But LinkedIn? The stodgier cousin of the group? Not so much.
Yet for PostcardMania, a fast-growing, Florida-based postcard marketing company, unlocking LinkedIn has been a bottom-line booster. It's not just for job searchers anymore.
Every week, the company consistently counts at least two dozen fresh leads coming directly from LinkedIn – more than Facebook and Twitter deliver.
That's added up to more than $72,000 in revenue just from LinkedIn.
How do they do it? Here, PostcardMania shares its formula.
Hint: It's about attractive content offered at just the right time.
A Content Marketing Pioneer
When Joy Gendusa started PostcardMania in 1998 with just a computer and phone, she combined two powerful ideas:
- Give away free and valuable marketing advice that was typically only available from pricey ad agencies
- Offer affordable direct-mail printing for small businesses
Now with 175 employees and $19 million in annual revenue, it's a model that continues to serve the company well.
Today, Gendusa's free-advice strategy extends beautifully into social media channels. In addition to taking its own advice – mailing 140,000 postcards every week promoting its services – the company actively participates on major social media sites.
However, the company's success with social media was not a direct route. Early attempts with a couple of marketing agencies added fans, followers and LinkedIn connections but only brought in a lead or two every couple of months.
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“My boss said, ‘I can't afford this. I need ROI (return on investment)',” said Ferris Stith, PR & social media manager at PostcardMania.
This past August, the company brought social media marketing in-house, putting Stith in charge. She and Gendusa realized the potential of LinkedIn to connect with their audience – small businesses like dental offices, repair service companies and insurance brokers.
By experimenting, Stith arrived at a winning process for LinkedIn that truly generates leads for this business-to-business company:
#1: Create compelling content
First, you need attractive content to move people from LinkedIn to your site. PostcardMania actively creates articles, blog posts, reports and customer case studies for the different industries it targets.
“Content makes all the difference,” Stith said. “Where I'm sending the person determines how many leads I'm going to get.”
The company packs every piece of content with valuable information. No fluff. Then, Stith finds multiple opportunities to share links back to that content.
About 80 percent of the time – usually with special reports – links go to a landing page requiring the person to fill out a form to access the content, turning that contact into an official lead.
#2: Establish your face and voice
Stith and Gendusa agreed that Gendusa, as CEO, would be the face of PostcardMania on LinkedIn, but Stith would post. Stith spent months learning Gendusa's voice and absorbing her marketing knowledge in order to contribute as Gendusa would.
Stith posts and responds as Gendusa for all inquiries that are not personal messages to the CEO.
#3: Build contacts and message them
When Gendusa receives connection requests, Stith reviews the person's information and usually accepts the invite. After that, she connects one-on-one with the individual with a friendly message.
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“I'll say, ‘I see that you work at this company. Are you the owner? How's business going?'” Stith said. She keeps conversations going by often ending with a question.
Stith stresses that she stays very conversational, and never salesy. She also keeps the messages about the other company and their needs, rather than talking about Gendusa or PostcardMania.
“Hard selling is not going to work,” Stith said. “I see so much of it… The post has to be super-helpful. Give real information.”
In the course of conversation, she might point a dentist to a gallery of visual examples of other postcards or to a video and/or written case study showing how another dentist brought in new business with postcard marketing.
“Case studies and sample galleries are really successful depending on the conversation,” Stith said.
Or, Stith might also point the contact to a special report just for that industry, such as the “8 Ways to Build a Dental Empire” piece.
“Usually when people read that report, dentists call and usually buy pretty fast,” she said.
#4: Join groups and contribute
Next, Stith joins LinkedIn groups for the various types of small businesses the company targets, and judiciously contributes to discussions and questions about marketing.
Within groups, Stith uses the LinkedIn “Discussions” feature about once per week to share valuable content that links to PostcardMania.com. Fellow group members can comment or ask questions right on those discussions.
Just recently, the company generated the most leads yet (53) from a piece of content – with the blog post, “8 Ways to Grow Your Local Business for FREE!” Each of the eight ways was a “snippet” with links to get more information, each of which collected the person's contact information.
If someone seems like a good prospect based on his or her profile and comments, Stith will click the “Reply Privately” link to take the conversation offline and connect with that person.
“I introduce myself in a way that's not off-topic,” she said. “‘Joy I agree with you on ABC.' Then I ask questions.”
Additionally, PostcardMania answers marketing questions posted on various forums.
#5: Cold-message contacts
Also part of her regular LinkedIn group activity, Stith “cold messages” contacts who might be promising prospects.
Again, given the nature of LinkedIn, she's careful to be conversational, not promotional.
“I'll introduce myself and say, ‘I see you're in this industry' and ask a question like, ‘how's your business these days?' It's a very light touch introduction.”
600 Leads – Just From LinkedIn
PostcardMania meticulously tracks all leads. In roughly the past year, the company generated approximately 600 leads, which Stith said amounts to approximately $72,000 in actual business – all just from LinkedIn.
She notes that their close ratios for social media match those of traditional media activities such as postcards, indicating that social media does deliver quality leads.
However, not all social media pulls the same weight. While Stith uses Facebook and Twitter, her B2B audience responds best to LinkedIn.
“Twitter generates traffic to our site but doesn't necessarily convert,” she said. “Facebook is the more social aspect. Conversion on them visiting isn't nearly as high as LinkedIn.”
What do you think? Is your social media marketing generating real leads beyond just fans and followers? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.
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