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The Secret Power of LinkedIn Newsletters – Judi Fox
Social Agent

If you’re looking to stand out and build an audience on LinkedIn, you’ll want to take advantage of one of the B2B platform’s most powerful tools: the newsletter. Whether repurposing content you’ve already created or creating something new, LinkedIn gives you more reach and a new audience. LinkedIn expert Judi Fox gives us the rundown in this week’s episode.

 

Rich: My guest today is listed as a Top 10 LinkedIn Coach for 2021 in Yahoo Finance and a featured speaker at Social Media Marketing World. With over 18 year’s experience in business development and sales, she developed the LinkedIn Business Accelerated Method to reach 1 million views in just 90 days. Today, we’re gonna be looking at ways that you can build your business on LinkedIn with Judi Fox. Judi, welcome to the podcast.

Judi: Excited to be here. Let’s make it happen.

Rich: All right. So you’re high energy, you love emojis, you send out stuffed foxes, why were you drawn to LinkedIn of all the social media channels?

Judi: Actually there’s a lot of not as much bubbly excitement around that journey, to be honest, because it came from pain that I joined LinkedIn. I found myself as a single mother and realizing I needed to make my business work. I had already launched a business on my own in 2012. I had been on LinkedIn from 2009 to 2012, launched my own engineering consulting firm, and realized that focus is going to create results in my business. And when I hit single parenting, you’ve gotta really decide and make some strong decisions. If you cannot be everywhere, that’s okay. Choose and stay in your lane because you’ll get results when you focus.

Rich: All right. And you decided to focus in on LinkedIn.

Judi: Four years, I did only LinkedIn from those four years. To be really blunt, it was basically around 2014 to 2018 that was 100% focused only on LinkedIn. I did no posting on any other social media site.

Rich: Now at that point, were you focused on LinkedIn as a platform for yourself or for your business? Because you’re helping other businesses and people with their LinkedIn now. So you know, you’re a LinkedIn consultant, but back during that early phase, was that mostly on your previous business or did you just jump into LinkedIn consulting with both feet?

Judi: That was my previous business. So I unlocked my entire LinkedIn Business Accelerator, I launched that in 2018. So from 2012 to 2018, that’s when I just used LinkedIn to understand how to network as a business, how to pitch and do more kind of that sales that everyone’s trying to figure out that people then say is spammy on LinkedIn. I learned how to not be spammy, how to network in a way that was authentic to get engineering and consulting contracts with brands like Tesla, Kraft. I got a project with Roll Royce. So all of that was with some pretty big high-level companies.

And how do you get access to that and how do you network on LinkedIn to get that? I had so many people finally just reach out and say, how are you doing what you’re doing, because you are competing with our big businesses and you’re over here running a small business? And my first contracts that I got when I launched LinkedIn Business Accelerator were some of my engineering peers and consulting businesses that hired me.

Rich: Excellent. I really enjoyed your presentation at social media week Lima. And one of the things that you talked about during your presentation and also at your personal profile on LinkedIn is getting people to ‘ring the bell’. Care to explain that?

Judi: Yeah. So LinkedIn’s been rolling out a lot of features. And number one, you’ll want to listen, pause what you’re doing, because you want to take advantage of any ways that you can outperform any part of the newsfeed. So ringing the bell is a brand-new feature, and my fox ears always perk up when I can not worry about the newsfeed, not worry about stopping somebody’s scroll. I wanna bypass that.

So what the bell does, if you ring the bell on someone’s profile, and if somebody rings the bell on your profile, Rich, they’re gonna get access and a notification to every single post that you make. So you never have to worry, is somebody gonna see my post? If people wanna see your post, they ring the bell on your profile. At this point, LinkedIn is delivering that content to them almost like it’s a unique, notification. Hey, I wanna see my favorites ring the bell on your favorites. So that can be used in so many smart ways.

Rich: And how are you increasing the chances that people will ring your bell? I can’t help but think of that old seventies disco song every time I say that. “Ring my bell…” All right. There’s no singing. There’s no singing.

Judi: No, no, no, there’s singing in LinkedIn. So I would say, there’s actually people singing in their audio messages. There’s like a little audio message that says, and people sing all the time. Ring my bell. It became a thing. So yes, I’m familiar with that song.

Number one, the bell is positioned so closely to that LinkedIn banner at the top. So for myself and almost all of my clients, we’ve been editing their new banner images to include language with an arrow that’s ‘ring the bell’. So if you go to my banner right now, the whole right-hand side of my banner top image literally says, “#FoxRocks ring the bell”, and it’s all geared towards ring the freaking bell.

(The other way to encourage people to ring the bell beyond your profile, you can fill out your whole profile to get people to ring the bell. I made a gif of myself pointing at the bell and exploding hearts out of it. So tons of creative ideas. But the number one thing to potentially start doing that is very consistent, is when you write posts on LinkedIn, at the very bottom of your post instead of using it to do hashtags and all that kind of craziness, don’t worry about the hashtags, worry about people ringing that bell. So replace that line at the bottom with maybe a phrase that says, “PS, you can ring the bell on my profile to make sure you see all my future posts – go over, click on my profile.” Would you rather have that than just random hashtags that go to a million followers? You’re gonna be a tiny little blip in hashtag social media, you know what I mean? I’d rather gain bell followers than worry about being some tiny little moment in a big million follower hashtag

Rich: Makes sense. All right. Another thing you promoted was LinkedIn newsletters. Why are you so gung-ho on LinkedIn newsletter?

Judi: LinkedIn newsletters perform not only inside of LinkedIn really well, and I can explain why I love them inside LinkedIn, but they also perform really well outside of LinkedIn.

Number one, they are easier to find and they’re getting SEO indexed. So that means when you Google something like, “how to do X, Y, Z”, maybe you start including Agents of Change in the podcast and having the podcast player embedded inside of that link newsletter, which by the way you can do. It allows you to show up in Google, just your guests for if somebody Googles their name as a guest on your podcast, let alone just never worrying about the news feed. If somebody’s gonna Google something and find it, that is a powerful strategy beyond even thinking about LinkedIn.

Rich: So with the newsletter, where am I starting my newsletter? If I want to create one, where exactly do I go – either on my profile or on LinkedIn – so I can start writing and I guess distributing a newsletter?

Judi: So the biggest thing that I educate everybody on is, newsletters are just a fancy way of saying that you’re creating articles. So it’s LinkedIn’s new kind of update to distributing articles. So the only way that I start everybody’s newsletter, there might be another way, but this is the way I tell everybody. You click ‘write an article’, that’s how every newsletter starts is with an article. You then the newsletter, you only build it one time. There’s only one newsletter. You build it. It’s done. Take 30 minutes. Build your newsletter. It’s all the articles that go out that contain all the content. So the LinkedIn articles are now just gaining visibility. That’s the whole point.

Rich: So, all right. So I understand if I go to the homepage of LinkedIn and I have the opportunity to create a post, instead I’m gonna choose to create an article instead. But does that automatically create the newsletter, or it sounded like there’s another step I need to do first. You said it takes about 30 minutes to set up or something.

Judi: Yeah. So right when you go to create your article, if you already have one it’s gonna say, hey, do you want this to be part of your newsletter? And you’re just like, yes. It automatically assumes you want it to be part of your newsletter. If you don’t have a newsletter, there’s a button that literally says, ‘create a newsletter for this’. So the primary thought process on LinkedIn is I’m creating articles, they just happen to live behind the train of a newsletter. I use the imagery of a train, the newsletter is the engine. All the train cars are your articles and that’s it. All your building is more train cars.

Rich: And that makes a lot of sense. So it sounds like, now I’ve created articles in the past, I never sent out a newsletter yet. So I’m guessing that the next time I go to create an article, because it has been quite some time, I’m gonna get prompted for this opportunity to create a newsletter. I just think that’s clever framing from LinkedIn to basically be automatically upgrading people from just a static article to a newsletter that is the article plus distribution.

Judi: Yes. Oh, you said it so much better than me.

Rich: I don’t know if I did, but I sometimes have to say things again, just so I make sure I understand what geniuses like you are telling me.

Judi: Yes, we’ve now taken articles and pushed them with fire behind them to distribute them. So the distribution, for everyone listening, the distribution is now emails go out from LinkedIn. You don’t have to do any work. The moment you launch this newsletter, every single article will get emailed out as, “Hey, Judy just launched the next article underneath her newsletter” and it will show up the full article is in the email. So it can be consumed inside of their email. They don’t even have to click over to LinkedIn. They can just read your whole article in an email that goes out from LinkedIn. That’s really cool, because you’re more likely to open… people have told me that open rates are 40%, 50%, even 60% for people reading those emails.

Rich: So let’s talk about this for a minute, because I’m sure there’s some people say, oh my God, that’s so great. I’ll be able to spam everybody. That’s not the case. So let’s talk about how we get subscribers on LinkedIn, and maybe a little bit about how we can increase those numbers. But what are some of the default things that happen and what are some of the additional things we can do to build that subscriber base?

Judi: I would say, number one, you get a great launch platform on LinkedIn for the very first article that you launch as part of the newsletter. So Rich, if you go in and you say, hey, I wanna write this article. And the launch of that first article is your moment that LinkedIn will push it out to a hundred percent of your audience, a hundred percent, every single person that has ever followed you that is engaged with you. It will go out to everyone. So that’s your moment. And I tell people, create a good article. If you have something that’s gone viral in the past, if you have a guest on your podcast that could help be part of visibility, whatever. You can just sit there for an extra 10- 20 minutes and think of a good article to link with it. And it doesn’t need to be brand new. It could be something from the past. And that is how you wanna launch. And you want to launch with the energy of growing subscribers, because that’s the moment you get a chance to launch. I’ve seen some really good launches convert 20%, 30% of their audience in the first launch immediately turn into subscribers. So yeah, you can beyond your following.

Rich: So you said that it will basically take my newsletter and promote it to a hundred percent of the people connected to me. But they’re not emailing my article to a hundred percent of the people who follow me on LinkedIn. Are they sending like a notification? Is it in my notifications that I can see this? Like, what exactly are they doing?

Judi: They’re doing two major things. They’re sending an invite. So it’s gonna show up in your invitation area. And they’re sending an email out the full article. They’re sending an email with a subscribe button. So it’s a very simple email that says, “Judy Fox is inviting you to her newsletter to subscribe to.” Then it gives a button right there for them to click.

Rich: If I remember correctly, it also tells me the name of the newsletter. I don’t remember if it tells me the name of the first article, but it sounds to me…

Judi: It didn’t, I don’t think it does.

Rich: Yeah, we need to come up with a million-dollar name for these newsletters, because I am seeing a lot more these days. And so before everybody does it, we need to come up with one that’s really gonna catch people’s attention, it sounds like.

Judi: Yes. You get, I think, about a hundred characters. I’d have to correct myself. But there’s a few character count limits. And the number one thing in all the research I’ve done on hundreds, maybe even at this point I’ve done thousands of newsletter research, where the titles that are the clearest are the ones that gain the traction. Digital Marketing Tips by Andy Crestodina. What a clear name, ‘Digital Marketing Tips’, value from the title right that second.

If you try to create a name that’s too clever and creative or something that is, I don’t know, Steve knows Windows. I don’t know. I mean, at that point, I maybe wanna know who Steve is instead of knowing what are we talking about. Are we talking about Windows the software, or windows at my house? I know that sounds funny, but the clarity over clever is gonna win out initially. And I keep putting Andy’s newsletter in the hot seat, but I’ve seen so many successful newsletters go beyond their original creators following. So I keep pointing out his numbers. He’s probably gonna reach out and be like, why do you keep talking about my numbers? He has about 30,000 followers. I don’t track his following exactly, but his newsletter is at 150,000 followers, which that shows the power of having a very clearly titled newsletter. It will live on, get pushed out beyond your name. Which is, wow. Look at the power of 150,000 people. And he gets great response, 500 likes and comments, 1,000 likes and comments. It’s so powerful.

Rich: We’ve talked about some of the ways that LinkedIn will help us get more subscribers. What are some of the things that we can do to increase our subscriber count?

Judi: I would say, number one, you can feature your newsletter in your profile. So if you have your personal profile, you can find the featured section. And if you go to my profile, I have featured my newsletter. I’m growing a couple hundred subscribers per week just from having it featured there. And it’s got a button to hit ‘subscribe’.

The other way is when you send your newsletter in a direct message. So you know all those people trying to like pitch and do different things? What’s interesting is my new kind of latest and greatest pitch. It’s a light pitch, but it’s kind of like a PS, “Hey, you’re not already subscribed. Here’s my newsletter.” It’s not aggressive, in your face. It comes with a button in the direct messages. It doesn’t even take you away from the direct messages. You can click the button to subscribe right inside the direct messages and reply to me and never leave the experience. So you can grow your subscribers with these buttons that don’t make you move anywhere. I don’t know if that’s making sense.

Rich: Yeah. And are there subscribe buttons on the articles? Let’s say somebody just links to an article. They get there. Is there a subscribe button that’s built in there too?

Judi: Yes. In the news feed, you’re gonna get a subscribe button at the top of as your article goes around, it goes with the subscribe button for the newsletter. And then inside the newsletter, you don’t get an automatic button, but a lot of good newsletters will include a picture that looks like the subscribe button for people to click on and it kind of go takes them to that subscribe page. So, it’s a really smart strategy.

Rich: You might have to take an extra step, but it’s well worth it. I’m thinking about the articles now that I’ve written in the past, and it’s almost like a lightweight WordPress page that you’re building out there. How much customization can we do if we’ve got brand colors, if we’ve got logos, if we wanna use images or gifs? I think you hinted at some of the things that we might include in this newsletter.

Judi: I would say all of it. The creativity is off the charts with how much you can brand out your newsletter. So, some ideas is creating a pattern for your newsletter. So you can create like Podcast Corner and maybe do kind of an update. It’s like an experience as you’re scrolling this newsletter, you’re creating an experience for the reader, just like a newspaper. You’re getting a summary in somebody’s inbox. And you may have a podcast moment, or you may have something happening this week in our industry. I don’t know, digital marketing industry happening this week moment. And those kinds of resource moments become something that people look forward to. It makes your article very shareable beyond, hey, I only wanna hear from Judi. Well, Judi’s actually showing me what she’s consuming, and she’s doing a bit of a Roundup.

Or sometimes you may feature a favorite tool of the week. I mean, there’s all these moments that you can create that are somewhat time bound, so you can have a favorite post of the week. I don’t know, favorite video I watched of the week. We always wanna know what’s on the favorites list. It can work for every single industry. Food industry, travel, tourism industry. It works for everyone because there’s always some way to say what you are excited about is something that your audience could be excited about. Did that answer your question? Because you can then put your logo, branding.

Rich: Yes. And I apologize if you said this already, but if you have a podcast or you have any audio content, can you embed that inside those articles?

Judi: Yes. So yes, LinkedIn has a relationship with over a hundred websites that allow embedding content natively inside of LinkedIn. So for example, if we embed a Spotify player, that’s one of the relationships they have. The button to play the Spotify hosted podcast is right there and we don’t have to leave LinkedIn. We’re not leaving LinkedIn to go to another link. So same thing with YouTube videos, Twitter posts. You can actually embed a Twitter post and anyone who likes in comments can actually like in comment on that Twitter post and it will show up on Twitter and show up on your LinkedIn article. That’s super cool.

Yeah, I’ve put screenshots of my Clubhouse replays and grew about another hundred listeners to my replays of my Clubhouse rooms. The sky is the limit. If you can put an image and connect it, or a gif, or anything, you can either link out of your article or you can go to that list of 100 embedded content and use all that embedded content. I think Medium articles, you can embed contents. I researched embedding for 10 hours one day, because I was just so excited by all the things you could embed inside of LinkedIn articles.

Rich: All right. How about frequency? Any recommendations around that?

Judi: Nobody’s hovering over the edge of their seat like, oh my gosh, when is the next one coming out? I mean, maybe that would be exciting, but I would say most people have found good success at the weekly or every other week or monthly. There’s some that do daily, but that is a really big commitment. And most of the ones that are doing daily are things like LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a daily newsletter.

Rich: Or news recaps things or sports, maybe. I don’t know.

Judi: Things that, yes, there is a sports one. There is a real estate one that’s daily from Inman. And yeah, there’s a bunch of different ones that are daily. But I would say the team and the numbers are sometimes in the millions of followers, which really drives traffic to wanna do it daily, to be honest.

Rich: And are these put together by our profiles, or can we do them under our business?

Judi: You can do them in both places. So you could have two newsletters or more. If you have three or four businesses, you could do three or four newsletters. The sky’s the limit.

Rich: Well, I just wanna note, since we’ve talked about Andy Crestodina already. Andy’s LinkedIn newsletters are his previous Orbit Media newsletters. I mean, he may have made some updates or changes, I’m not saying he’s just copying and pasting. But he might just be copy and pasting. So if you really just wanted to get started, didn’t have a whole lot more bandwidth. This might just be a way of repurposing some of your content for a new platform.

Judi: Yeah, and I really wanna honor that space of not everyone loves to receive newsletters in their emails. So it’s very possible you’re gonna get a whole new audience on content you already created, just because of people’s consumption habits being different.

Rich: All right. Does LinkedIn provide any metrics yet for how many people are subscribed, how many people opened, how many clicks, the typical things we would expect in an email newsletter?

Judi: Yes. I would say the metrics are stronger over on your company page for your newsletter, just because they do show the click through rate, the opening of the newsletter. Not just people viewing it, but people who are actually clicking in it. So that’s really powerful to actually see that final number of how many people are interacting inside of the newsletter.

The one on your personal profile does show the views of your kind of, hey, I saw that her newsletter exists. And then it does show open rates, but it doesn’t show as much engagement percentage or who is actually engaging and clicking on the external links and taking action on any of the links inside of there. You get to see all of your subscribers so you can click and open and actually go through that whole list. If you wanted to, you could market and direct and even network more strongly with your subscribers, which is a powerful strategy. So yeah, you can get access to all your subscribers

Rich: All right. Great advice on new ways of using LinkedIn, for sure. Judi, if people want to learn more about you and maybe ring your bell, where can we send them?

Judi: Go to LinkedIn. It’s the key is it’s J U D I F O X. So that’s how you spell Judi. And yeah, I’m obviously very active on LinkedIn and I’m active on all the socials. And if you wanna get access to all the socials, go to judifox.com and you will find all of them.

Rich: Excellent, and well of those links in the show notes of course. Judy, absolute pleasure seeing you. Thanks so much for coming by today.

Judi: Love it. Thank you.

Show Notes: 

Judi Fox helps her clients use LinkedIn to accelerate their business and position themselves with authority. Check out her website to see how she could help you. And run over to LinkedIn to see how she’s leveraging all of the platform’s “bells” and whistles to get the most out of what LinkedIn has to offer.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.