Wednesday, April 18, 2018

9 Costly Mistakes Businesses Make on LinkedIn


The numbers are in. LinkedIn appeals to 41% of B2B marketers as their main social media network and is where 80% of B2B leads are generated.
The number one professional social network is also the channel where 43% of marketers have sourced their customers. What’s more, about 50% of LinkedIn users are more likely to buy from businesses that they have interacted with on LinkedIn.
Given the positive impact of LinkedIn on B2B marketing and branding campaigns, it’s important that you know how to properly leverage the platform by avoiding common mistakes. You wouldn’t want to spend unnecessary time and resources building a LinkedIn presence only to come up short because of a simple oversight, would you?
Here are some of the biggest (and most avoidable) mistakes businesses make on LinkedIn:

1. INACTIVITY

It’s counterproductive for your brand not to be active on LinkedIn. The digital era makes social media networks like LinkedIn an effective channel for connecting with partners and customers alike.
However, you’re likely to miss out on these opportunities if you fail to establish your social presence on LinkedIn. Without regular updates, your community won’t know if you’re still around and you risk losing touch. You can help your company keep active on LinkedIn by regularly posting status updates, publishing relevant and high-quality content, or engaging your connections in meaningful conversations.

2. IMPERSONAL CONNECTION REQUESTS

It might be tempting to send as many connection requests as possible to LinkedIn users to expand your network, but unless you take the time to personalize your message, you won’t get the results you want.
You’d do better to explain to your prospects why they should accept your invite by focusing on what they can get from connecting with you. That said, before inviting companies to join your network, make sure you know the nature of their business, what they do, who their customers are, and where your products or services fit into their business.

3. SPAMMING

Having LinkedIn users accept your connection request does not give you the license to send them random, irrelevant messages that aren’t worth their time or attention.
It’s not advisable, for example, to hard sell to someone who barely knows you or what your company has to offer. Instead, you should direct your efforts toward getting to know them first – their interests, activities, goals, and challenges – to truly understand if you can really help them.
With the right strategy, LinkedIn can be a great B2B marketing tool for building relationships with your target market.

4. IGNORING REVIEWS

Modern-day consumers are taking advantage of social networks to rate businesses in terms of the quality of their products or services. And with people spending more time on social media, it’s easier than ever for anyone to see what LinkedIn users have to say about your company. Obviously, negative online reviews can affect your branding, marketing, and sales efforts.
To help your business get more positive reviews, listen to your customers’ feedback and always address their questions, comments, or complaints. It’s not enough to be present on social media. Brands need to actively engage with their audiences and correspondingly respond when engaged with.

5. ZERO EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT

Before you look for outside for help to spread word about your company, approach your employees first. They can and should be your brand’s top endorsers, helping boost your engagement, visibility, and most importantly, building an air of trust and authority. On the other hand, not paying attention to this resource group may reflect poorly on your ability to maximize your internal assets.
Statistics say there are about 50% of employees who are already sharing things on social media about their employers, including job posting, blog articles, and other useful content.
You can use LinkedIn or other third-party tools to make it easy for your employees to promote your brand or your content to attract more traffic to your site, expand your market reach, or gain more leads and followers.

6. INEFFECTIVE POSTING STRATEGIES

LinkedIn remains the best B2B social media platform to this day, so it only makes sense that you must develop a marketing strategy specifically for LinkedIn users.
When it comes to posting your content, for example, you need to be aware of the ideal time and frequency of posting. This is to help ensure your success in engaging your audience or attracting leads and potential sales through the content you’re sharing on the platform.
LinkedIn users seem to be receptive toward consuming content at various times during the day, around early morning and early evening hours. Just make sure to track your metrics to gauge if you’re posting at the best time and frequency for your particular audience.

7. OVERPROMOTION

You may be using LinkedIn to promote your product, service, or business, which is perfectly fine, but you should never overdo it. Instead of focusing on your brand, you should, first and foremost, think of your audience. Veer away from posting promotional updates or sales pitches because you can be sure they will not appeal to your audience (unless the “perfect” opportunity presents itself, which doesn’t happen often).
When crafting or sharing content, always make it your goal to serve the needs and interests of your audience. This type of engagement is also an effective way to gain new followers in the LinkedIn community. Eventually, you’ll get people trusting you and talking about your brand more.

8. DON’T OPTIMIZE YOUR PAGE

Failing to optimize your company page is inexcusable. This is where people go first to find out about your business, product, service, or even job opportunities. If users don’t immediately find the information they’re looking for, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll leave your page and find the information they need somewhere else.
Optimize your LinkedIn company page with a good use of target keywords, a mix of important marketing and investor information, and mobile optimization techniques. Like any other marketing touchpoint, your page should effectively showcase what your brand is, why you operate, and what sets you apart.

9. LACK OF SPONSORED CONTENT

Many brands run ads on LinkedIn, but not nearly as many have tried their luck on LinkedIn Sponsored Content. That’s understandable because it takes more effort and resources to produce a relevant, valuable piece of content, than short ad copy. However, investing in sponsored content definitely has its advantages.
Sponsored content on LinkedIn is native, and you’ll get a ton of traffic from professionals and decision makers looking for educative information. If your brand can deliver on and satisfy that search for knowledge, you can capitalize on an opportunity to position your brand as an authority figure, building trust within the right circles.

WRAP UP

LinkedIn is one of the most important and versatile channels in the social media space. Use it to enhance your company image, audience engagement, and lead generation, among other B2B marketing goals. Just don’t be guilty of these costly mistakes and you’ll go far.

Monday, March 12, 2018

8 Ways to Legally Snoop on Competitors


Understanding competitors and their products can mean the difference between success and failure. In-depth competitor research is critical to know how your products and services stack up in the marketplace – if they are cheaper or more expensive, inferior or superior in certain ways. Knowledge of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses reveals where your company can carve out a niche and thrive.
You don’t need to hack their computers or peer through their office windows with a telescope to find competitors’ inside information. Plenty of competitive intelligence is publicly available and can be acquired through legitimate means.  Your competitors are probably doing it.

The Wealth of Website Information

Examine their websites. That means more than just skimming their home page. Note the specific features or benefits they promote and monitor any changes they make over time. Shifts in language or website organization can reveal new strategies or products in the works.
You can find hidden pages with Google searches such as: “filetype: doc site: companyname.” Change the file type to .pdf, .xls, or .ppt to turn up data or presentations. Competitors often post documents online, thinking no one will find it if they don’t link to it.
A tool such as SimilarWeb reports basic information on competitors’ websites, such as traffic per month, average visit duration, bounce rate, and pages per visit, says Eleonora Zolotaryova, content marketer at Serpstat. While the figures mean little in isolation, you can gain insights by comparing them to data of other websites in the niche, including other competitors. If you notice a sharp increase in a competitor’s website traffic, you can attempt to mimic their SEO tactics. Serpstat can compile more detailed research such as referring domains, the quality of inbound links, and top keywords.
Visit competitors’ social media profiles. Competitors’ social media posts can reveal their thoughts on what works or doesn’t. Marketing expert Sujan Patelrecalls in Entrepreneur recalls that a competitor shared a post on Facebook on why pay-per-click advertising was not effective. The information allowed him to save valuable resources by avoiding a fruitless strategy.
Read customer reviews. Reviews on Amazon, Google business listings, Yelp, Facebook and other platforms show useful information. Five-star reviews show what a competitor does well; one-star reviews reveal what competitors do poorly. Their responses to poor and mediocre reviews can hint at their strategies.
Sign up for their mailing lists. They’ll send you their promotions to review and their press releases that will inform you of their latest activities. Plus, you’ll get an up-close look at their language. Your company and competitors may seem similar on the surface, but an inside look at their promotions may show startling differences, Patel says.
Try their products. If your budget and the level of transparency permit it, testing their products can bring eye-opening results. Products may seem the same based on marketing materials, but you can find major differences by trying them yourself. “We might still offer the same basic functionality, but because I took the time to fully understand my competitors’ products, I was able to find my own niche to carve out in the marketplace,” he says.
Attend trade shows. Stand near competitors’ booths at a busy time when it’s easy to blend in with the crowd and eavesdrop on what they tell prospects, suggests Seena Sharp of Sharp Market Intelligence. New initiatives often are announced at shows, salespeople may reveal details. Your PR people can attend the press announcements by competitors at trade shows.
Play secret shopper. Visit their stores, if they have them. Notice if employees are responsive, if facilities are clean, and if shelves are well-stocked. Call to ask about their products to evaluate customer service, advises Sean Campbell, principal at Cascade Insights.

Snooping on Competitors with Social Media Monitoring & Measurement

Ongoing monitoring and measurement of news and social media probably offers the richest competitive intelligence.
News monitoring finds corporate and brand announcements by competitors. Social media listening exposes what consumers are saying about competitors and their products, and what they like and dislike about them, including possible customer service issues. Your organization can exploit their weaknesses and copy their strengths. The most valuable nuggets of competitive intelligence usually come from looking beyond the numbers and seeking insights from the content. To find those insights, organizations need knowledgeable staff members or a third-party service to review media mentions.
Social media monitoring and measurement can track trends in engagement levels, follower numbers, product messaging and other metrics. Some monitoring services can complete a sentiment analysis which rates brand mentions on a positive to negative scale. You can learn about competitors’ audience profiles by analyzing people who mention competitors, which help better define your own target audience.
You can learn about the competitors’ media relations strategies by monitoring online news outlets for mentions of their brand names and products. Unfavorable articles that report customer complaints, issues with regulators, or concerns of investors can indicate opportunities for your own organization. Media measurement can compare their PR performance to yours through metrics like share of voice and indicate how to improve your PR.
Bottom Line: Conducting competitive intelligence can produce a wealth of information that can be invaluable for developing your company’s products and crafting PR and marketing strategies. Spying legally on competitors may be easier and less costly than many believe, especially in the use of media monitoring services.