When it comes to digital marketing for tech companies, executives ask themselves where they should invest
their digital marketing budgets. LinkedIn and SEO are two proven ways to accomplish this goal but which is right for your company and budget? Read on to learn that it's more about immediate and long-term marketing goals than financial
What's Best for B2B Lead Gen: LinkedIn or SEO?
LinkedIn and organic search traffic are two of the best lead generation platforms for B2B companies because they offer unique advantages for targeting and engaging with potential customers.
While LinkedIn is a member-only social networking platform specifically designed for business professionals, organic search is available to anyone who does an Internet search on a browser. Each has its own unique advantages and is preferable to the other based on a company’s online strategy and goals.
For the purposes of this article, we are concentrating on the various LinkedIn paid and unpaid options as opposed to organic search. While PPC advertising can be an important part of digital marketing campaigns, it is a broad topic that we have covered previously but is not within the scope of this comparison.
There is no contradiction in running LI and SEO campaigns simultaneously. In fact, if you have the budget, it’s probably the best way to go. Whether using one or the other, both are powerful lead generation platforms for B2B companies that enable targeting and engaging with potential customers more effectively and efficiently to generate high-quality leads, close deals and grow business.
Audience Segmentation Vs. Search Intent
When analyzing the strengths of each platform, although there are several differences, the key attribute of LinkedIn is high-resolution audience segmentation as opposed to SEO’s ability to determine users’ search intent.
LinkedIn's strength lies in its high-resolution audience segmentation, which enables marketers to target specific groups of professionals based on their job title, industry, company size, location, seniority, and other criteria. This allows for a more efficient and effective way to reach the right audience with the right message.
The platform also allows for targeting based on specific interests and behaviors, such as following certain LinkedIn groups or engaging with specific types of content. This level of granularity enables marketers to tailor their messaging to the unique needs and interests of their target audience, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates.
SEO and Search Intent
One of the key strengths of search engine optimization is its ability to determine the search intent of the user. Search intent refers to the underlying motivation behind a user's search query, and understanding it is crucial for delivering relevant and valuable content that meets the user's needs.
In addition to improving the relevance and value of content, understanding search intent can also help SEO practitioners target the right keywords and phrases, optimize meta tags and descriptions, and improve the overall user experience of a website. By focusing on delivering content that meets the user's needs and aligns with their search intent, SEO practitioners improve their chances of attracting and converting high-quality organic traffic.
By understanding the search intent behind a user's query, SEO practitioners can optimize their content to meet the user's needs and improve their chances of appearing higher in the search results.
For example, if the search intent is informational, the content should focus on providing helpful and informative information on the topic. If the search intent is commercial, the content should focus on showcasing the features and benefits of the product or service in question.
Timing of Exposure
Getting the right message across to the right person is the purpose of both LinkedIn and organic search, but sometimes timing makes a huge difference.
LinkedIn has several paid and unpaid methods for sharing information. No matter which of these methods is used, their timing is based on when the content is posted or when the campaign is run. This initiative is taken by the seller who is targeting buyers who may or may not be in a position to make a transaction.
This is actually where SEO and organic traffic generation shine. Google is the most common way for companies to research and identify potential business partners and suppliers. The key is not just the information, but also the timing of the search which means that they are now in a position to consider new suppliers or better yet - place an order.
If you can provide them with the answers they seek at that precise moment they are looking for it - that is considered generating the highest quality traffic to your website with the best chances for conversion.
What makes SEO and search intent so unique, is the ability to engage with potential customers who are actively looking for companies just like yours - right now. While LinkedIn is great at presenting targeted messages to targeted audiences, it does not create opportunities based on the buyer’s timing like organic search.
One of the challenges and advantages of growing organic traffic is that it requires content credibility. Search engines use complex algorithms to determine the credibility of a website or content page based on multiple factors including: Content quality, backlinks, site structure, user engagement and social media interaction.
Therefore, websites that are graded as credible by search engines rank higher and are more trusted by users, leading to increased visibility, traffic, and ultimately, conversions.
On the flip side, there is a certain credibility for LinkedIn members based on their experience and number of connections, but many campaigns, especially based on sending LinkedIn’s InMail directly to target demographics or individuals, are increasingly seen as a high-end spamming technique.
At the end of the day, it's all about leads and converting them into customers and both platforms have various options for generating quality leads.
LinkedIn Can Deliver in the Short Term
For LinkedIn, this includes both paid and unpaid options. Unpaid methods include writing articles, posting content and participating in user groups. Paid channels include targeted advertising and direct messaging to LinkedIn member inboxes. LI targeted advertising can also be displayed in several ways including banners, posts in each user’s personal feed as well as inline forms and polls.
These targeting options are particularly valuable for B2B marketers for reaching decision-makers and influencers within specific industries or companies. For example, a software company could target individuals with job titles such as "Chief Technology Officer" or "Head of IT" within the financial services industry, in specific geographic regions known as financial hubs such as New York, Singapore and London.
This level of targeting means that if a lead is generated, then it is most likely from a qualified audience and has a good chance of continuing to the next stage of the sales funnel.
SEO is a Cost-Effective Long-term Play
When examining SEO, lead generation is a process that improves and evolves over time. For example, ranking for specific keywords usually takes a few months before impacting website traffic.
Once the traffic is generated and a visitor is brought to the site, they must be engaged by the site’s content and stick around long enough or visit multiple times to be confirmed as a legitimate lead. Finally, to convert the lead into a bonafide sales prospect, they must be offered some value-added content in exchange for their contact information.
While this process has proven to be effective, it takes time and perfecting of each stage in order to generate quality leads. Once the system is up and running, however, then it has the potential to continuously produce quality leads at a fraction of the cost compared to paid campaigns.
There are many advantages to SEO, but if there is pressure to produce quality leads within a short timeframe, advertising on LinkedIn or other platforms such as Google Ads is probably a better bet.
Cost and ROI
In the end analysis, it is not only about leads and converting them into customers but also about the revenue the campaigns are generating and at what cost.
The upfront costs for LinkedIn campaigns usually consist of one-time creation costs, ongoing campaign management, and the price of the ads themselves which can be somewhat expensive compared to other social networks.
For SEO the upfront costs might be lower, but there are the ongoing costs of an SEO professional to define keywords and improve rankings, as well as ongoing content production required for improving organic search results.
ROI (Return on Investment) is a financial metric that measures the profitability of an investment. In the context of marketing, ROI can be used to measure the success of all digital marketing activities or specific campaign results by comparing the total investment with the revenue or other value metric generated by the campaign.
To measure the ROI of overall marketing activities, you can use the following formula:
ROI = (Revenue - Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
If the value added is increased traffic, leads or conversions, then average values must be attached to each of these parameters. For example, if you spent $1,000 on a campaign that resulted in 100 new leads, and the average value of a lead is $50, the ROI calculation would be:
ROI = ($5000 - $1,000) / ($1,000 / 100) = 400
This means that for every $1 invested, you generated $40 worth of new leads.
Comparing LinkedIn and SEO
SEO takes time and effort to produce results, but the benefits can be long-lasting. Once your website ranks high in search engine results pages, you can continue to receive traffic and generate revenue without ongoing investment.
Reaching this level, however, requires consistent effort to maintain and improve rankings, and there is no guarantee that your website will maintain its ranking over time. Think of it as real estate, you are creating virtual assets on Google that will constantly drive quality traffic over time.
On the other hand, LinkedIn can produce faster results in terms of generating leads and sales. However, this strategy is often unsustainable in the long term due to the cost of each campaign and the lack of platform visibility when no active campaigns are running.
In conclusion, both SEO and LinkedIn can be effective marketing strategies, but they have different approaches. Measuring ROI is important for evaluating the success of a strategy and making informed decisions about where to invest your marketing budget. While faster results may seem attractive, sustainable long-term growth is often more cost-effective and beneficial for your business.
SEO is about building long-term growing visibility on Google, which generates traffic with constantly improving quality and increased conversions. LinkedIn is about being able to quickly reach different segments of your target market, using very targeted and direct campaigns.
Both are great B2B channels and every company needs to consider which options are best for them based on budget, sense of urgency and anticipated ROI.
Call KeyScouts today to benefit from our research data and hands-on SEO / LinkedIn campaign experience in helping you decide the best digital marketing direction for your company.