then add your prospects to that Bucket on import. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do that.

Next, you’ll need to write, personalize, and schedule your emails.

Sending Personalized Cold Emails

Once your prospects are inside QuickMail, it’s time to write and schedule your emails.

Go back to the rules we looked at for sending an effective LinkedIn message. The same rules apply to your email.

Make your message highly relevant and you’ll get replies.

In QuickMail you can use merge tags to personalize every email you send. 

To do this efficiently, add columns in your CSV where you include personal details. 

For example, add a column called “Introduction” in your CSV where you write a custom opening sentence. At the start of your email template, add an {{Introduction}} tag that will automatically fill with your custom opening line, perfectly tailored to every prospect.

Once your emails are ready you can start your prospects on your campaign and watch your leads roll in.

Inside QuickMail you’ll be able to create complex campaigns with ease. Send your follow-ups automatically, and collaborate with other members of your team on campaigns.

Once your campaigns are running, you’ll be able to track your metrics and see what’s working.

Combining LinkedIn with email outreach is a great way to ensure that prospects don’t miss your message, and you’ll get more replies. Start your free trial here.

What’s the Secret to Seeing Results from LinkedIn Outreach?

If your value proposition is attractive and your targeting is good, you can quickly fill your sales funnel using LinkedIn outreach.

It’s a great way to quickly start finding and engaging with people in your target market, and when you’re just getting started, you can do everything manually and get results.

You can contain your outreach to LinkedIn, but you can also use it to create prospect lists, find contact details, and export prospects to use in your cold email outreach or cold calling campaigns.

There’s huge potential in LinkedIn for pretty much every B2B company. As long as you’re honest, offer value, and patient, you’re going to see results.

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