Written by Mark Seghers for Next Wave Marketing Strategies- Aged Leads Done Right.
The Importance of LinkedIn
In a recent article for Entrepreneur magazine by Ann Handley, “A Guide to Generating Leads on LinkedIn,” Ann writes about the importance of LinkedIn as a place to go to look not only for work, but for customers as well.
“While the early adopters flock to Google+, and our kids and moms become power-users on Facebook,” states Ann, “LinkedIn is where business gets done”
Indeed, according to a June report by Performics and ROI research, LinkedIn has surpassed Twitter, YouTube and Facebook in terms of importance to users.
While LinkedIn may seem a bit boring and dull compared to Facebook, and is probably less active, there is a sheen of professionalism and formality that many businesspeople find attractive. People carefully manage their LinkedIn persona, and “wear a suit” on LinkedIn and put their best foot forward. On Facebook, people tend to let their hair down and talk about personal things. One colleague we talked to said “Facebook is for my FRIENDS. People I trust. Facebook is my casual ‘water cooler’ conversation- my human interaction. I let my flaws show on Facebook.” On Linkedin, he continued, “I feel like I’m in a job interview, 24×7.”
While LinkedIn may be a bit stodgy, don’t underestimate its importance in marketing insurance, especially if you sell to business owners.
Finding your target market
Using LinkedIn’s advanced search, you can find decision-makers quite easily. You can search for “VP Human Resources” for example – use the “Current” setting, and you can limit your search to a certain number of mile radius around a zip code. You can also target Entrepreneurs who run their own business and may need coverage, by searching for Company Size of 1-10, seniority of “Owner” or “Partner” or “CXO”. You can limit your search further by specifying what Relationship you already have with the person. One experienced LinkedIn user I spoke to said “I set the Relationship level to 1st and 2nd level connections – that way if I am connected with them, I can use email. If I’m not connected, I can walk across to them using our shared contact.”
To connect to people, LinkedIn users can email first-level connections, or can “Connect” with others. The 2nd level connection can be quite useful. According to one heavy LinkedIn user with over 1,000 connections, “I join many different groups in the insurance industry, and LOCAL groups in my city of Milwaukee.” Not only does this give me a valid reason to connect with these people, but it also gives me a friendly way to say hello in the ‘Personal Note’ I attach to my invitation to connect.”
Don’t forget the Groups!
Groups are a very important – and often overlooked – element of LinkedIn. Insurance agents should join groups for several purposes:
- To connect with other agents! Smart agents know that they can’t learn everything they need to on their own. They can share their own ideas, and learn from others at the same time, using LinkedIn’s Group feature. The LinkedIn Group, “Insurance Agent Questions & Answers” for example lets agents ask questions and share information.
- To connect with local consumers. In the Milwaukee market, there are groups like “Link Up Milwaukee” and “Milwaukee Business Professionals” which connect people within a community who can then share information with each other regarding the services they offer. Sometimes these connections can be quite powerful, and can lead to cross-referral programs or even directly to new customers.
- As a way to LinkUp with customers. If you share a group with a business owner in your area, you are allowed to then request a connection. Some agents, when trying to connect with a potential customer, start slow. “Don’t put your pitch in the Invitation to Connect!” says one LinkedIn expert, who says to start slow, and connect, then send an email after you are connected with information about your business, re-stating your ties to that person either in the community, within a LinkedIn group, or professionally.
Other Important Tips for Success on LinkedIn
Here are some other tips to use LinkedIn to succeed:
- Start a company page for your agency! When customers are considering working with you, or even connecting to you, a company page (along with a website) can help you seem “real” to them. Starting a company page on LinkedIn can also help your search engine results for people who search for your name. Link your company page to your website, of course.
- Avoid too much “Spamming.” Status updates like “ABC Agency is great! Call us today!” can be annoying. Respect your contacts by posting useful articles and stating your position. For example, if you work in the life insurance industry, post a link to an article about the importance of having sufficient Life insurance coverage, and comment with your own position on this, as well. Customers can then click on your profile to learn more about you. Also, connect these posts to your Twitter feed to increase your exposure. When you post a helpful article, you become an ambassador for that message- so make sure you READ the article before you post a link! The general rule for social media including LinkedIn is “GIVE FIRST, to receive.” If you provide useful information freely, that will naturally come back to you in terms of information, referrals and even customers.
- Fine-tune your Profile! Along with the lack of a company page, many agents do not rank highly for a particular term because their LinkedIn profile itself is empty, and woefully inadequate. Click on Profile, Edit to make sure you and your business are well represented. Make sure you are clear and that there are NO spelling or grammatical errors (as you would with a resume’). Also- pay special attention to the “Skills and Expertise” area- this is weighed heavily when LinkedIn users are looking for assistance. Don’t just put “Insurance”… if you are a health insurance agent, put “health insurance sales” and “Milwaukee Health insurance” and “Wisconsin Health Insurance” and “health insurance quote” and (you get the idea). Be specific, and be redundant.
- “Like” and “Comment” – This is one of the most overlooked tip for LinkedIn. So many people just READ and never “Like”… then when they post something, they are upset because nobody returns the favor. Remember, on social media, you must “Give First”… this not only gives you return-value, but it also makes you memorable, and appreciated.
As with everything you do, don’t get overly focused on one marketing method. Find what works for you and for your style. Schedule your marketing activities just like you do appointments. Let the Internet and social media work for you- even when you aren’t working yourself!