This is Brian Lang from SmallBusinessIdeasBlog.com and I have a confession to make about traffic generation with LinkedIn Pulse …
I use to blow off social media.
SEO sends targeted traffic on an ongoing basis but with social media, you might get a little burst of traffic, and then it dies out.
So I always focused on SEO and put social media on the back burner.
I’ve been learning and experimenting with social media more recently and have plans to scale up results from Twitter, Pinterest and possibly Google Plus.
But the social media network that I’m most excited about is one that most content marketers aren’t using at all.
I’m talking about LinkedIn Pulse.
What is LinkedIn Pulse I hear you say?
Well in February 2014, LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform to the public and rolled out access to everyone in English speaking countries early this year. It will eventually roll out access to all of its members.
Last year, I did a study on how top writers were getting featured on the Pulse, including data on average post length, topics choices, best time to write and some other tips. This post ended up being popular and got over 3,000 social shares.
After that, I started experimenting with my own account. I managed to get about 1 out of 3 posts featured by an editor in a content channel resulting in hundreds of followers and email list subscribers for my blog.
What You Will Learn
- How to get subscribers from LinkedIn Pulse with short articles
- My secret trick to increase visibility & clicks that almost no one’s using (yet)
- How to pick topics that have a better chance of going viral
- A little known trick to pitch LinkedIn’s editorial team directly
- Some underutilized traffic generation tactics to give yourself an unfair advantage
1. Start with Shorter Articles
I’ve seen some debate over whether posts should be long or short when publishing on LinkedIn. LinkedIn recommends writing shorter posts more often rather than long form content.
I did a study of top posts that made it into the Pulse during the summer of 2014 and I noticed that 76.3% of articles had less than 1000 words.
For blogging, long form content seems to be the most effective when it comes to getting traffic and social shares. But for LinkedIn, if you don’t already have a large audience, then spending time on writing a long post is risky.
LinkedIn’s audience consists of busy professionals that might not be looking to read a really long post.
However, your success with longer articles could vary depending on your audience, what you are writing about and who you’re connected to.
Recommendation: Unless you already have a large audience on LinkedIn, start with short articles like LinkedIn recommends and then consider testing longer articles once you get a good idea of what works.
2. Create a Good Featured Image
When I was studying posts that got featured on the Pulse, I noticed a few people that had successfully gamed the system and gotten their low quality posts featured on the Pulse.
One of these articles had a boring headline and the article consisted only of links to his books on Amazon.
However, he was able to get enough clicks to get featured on the Pulse by using an image of an attractive female:
I think he ended up with at least over 5,000 views on that spam article before it got removed.
I checked his account later on and it looked like LinkedIn removed ALL of his posts and took away his ability to publish, so I wouldn’t recommend this approach.
However, the important takeaway is that the featured image does matter and can get your article some serious viewership.
Most people that publish on LinkedIn just use a boring stock photo for their featured image. One of the ways I was able to stand out was to add a text overlay to my image.
Here’s an example of an image I used. I just added some text to a free stock image I found on Pixabay:
Recommendation: Take the time to create or select a featured image that stands out. A good image can generate curiosity and send you more clicks to your article.
3. Be Controversial or Disagree with a Popular Opinion
Tom Webster wrote a popular blog post questioning the cost effectiveness of inbound marketing. The article mentions the fact that Hubspot, perhaps the most well known advocate of inbound marketing, is still losing $34 million a year due to its high marketing costs:
I wrote this article to counter this viewpoint by explaining Hubspot’s aggressive growth strategy and citing some examples of companies that were doing inbound marketing profitably.
My article got featured in the Marketing and Advertising Channel and accumulated a couple thousand views.
Another really good example… Gregory Ciotti totally crushed it when he went against mainstream beliefs and told people to ignore their customers. Using a popular figure like Steve Jobs as an example also helped.
His post got over 100,000 views on LinkedIn within 24 hours and is now sitting at over 250,000 views:
Recommendation: Consider taking a controversial stance on an issue or disagreeing with a popular opinion.
4. Follow Up on Previous Successes
One thing I noticed when studying top articles on the Pulse was that some writers would write a follow up article if they had a successful LinkedIn article. I’ve seen enough follow up articles do well to recommend taking this approach.
A guy named Chris Chan wrote an article about why he quit Facebook that generated over 600,000 views:
Why I quit Facebook and we are sharing much more than you think (published on July 9, 2014 – over 600,000 views) – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140709173931-11228988-why-i-quit-facebook-and-we-are-sharing-much-more-than-you-think
He followed up with this article a week later which ended up getting featured again and generating over 500,000 views:
An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg (published on July 16, 2014 – over 500,000 views) – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140716103758-11228988-an-open-letter-to-mark-zuckerberg
I tried the same approach when one of my articles “Is College a Waste of Money” ended up getting featured and accumulating over 6,000 views:
My follow up article was entitled “Should Entrepreneurs Invest in a College Education?” and it also got featured in a content channel:
If you scroll to the bottom of an article, you can see what channel it was featured on:
Recommendation: If you had a previously successful article on LinkedIn, consider writing a follow up article that expands on that topic.
5. Spend Time Creating an Interesting Headline
Having a click worthy headline is one of the most important parts of succeeding on LinkedIn, if your goal is to get more exposure and new traffic to your article. Hundreds of articles get published on LinkedIn each day, so your headline needs to stand out.
Additionally, you are able to get a good number of clicks on your article, a LinkedIn editor might notice and feature it on a content channel which can send it even more traffic.
An important tip about headlines is to not make them sound too overhyped. Headlines that seem to work well in the digital marketing niche don’t seem to work well with LinkedIn’s audience.
Recommendation: Study headlines that people are using on LinkedIn and take time to write an amazing headline that people will click on.
6. Tweet to LinkedIn’s Editorial Team
Hundreds of articles are published on LinkedIn each day, so it’s possible that your article might not get seen by LinkedIn’s editors.
LinkedIn does want to feature high quality articles on the Pulse, so if you’ve written something good and it hasn’t been featured within the first few hours, you can tweet your post to LinkedIn’s editorial team.
This discussion on LinkedIn’s official writing for LinkedIn group explains how you can notify the editorial team about your awesome post.
Basically, you’ll want to tweet it to “Tip @LinkedInPulse” with some text hinting at what the article is about.
I published one article that didn’t get featured for a couple hours and decided to tweet it to LinkedIn’s editorial team.
It worked! Within a few minutes, it was featured on one of LinkedIn’s Career channels.
Recommendation: If your quality article hasn’t been featured within the first few hours, consider tweeting it to the LinkedIn editorial team. If it’s good, they might feature it on a content channel.
7. Align Your Post Topic with a Content Channel
Getting your article featured on a content channel can send you lots of traffic and new followers. Some of these channels have over a million followers that could potentially see your article.
You can view the full list of available channels here:
The most popular topics on the Pulse are careers, business and self improvement. But you can still get a lot of exposure for other topics if LinkedIn has created a content channel for that topic.
Recommendation: Be sure to visit the content channels that are most relevant to what you write about and see what type of articles are getting featured. Study those articles and then plan your own articles accordingly.
8. Build Your Connections on LinkedIn
Anyone you connect with on LinkedIn is automatically following you. That means that they will get a notification if you publish something new and could potentially view your post.
Therefore, building your connections on LinkedIn could be another way to increase your reach if you decide to publish regularly.
Asides from networking with people in person, you can also connect with people by being active in relevant LinkedIn groups.
Before I started publishing on LinkedIn, I had less than 100 connections. I started spending more time networking and building new connections and now have over 500.
Several of the people who read, shared and commented on my posts were among the new people that I connected with. So building connections helps.
Recommendation: Spend time networking and building your connections on LinkedIn.
9. Promote Your Article Outside of LinkedIn
Most people don’t bother to promote their articles outside of LinkedIn, but doing so can definitely help, especially if you have a decent sized following outside of LinkedIn.
When studying top articles on the Pulse, I noticed that all featured articles were from the same day or the day before.
Notice how the articles are also arranged by views, with the most viewed articles on top:
If your article is already getting some traction, you can push it even higher by driving more traffic to it, which in turn can get it seen by even more people.
I’ve promoted some of my articles by sharing them on LinkedIn groups and emailing my list. You should also integrate some of these social media marketing tips.
Recommendation: After you publish your article on LinkedIn, be sure to promote it immediately. You can get more views to it by sharing it on social media and email your list about your post.
10. Link out to a squeeze page in the end
If you start reading posts on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that most of them don’t link out to a squeeze page.
In fact, about half of articles that I saw on LinkedIn don’t link out at all. And the ones that do usually only link to a home page or Twitter account.
Here’s a screenshot of my standard squeeze page that offers 50+ Free Resources to Help People Start or Grow a Business:
If you really want to max out your conversions, then consider using a “content upgrade”. In other words, create an opt-in bonus that is related to what you are writing about.
For example, I send traffic to this squeeze page instead where I offer my 16 page LinkedIn Publishing study if I’m writing about LinkedIn marketing:
This is a squeeze page design that has been thoroughly split tested by Lead Pages to maximize email opt-ins, so as you can imagine, it’s easier to get subscribers from it than from someone reading a post on my blog.
I ran this experiment for a 4 month period and got me close to 1,000 LinkedIn followers and 570 visits to my landing page:
Close to 40% of them converted into subscribers:
Not too bad for a bunch of short posts, many of which took me less than an hour to write. On average, my LinkedIn articles were only around 700 words.
Just to put things into context, a long form blog post like this one can take me well over 20 hours to write (sometimes longer), including editing, gathering multiple screenshots and images, pitching the guest post to the blogger, writing a compelling headline and intro, etc.
For posts on my own blog, you can also add a good chunk of time to promotion activities once the post goes live.
Recommendation: Be sure to send traffic to a landing page to maximize email opt-ins. Consider using a content upgrade for even better results.
Wrapping It Up
I love that you can now tap into LinkedIn’s massive user base and get serious traffic and even subscribers with short form blog posts that people will actually read.
If you want to try this out yourself, a few extra tips:
- Take some time to read and study the articles that are currently doing well on LinkedIn. The headlines and articles are very different than what you see in the online marketing niche so you’ll have to adapt your writing accordingly.
- Start with short articles first until you get the hang of it. But spend just a little extra time making sure you create quality beyond what the typical LinkedIn publisher creates.
- Link out to a landing page where you can capture email addresses. To experienced marketers, this may seem obvious, but most publishers on LinkedIn aren’t doing this.
Read through this article again and also be sure to check out the study I published on my blog. And let me know if you achieve an awesome result – I always love a great case study!
I took a break from publishing on LinkedIn because I was ranking one of my e-commerce Pinterest accounts for competitive terms and in the process of moving.
But I’m gearing up for phase 2 of this LinkedIn experiment where I hope to achieve even better results.
Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn or even introduce yourself and connect with me if you want to follow along.
I’m going to hand over the rest of the writing to Matthew now….
Matthew’s LinkedIn Pulse Traffic Generation Case Study
Hey guys – Matthew Woodward here!
I decided to take Brian’s advice and implement everything you have just read to publish my own LinkedIn Pulse post and measure the results.
It seems simple enough and the entire process only took me around 30 minutes – this is what I did.
Recycled Popular Content
I looked through Google Analytics to see which posts were the most popular that I could repurpose into a 1,000 word post basted on Brian’s advice.
It was also important that I had a relevant lead magnet ready to go so I could get people to optin at the end of the post if it did go viral.
I settled on these 2 posts-
Both of which would lead quite nicely into existing lead magnets to improve my email conversion rate.
In the end I decided to go with option 1 to get my feet wet and made a quick rewrite to make it unique and boil it down to the 1,000 word level with a pretty little image I made in Canva.
I’ll repeat this process again but with option 2 later this month.
Creating A Landing Page
Creating the Landing Page and Lead Magnet took less than 60 seconds.
This meant there were 3 very different landing pages in play getting split tested automatically by LeadPages.
Publishing The Article
I went ahead and submitted the article to LinkedIn Pulse.
A few things to note here-
- The editor sucks
- The interface is generally confusing – I always felt lost
- There isn’t any global post management interface
Actually this was the most frustrating part of the entire process, but once it’s ready to go just hit publish and grab your URL.
You can view the live article right here.
Promoting The Article
Brian stressed how important it was to promote the article once it is live. If you can rack up enough views on the article you can push it to the most popular of the day pretty easily.
From there you can then get it to be featured within a specific channel (content category) and that’s where the magic really happens.
Some of my subscribers may remember getting an email a few weeks back asking them to take part in an experiment by reading an article.
Well this is the experiment you were taking part in – I was trying to push it to be featured in the channel for this case study.
Thank you to everyone that took part in that!
I also tweeted it out to the LinkedIn Pulse team (that fell on deaf ears) and promoted it via my social channels.
Unfortunately I was not able to get the article featured in the channel but I’ll share some insight into that later.
The Final Results!
With everything said and done – let’s take a look at how the article actually performed.
Here is a screenshot from LinkedIn Analytics of the article-
As you can see the article had-
- 2,969 views
- 79 likes
- 41 comments
- 12 shares
It is still picking up around 10-15 views per day at the moment but for the most part the traffic has died off.
But what did that do for subscribers?
How about that for a conversion rate!
Out of 436 people that clicked through to the lead magnet – a staggering 332 of them subscribed.
Those numbers are hard to ignore! Especially for a repurposed piece of content.
The Final Wrap
Well I’ve got to say that LinkedIn Pulse is certainly a platform that has my attention. In this experiment I cut a few corners to get my feet wet and see how things perform.
If you were to do weekly or bi-weekly contributions this could become a powerful traffic source for the foreseeable future.
Not only that but you know that people coming from LinkedIn are all professionals in one way or another which makes for some very high quality traffic AND we know they love lead magnets.
How I Could Improve
I made a couple of mistakes throughout this process with LinkedIn Pulse-
At the start of the article I link to the homepage of the blog. For one reason or another I linked to the HTTPS version of the blog – which just hits a dead end.
So that means I lost a lot of the traffic I would have received directly to the blog. I have edited and fixed this now but that’s what you get for not double checking :)
Wrong Type Of Content
Although the article I repurposed was very popular with you guys – I think it was a little bit too technical for the average LinkedIn user.
Instead I should repurpose actionable content but then make it relevant to the average small business owner rather than the average SEO.
Also there isn’t actually a dedicated SEO channel to publish content to on LinkedIn – that should have been my first clue.
Pending Friend Requests
Honestly I never really used LinkedIn that much and when I published the article I had over 500 pending friend requests.
What I should have done is accepted all of those requests first and then published the article on LinkedIn Pulse.
That would have then shown up in all of those peoples news feeds helping to increase distribution.
What Are You Waiting For?
So there you have it – a complete strategy to drive high quality traffic and subscribers to your landing pages with Linked Pulse.
It took me around 30 minutes work to generate 332 new email subscribers which is a great investment of resource.
So now you know how to publish on Linkedin Pulse, go and try it for yourself and let us know how you get on!
If you publish a post on LinkedIn Pulse then leave the comment with a URL so I can give it a thumbs up :)