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LinkedIn has been predominantly marketed as a B2B marketing channel due to their smart lineup of business related targeting options. However, this image is misleading. LinkedIn users are made of consuming humans just like any other social media channel.
While B2C marketing campaigns on LinkedIn have been going on for years, LinkedIn’s potential as a B2C pipeline has been understated for quite some time. LinkedIn’s unique customer base – made up of educated professionals with disposable income – makes it an attractive advertising channel for premium brands and other high-end products.
LinkedIn users are consumers, too – and there are 500 million of them. While LinkedIn is no Facebook, with their billions of users, it might be better. Imagine a highly concentrated group of educated professionals with buying power.
Via Online Optimism
Now, also imagine that there are 9 billion impressions to be had on LinkedIn’s feed, with only 3 million users sharing content weekly. That translates to only about 1% of monthly users.
With the growing saturation of PPC channels like Google and Facebook, LinkedIn represents an opportunity for marketers.
For some time now, the myth has been that LinkedIn is a primarily B2B marketplace due to the professional nature of its users – but this idea is misplaced.
While LinkedIn is indeed a great B2B marketing arena, that does not make it mutually exclusive from the idea that brands can also market their consumer products to LinkedIn users as well.
So, not only are there tons of impressions to be had in front of a very specific type of audience, but LinkedIn also represents an untapped B2C marketplace where businesses can discreetly spotlight their brands, as well as win brand awareness and loyalty points with a crowd that has the money to back up that type of strategy.
Finally, because of the B2B nature of the LinkedIn setup, it might seem unkosher to target users with consumer products. But on the contrary, users are actually quite receptive to receiving messages on consumer brands.
Indeed, LinkedIn users view the content on LinkedIn as more worthy of their time compared to other social sites and even websites such as the New York Times or WSJ. Moreover, users are more likely to publish personal posts to show their personality – despite the professional setting of LinkedIn these days.
The trust factor of LinkedIn is already there, compared to other social sites like Facebook. Based on recent controversies with Facebook, the time to capitalize on the LinkedIn audience could not be more timely. These users are more likely to spend on a brand that they trust, and they are 152% more likely to participate in an online conversation.
If you’re not excited about this opportunity, then I don’t know what else to tell you.
LinkedIn users are professional consumers – or ‘prosumers’ – and they are a coveted target audience. These users are who you might think they are: they’re more affluent, not price sensitive, brand loyal, and have more overall buying power than users of other social media sites.
Having more disposable income and high levels of education are already coveted target markets – and these attributes are ready made within LinkedIn.
If you’re a luxury product or high-end product provider, LinkedIn’s audience does not need to be highly defined to take advantage of insights you already have into income levels that are attracted to your product or brand. Indeed, over 40% of LinkedIn users are millionaires and over 90% have higher degrees. That’s huge, and it is a big reason why retail brands like Hugo Boss can run ads like this confidently.
People can be heavily influenced by others within their professional circles when it comes to buying decisions. This is a great opportunity to target influencers (i.e. millionaires) that can trickle down brand loyalty. Automotive brands, which are a big industry advertising on LinkedIn – as we’ll see for obvious reasons (big money purchases, anyone?) – definitely take advantage of the impact of influencers on buyer decisions.
Indeed, 86% of those interviewed in a 600 person survey said that if they found a brand they liked they would stick with it. So the loyalty of customers is high within the LinkedIn audience and worth targeting for products, like clothing items. that have high retention and loyalty rates.
Also, 78% of users said that they are “typically willing to pay more for high quality items”. This price insensitivity is huge for luxury brands.
If you’re going to advertise on LinkedIn, installing the Insight Tag can unlock the potential of your campaigns.
By installing the Insight Tag on your website, the user data of visitors to your website from your LinkedIn PPC ad campaigns is aggregated in useful reports that characterize your audience using LinkedIn’s database.
For example, you’ll get to see trends on the types of visitors that are converting or not converting. You will get to know their industries, seniority level, and fields of study, among many other characteristics.
Targeting a broad segment of users, like job seniority, and testing how users interact with your ad and your website can help you gain further insight into other characteristics that define users that convert or not. You might find characteristics that are useful that you had not thought about using LinkedIn’s criteria, like a specific field of study or industry that is attracted to your services or brand, or perhaps a specific age group.
Information is power, and not only can you retarget those segments that didn’t convert (but still clicked on your ad), but learning more about the professional characteristics of those that arrive on your website can help you better target your audience in future campaigns – whether they are on LinkedIn or not.
You can also follow up by retargeting certain users that interacted with various pages on your website, in addition to the above criteria. Conversion tracking is crucial, and even if you already have other methods for tracking conversions on your website, it is a no-brainer to leverage LinkedIn’s pixel to combine your data with LinkedIn’s database to discover more about your user base.
What are the ways you can use the LinkedIn audience to engage with your brand? It all starts with content, content, and more content.
Content marketing can drive more leads than paid search, and LinkedIn can be one of the most effective platforms for driving engagement with your content.
Content marketing is a crucial strategy for many B2C companies, but many aren’t documenting their tactics and plans.
Start with a company page and start posting interesting content to show your business’ personality. Those that are already familiar with your brand can create stronger bonds when they learn about your company culture and your expertise on certain matters (usually related to your product). Building up your authority on topics surrounding your industry translates into easy content opportunities.
The cool thing about LinkedIn is that you can combine content marketing with PPC by sponsoring your posts. This is a quick and easy way to formalize the performance of your posts through measuring engagement with specific audiences in a narrowed setting.
As you can see, LinkedIn is not far behind the giants, like Facebook and Twitter, in terms of B2C content being produced for each respective channel.
Via Content Marketing Institute
While Pinterest and Instagram have surely risen in the ranks since this chart came out, it is clear that LinkedIn has a place for B2C social media strategy.
Content marketing has increased over the years, and this chart below from four years ago still applies today.
Via Content Marketing Institute
If you’re already on Facebook and Twitter and are still contemplating the value of yet another social media platform to manage, consider this.
Via Revenue River
Strength in numbers cannot be stated any more clearly.
One of the biggest opportunities on LinkedIn is to spread the value of your company culture and enhance brand loyalty (which, again, can trickle down because of the influencer effect that professionals can have on each other).
Align your brand with your potential customers’ successes. Over half of LinkedIn users like to reward themselves for their professional successes. Of those, 76% consider a vacation and 66% consider a car. There are other variations of these gifts to oneself that you can apply across different product lines. Get creative.
Here is an example of an ad targeting location, among other targeting options.
This video ad by Ford, targeted to the European market for small cars, is an example of a B2C ad that capitalizes on LinkedIn’s geotargeting capabilities. Ford may have used other targeting criteria as well, such as seniority (many high level executives would not be interested in a smaller car).
Indeed, one in two users are more likely to consider a hybrid vehicle and also have a household income of over $100K. The nuance with which you can suss this data out through LinkedIn targeting can take trial and error.
While there are many ways to narrow your audience after location, its good to test out different audiences in combination with the Insight Tag’s data to refine your targeted audience as you gather data from your campaigns.
Businesses in automotive, travel (vacations for a hard day’s work, anyone?), retail, and luxury goods appeal to these professionals. One of the best tools in marketing is to scope out competitors, but you can also look at other brands outside of your industry to find ideas that cross sector boundaries. Let’s take a look at how some brands are using LinkedIn within a B2C framework.
Here is Target advertising a new product launch on LinkedIn. This is not a sponsored post, but an update on their LinkedIn company site. But, it is important to remember that all posts have the capability to be ‘boosted’ by sponsoring the post.
Target’s landing page takes users to a page with many images of the new brand that they now carry.
Targeting interior designers – or other home influencer job titles – could be a way to capitalize on the LinkedIn audience, while not having to change up the content strategy at all.
Just like with Facebook, you want to be subtle with your content if you’re going to interrupt someone’s newsfeed. Educational content is the perfect fit for this. While morning routines are not really related to the Target brand, Target sells so many things that it doesn’t really matter. They are just showing their personality off a bit here, which is great. Something that isn’t controversial and applies to the lowest common denominator is perfect for content.
Political content can be controversial, polarizing, and unrecommended – but Target toes the line perfectly here, showing that their products are socially conscious. While this might not resonate with the aforementioned common denominator, inclusivity is just a tad away from center enough to get kudos from the crowd. This piece of content is highly relevant to the products that Target sells, and they might have more information on the number of people that this resonates with based on their own proprietary data of who shops at Target. Either way, this is a great example of a savvy societally-conscious post that doesn’t ruffle too many feathers.
Another way Target can (and probably has) catered to being socially-conscious is environmentally-friendly products. There are many, many ways to spin your brand and products in a positive light – and in a timely manner.
Starbucks has been excellent about building a community, driving customer loyalty, and bragging about its altruistic efforts. It also isn’t afraid to take a hit on the chin in the society space and try to take action.
Here is a classic way to advertise on LinkedIn: recruiting. Companies and high level education systems have their target audience lined up perfectly for them on LinkedIn. Notice all the likes and comments (i.e. social proof) that you can capitalize on when sponsoring this post to relevant users.
Not only are you recruiting new employees and making current ones proud to work there, but Starbucks also boosts their brand to their customers. Who doesn’t want to support a brand that helps out families and children?
This is another common type of post that companies can use to highlight their company culture. Presumably, if you’ve hired someone in the top tier of your leadership team, they’ll be awesome. If you simply do a profile showing how awesome they are, you make your company look good, and you make your company newsworthy. Of course, Starbucks is much larger than most companies, so big hires really are big news, but this is still a great way for all companies to show who they are, literally.
Oh, and here’s the aforementioned environmentally-friendly post type.
Amazon is great at showcasing new promotions, services, regional offerings. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
This is a more unique post, but Amazon could definitely sponsor this and incentivize behavior by offering some sort of discount or free gift for the survey completion. If you want to take it further, you could try to target a specific audience for their responses, which could provide super valuable information about a niche audience.
Here is an example of a product launch post. These can be super important to Amazon, considering they create their own products. This particular landing page is a timeline of a product launch event, which gets people excited for the release and furthers the hype around the product.
This is an interesting post by Amazon that wouldn’t necessarily be a top candidate for sponsoring, but it highlights an opportunity for companies to brag about success. Adding two new airplanes to your fleet is pretty badass, and it lets your audience know that your company is doing well. Why are you doing well? It might be because you’re good at doing business. It can also mean that your products or services are getting paid for by a lot of people. Subtlety can be useful.
If you have a product that targets almost everyone – like music for Sony – then LinkedIn could still be an opportunity. You don’t have to be a brand targeting the affluent if your product applies to most everyone. Similar to Target, Sony can highlight product launches, or in this case an album launch.
Mercedes Benz ran Sponsored Updates for their new cars. While the results were basically just high levels of engagement with premium members of LinkedIn’s audience, their foray into the B2C world shows how important LinkedIn can be in reaching the affluent with luxury items.
Imagine if your company partnered with a luxury brand for cross marketing purposes. We’re about to see an example of this, but a Mercedes Benz partnership would definitely get people excited and engaged.
Even lower end cars can make an impact on LinkedIn. Nissan was part of a Sponsored Posts pilot program. Now, their company page focuses on innovation, eco-conscious articles, infographics, and videos.
Even a more mainstream brand targeting less affluent members can still connect itself to high-end topics, like racing (well-known for attracting the wealthiest spectators). This recent post highlights the connection for impressing the high-end buyers, or at least projecting the image of high status with your brand.
Nearly all of Nissan’s recent posts relate to its participation in the elite Formula 1 racing and the super machines that don’t have anything to do with their main products, which are cars for the mainstream. Yet their strategy to focus their content solely on their racing line highlights the importance of projecting an elite image on LinkedIn, as well as how by association, this elite image can help its brand awareness and image.
Luxury retail brands, like Nordstrom, were built for LinkedIn’s audience.
Turning this store-opening announcement into a PPC ad that targets those near the location of the stores would be easy and relevant – and sure to drive traffic from highly relevant users. Gender and seniority criteria in LinkedIn’s arsenal would be very useful in driving this relevant traffic.
Many of Nordstrom’s posts concentrate on technology and women. Nordstrom astutely caters to their core audience, furthering the conversations that interest their audience. Event promotion can, again, be geotargeted to reach only the most relevant users.
The higher level education sector is an obvious candidate for a brand that doesn’t necessarily fall under the B2B or B2C sectors, but something in between. There is no doubt that higher level education hits the main audience criteria of LinkedIn, however, which are high income and educated.
The University of Queensland (UQ) B-school promoted an event with Richard Branson with Display Ads, Sponsored Polls, and Sponsored InMails. Richard Branson is a huge name in the business world, and using his well-known business acumen to drive ticket sales and website traffic underlines the value of LinkedIn as a platform for driving specific engagement for a professional audience.
Their engagement strategy of using polls to help nominate other panelists and to use the social sharing nature of LinkedIn helped drive 25,000 unique visits to their event page, over 3 million impressions of their website (LinkedIn probably used some assisted clicks to get to that number) and reached over 350,000 business professionals. The had a high open rate of almost 25% of their InMails and a CTR of 21%.
Even smaller organizations can run highly targeted campaigns by groups and location to drive engagement, ticket sales, and sign-ups – while also leveraging the sharing nature of LinkedIn to help connections of those who already purchased tickets to become aware of events.
Professional events are happening all the time within various industries, and if you can narrow down your participant persona, you can get great engagement and fill up the seats of your event quickly using LinkedIn’s groups and other segmentation options.
Callaway’s use of LinkedIn highlights the capabilities of Display Ads, LinkedIn’s targeting criteria, LinkedIn’s Group functionalities, and the relationship culture of LinkedIn.
During their app promotion “Hit the Links”, Callaway used golf discussion groups and seniority targeting of managers within LinkedIn to help them facilitate over 8,000 foursomes and gain 1,500 new followers to their LinkedIn page.
The interactive app, Hit the Links, allowed users to form foursome playing groups based on their LinkedIn connections.
Callaway worked with LinkedIn to sync the app with LinkedIn’s API to make sure members worked for the same company. Callaway also partnered with a social media agency called Fanscape.
The members of the foursome could then share their foursome on LinkedIn for a chance to win prizes, which helped the promotion escalate.
In addition to the foursomes formed and new followers, Callaway got 139 likes and 79 comments on their app – valuable social proof that helps apps rank.
Moreover, Sponsored InMails were used to target golf groups participating. The Sponsored InMails, basically LinkedIn’s version of email marketing designed specifically for their audience, got an open rate of 32%.
Finally, everything combined, Callaway experienced a brand lift of 83% in positive sentiment across social media networks.
Creating innovative campaigns that take advantage of the connections within LinkedIn can be valuable for brands to help companies build a business, while also building up their own communities.
As we’ve seen with Callaway, the many groups that exist within LinkedIn can provide a relaxed setting to connect with influencers of your product. For example if you create products for hiking and camping, then the local outdoors group would be a good place to find out about events to offer discounts.
The same goes for dog and cat lovers. If you sell pet products, these groups would be ideal to find your biggest influencers. LinkedIn groups and segments don’t always have to be related to careers. The career criteria can be a distinct advantage once you outline some overarching goals related to products that all upper income segments can appreciate.
You can even form your own group to control offers, discounts, and other special announcements. Be careful with how you enter this space, as overly advertising within groups can turn people off. But generally, people like talking to brand ambassadors and getting free stuff, so if you can start a casual conversation with group leaders, then you’ll be well on your way to finding ways to promote your brand.
Clearly, LinkedIn exhibits some very attractive features for high-end purchases and brands that depend on audiences with a high level of disposable income. This group of affluent consumers is conveniently housed within LinkedIn’s platform, segmented in unique ways related to their careers from which B2C marketers can extract value equally as well as B2B marketers.
While it takes some creativity – and sometimes extra partnerships – LinkedIn can be low-hanging fruit for certain industries to enhance the campaigns they already have running across the digital landscape.