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How to Leverage LinkedIn for Your Ecommerce Business

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  • How to Leverage LinkedIn for Your Ecommerce Business

Let’s be honest –– when you hear the word “LinkedIn”, you automatically think “B2B”.

It’s a fantastic platform for business-to-business lead generation. In fact, it’s responsible for 80% of B2B marketing leads made via social media.

But that’s not all it can do.

In particular, don’t underestimate the potential of LinkedIn as a means of boosting your ecommerce business. Take a look at the platform’s user demographics and that potential becomes crystal clear. Not only does it have 774+ million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, but it also massively over-indexes for highly paid users. According to Pew Research Center, just 25% of US adults use LinkedIn –– but that figure rises to 45% among Americans who earn more than $75,000 a year.

In other words, LinkedIn can be an absolute gold mine for ecommerce businesses; you just need to know how to use it effectively. Here’s how to leverage LinkedIn.

Set Clear Goals for Your LinkedIn Marketing Efforts

First off, let’s make one thing clear: not every platform or channel is perfectly suited to every type of marketing campaign.

Take Instagram –– it’s great for showcasing highly visual products, and its social commerce functionality streamlines the user journey. If you’re an ecommerce brand, it’s pretty much guaranteed Insta will be a big part of your marketing plans. But it’s not the best choice for sharing content because of the whole link-in-bio thing; it’s just not as smooth a process as the likes of Facebook or Twitter.

And it’s the same with LinkedIn. As an ecommerce marketer, it’s a fantastic platform for reaching affluent users, or people looking for a job. But it’s almost certainly not the best option for driving immediate sales. That’s just not where LinkedIn shines.

As this graphic from Sprout Social demonstrates, LinkedIn’s busiest times revolve around the working week:

how to leverage linkedin

That’s hardly surprising –– it’s predominantly a business-focused platform, after all, so you’re far more likely to check it in the office than while you’re sat on your sofa in the evening eating pizza. Most people don’t want (or aren’t able) to take time out of their working day to buy something online there and then. More likely they’ll see an ad or read a piece of content then return to buy at a later point.

Michał Kierul, CEO at intechhouse.com says – Your LinkedIn marketing needs to align with these usage preferences and patterns. Recognizing this behavior can enable marketers to strategically time their campaigns, creating more engaging and effective connections. It turns the platform’s unique nature from a potential hindrance into a valuable tool for targeted professional outreach.

That’s exactly how Nike uses LinkedIn. Rather than spamming its followers with ads for its latest products, the sportswear giant uses the platform to push its corporate social responsibility agenda:

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Sure, that might not result in a ton of instant sales. Reading that post doesn’t make me want to drop everything and buy a new pair of Air Max 90s. But in a world where 71% of consumers say they prefer buying from brands that align with their values, it can be a valuable tactic in building a loyal audience.

Define Metrics to Track Your Success

Okay, so you understand exactly what you’re trying to gain from your LinkedIn marketing efforts. That’s a good start. Now it’s time to set clear metrics to chart your progress.

As I’m sure you’re already aware, the coronavirus pandemic has placed marketing and advertising budgets under intense scrutiny, so if you can’t demonstrate that your LinkedIn activity is actively contributing to the overarching goals of your ecommerce business, don’t expect senior decision makers to pat you on the back and tell you to carry on regardless.

More likely they’ll pull the plug faster than you can say “quarterly earnings presentation”.

That’s why metrics are so important. They give you hard-and-fast proof that you’re heading in the right direction. If you’re relatively new to the world of LinkedIn marketing –– and presumably, if you’re reading this article, you are –– then you need clear metrics to understand if you’re doing the right things or need to course-correct.

However, they need to be the right metrics. Obviously, those will naturally depend on the goals of your LinkedIn activity.

Continuing the Nike example from the previous section, it’s clear this isn’t a sales-oriented campaign, so traditional ecommerce metrics –– like revenue, conversion rate, and customer lifetime value –– probably aren’t going to be much help. But marketing metrics –– such as total traffic to campaign landing pages, and the bounce rate of users who visit those pages from LinkedIn –– probably will be relevant.

Use Video in Your Linkedin Marketing

It’s no big secret that video tends to perform well on social media, and LinkedIn is no different.

According to LinkedIn’s own research, members are 20 times more likely to share a video on the platform than any other type of post.

You don’t need a digital marketing qualification to understand why. After all, our social feeds are busier than ever. For your posts to be effective, they need to cut through the noise. Inevitably, it’s a lot easier to do that when you incorporate an interesting, eye-catching video than with a simple text or image-based post.

So at the very least, it’s definitely worth experimenting with video on LinkedIn to see how it resonates with your audience.

That’s exactly what ASOS does here:

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Ultimately, this is a pretty simple job advert. It could have been two lines of text, an image, and a call to action. But to give it the best chance of success, ASOS has included a short video that briefly highlights some of the key responsibilities and goals of the Customs Analyst role.

Now, ASOS is a huge company. It made more than $4.5 billion in revenue in 2020 and has a vast internal marketing team packed full of talented creatives. Clearly, not every ecommerce business has access to those kinds of resources.

But that’s no reason to shy away from trying out video marketing on LinkedIn. It’s really not difficult to create professional, impactful video content.

Professional-grade equipment –– like a camera, tripod, microphone, and lighting –– can be hired relatively inexpensively. Or if that’s not an option, your smartphone can do a decent enough job.

Just remember to follow video editing best practices, such as adding subtitles to any videos that include speech (remember: not everyone will be watching with the volume turned up).

Take Video a Step Further By Live Streaming

You’ve given LinkedIn video marketing a try. Hopefully it’s yielded encouraging results –– in which case, congrats!

Now it’s time to take things a step further and try live streaming on LinkedIn.

“That sounds like a lot of effort,” you might be thinking. “Is it really worth it?”

To be honest, I can’t say for certain –– it’ll depend on your marketing goals. But there’s a lot of upside.

You see, live stream shopping –– that is, using video streaming technology to show off products, speak directly to your audience, and drive online sales –– is arguably the ecommerce world’s “next big thing”.

In China, the livestream shopping market is expected to be worth an eye-watering $300 billion by the end of 2021. And while the rest of the world is lagging a long way behind, it’s still poised to reach $11 billion in the US this year, climbing to an estimated $25 billion by 2023. That’s too big an opportunity to ignore.

What’s more, LinkedIn’s comparatively affluent audience makes it an excellent choice for live streaming.

Say you’re launching a high-end product; a LinkedIn live stream could be the perfect way to introduce it. After all, you don’t want to spend all that time and effort pushing a low-margin product, or marketing to an audience that can’t afford to buy what you’re selling.

There’s only one small catch to live streaming on LinkedIn… not everyone can do it. To be considered, you need to:

  • Have an audience base of more than 150 followers and/or connections
  • Possess experience of creating some type of original content on LinkedIn, be it text posts, images, videos, articles, or anything else for that matter
  • Demonstrate a history of sticking to LinkedIn’s Professional Community Policies (after all, LinkedIn doesn’t want to bestow live streaming privileges on anyone who might use it for nefarious purposes!)
  • To be located somewhere other than mainland China

Admittedly, those aren’t the most stringent guidelines. I don’t claim to be the world’s biggest “LinkedInfluencer”, but I’m pretty confident I can tick all four of those boxes.

However, even if you can too, there’s no guarantee LinkedIn will approve your request. On the plus side, that means if you do get the cherished green light, there’s a strong chance of your live stream standing out –– it’s not something that’s open to just anyone.

Leverage the Power of LinkedIn Automation

I’ve already mentioned the phrase “lead generation” in this article. It’s up there, right at the start –– scroll back up if you don’t believe me. But while I previously used it in the context of B2B marketing, lead gen can also be highly relevant to ecommerce companies.

In the ecommerce world, lead generation is all about capturing the names and email addresses (and maybe also the phone numbers and social handles) of potential customers. That way, you can target them through email marketing, which can be an extremely effective way to drive sales. So effective, in fact, that Campaign Monitor claims email has an average return on investment of $44 for every $1 spent.

However, ecommerce lead generation campaigns involve a lot of low-value, labor-intensive tasks –– things like adding names to spreadsheets and CRM systems, and segmenting all those names into different email lists. The sort of work only a masochist could enjoy. So do yourself a favor and take advantage of LinkedIn automation tools to handle the easy, boring, repetitive stuff.

Trust me, it’ll save you (and your team) a bunch of time that can be better spent elsewhere.

Promote Your Upcoming Conference Appearances

We’ve all been pretty starved of attending industry conferences and networking events in recent months (thanks, COVID-19).

But now that the pandemic is sort of behind us, it’s time to start considering them in our marketing plans again.

And there are lots of reasons why ecommerce brands might be planning to attend conferences, either as guests, exhibitors, or both.

You might be heading to a marketing conference to learn about new tools that’ll help you reach out to and engage your audience more effectively. Or you could be visiting an ecommerce-related trade show to make valuable connections with buyers and suppliers.

Either way, LinkedIn can be an excellent platform for promoting your forthcoming conference appearances.

Bear in mind that 96% of attendees look for information prior to attending an event. So by announcing that you’ll be present, and sharing details of what you’ll be doing at an event, you can book valuable appointments and do some preliminary networking before the conference rolls round. It’s all about making your life easier. Don’t forget to take advantage of the momentum and consistently follow up with your prospects.

Final Thoughts on How to Leverage LinkedIn

No one –– least of all me –– is claiming that LinkedIn should become the bedrock of your entire ecommerce marketing strategy.

Chances are you’re always going to rely on Facebook and Instagram to drive revenue and sales through social. Email and paid search should almost certainly be part of your strategy too. And few brands can afford to ignore SEO.

In short, there are a whole lot of channels and tactics available to ecommerce marketers, and LinkedIn definitely isn’t for everyone –– it’s certainly not got the mass-market appeal of the biggest hitters in the social media world.

But if you’re targeting an affluent audience, want to highlight your ethical credentials, or are looking to attract talent to join your brand, LinkedIn can be a highly effective cog in your ecommerce marketing machine.

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