5 New Customer Engagement Strategies to Activate on LinkedIn

January 14, 2021

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Editor's Note: Enjoy this special encore post, which is one of our readers' favorites so far in 2021. It originally published January 14.

In a world where fewer customers are in “Buy Now” mode, B2B marketers everywhere have been forced to flex their creative muscles more than usual. Whether it’s coming up with unconventional ways to drum up revenue or repositioning your brands for when the market bounces back, many of you have been growing outside of your comfort zones. 

In a recent episode of Live with Marketers, I was joined by Edelman’s Joe Kingsbury and LinkedIn’s Tusar Barik to shine a light on strategies for engaging customers in our current business environment. I definitely recommend checking out the full episode because Joe and Tusar really brought the heat – the episode contains a wealth of intel around thought leadership consumption to fuel your approach. But if you’ve only got a few minutes, here’s a quick breakdown of the top customer engagement strategies we explored and how you can apply them on the LinkedIn platform.

5 New B2B Customer Engagement Strategies to Implement on LinkedIn

Position for the Long Term

History has shown us that market interruptions can be an ideal time to reposition your offering for the long term. Start with market research to learn what your audience needs and wants from you. 

Don’t have a big budget for research? That’s okay – there are a few actions you can take that don’t cost a thing.  

First, talk to a few of your customers to get their honest feedback about what life is like using your solution. For this, you’ll probably want to check in with the account’s sales rep first to make sure you aren’t interrupting anything. 

Another inexpensive product research option is to look through the notes in your CRM. Specifically, consider filtering your team’s “closed - lost” opportunities over the past few months to get more detail into why buyers decided to go with competing solutions.

Insights in hand, take another look at your product roadmap. Revisit your value props. Which seem best to highlight given the current environment? If you’re falling short in the features department, get together with the product team to discuss your options. Then, make sure your website and social media accounts reflect your new priorities and points of emphasis. 

How to implement this strategy on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, you’ll likely want to update your Page to make sure any updates to your mission and vision come through clearly. You might also consider updating the hero banner and “About” section of your Page. 

Investing in brand campaigns is a great way to support long-term growth initiatives. Awareness and positive associations developed now will pay dividends down the line, especially as the economy recovers. Promoting your message on LinkedIn means presenting it in a trusted environment with a targeted professional audience.

Know Your Customer’s Customer

We marketers are always talking about how important it is to intimately understand our customers. And it is important. But through this logic, we already intuitively know which priority tops the list for nearly all of our customers: their customers.

By learning what your customer’s customer cares about, and how you can potentially make your customer more attractive in the eyes of their customers, you equip yourself to have conversations that transcend those of competing reps. Further, LinkedIn’s research with Edelman found a sizable gap between companies that believe they need to understand their buyer’s customers better and those currently doing something about, pointing to a competitive opportunity. 

How to implement this strategy on LinkedIn

LinkedIn can help you better understand your customer’s target audience in a few ways. First, you could use LinkedIn’s unique targeting capabilities and filtering options to isolate this audience. If you’re not sure who that is, it’s probably a sign that more research or conversation is needed. 

Once you’ve isolated your customer’s customers to the best of your ability, look for commonalities, patterns, and trends. What’s new in these people’s professional lives? What’s buzzing? What’s changing? What’s on the horizon? And most importantly, how can you help your customer solidify their utility and standing within this community?

As Joe mentions, now is a vital time for marketers to take the lead as it relates to refreshing efforts around customer segmentation. To that end, there are a few LinkedIn features B2B marketers rely on to understand their customers better, which you might also recommend to your customers. These include the Insight Tag, Matched Audiences, and Company Targeting for Account-Based Marketing, to name a few.

Revolve Around the Customer Journey

B2B buying cycles have been gradually getting longer and more complex, in part because companies are involving more departments and people in their buying processes. This trend has made it even more crucial for the marketing team to succeed, particularly when it comes to identifying potential buyers early and engaging them via content marketing. 

If your efforts to date have mostly revolved around lead generation, it might be time to supplement with additional measures meant to enhance your buyer’s experience. Specifically, think about prioritizing journey enablement and customer relationship management as well. 

How to implement this strategy on LinkedIn

A couple of ways to do this on LinkedIn include regularly publishing to your Page, and also using it as a platform for engagement. Speaking of engagement, Groups offer another place where meaningful engagement regularly unfolds. The big thing is to focus on learning and building trust. Today, being strategic about not selling before the buyer is ready, and instead looking to illuminate the buyer’s journey, is how companies earn permission to sell

Paying attention to your customers (or potential customers) and their activities is a great way to better understand what they care about and where they focus. Follow the content they share and the conversations they engage in. If you notice they frequently link to articles from a particular publication, consider subscribing to it. And of course: whenever possible, be helpful. 

Stronger Sales and Marketing Collaboration

Sales and marketing simply can’t operate separately these days. To consistently achieve customer outcomes, stronger collaboration between sales and marketing functions must be enabled. This is hardly a new thought, but it bears repeating because, as Joe mentions during the episode, the pain of not having a coherent plan for marketing and sales to seamlessly collaborate has been magnified during the downturn.

How you should adjust your collaboration protocols will ultimately hinge on how your organization operates and who your customers are. 

Specifically, try to single out the most pivotal moments throughout their journey, from discovery to advocacy. Ask yourself where you’re currently delivering so-so or sub-par experiences. Then, team up with sales around the goal of making those same experiences exceptional. 

How to implement this strategy on LinkedIn

Strategic harmony on LinkedIn can be a beautiful thing. A thoughtful and holistic strategy is one that seamlessly connects branding, lead generation, and sales activation. 

To an extent, this can be role-agnostic. Modern selling is partially focused on empowering salespeople to market themselves and generate inbound interest, whereas today’s marketers are hardly relegated to upper-funnel activities in an age of complex buying cycles and customer advocacy.

There are plenty of ways for marketing and sales to complement one another through LinkedIn tactics. For example, you might run a Sponsored Content campaign around a very specific message, and then later have a salesperson reach out with a piece of content sharing the same messaging theme. Or, you might feature one of your sales reps in a virtual event to create familiarity for later outreach to attendees.

Earn Trust through Thought Leadership

What constitutes an exceptional experience, exactly? More and more, we’re seeing B2B buyers being drawn toward strong thought leadership content. In this period of disruption, thought leadership content can help you establish trust with your customers. A well-executed thought leadership campaign does more than build brand equity and awareness — it can also lower your customers’ defenses and empower your sales team with permission to sell. 

How to implement this strategy on LinkedIn

Today, one of the better ways to make sure your full audience is finding and engaging with your thought leadership content is to showcase it via an online event. With new organic and paid options for boosting the potential of your virtual event, the LinkedIn platform is ideal for finding and engaging your ultimate guest list:

  • Grow your attendees through personalized event recommendations and automated notifications for relevant Page followers
  • Collect lead data from those who sign up for your event
  • Run Sponsored Content Single Image Ads alongside organic content to promote your event
  • Retarget your event attendees on LinkedIn

Take advantage of all your channels – blogs, social channels, industry forums – to help ensure your best thought leadership content is being deployed when and where it’s needed and appreciated most.

Explore customer engagement strategies for the modern era within our new pocket guide, 5 New B2B Customer Engagement Strategies.