Here at Dux-Soup we get to speak to lots of our users through our support and booster calls, our webinars and user forums. This is when we get to learn how our customers use Dux-Soup and how it benefits their business. We were thrilled when one of our users agreed to share his experience and his top tips for using LinkedIn automation.
Michael Simpson, the owner and Founder of Ideas First readily admits that he hates selling! Rather than a quick transactional win, Michael’s approach is to nurture relationships so that his businesses are front of mind when a lead is ready to convert.
In a recent webinar he shared with us his proven techniques on how to nurture high value prospects through a long sales cycle using LinkedIn and Dux-Soup.
Watch a recording of the webinar ‘the long term LinkedIn nurture strategy to increase sales’ and hear everything Michael shared with us, or keep reading for a summary of the 12 secrets Michael let us in on!
In this blog we will cover:
• How to generate new connections with the right prospects
• Michael’s campaign strategy that generates LinkedIn responses
• The importance of blog posts and ‘free’ content
• How to drive conversion from friendly chat to ZOOM to a proposal
Secret #1 - Have you got the right offer?
Before you start doing lots of work selling and delivering, have you got ‘the right offer’?
As you build, sell and deliver, think about what you’re offering. Can you refine anything? Ask yourselves the following:
- Building the offer - what new products can we offer our clients?
- Selling the offer - are there smarter ways to target, present and sell our offer to clients?
- Delivering an offer - how can we deliver our offer in a way that clients become ‘return business’?
Michael is constantly looking for smarter ways to target, present and sell Ideas First to clients and he’s found that the power created by joining LinkedIn and Dux-Soup, has been one of the best ways to engage existing and potential clients on an ongoing basis.
If you don't yet have a Dux-Soup account, then why not give our 2 week free trial a go? There's no financial commitment - simply click on the button to get started.
So, let’s take a look at how Ideas First use Dux-Soup…
Secret #2 - Create your own Dux-Soup Funnel
This is less of a secret, and perhaps not much of a surprise either. Nevertheless, creating a funnel is essential.
At the end of the day, selling is a numbers game and as you get towards finding your clients, the numbers go down.
Creating a Dux-Soup engagement funnel enables you to start your new connection campaigns with a specific list of target clients. You can engage with the people that connect by running 1st degree connection campaigns. Some of them will convert to email and you’ll then meet with a selection of those people.
Ultimately you’ll reach a position where you offer a proposal that results in a project or sale.
Secret #3 - Get ready for connections
You’re about to start your campaign, so now’s the time to get your house in order and check everything is ready.
LinkedIn is most likely the first port of call for someone wanting to find out more about you. Before you start running your campaign check your profile page is ready and appropriate for your target audience. If you have a website, how's it looking? Is it up to date and fit for purpose? There’s a good chance prospects will check your website out before they connect with you, so take the time to get it ready for your connections.
If you’d like some helpful hints and tips about how to present yourself more effectively, take a look at these handy tips about how to check if your LinkedIn profile is attracting or repelling your ideal client!
Secret #4 - Target clients using Sales Navigator
Sales Navigator is integral to Michael’s use of Dux-Soup. It allows him to save lots of searches for different profiles. All the different searches fit the services and products his company offers. Here you can see a snapshot of how he defined one of his saved searches.
Secret #5 - Auto enroll into your campaigns
Browsing and viewing profiles on LinkedIn is incredibly time consuming.The Dux-Soup auto enroll feature browses on your behalf, and sends potential leads a sequence which includes a personalized connection message followed by a number of additional follow-up messages.
Using this function allows Michael to load 3000-4000 people into an Ideas First campaign which he leaves to run while he works on other things. Here’s how it looks with Dux-Soup:
Secret #6 - Get your campaigns going
LinkedIn is a ready made database of your ideal customers. Creating lead generation campaigns with content and outreach activities that nurture the ideal prospects towards a project or sale is a powerful and essential tool in Michael’s bag.
Ideas First run two campaigns using the Dux-Soup drip campaign feature. Each defines a set of LinkedIn actions, sent over pre-defined periods of time.
Let’s take a look…
The first is the new connections campaign. This is sent to approx 40 people per day, runs most of the year and has a 15-20% connection rate. Here you can see the connection and follow up messages that get sent out…
The second campaign is the 1st degree connection campaign. This is sent to approx 250 existing connections per day and only to the connections that fit the target profile. Here’s an example of the New Year campaign sent to his 1st degree connections. It ran over a period of 2 months to a total of around 3000 people…
You can find out how to set up smart drip campaigns in our recent blog.
Secret #7 - Blogs to drive engagement
Rather than send a campaign that dives straight into selling and screams “use my services!” Michael recommends giving away content that your target clients will find helpful. “Blogs to drive engagement” have worked really well for Ideas First.
Connections are sent a LinkedIn message containing a link to a blog on the company website. Once on the site, they can take a look at any of the other blogs posted there. Ideas First post 1-2 blogs a month, each a variation on a theme about his company's expertise, how they work together and the services and products on offer.
Rebrandly is a link management platform Michael uses to brand, track and share short URLs using a custom domain. The tool can track which blogs appeal to your audience.
Secret #8 - Go early with success
While this blog focuses on the long term nurture strategy, it’s fair to say that some LinkedIn campaigns do land in the right place at the right time! Sometimes your campaign message contains exactly what a prospect needs, at a time they need to know it. Fast responses leading straight to a meeting and a proposal DO happen. So, be ready to reply quickly and go early with the success if that does happen!
Secret #9 - But play the long game
At the same time, be prepared to play the long game and nurture your prospects for as long as it takes to make the sale or win the project. It may well take a while but when it happens, the time and investment pays for itself.
Michael shared a couple of scenarios that took 16 messages and 4 years to come to fruition, and when the enquiry finally came - the end result was some great projects.
People may not need your offering this year, but they might need it in the next couple of years. Be prepared to stay by their side and foster the relationship with information and news for when the time is right.
Secret #10 - Keep the campaigns running
Most businesses want to spend as little time as possible on selling and as much time as possible on delivering. While you’re running your projects you’ve still got to juggle all the other things that are going on, including keeping your campaigns running. This is where a LinkedIn automation tool can help you out. There are plenty of options however Michael favors Dux-Soup (as do we)!
While you’re working, Dux-Soup Turbo keeps running in the background, firing out campaign messages according to the schedule you’ve set.
Secret #11 - A plug for Things
This secret is not about LinkedIn automation….but you might find it useful anyway!
Everyone has their own way of organising their ‘To do’ list. At Ideas First, we use a tool called Things. The Mac tool allows you to track leads and interest (which is called Hotter Work Leads).
When someone replies to your campaign and says, “Thanks for that great article, the timing isn’t right, but come back to me in 6 months time”, you can track the request in ‘Things’ so you don’t forget to send them a bespoke LinkedIn message at a later date.
Secret #12 - Track and Refine
You could ‘follow your instinct’ to work out if a campaign has been a success, or you could take a more rigorous data driven approach and measure the results of different campaigns.
By tracking campaigns you can work out which variables to change, and which changes are the most effective to achieve a better outcome.
Every industry and region is likely to react differently so it’s worth testing your campaigns to see which suit your audience. You can do this in various ways, here are a few suggestions to give you some food for thought:
- Vary the length of the message. Do the longer or shorter messages work best?
- Attach EITHER a blog post or a LinkedIn article.
- What’s the best time of the month to start the New Year campaign? Is it January 1st or 15th?
- Changing the number of follow up messages. Are 3 or 4 more effective?
Michael uses the Dux-Dash in Dux-Soup Turbo to track, compare and refine his campaigns.
Our blog How to A/B test with Dux-Soup walks you through how to set-up and measure your LinkedIn campaigns, along with some tips and techniques on what to test.
And at the end of this last secret, we are back to where we started - Be ready to refine your offer!
The cycle of learning and refining is fundamental to the success of your offer. You might be trying out lots of different ways to sell your offer (Google advertising, sending campaigns and/or managing your website and blog SEO - among other things), but if you find nothing is working, that your offer just isn’t selling, maybe it’s time to return to the beginning and refine your offer.
By nurturing your network with continual engagement and massaging their interests in a positive way over the long term, those satisfying wins will come.
The Q&A with Michael
There were over 20 minutes of Q&A, which still wasn’t enough time to get through all the questions asked by everyone who joined us on the day! If you’d like to take a listen then go to the 39:27mins of the webinar
Here’s a small sample of some of the questions:
- What’s the typical timeframe for a campaign?
- How do you identify who is taking action from your LinkedIn messages and engaging with the blog posts?
- How do you move from LinkedIn messaging to a phone call?
- When playing the long game, what success rates do you see for 10+ messages?
- Can you send messages to connections made after a specific date?
About Michael Simpson
Michael Simpson is the founder of Ideas First, a specialist product innovation and research consultancy that helps to inspire large consumer-focused organisations to generate, refine and test ideas for new products and services. They have been in business for over 20 years, running global projects for clients such as Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, Bayer Healthcare, Danone and Pepsico.