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Why would anyone ever click an ad on LinkedIn? Does anyone even use LinkedIn these days, except for scoping out recruits or just stalking people? I have more than enough advertising opportunities on Google and Facebook, why worry about a small player like LinkedIn that will take up more of my valuable resources than it will deliver in anything I can use?
If any of the above applies to you, read on! We will be destroying those myths in this guide to LinkedIn. We will show you the unique selling points and the ease with which you can take advantage of this platform – especially if you’re a B2B marketer.
Why should you use LinkedIn if you are looking to use pay-per-click advertising on social media? There are 560 million reasons/users, and the self-sorting nature of the platform lends itself to a unique marketing opportunity.
LinkedIn users post the details of their work history and focus on networking, advancing their careers, and improving their professional lives while on the mobile app or website. The human resources categories that segment LinkedIn users alone can be a boon for recruiting or B2B businesses because they’ve already qualified or disqualified themselves in many ways, right from the start.
While costs can be prohibitive to using LinkedIn, the targeting options can qualify a lead so well for B2B that it’s worth it. Everyone knows each LinkedIn user’s industry, the size of the company they work for, and their role within the company. Those are some of the primary fields on a web contact form meant for B2B lead generation – which is one of the biggest selling points of LinkedIn as Spredfast, one of their case studies, will tell you.
How can you get started? First, you’ll need to brand your company by creating a LinkedIn Company Page. Here’s what you’ll need:
Need a few tips on creating an engaging company page – from the folks at LinkedIn themselves? Posting or linking to relevant content daily, using great headlines, and using amazing visuals help boost engagement and can increase chances that your brand name gets amplified. There’s also analytics settings to help you track and set engagement targets.
Don’t forget a representative company image. LinkedIn says having an image can increase web traffic to your page by up to six times! Here are the image specifications for the Company Page.
If you have a division within your company that has its own products and services to brand, you can easily target a specific buyer persona among many that exist within your company with Showcase Pages. Using these subdivisions within your Company Page, you can specify messaging for a particular subset audience.
Unlike with LinkedIn Group Pages, Showcase Pages allow you to advertise Sponsored Content. You can create up to ten Showcase Pages, and they all link back to your Company Page, making the Company Page a central hub.
Check out how Microsoft utilizes Showcase Pages to highlight the different benefits of various products, especially with the hero image for each Showcase. Your Showcase Page can also be a forum for FAQs or as a help desk.
After you’ve created your Company Page – and possibly Showcase Pages – you’re ready to set up your Campaign Manager account, which will be fairly easy if you’ve met the requirements for a profile and company page.
Now comes the fun part – choosing your target audience. Here are all the different attributes you can use to narrow down your audience. There are many you can choose from.
Here is the complete list from LinkedIn themselves. When choosing which ‘facets’ (as LinkedIn likes to call them) to target, it is important to think about what makes a general inquiry become a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).
What is an MQL? Simply, it is an arbitrary threshold that makes that lead more likely to become a customer compared to other leads. This is clearly a subjective definition that varies between businesses, but thinking of your targeting in these terms helps you narrow down what targeting you should use.
Before you delve into your targeting audience, you’ll want to have a clear picture of what traits can describe clients with whom you work. We’ve already gone into the incredibly powerful targeting that LinkedIn provides, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate that you need to know your buyer persona.
What is a buyer persona? What are the key traits and demographic information of your ideal customer? You literally cannot have too many details on your ideal client.
Via Crazy Egg
For example, maybe the individual that makes the decision on whether to use your service is usually the CMO or another high-level marketing person in the organization. You can target just these types of roles.
Similarly, maybe there’s a specific industry or company size that always seems to sign up for your service or subscriptions. You can target by those very things on LinkedIn! You want to dig deep into developing your buyer’s persona. Here are some ways to elucidate your buyer persona:
This leads us to the open secret use for creating a buyer persona: Knowing your buyer persona can help you master your ad copy. At first, this seems obvious, but how many businesses actually interview their sales team with the intent of fine-tuning their ad copy?
When you know the pain points and challenges of your customers, you can also speak to these struggles in your ad copy to engage users that have a high chance of being interested in your products or services. How do you know? You just interviewed your sales team, and they told you that your capabilities in project management – specifically the small team and proprietary software – made the eventual clients feel confident that one of their main pain points was being addressed.
Now, when you confront your target audience, you can call out the specifics of your project management capabilities and the small team – and watch the MQLs pour through your sales funnel. Long story short, figure out what your unique selling points are through validated data points (i.e. your current clients!).
Various sources say that the ideal audience size ranges from 50K-500K, give or take. Finding the right balance between narrowing down a relevant audience that is likely to convert, but also an audience size that can scale, is tough. Smaller audiences can have great conversion rates, but you might be missing out on relevant users.
Testing out different audiences frequently is your best bet. Just like testing new keywords on Google or audiences on Facebook is crucial to growing successful campaigns, so will be testing different targeting attributes on LinkedIn.
For different audiences, you’ll also want to test out different messaging to find the one that works best for each audience. You can call out who your audience is in the headline to really narrow down interested and highly qualified users. Perhaps there is a specific offer that converts a particular audience better. You won’t know until you test the different combinations of messages and audiences.
Targeting seniority or years of experience can be more useful than targeting by age. Simply try different targeting options and see what works!
Further up the sales funnel is the influencer who may be tasked with researching a solution, but who might not necessarily be the one who makes the call on using your B2B solution. Usually, they are trying to learn about a product (or group or products) to create a list of potential vendors for their client.
Target these users. Who are they? What job titles or seniority could be reporting to the decision makers? Does your sales team know who these people are? Maybe they talked to them first in the lead qualifying process, and then handed you over to the decision maker.
Via Shop Clues
What asset or offer brought in an influencer, as opposed to a decision maker? Is there a way to target each in a more focused way to elicit a conversion from each respective segment?
The better you understand your buyers and influencers, the more likely you will be able to present them with the most appropriate content that has the best chance of being clicked on or being opened. How do you know? You’ve done your research.
Research the profiles of users that convert and become sales leads. What patterns can you see in groups, skills, job titles, seniority, etc.? If you prefer not to talk to people, you still don’t have an excuse in researching the details of your potential users and customers.
Next, figure out the skills and requirements for job postings related to your users to find out what their pain points are, or what the pain points of companies who are hiring them are. You can also find out cool ideas for content based on the knowledge base that these companies are seeking.
Not coincidentally, this is the same content that people who want these jobs are seeking out as well. While you’ll inevitably reach out to students or marketers that are just trying to learn, these users who don’t convert are still exposed to your brand, and you can always retarget to them at a later time.
Only use audience expansion after successful campaigns. This option is similar to lookalike audiences in Facebook, or like adding a broad match keyword. Once you have validation that the audience works, you can let LinkedIn’s algorithms try to match you with relevant audiences similar to your targeted audience.
Also, save your audiences as a template to make creating ads easier, and so you can track the quality of each audience to expand and test different messaging as you see what works.
You can either do CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Cost per click is usually your best bet, because you are only paying when the engagement level is high enough to warrant payment. You’ll want to bid on the higher range of what LinkedIn advises you to bid in order to get the highest CTR as possible. As we will talk about in the ad fatigue section, CTRs will fall off – it is just a matter of time – so it is best to find what works best, maximize the reach by bidding high, and create new audiences or ad copy to continue on the success of previous campaigns.
Just like Facebook feeds, your Sponsored Content appears like a normal post for those that follow you – only targeted to those you want to see your ad
You can send them to your website or have them fill out a lead generation form.
Via Neil Patel
Other best practices to use with Sponsored Content include:
This is content that doesn’t appear on your Company Page updates, and these are made specifically for your advertising efforts. Use this option when you don’t want your more sales focused advertising posts on your company feed. You don’t always want to be hard selling your audience and turning them off from following your company page.
Via Crazy Egg
This ad format does not require a landing page and allows you to get form fills without users leaving the LinkedIn app or site.
You can automatically fill in user information from the LinkedIn database to make form fills super easy, thus creating less friction for the user.
This ad format works no differently than any other ad format on LinkedIn; you choose your audience, schedule, budget and bidding.
They give you an easy-to-use template where you just fill in the information. Like with Facebook, it is better to have them go to your website in order to gather their user information within your website analytics. However, the benefit to using LinkedIn’s Lead Ads is that it is much easier to have them fill out the form, especially with LinkedIn data that is pre-populated – which, again, creates less friction towards a conversion.
Via Ad Espresso
While these are smaller and usually off to the side, their conversion rates can be as good or better than other ads because if someone went out of their way to click on these, they are probably interested in what you have to offer.
You’ll want to use the 50X50 image option as it helps increase CTR. Faces tend to be better than logos.
Also, because of the targeting methods available, you can reach business individuals that are normally hard to reach. Now you can, for instance, target the CEO or CMO of a certain type of company. That’s huge.
So, the harder sell works better because you can hyper-target your messaging, which makes this platform good for B2B lead generation.
You can now choose between text ad formats:
Don’t forget to create eye-catching headlines in 25 characters or less. Explain your unique selling points or benefits in the body in 75 characters or less, and don’t forget about that CTA!
Since the audiences are so small, ad fatigue can be a real thing that comes into play in as little as 3 weeks. AJ Wilcox of Marketing Land has some tips for dealing with LinkedIn ad CTRs, including pausing ads with a CTR of lower than 0.35% for Sponsored Content and below 0.01% for Text Ads.
LinkedIn makes it very easy to duplicate ads, and you’ll want to use this method to iterate different parts of the ad to incrementally improve on performance for all ad types (Sponsored Content, Text Ads, InMail).
You can upload videos, create videos in-app, and upload multiple images. Basically, it’s another ad format and another avenue for content strategy.
Videos must be at least 3 seconds but less than 10 minutes, and the video file can be no larger than 5 GB.
This isn’t technically LinkedIn, but if you want to master PPC ad strategy, you’ll want to think of ways to leverage multiple platforms to work together. Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences (i.e. their data algorithm) are awesome and if you can combine that with LinkedIn’s data, you’re delving into next level PPC mastery!
(similar to Facebook’s Pixel)
Learning about the demographics of your LinkedIn audience might not be all that helpful, or this data can give you insights that you hadn’t considered before. Either way, this avenue to learning more about your target exists within LinkedIn’s functionality once you have the insight tag installed, so try it out and learn as much as you can about your LinkedIn audience. Hopefully, you’ve been convinced that no stone should go unturned when it comes to analyzing data on your potential leads.
You can analyze your website visitors in context of LinkedIn data like job titles, seniority, industry, function, location, company, company size, and country – which will help you target on LinkedIn better.
This layer of extra data from the insight tag enhances reporting because of all the different traits you can now segment your audience by and see which LinkedIn traits convert or perform the best for your ads.
With your LinkedIn Insight Tag installed, you’ll be able to track LinkedIn conversions as either a page view on your website (thank you page hit) or as an event conversion.
You can also attribute certain conversions for specific campaigns, and even attribute view-through conversions without Google Analytics help for attribution purposes.
Once you have your insight tag set up, you can start retargeting to your website visitors by specifying the URL that they visited. The idea is that certain URLs will provide some indication of the level of interest that your users have for your product or service. Be sure to exclude converters so that you don’t annoy users who have already expressed an interest in your product. You might also want to consider excluding the website URLs of current clients for the same reason. You can find this targeting method under Matched Audiences.
Remember that it can take up to 48 hours for an audience, such as visitors to a certain URL, to gather. Furthermore, your audience size needs to be at least 300 users for it to show up in your Matched Audiences. LinkedIn has a quick checklist to help you set up retargeting by URL once you’ve set up your insight tag.
There is also an option to do Account Targeting, where you can upload a list of company names or contacts and specifically target these lists of potential accounts down to the name! LinkedIn will match the names of the company that you manually enter or upload. You can also upload email contacts. While emails don’t always match on LinkedIn, it’s useful and worthwhile to be able to exclude and target these audiences using your own list.
You can also use the ‘Connect to data integration’ option, which allows you to upload directly from your CRM.
Sponsored InMail is essentially a direct message to an individual or an email marketing campaign. The goal is to have them open up the email and make a connection. Because of this, you might want to hold off on the hard sell, at least in the subject line, before they open the email.
Sponsored InMails must be from a real person with a profile connected to your company.
Segmentation of campaigns by audience works just like Text Ads or Sponsored Content – you’re simply working with a different ad format.
One way to take advantage of this ad format is to have a unique ‘sender’ for each InMail campaign that best speaks to that audience, with a relevant image to boot.
If you have an email marketing template already, this might be the perfect place to apply the template
After you set up these attributes within the campaign, you’ll just need the destination URL and CTA button/copy.
These are premium ads that allow you to partner with a dedicated LinkedIn team to create exclusively placed and highly visible ads for premium audiences that requires a minimum ad spend of $25k/quarter. Yikes! If you are killing it with LinkedIn ads, then this could be an option to expand your success even more.
If you’re looking to capitalize on display ads with LinkedIn targeting, you’ll need to choose your own DSP (Demand Side Platform). We won’t get too deep into display advertising here, as it is its own beast, but you can get more information here. Also, check out the LinkedIn success story of Voya for best practice ideas.
If you’re a B2B marketer or using an agency to manage your advertising, LinkedIn is a no-brainer based on their targeting options, and their user-friendly platform. Once you’ve implemented the different ad types and best practices above, you’ll be generating high quality leads and revenue in no time!