How LinkedIn Works – Report From the Trenches

Depending on your business goals and your client audience, LinkedIn could help you generate leads and build traffic. I asked these pro users a few questions about how they use LinkedIn, PULSE, and SlideShare.

Here’s that report:

Q. Are you currently using LinkedIn? How active are you there on a 0-5 scale?

Brandon Schaefer (CEO )
On a scale of 0-5, I’m a 5.

Jared Banz (Founder)
4 – I use LinkedIn a lot, but not in the traditional sense. Rather than use it as a posting mechanism on the main wall or various groups, I use it to find freelancers for projects — as well as to observe what competing companies companies are doing.

Jeffrey Romano (Blogger @ WP LIghthouse)
Yes, I currently log in daily to LinkedIn. I moderate a local business LinkedIn group with over 5000 members so I make it a point that the group is spam free and has value-adding discussions going on. On a scale from 0 to 5, I would say that I’m a 4 in terms of how active I am.

Maxwell Ivey (The Blind Blogger)

Yes, I am on LinkedIn. I would say my level of activity is 4 out of 5. It’s my favorite network, due to the professional nature of the site and general high level of accessibility for blind users.

Steve Counsell (Motivational speaker, writer, and trainer)

I use LinkedIn occasionally (2 on a scale 0f 1-5), and I write articles for publication on LinkedIn.

Do you have a LinkedIn Company Page? Is it important to have both a personal and company presence on LinkedIn?

Brandon Schaefer 

Yes, I have a LinkedIn company page, but I mainly focus on my personal profile.

Jared Banz

Currently, I don’t own a company page, but I plan to set one up after I have re-branded my company. I do think having a personal and company presence is huge on LinkedIn — especially for finding talent to hire and for expanding your sales channels.

Jeffrey Romano

Yes, I did create a company page, but I don’t invest time in it. I don’t think company pages are that significant to the LinkedIn experience. Maintaining one’s personal profile and regularly interacting with other users is much more important.

Maxwell Ivey

I have a page under my name, but it is listed as a business page … so, I may not have a personal one — not sure. iIt’s one of those problems that comes with using social media with a screen reader. I only post items on there having to do with selling amusement equipment, coaching, blogging etc., so whether it is or isn’t a business page, I treat it that way … which i think is what is important.

Steve Counsell

Yes, I have a company page.  It’s important for promotion.

Q. Have you published to LinkedIn PULSE? How much value is there to doing so?

Brandon Schaefer

Yes, I’ve published close to 100 PULSE articles thus far. The activity has been great.

Jared Banz

I have not published to LinkedIn PULSE, so I can’t really speak to how much value there is.

Jeffrey Romano

I haven’t published to LinkedIn PULSE, because I prefer to publish on my own blog or to guest post on other people’s blogs. Creating PULSE was a positive move by LinkedIn and I can see it be helpful for small business owners who are building their personal online brand. However, as a full-time blogger, I prefer to publish on my own blog where I have more control on how content is presented, and where I can promote other valuable resources, such as my newsletter and ebooks.

Maxwell Ivey

I have not published to LinkedIn PULSE. I’m really not sure of its value. I’m worried that posting there could diminish the traffic and value of my blog. Also, I may be spreading myself too thin, if I try to post unique content there in addition to keeping up my blog.

Alex Yong (Social Alex)

Yes, I use it. According to compete.com, over 52 million people visited LinkedIn in November. And if that’s not enough, sometime in the summer, Katie Carroll, Social Media Editor at LinkedIn, announced that if LinkedIn likes a Pulse article you wrote, they’ll promote it. According to LinkedIn, if your article has mass appeal, you can nominate yourself by tweeting a few words (Ideally, your article’s headline) along with your Pulse article URL with the word “Tip” at the end along with “@LinkedInPulse”   I’m guessing this was a necessary step LinkedIn felt they had to take, because of the deluge of Pulse articles that floods in daily. So if we can tilt the odds in our favor, why not, right?

Steve Counsell

Not sure if I’ve ever published to PULSE, so I don’t really know about the value of that particular part of LinkedIn

Have you published to LinkedIn SlideShare? How much value is there to doing so?

Brandon Schaefer

Yes, I make SlideShare decks all the time as well.

Jared Banz

I haven’t used SlideShare yet, but I plan to implement it in 2015, in conjunction with other content marketing channels.

Jeffrey Romano

I haven’t published to LinkedIn Slideshare yet. However, this year I’m focusing more on repurposing my blog content, so publishing to LinkedIn SlideShare is definitely on my to-do list.

Maxwell Ivey
No, i am a member but have never posted to slide share

Steve Counsell
No, I have never published to LinkedIn Slide Share

What would you like to know about LinkedIn? What questions or problems do you have concerning LinkedIn?

Brandon Schaefer

I’d like to see what’s in development for LinkedIn in the years to come. I’d also like to see a more integrated way to get in touch with LinkedIn connections via email.

Jeffrey Romano
I definitely would like to learn more about how to drive more engagement in LinkedIn groups. Community management can be a big challenge, especially when its done on a voluntary basis. Having some LinkedIn specific group engagement guidelines would be helpful.

Alex Yong
There are times when LinkedIn will show you buttons which let you invite others to connect with you. Most of these quickie buttons should be avoided. Why? Because they will send the recipient that wonderful generic invite “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network.” Sadly, there’s no mouse hover feature that indicates when an invite button will or won’t do this and that’s pretty awful. If LinkedIn doesn’t want to rehaul technically with mouse hovers etc, they can simply prompt users with a question like “Do you want to send a customized invitation message?” Most users will choose yes, because if they’ve been doing their research, tons of articles about “LinkedIn best practices” advise us to never send a generic invite. Here’s an article I wrote about this problem: Poison Ivy!

Maxwell Ivey
is there a number of groups that will cause you to be moderated or more likely to be put in linked in jail? is there value to posting your updates to groups after posting it to your page. does copying links to my youtube videos on linked in help or hurt? mainly i want them to fix what they broke about groups. and notifications. i used to get emails with the whole post but now i get just the first few lines. also i can no longer answer peopel’s posts by pressing reply. this is very frustrating to me. don’t know if it bothers sighted users or not.

Steve Counsell
What’s the best way to promote yourself as a personal brand identity, better ways to provide the social proof that people want to see these days. This would be different to promoting yourself as an employee.

Do you see yourself increasing or decreasing your participation on LinkedIn during 2015? What additional remarks do you have about LinkedIn?

Brandon Schaefer

I see myself increasing my participation on LinkedIn in 2015. In fact, it’s one of my primary focuses to continue to build in 2015.

Jeffrey Romano

I can see myself become more active on LinkedIn in 2015. Many professionals are now developing a better understanding of how it works, and combined with other social media like Twitter and Slideshare, it offers you great opportunities to reach out and connect with other professionals around the world. Just like anything else, you need to invest time in it in order to get a worthwhile return.\

Maxwell Ivey
I don’t know if I will increase or not … just don’t see how to be more active there. I  may take a look at the groups I am in now and only stay in those that give me real results. It will continue to be in my top three: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. I have noticed that more of my Facebook friends in the amusement industry are joining, so that may result in more activity.

Steve Counsell

I see myself moving more into LinkedIn for business and personal profile and away from Facebook. Creating a more business-like persona on LinkedIn seems to be easier to achieve.

So … there you have it, folks. My take-away is that LinkedIn offers plenty of tools for the entrepreneur.

For an example of a PULSE post, go here: An Entrepreneur’s Heart

This interview was conducted via MyBlogU: Check it out!


Email Marketing Basics – Perspectives From the Trenches

One dark and stormy night, while puzzling over the best way to design an email marketing strategy for a client (using Infusionsoft’s incredibly powerful Campaign Builder feature), it occurred to me that I should take a break, let my mind settle, and compose a group interview project via a brand new tool recently launched by my friend and mentor, Ann Smarty.

My theory is that there is only one place to go when you aren’t sure of where to go next: Return to the basics. Therefore, I tried to get right down to brass tacks … the basics of email marketing.

Group interviews provide a varied perspective that just isn’t possible with one-on-ones. For this project, I collected responses from a varied bunch of online marketers (read the addendum to find out more about the new tool).

Nevertheless, those who responded to the interview request came through with some gems.

email pebbles

via Will Lion

Are you building an email list? If so, how many addresses have you collected?

Steve Counsell

As with every business owner or marketer who’s interested in digital marketing I am building a marketing list. Notice I use the term “marketing list.” I require each entry to have an email address, so you could call it an “email list,” but the point is that we should not rely on one method of marketing to the people we connect with.

Sure email is easy and cheap to send, and we can customize each email to include details for each person on the list, but what if that email goes straight to the spam folder?

The way I am dealing with this is to include people on my marketing list in all sorts of marketing: email, direct mail, telephone, hand written notes, and anything else I can think of.

I currently have around 200 people on my marketing list. All local … and I’ve spoken to every one of them personally, either on the phone or in person.

Yoav Ezer

I’m building several email lists. One has 400 names, another has 3000 names. The biggest list I ever built reached a size of 40,000.

How often do you mail to your list?

Ryan BeMiller

I mail to my list once per week. If I had the time, I would mail more often. I think you can mail as often as once per day, if you have a good relationship with your list.

Steve Counsell

I try to keep in touch via email once a week at least. I send out snippets of news and useful tips on SEO. Occasionally, I send out an offer of some sort in an effort to turn that contact into a paying customer.

Yoav Ezer

Every weekday. I currently don’t mail on the weekends.

Paul Manwaring 

I’d say once per week, but sometimes there’s a bigger gap. It really depends on whether I have something to say I know they are going to be interested in.

Tim Soulo

That would be once per week, on average.

Angela Alcorn

I have some RSS updates that go out weekly or monthly, depending on the list. Manual updates are also weekly or monthly, depending on the list.

Andrea Fontebasso

I will email to my list every time I post an article. In other websites I use the rule of the 7. I send out 7 follow-ups if I am trying to sell a product. If a client doesn’t buy before the 7th email goes out, this means there is not a real interest in the product. From there, I will send only a monthly newsletter.

Ian Jackson

Monthly seems optimal for my business

Julie Kalungi

I send mail to my list every day, apart from Sundays. My broadcasts range from follow-up messages, auto responses, quick updates, and uplifting messages to a new-release message, a promotional message, or blog links.

So I keep them fed, warm cuddled, and loved … and I haven’t had an unsubscribe yet! Mind you, though, my list is only a baby one :)

Phil Johnson

I do broadcast emails 1-2 times per month. New members of my list go through an autoresponder series that contacts them every 10-14 days.  And if I’m doing a campaign to promote something specific, then I’ll contact the people it is meant for approximately every 5-7 days.

Maxwell Ivey

I mail once a week. I promised my subscribers never to write more often.

What do you send? (Newsletters, sales letters, blog post notifications … etc.)

email world

via Prawny

How do you measure email marketing results? How successful have you been thus far?

Ryan BeMiller

To me, the only thing that matters is conversions. Not open rates, not click-throughs. Just the bottom line sales. The more personal I get with my emails, the better the results.

Steve Counsell

This is a tricky question for me to answer. I don’t really take much account of the open rate in emails as that can be pretty innacurate these days. I do look at the click rate with more interest, but I have to say that the click-through rates are not where I’d want them to be.

In terms of how successful I am, I feel like it’s working. I know more now than before, for all the right reasons, and I am picking up new clients.

Yoav Ezer

I count sales.

When I started to mail daily, my sales doubled. It’s as simple as that.

Paul Manwaring 

If I’m sending them to a sales pages, I’ll measure how many convert using a tracking pixel.

If it’s just sending them to a blog post, I’ll measure the rate of open and clicks.

Tim Soulo

It’s really easy to measure your success. Check your monthly email list growth and divide this number by the amount of unique visitors you got this month. You’ll get the overall conversion rate of your blog.

Like I already said, my conversion rate is 3%, which is very low. But I have identified the reasons behind that, and I think I can easily triple that number.

Angela Alcorn

If I keep building the lists at this rate I’d be pleased, however I think things will be better in the future. I haven’t been promoting them much so far.

Most of them have a 40% open rate and a 10% click rate, which is (by all accounts) pretty good.

Andrea Fontebasso

Selling is the key, if we are talking about a website that has this purpose. So to measure the success of an email campaign, I try to figure out how many sells are made thanks to my email campaign. If we are talking about a blog, I consider subscriber likes a key indicator of the success of contents.

Julie Kalungi

I measure results by the response from my “Tribe.” They send me emails saying “Thank you.” They may post on social media or give a shout out. They may send me their results, good or not so good.

My autoresponder also tells me when something worked. I get a full report on every email I send out, so I know which one went down well. I use Google Analytics to measure bounce rate on every web page. I have several other ways of checking, split testing, and measuring!

Always check. Its the only way to ensure you are hitting the sweet spot!

Phil Johnson

How I measure depends on the purpose of the email. For show announcements, it’s who shows up to the gig. If it’s a new release, I judge by sales and downloads. I do always look at open rates and how many people email me back when I ask them to as well. I find the greatest successes with 2-3 campaign emails and it drops off a bit from there.

Maxwell Ivey

I use a simple program to measure results by replies, leads, sales, etc. On the coaching site, I use a service to track bounces, unsubscribes, email opens, link clicks, etc. Link clicks is my ultimate judge of success

What are your three best tips for someone considering email marketing?

Ryan BeMiller

  1. Start now!
  2. Do everything you can to increase subscription rates. Test multiple sign-up forms, multiple positions throughout your site, and multiple incentives.
  3. Build a relationship with your list. Let them know who you are, and give them your best information.

Steve Counsell

  1. Make sure that you provide value.
  2. Don’t rely on email mareting alone.
  3. Sell, once in a while. Maybe every 7th email should be a sales letter.

Yoav Ezer

  1. Start doing it right away. It took me years to get over my fear of being thought of as a spammer. And then, finally one day, I wrote the simplest promotion email and sent it to my list. We made over $10,000 worth of sales from that email alone. And I never looked back.
  2. Don’t be afraid to email your client list. They are much more likely to buy from you than your prospect list.
  3. Use joint ventures to build your email list. The easiest way to build a list is to have someone endorse you and direct his existing readers to your site. Conversion rates from an endorsed email are as high as 50%.

If you hop over to my site and sign-up, I’ll show you exactly how.

Paul Manwaring

  1. It takes time to build a quality list. Consistency is key.
  2. Don’t just bombard your list with free stuff.
  3. Send relevant emails, don’t just lump everyone into the same list.

Tim Soulo

  1. Give out a freebie. It’s really hard to convince people to opt in, unless you’re offering them something in return. I guess it’s an industry standard to write an ebook and offer it for free to your website visitors in exchange for their email address.
  2. Design good looking email forms. Once you have your freebie, you have to design a few good looking email forms that would promote this freebie on your website.
  3. Send regular updates.

If you’re just focused on growing your email list and forget about giving them something valuable on a regular basis – your email subscribers will simply forget about you.

So make sure you’re regularly sending something of value to your email subscribers. Remind them that they made the right decision when they signed up to your email list.

Andrea Fontebasso

Depends on your audience, but of course the best tips are:

  1. Give away value to make your readers to subscribe.
  2. Don’t force too much. People don’t buy because you tell them to. They buy because they are interested.
  3. Don’t lie.

Julie Kalungi

  1. Have something of value to share in every email. Make it 100% FREE to start with, to help you build trust!
  2. Email your list, however small, DAILY. No sales pitches. Simply recommend or suggest something you found useful and which they too may find useful.
  3. Don’t care/mind about the unsubscribes. It’s not personal. They would never have become raving fans or bought anyway!

Phil Johnson

  1. Start early and improve as you go along
  2. Use lots of different entry points to your list
  3. Offer an incentive that either provides something they can’t get anywhere else, or makes something easier than it would be

Maxwell Ivey

  • Make your opt-in forms easy to find and easy to use
  • People will subscribe to get the free gift and then unsubscribe after receiving it, so don’t give too much away
  • Always respect the people who trust you enough to give you their email address

What are your three biggest problems or challenges with email marketing?

Ryan BeMiller

  1. Volume. Who doesn’t want more subscribers!
  2. Time. It takes time to write emails.
  3. Content. It’s hard coming up with content ideas.

Steve Counsell

  1. Getting permission from the people I meet
  2. Making sure that I do provide information that the recipients actually want to read
  3. Properly tracking and assessing the outcome of a campaign

Yoav Ezer

  1. Coming up with daily emails. It’s a lot of work to come up with new, fresh ideas every day, but definitely worth it.
  2. Handling the crazies: every list contains a few people who have really lost their marbles. And when you mail daily, they come out of the woodworks.
  3. Time – again. It takes a lot of time to cultivate and entertain a list. But again … worth it!!!!

Paul Manwaring

  1. Getting people to sign up without a free incentive. You want buyers in your list not just a bunch of freeloaders.
  2. At the moment hard to justify using a paid email service, when my list is so small and growth is slow.
  3. Creating content for your lists, as well as the blog, is hard.

Andrea Fontebasso

  1. To create enough quality in order to make people subscribe to the newsletter … without any free give away
  2. Not make people get bored by my communication
  3. Increase conversion

Phil Johnson

  1. Generating more traffic to opt in opportunities
  2. Not having my emails dumped into spam boxes or “promotions” tabs
  3. Who needs a third with those first two? :)

Maxwell Ivey

  1. You have to invest time and effort into crafting quality email messages, and even then some people will still unsubscribe
  2. You have to constantly find new ways to promote email sign ups
  3. As a blind computer user, a lot of this process is less than accessible … meaning it all takes me more time than it takes a sighted person

 Addendum:

Questions: How did this magic happen? Does it take long to set up a group interview? Where do you find people willing to participate?

One answer: MyBlogU. It’s a new tool. It’s plenty of fun. And it’s free to use (at least is it right now). Check it out. Ping me. I would love to help out with your own group interview. We all learn from one another — regardless the experience level.

But that’s not all, folks!

email illustration

via Kristie Wells

There was something else I had been pondering on for a while: When checking email, do most folks begin their sorting (and deleting) by first scanning through the “From” column … or do they begin with the “Subject” column?

Standard advice for sending mail, writing an article, or designing an ad is to write a compelling subject line or headline. If the reader gets rid of much of the mail before even reading the subject line … isn’t who the mail is FROM quite important as well?

My (quite informal) poll — using the MyBlogU Brainstorm tool — delivered an interesting result: The tally was split 50/50. A few brave souls said they actually read every email before deciding whether to toss it or not, but most either went primarily by Sender or Subject.

Go figure.

email study

Thank you to all who helped with this interview and study.


He’s More Than a Friend; He’s My Client

Shalt Not Park

I was speaking with a friend this morning -- really he is more than a friend, he is a client (miss that and you miss the whole story). Well, the truth is he is my client and I am his client ... and we are friends. Brothers, in a very real … [Continue reading]