How to Run an Effective LinkedIn Campaign

How to Run an Effective LinkedIn Campaign

  • Social media marketing is the new norm, and LinkedIn has emerged as one of the best business-to-business (B2B) marketing platforms worldwide. With over 10 million LinkedIn subscribers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), of which over 67% acknowledge that LinkedIn helps them build relationships and drive new business leads, it makes sense to use the platform for marketing campaigns in the region as well. Here are some tips and live examples for MENA marketers to consider to ensure that their campaign hits the bull’s eye.

Define the target customer segment for your product or service on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that your target segment on LinkedIn may not necessarily be end-consumers and may not necessarily match the identified segment as per your previous sales. For example, the largest customer segment for your computer peripherals business may be students, but on LinkedIn, the prospective segment may be small scale businesses looking for low-cost computer set up. Similarly, if you are a brand manager at a cosmetics company, most of your offline marketing campaigns would be directed towards individual female users but on LinkedIn, the target would probably be different, say professional make-up artists and beauty parlor chains, so the campaign has to be plotted around them and not the end users.

Build your target list and create a targeted campaign using LinkedIn PPC. Once you have identified the target segment or group, you can use LinkedIn PPC (pay per click) which offers filters according to job title, function, seniority etc. Use combinations that work for you and get the most relevant set of prospects. You can then profile these prospects to design an appropriate campaign. LinkedIn offers several unique PPC advertising opportunities – poll ads, social ads, ‘Join Group’ ads, and video ads.

LinkedIn banner ads can be customized for specific audience. So, if you are targeting employees of a particular company, they should see your ad designed specifically for their company when they log on to LinkedIn. Your ad can speak about solutions to their issues, resulting in higher click-through rate (CTR). LinkedIn recommends creating about three to fifteen ads per campaign with varying headlines, call-to-action phrases and images.

Monitor the performance of your campaign and improvise. Track your results by directing your PPC ads to a landing page instead of home page to gather data about the leads. It will help in improvising on your advertisement for better traction. Further, keep track of the success rate of each ad and withdraw the ones with lowest CTR.

Choose the right mode of payment to optimize cost. Cost per Click (CPC) campaigns are better for lead generation purposes, while Cost per Impression (CPM) campaigns are better for branding purpose. You can optimize campaign cost by choosing the right mode of payment, as a LinkedIn campaign has to be worth the cost involved to be effective. LinkedIn offers two payment methods viz. cost per click (CPC) and pay per 1,000 impressions (CPM). The CPM mode of payment may suit for a branding campaign to get as many people to see your campaign while the CPC mode may be apt for lead generation campaign.

LinkedIn suggests a bid range depending on budget and the competition for ads from similar campaigns. Ensure that you bid within the range. Analyze when your target audience will most likely be online and bid higher during that time or day to win over competing ads. It will require a bit of trial and error to achieve an optimum bid and budget.

Use the Lead Collection feature to gather list of interested customers. LinkedIn offers a feature called Lead Collection where it allows people to ask for more information or to be contacted by your company via a checkbox at the end of your advertisement. You will be notified by email of such leads and also be allowed to promptly respond via LinkedIn InMail. Note that you will not receive any contact details of the leads.

Businesses having a niche target audience can use Inmails to market their value proposition. If your target segment is small and specific, you can also connect with them via Linked Inmail. The feature allows for extremely targeted messages delivered to exactly the right person through personalization. In fact, LinkedIn offers a “guarantee” on these messages.

Revamp your LinkedIn profile page for an expected rise in visitors. Showcase your offerings on your LinkedIn profile page, and ask for recommendations from satisfied customers, like Hewlett-Packard whose “Products & Services” tab features over 3,000 recommendations for nineteen unique products and services. It makes for the most powerful form of endorsement, word-of-mouth marketing, as recommendations from your own connections are highlighted.

Use LinkedIn groups to create a community for your existing and prospective customers. LinkedIn’s “Custom Groups” premium option allows brands to control the entire group page, including sidebar ads, polls, videos, blog integration, and other custom media.  This space is usually reserved by LinkedIn to show ads that the group owner does not control. The option is quite expensive, so can be used for short spells along with an offline campaign to give an instant push.

The best example of successful application of this feature is Dell Business Solutions Exchange LinkedIn Group. With nearly 8,000 members, the group is full of Dell’s most valued prospects, with over half of them being in IT and computer industries and maximum are in decision making capacity. While the group added 50-100 members per week, there were durations when the group attracted unusual membership, which is, most likely because of a simultaneous marketing campaign- offline or on another social network.

Case Study: Vestas, a world leader in wind energy and infrastructure space, used its “Energy Transparency” campaign on LinkedIn to reach out to carbon conscious corporations about the benefits of investing directly in wind energy, and promote Vestas as their partner of choice.

As part of its growth and expansion strategy, Vestas wanted to run a campaign that raised awareness of the brand benefits for companies that use wind energy, and to reach out to key stakeholders in specific companies to drive consideration for wind energy and Vestas as a preferred partner. So, the company commissioned two studies, the Global Consumer Wind Study in partnership with TNS Gallup and the Corporate Renewable Energy Index in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which found that that corporations are eager to source more renewable energy and also identified consumers that wanted products made with wind energy.

When the company decided to build a marketing campaign to target these customers, it felt that the conventional method of using the email campaign along with banner ads may not generate the continual effect, the kind they were expecting from the campaign. Therefore, armed with target audience and consumer preference research data, Vestas designed a LinkedIn campaign including:

  • LinkedIn Inmail- Personalized (regards to the recipient’s name and company name) InMail messages were sent to smaller set of prospects as compared to the overall campaign.  Each InMail had a link to a customized version of EnergyTransparency.com including company and industry information.
  • Customized banner ads: 400,000 employees of these corporations were targeted through banner ads placed in LinkedIn. In spite of standard ad used for each impression, the company created custom ads specifically featuring targeting company.
  • Custom Landing pages and microsites: It created custom landing pages and microsites with targeted content for each prospect. This allowed Vestas to deliver precise messages, offering real and specific insights to each prospect. It also allowed Vestas to capture accurate data on the interest level for the firms targeted and for the overall success of the campaign.
  • Adaptive design across platforms: Vestas used adaptive design to ensure an optimal experience for users receiving the campaign cross-devices including desktop, tablet and mobile.

Result: Vestas’ LinkedIn campaign was highly successful, as depicted by the results below.

  • 11 million impressions with a click-through rate (CTR) of 0.11 – 0.21% among targeted companies
  • 10,680 corporate executives, employees and key opinion leaders visited the site, averaging 7.02 minutes
  • High efficiency with minimal waste: 80% of targeted opinion leaders & 30% of targeted executives visited  the microsite spending an average of +8 minutes
Source: Arab Business Review Research, LinkedIn

The article was originally published at: Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review

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Hashtag Abuse

Hashtag Abuse

  • Hashtags are supposed to be helpful for topic search and are generally used for branding.
  • It remains a challenging task to make people abide by the rules of ‘hashtags’.
  • If hashtags were used properly, it would save considerable time when searching for specific things. 

What are hashtags? What are they used for? How useful are they really? Why are they being abused? Like me, these questions may have crossed your mind many, many times, so let’s first describe what hashtags are.

Hashtags are the words, pictures, or phrases found on social networks that are prefixed with the symbol #. Adding a hashtag helps to group those words, pictures, or phrases together so those interested in a particular topic or discussion can easily search them later. Another way to look at it is that you are “branding” or “tagging” certain words, phrases, or pictures , which then allows others to quickly search for the hashtag and find the collection of messages that includes it. This can be helpful when you are searching online for a particular topic that is of interest to you or when you are looking for other people that share similar interests to you. Many social networking services like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr, and Instagram—just to name a few—use this form of tagging.

Sounds simple and useful, right? Well, it can be a double-edged sword. Giving those pictures and words a hashtag is supposed to group those pictures and words, giving them a “label” that is searchable. Unfortunately, it is all unmoderated and uncontrolled. In so many cases, hashtags are used poorly to the point where they get lost and lose all the meaning with it. When, for example, social network users in Kuwait, and the surrounding region want to look for a specific event in Kuwait, they can simply search the words #KuwaitEvents on twitter and instagram. But you will be shocked to see the search results for this hashtag because you will be directed to numerous pictures of different food items in restaurants, cafes, shopping finds, quotes, business offers, and many other unrelated topics! Try #Kuwait on Instagram and you will be directed to millions of unrelated pictures! Someone who wants to check the hashtag #Kuwait probably wants to know more about the country and see pictures of Kuwait, Kuwaiti lifestyle, museums, monuments, people, or information about the country … not pictures of coffee cups, designer shoes, or unrelated love quotes, with loads of selfies (self-portraits taken with a camera phone and uploaded to social network sites). It is even worse when you try searching hashtags of big company names or specific CSR campaigns—so many unrelated search results, which defeats the whole purpose!

In short, before diving into the hashtag trend, we need to be sure we know the real purpose of—and how to use—hashtags. We need to know that tagging pictures and words is basically done to help classify and group topics of interest together so that others that share a similar interest or curiosity in those topics can easily find them later when searching a particular hashtag. If done properly, when you search for a specific topic or discussion you should be directed to relevant search results and not have to endure the misery of sifting through millions of pieces of unrelated information.

The article is written by Ansam I. AlRadwan for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review

Plugging in is nothing if you don’t turn the switch ON

Plugging in is nothing

  • Professional networking and connections are critical elements of your business success
  • Always look for the win-win in business referrals.  Even if you aren’t initially one of the “wins”, people remember those who helped them.
  • Honouring your network by switching ON-  following up diligently when introduced- will lead to more open communication and beneficial referral networks

Business referrals are your reputation

“I know someone there” may be music to your ears if you’re looking to get your foot in the door of a new company; or checking out a prospective new employer.  In today’s work world, it really is often about who you know to get that first break in a sea of similarly qualified talent.  It’s a fact of life people make time for trusted referrals before a cold call, email, or CV.

“But what about my merits? My education, work history and professionalism?” you may ask.  These are all critical to be sure, and combined with a strong professional network, this is an encouraging word for you to be both be a connector and someone who readily turns on their follow up switch when they’re referred professionally.

For years now, I have been instructing graduate and undergraduate business and, during this time, I have been fortunate to have exceptional cohorts and find the experiences quite rewarding.  There are a few litmus tests I like to use when assessing my willingness to connect any student or professional contact to a someone I know.  They’re pretty simple and relatively few.  Actually there are only two:

1. Will this person represent me well?  After all, this is my reputation I am entrusting to a person.  Professional contacts are valuable and, before I just go on and give you the keys to open the door, I need to be relatively secure in the fact you will conduct yourself well and be a positive reflection of me to the person I introduce you to.  It’s about trust.

One recent example of this causing some stress was when I had a student look through my Linkedin contacts and send me a list of 50 people they wanted me to introduce them to.  First, let’s get some focus here.  If you’re asking for help, the “throw it against any wall and see what sticks” approach is far from recommended. Certainly, I wasn’t about to refer anyone to 50 contacts straight away.

What made this especially delicate is the fact this person was a B- student at best.  They were clearly not focused on the course, on participating, on their assignments, on helping others in class, and there was simply no way I was going to refer them to anyone, anytime soon.  I let them know “you’re asking me to trust you with my reputation and introduce you to these professionals?  At this time, I don’t have the confidence you would properly take care of my reputation, sorry”.    It was an honest and certainly eye opening conversation.

2. Will this person actively follow up appropriately with intelligent communication with the person to whom theyre referred.  See above of course as to why this is important; however, it’s a deeper issue. With all due respect to younger professionals and graduate school students who’ve worked a bit, if you are connected to a senior executive, someone with a far more senior role, and they make time to offer to meet you- drop everything within reason to accommodate their availability.

Admittedly, this is harder to read.  Will someone, when given the change to meet an executive, make every effort to make it happen? This would seem like a no- brainer right?

You are offered a chance to meet a senior executive in their office when they return from overseas or regional business travel.  You’d jump to make it happen right? Well this example went very differently and I must thank my brother, President of an advertising agency, for his patience.

Not too long ago, an excellent student of a respected colleague was recommended to me for assistance in their career planning.  The student came to speak with me while I was guest lecturing at my Alma Mater. They presented themselves well, seemed focused, and asked me for an introduction to 3 specific people I was connected to via Linkedin.  “Wow” I thought, “they have it together!” A quick check with my colleague validated their hard working nature and industriousness. As mentioned in point 1 above, my colleague trusted this person and their reputation to me.

As it were, one of the contacts with whom they wished to meet was my brother, who is also an alum.  Now I reserve the holy grail of referrals, my brother, for one or two people annually.  Not only does this referral carry the usual weight of professional contact, but I really don’t want to hear how I wasted his time over Holiday dinner when I am looking to enjoy our family time.

To his credit, my brother took time from his extremely busy schedule to make a few attempts to connect before asking me if he could “cut them loose”,  I concurred it was time to do so because his offer to meet this senior student 3 times was met with “that’s not a convenient time for me” FROM the student.  I almost thought he was joking.  Actually, after the second call from him, I did think he was gaming me.  I was shocked.

My colleague and I were both embarrassed.  This student carelessly jeopardized the reputation of their professor who in tern recommended the student to me and jeopardized my reputation.  In an attempt to curtain such behavior in the future, I made a call to the student to let them know they would not be meeting my brother and to try and not make a habit of this again.

The bottom lines, look for the win-wins and how you can help people. And when someone offers you help, follow up like your reputation depends on it. Because it does.

Connect; switch on; and succeed.

The article is written by Jonscott Turco for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review

The ‘Social’ Enterprise is here

The ‘Social’ Enterprise is here

  • ‘Social Business’ or ‘Enterprise 2.0’ is nothing but an additional layer of communication and sharing capabilities that is added to already existing online software which enables social-style interaction incorporated into enterprise software.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) has been a prevalent model in modern organizations for a few years now, and major enterprise software vendors are incorporating core business functions of the organization into an interface accessible from any device.
  • ‘Consumerization of business’ is the next milestone in the enterprise software world, where functions available on social media channels such as chatting and messaging, posting on forums or user groups and collaborating on shared content are now being integrated into the enterprise software suites.

We live in the age of ‘social’ software and ‘smart’ devices, which could make you cynical when you hear terms like ‘social-this’ or ‘social-that’. However, sometimes the use of ‘social’ as a prefix is indeed merited.

An excellent example is the maturing field of social-style interaction incorporated into enterprise software, to create what is being considered a ‘Social Business’, or ‘Enterprise 2.0’.

Basically, it is an additional layer of communication and sharing capabilities that is added to already existing online software which enables employees, customers and suppliers to collaborate and organize information, using web and mobile platforms.

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been a prevalent model in modern organizations for a few years now. Every major software vendor now enables company staff to work from anywhere by incorporating core business functions of the organization into an interface accessible from any device.

What was missing, though, was the adoption of some of the best ideas and functions available through social media from the consumer side. Chatting and messaging, posting on forums or user groups and collaborating on shared content are all clear examples of what can be taken into the organization for its benefit.

Analysts and consultants call this the ‘consumerization of business’; but to keep it simple, it’s just businesses being smart and capitalizing on the changing nature of the typical employee.

People want the same communication experience they enjoy in their personal lives, to be available in their professional life; to share data with co-workers, and seamlessly communicate through messaging instead of just using email. If this increases their productivity and happiness, companies should realize its impact on the bottom line.

With the entrance of millennials into the work place – those born between the early-eighties and the turn of the century- it has become imperative to adopt such communication and collaboration abilities to retain younger employees.

That’s why the biggest players in enterprise software are getting in on the act.

In 2012, Microsoft acquired Yammer, a private social network, which puts people, conversations, content, and business data on one platform. At the time, more than 200,000 companies worldwide were already using Yammer to collaborate with employees. It was an example of businesses seeking out a solution, even from a small vendor, if the bigger software companies weren’t providing it.

So, Microsoft jumped at this opportunity demonstrating that social media in the enterprise is much more than a fad. Yammer is now part of Microsoft’s Office division, and is major part of its Office 365 strategy, within the SharePoint Online service.

Oracle, another major player in enterprise software, has recently purchased Involver, to create what it calls ‘a cloud-based social platform across marketing, sales and service touch-points’. Oracle is now presenting an expanded social platform using Involver’s SML (Social Markup Language). The result will be a more comprehensive, and consumerized, experience.

The enterprise software specialist SAP has also launched “Jam” which is a secure, social collaboration solution that extends across SAP’s entire technology landscape to give social capabilities.

IBM already has a Social Business division, and its aims in this field are well articulated. IBM says it wants to “connect employees and customers to share their best ideas and new processes’.

It would appear that the customer is now, finally, in control! Enterprises will also reap the benefits of enhanced feedback for the purposes of product and service development.

This is an ‘open’ age of information. So, enterprises are going to have to open up too.

There are, of course, software security challenges involved. But that’s part of this evolution, whereby the benefits truly outweigh the potential concerns, which can be tackled.

Empowering employees and communicating better with consumers must be every company’s goal. Positive experiences create satisfied customers, and more revenues. That’s the optimal goal that corporate IT departments aim to achieve.

For decades, businesses have claimed to be ‘at the service of the customer’. Now, such claims are being truly tested as technology weeds-out those who cannot deliver on that promise. Beware the rise of the ‘social enterprise’, you have been warned.

The article is written by Zeid Nasser for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review