Three principles for capturing better lead data through LinkedIn

How you ask prospects to share their contact details can have a big impact on the quality of your leads

March 15, 2016

Converting a B2B marketing prospect into a lead typically involves persuading that prospect to fill in a form. And this apparently simple action is where a lot of lead generation strategies fall down. They suffer because the act of completing a data capture form is a more complicated transaction than it might appear. You aren’t just asking prospects for a few seconds of their time to type in some details. You’re asking them to trust that you will use those details in a way that’s not irritating and intrusive, and is likely to deliver real value to them. You’re asking them to take the gamble that your interests are aligned with theirs, and that it’s therefore worth hearing from you in the future.

When marketers don’t take the trouble to ask these data capture questions in the right way, they may still find that they capture some relevant leads, who fill in their details accurately. But I guarantee that there will be a lot fewer of these than might have been the case. The approach that you take to capturing leads has a huge impact on both the quantity and quality of the leads that you generate – and we see this time and time again when we analyse the most successful lead generation strategies on LinkedIn. Here are three principles that consistently reward marketers with more high-quality leads:

Focus on the experience of sharing contact details

Let’s start with the experience of sharing contact details itself. Any data capture experience that starts with a completely blank form finds itself confronting what neuroscientists call the status quo bias. If there’s indecision in our mind about whether it’s really worth doing something, or what the right approach to take is, then the chances are we will do nothing; we’ll just stick with the status quo. If your prospect isn’t absolutely certain about the benefits of filling in your data capture then there’s a strong chance they will leave it blank, fill it with dummy data, or try to leave as many fields blank as possible.

There are two approaches that can significantly increase your chances of overcoming this hurdle. When you use an auto-fill function (enabling prospects to auto-populate forms using LinkedIn data, for example), you sidestep the status quo bias. Not only are people more likely to complete the form, but those that do are more likely to complete it accurately and in full – because it takes more effort to delete the accurate information that’s automatically filled in than to leave it as is.

Another powerful strategy for overcoming the status quo bias is to build the act of sharing data into a value-adding customer experience. When you do this, you provide prospects with an immediate benefit for sharing accurate details – and the question of whether it’s worth doing so disappears. When the online learning platform CrossKnowledge built a microsite helping businesses calculate the cost of losing talent, they translated click-throughs into leads at benchmark-beating rates.

Preparing the ground with content

Our research into the IT buying process found that 37% of buyers are less likely to consider a potential supplier if that business asks them to fill in a data capture form the first time they try to access their content. And this isn’t just a quirk of IT buyers. When you ask prospects to share their details before they’ve had the chance to assess your expertise, you are asking for a great deal of good faith on their part. It’s no wonder that many of them pass up your content and move on to seek advice from someone else – or fill in the details of Disney characters to avoid being contacted.

If, on the other hand, you prepare the ground by sharing freely accessible content first, you can demonstrate your credibility and the value of what you have to offer, and dramatically increase your data capture rates. Platts Petrochemicals took this approach when it promoted subscriptions to its trading information services on LinkedIn. Delivering easily accessible, value-adding insights through Sponsored Updates enabled prospects to familiarise themselves with what the business had to offer before deciding to sign up for a trial subscription. As a result, Platts Petrochemicals was able to treble industry benchmarks for engagement and sign up 700 trial subscribers in a single quarter.

Focus on the benefits

When you make the transition from freely sharing content to asking for contact details in exchange for it, the copy in your Sponsored Updates needs to reflect the different type of transaction that you’re asking them to participate in. Focus your headlines and supporting copy on the unique value of the content you are sharing and what it will help their business achieve. Try aligning your content with prospects’ likely pain points and business issues, quantifying the depth and detail of what you have to offer (a 7-stage strategy or an end-to-end approach, for example), or stressing the content’s unique selling points, such as bespoke research you’ve conducted. Make sure that your landing page backs up this messaging as well.

Asking prospects to become leads is one of the most important stages in the purchase journey – and doing so in compelling and creative ways is one of the most important skills in B2B marketing. For more inspiration on the strategies that can help, check out our Rethink Demand Generation guide, which offers great insights on the tactics to adopt at different stages of the funnel.