A step by step guide to automating a LinkedIn outreach strategy

Growth hacking is one of the hottest topics in marketing at the moment.  It is moving away from being a niche tool favoured by the tech savvy into the mainstream marketing arena.

Evidence of this came at a recent channel partner marketing conference by a $1bn cloud solutions company.  It dedicated a big section in the agenda to growth hacking and best practices for lead generation.

When big companies like this are tuning into the benefits on offer from growth hacking, then you know it’s a technique with proven value creation opportunities. It may already be the next ‘big thing’ in sales and marketing.

However, a lot of businesses from SME’s to enterprise level organisations are still fighting to get to grips with what growth hacking is in practice and what steps they should be taking to be effective at doing it.

The playbook

My good friend Gino Taselaar has written a ‘playbook’ that breaks everything down into manageable steps.  It is a guide to automating your LinkedIn outreach strategy for lead generation.

If you haven’t come across it, check out the playbook here.  If you are looking for a weighty polished eBook this isn’t it.  What it does offer is a plain speaking and practical guide to combining LinkedIn automation with Sales Navigator to enhance your lead generation efforts (the same also applies for LinkedIn Recruiter too).

One of the challenges about growth hacking is that there is no one size fits all approach that will work for everyone.  Think of it as a mindset that can be adapted to your own specific goals and sales strategies.

However, good principles of growth hacking and LinkedIn usually include some of the following core steps which are covered in more detail in the playbook:

- Optimise your LinkedIn profile.  When was the last time you looked at your own LinkedIn profile? Chances are it was written a while ago and could do with a polish.  Start with creating a Headline and Summary that talks directly to what you offer.

- Boost the number of endorsements that you have.  It is often as simple as asking your contacts to give you a short recommendation.  In today’s digitally connected world, this social proof can go a long way to helping you to establish real credibility at the start of the sales journey.

-  Use customised connection messages. This is a hotly debated topic on growth hacking forums.  What is the best or optimum message when trying to connect with someone? Some people favour the short and sweet approach – “Dear <name>, I would like to connect on LinkedIn…..” Some people prefer longer messages which are customized, e.g. if you research and segment the contacts according to a particular technology, then you could start your message with “Dear <name>,I see that you use Salesforce. We have XX Salesforce developers who are available for permanent and short terms assignments….”  Which one is best?  It depends on what you are tying to achieve and your own preferences.  Some people like to ask for a meeting from the first message. The true answer is to find out what works best by testing different approaches for yourself.

Turning your network into leads

Once you have done these three steps, you can turn to your favourite LinkedIn automation tool and get on with the job of visiting pages, scraping contacts into a spreadsheet, inviting second- and third-degree connections and sending automated messages to your first-degree connections.

You can then take all of your newly acquired data and look at remarketing opportunities via Facebook to increase the number of touch points you have with your potential audience.

Remember to pay attention to good housekeeping.  There is no point keeping stale contacts or leaving lots of outstanding connection requests.  Always be thinking about how you can fine tune your target market and the overall approach.

Building your network and expanding into a full-on lead generation engine can be as simple as that, and Gino’s playbook will support you every step of the way.  It covers how to get email addresses for the data you have scraped, sending automated connection requests and more.

Staying safe with LinkedIn

There are an increasing number of posts online about the risk of picking up a ban if you are using an automation solution.  However, if used wisely, as described in this blog on Topdogsocialmedia.com then LinkedIn automation solutions can add a lot of value without raising any red flags. It’s all about augmenting what you would normally do on LinkedIn by the sensible application of automated actions.

The final point on the playbook that I absolutely love, is this comment from Gino: “only provide pure value when connecting with people.  LinkedIn is still a SOCIAL media which means you need to build relationships instead of spamming people to insanity.”

This is an approach that I wholeheartedly endorse.  Always think, what’s in it for the person I would like to connect with.  Would I want to receive messages that are trying to ‘seal the deal’ on the first contact?

Where next for growth hacking

The next evolution in growth hacking is likely to be integration of the automation tools with mainstream marketing and CRM systems.  Automation tools using Zapier can now connect into common platforms such as Salesforce or Zoho and even applicant tracking systems used in the recruitment industry.

This will provide further automation opportunities that make it easier than ever before to create campaigns, track results and generate ROI on LinkedIn lead generation.

Finally, the old adage about needing 7 contacts with a prospect before they are receptive to your message still applies here.  Each prospect is likely to be at a different stage of the buying cycle so regular marketing contact over a period time will be needed.

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