LinkedIn B2B Marketing: Not for NZ Businesses

According to LinkedIn, nearly all B2B marketers choose a LinkedIn-first marketing approach. 

Here’s why it might be a mistake for New Zealand’s businesses.

What is B2B?

B2B is short for business-to-business and refers to transactions between companies. Such as a restaurant buying ingredients. Or an events company selling group concessions for holiday parties.

B2B marketing focuses on raising awareness of products and services to other businesses.

Usually, B2B marketing focusses on gathering leads through various tactics. For example, directing potential customers to online forms. This involves digital advertising using lead form ads, or embedded forms on websites.

Leads are then pushed toward becoming customers using personalised email marketing, sales visits or calls.

LinkedIn B2B Marketing

It’s claimed (by LinkedIn) that 94% of B2B marketers choose a LinkedIn-first approach. In other words, almost all of the content produced for any B2B marketing campaign is designed with LinkedIn as a priority.

Furthermore, it’s claimed that LinkedIn drives more than half of all B2B social traffic to websites and blogs.

We can, therefore, presume that LinkedIn dominates the campaign advertising budget too.

Does that approach make sense in New Zealand?

If the claims are believed, LinkedIn-first might be seen as an obvious approach for B2B marketing in New Zealand. However, from our point of view, nothing should be taken for granted when you’re spending someone else’s money.

So, we took a look at some stats.

In September 2018 LinkedIn had 562 million users worldwide, with 260 million monthly active users (46.3%).

Potential Audience

The working-age population of New Zealand was 3.9 million in November 2018. According to LinkedIn’s own targeting, New Zealand has 1.9 million LinkedIn members. That’s about 48% of the working-age population.

Next, we apply the 46.3% MAU average. This gives us nearly 880,000 LinkedIn MAU’s in New Zealand. That’s a lot of people you can show content to!

However, we need to remember that we’re only looking at LinkedIn’s B2B marketing claim. So, we’re only interested in how many potential decision makers we can reach. How many of the 880,000 are decision makers?

New Zealand Businesses

According to Stats NZ, New Zealand had 528,170 enterprises as of February 2017. Of those, around 375,000 didn’t have (paid) employees. Slightly over 140,000 had 1-19 employees. 13,000 businesses employ between 20 and 99 people.

Less than 1% of all New Zealand businesses have more than 100 employees. However, that 1% (5,200) larger enterprises account for almost half of all the employees in New Zealand. Those larger companies and corporations also have multiple decision makers.

Let’s apply some averages. 48% (the percentage of working age New Zealanders on LinkedIn) of 528,170 (the number of NZ businesses) gives us about 254,000. That is a low-end estimate of decision makers on LinkedIn.

Alternatively, 20% of LinkedIn’s global audience is said to be senior-level directors and decision makers. 20% of 1.9 million (LinkedIn’s NZ audience) is 380,000.

So, New Zealand’s business decision maker audience possibly sits between 254,000 and 380,000. Applying the MAU percentage (46.3%) to those numbers gives us 117,602 and 175,940 respectively.

Averaging gives us a midpoint of 146,771 monthly active users, as the LinkedIn B2B marketing audience.

Confused? Our infographic may help!

<img src="linkedin-b2b-marketing.png" alt="linkedin b2b marketing audience in new zealand infographic">

What does that mean for LinkedIn B2B marketing?

If you’re trying to reach a decision maker in a New Zealand company via LinkedIn B2B marketing, you’re potentially working with less than 150,000 people. And that’s before you narrow things down with industries and regional locations.

To put that in perspective, let’s use the Construction industry as an example. There were 59,712 construction businesses in NZ as of February 2017. That’s 11% of the 528,170 total businesses.

Auckland has 34.2% of NZ’s businesses within the region. By using our average of 146,771, that equates to 50,000 decision makers as LinkedIn monthly active users. 11% of 50,000 is just 5,500.

Now consider that Otago has around 5% of NZ’s businesses. 807 decision makers, to divide between builders, plumbers, roofers, electricians…

And LinkedIn won’t deliver an ad to an audience under 300 people. Amazingly, this isn’t the biggest challenge.

LinkedIn MAU Average Minutes Per Month

The average LinkedIn user is only active for 17 minutes per month! That is slightly over 30 seconds per day.

For comparison, in 2017 the average YouTube user watched 40mins of content per day. Facebook users clocked in 35mins per day. On Instagram, the average app usage time was 15mins.

Whichever way you look at it, LinkedIn has low engagement.

<img src="linked-b2b.jpg" alt="the average linkedin user is only active of 17 minutes per month">That’s an obstacle because 30 seconds is a tiny window to work with. In order to be successful, the content will have to be instantly engaging.

That type of content is not easy to make. A look at the most popular 6-second video ads shows only large corporations with dedicated marketing teams or agencies are able to do this consistently on social media.

Is LinkedIn social media?

Social media can be defined as websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Viewed this way, LinkedIn is, therefore, social media.

On the other hand, it’s common knowledge that the Microsoft-owned network is popular with job opportunity posters. 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn, and according to LinkedIn over 75% of people who changed jobs recently used LinkedIn to inform their decision.

It’s completely possible people share content only to show industry-specific knowledge. This could improve their chances of being noticed by recruiters and hirers.

Viewing LinkedIn as a career advancement network, with some social media features, makes more sense.

Fake profiles and dubious claims<img src="linkedin-relies-on-unverified-claims-200x300.jpg" alt="linkedin profile claims rely on unqualified peer review">

It is also worth remembering that LinkedIn relies on users to enter titles, positions, skills or education. People can change their job title at any time. A few cooperative friends or colleagues can endorse any claimed skills. In other words, there is no guarantee that someone’s profile is accurate.

And, just like any other internet network, LinkedIn has a growing number of fake accounts.

The B2B Traffic Claim

According to many B2B marketing experts (and LinkedIn themselves), LinkedIn performs extremely well at lead generation.

The common theory is that LinkedIn users are probably thinking about business-related topics. Their mind is possibly more open to B2B content.

60 million of LinkedIn’s 500+ million users claim to be in influential or senior positions. 40 million are potential decision makers.

Leads from LinkedIn can come from forms on the network, or via forms on websites. LinkedIn claims that over 50% of all social traffic to websites comes from LinkedIn. So it’s fair to say leads are arriving via website sign-up forms, not via Lead Form ads on the LinkedIn network.

That means people are seeing content and clicking through. It’s unlikely that these clicks come from content shared on personal networks. Which means it’s probably marketing content published via a LinkedIn Page.

With all of the stats against people seeing it, how is this content being found? We’ll come back to that. First, let’s take a look at the recent Company Pages update.

LinkedIn Company Pages Update

LinkedIn recently updated their company page offer as “LinkedIn Pages“. That’s nice news, but it’s also something of an admission that this was a broken product.

Unpaid reach via a LinkedIn Page for a small-to-medium business is low. It’s hard to grow a following. That’s not surprising when potential followers are only active for half a minute per day.

So, will the new version help?

The changes<img src="new-features-linkedin-page.jpg" alt="linked in page new features graphic with wood panels background"

New name:

Your LinkedIn Company Page is now a LinkedIn Page.

Content Suggestions:

Some page admins will be able to use this feature now. This feature could be a valuable marketing research tool. However, it looks like access depends on how many followers your page has.

Mobile Page management:

Page admins will be able to post company updates via the LinkedIn iOS (Apple) mobile app. This feature is rolling out slowly, starting with the US market. This is also similar to the Facebook Pages app, and the Facebook mobile app.

Hashtag Linking

The ability to link your Page with hashtags, and engage with LinkedIn members talking about those topics. Much like using a social listening tool, but only for LinkedIn.

File Uploading

PowerPoint presentations, Word Documents and PDF’s can be posted as content on the Page. This is a similar function to what Facebook groups, and Workplace by Facebook users, have had for years.

Sharing public user posts to the Page

Page admins will be able to share employees’ public posts to the Page. Obviously, this relies on having employees. And that the content is also relevant to the business!

Sharing other Page posts to a Page

If a Page that mentions a Page in a post, it can be shared by the latter Page. Of course, this relies heavily on the original poster’s awareness of the latter Page. This is another a function copied from Facebook’s box of tricks.

New Notifications API

In the same name-change announcement, LinkedIn mentioned a new Notifications API. This allows third-party tools more ways to manage Page. Facebook, Twitter, and more recently Instagram and Pinterest have also allowed this for some time.

Note: LinkedIn also announced their product integration with Hootsuite alongside this feature. Your current management tool may not work with this as yet. 

Will these changes help?

Page admins and owners are potential decision makers, or usually have a line of influence with one. Getting these people on LinkedIn for longer periods is a good strategy. Because the more time they spend, the more ads they can see.

On the other hand, LinkedIn still doesn’t offer a way to schedule posts on-platform. So, owners and admins will have to keep using tools like AgoraPulse or Buffer, or even Hootsuite. Content creation also happens away from LinkedIn.

There is a chance the revamp won’t make much difference.

And, if the use of the content suggestions function is limited to pages with a minimum following, it won’t help grow the page!

Should you have a LinkedIn Page for your business?

You should absolutely set up a LinkedIn Page, if only for the search engine presence. Have you ever noticed how high LinkedIn Pages rank in search engine results?

Search engine results are probably the true source of LinkedIn’s B2B traffic.

For example, a building company owner Googles for cedar timber supply. They see a result for a company on LinkedIn about cedar timber being available and click on it. This takes them to LinkedIn, where they click to the timber mill’s website.

Without a sophisticated attribution model, this would also appear as a LinkedIn referral.

That’s why you should share B2B marketing content to LinkedIn as updates. Remember to include hashtags, as they help search engines categorise the content!

Sharing content on your personal profile

Sharing LinkedIn B2b marketing content to your own network is another way your business can earn unpaid reach on LinkedIn. You could share from your LinkedIn Page, or directly from your site.

However, you will rely on your network connections being relevant to your business. Or at least willing to share it with their network of people, some of whom may be potential customers.

Businesses run by well-connected people may be able to reach the right audience organically. It’s worth trying!

Don’t spend any money until you read this… <img src="linkedin-minimum-monthly-marketing-spend.jpg" alt="piggy bank with the words linkedin has a recommended minimum monthly advertising spend">

We’re rewarding you for reading all the way to the bottom here!

It’s not widely known, but LinkedIn has a recommended minimum monthly advertising spend. If your budget is less than the minimum, they will still accept your money. But you may not see scalable results.

Information like that is why we highly recommended you speak with a digital marketing specialist before launching social media marketing and advertising campaigns.

If you have enough website traffic and have tracking installed, you can run retargeting or remarketing campaigns. Reaching LinkedIn members this way could be more effective, but the cost of impressions can be high.

(If you’re wondering what LinkedIn considers a minimum budget, send us a message and we’ll tell you!)

Conclusion

Prioritising LinkedIn B2B marketing and advertising to businesses within New Zealand probably won’t work. Low engagement alone is reason enough to steer clear of a LinkedIn-first approach. The small size of the potential audience also needs to be considered.

However, it is worth setting up a LinkedIn Page and sharing content for the search engine presence. It’s also a good idea to share your Page updates to your personal network, as it may be the only way to gain reach.

Thanks for visiting and reading! If you could please share this with your colleagues and friends, we’d really appreciate it.

And if you’re looking for help with your digital marketing, get in touch!

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