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In simple terms LinkedIn is a professional social media network and jobs board. For a time it was swamped with noise from recruiters and salespeople. But, LinkedIn is back and it’s a great place to promote your business. Over the last two years LinkedIn has recovered to become a real valuable player in the digital advertising world. LinkedIn is especially useful for B2B businesses and B2B marketers should learn how to best to apply LinkedIn as part of their inbound strategy if they want to reach their target audiences.
The platform is the best place to find professionals and LinkedIn’s advertising capability has expanded to become a strong platform for B2B, with excellent targeting options. In this article we’ll cover some of the key aspects to ensure that you’re successful with your LinkedIn campaigning including:
- Understanding the type of LinkedIn Ads
- Things to Do Before Setting Up Your LinkedIn Campaigns
- How to Analyse Your LinkedIn Ads
- What to Look at While Your Campaign Is Live
- How to Plan Your LinkedIn Ad Spend
So, let’s get into the detail.
Types of LinkedIn ads
There are several options for advertising on LinkedIn, which can help you to reach different goals for your B2B brand. The main types of advertising available include: sponsored content, text ads, sponsored InMail, display ads, dynamic ads and video ads.
When you publish an article or post on your company page, you can choose to promote it to a wider audience. This is much like a promoted or sponsored post on Facebook or Twitter. It will be displayed in the LinkedIn feed for others to read and to discover your profile.
However, this type of advertising has a high CPC, so you need to be careful about the type of content you choose to promote. You also have the option to use direct sponsored content, which allows you to publish content without posting it in your LinkedIn feed.
Text ads are small adverts in the right column of a LinkedIn feed. They can also be found under “People You May Know” suggestions.
These ads are short and to the point, so the most important thing is to think carefully about what they contain. The words you choose can make a huge difference to whether anyone pays attention to them. The best thing to do is to test out some different ads and landing pages to find out what works. You need to be concise with these ads to get your message across.
Sending messages straight to someone’s inbox might seem a little spammy, but it can be an effective way to reach out to people. This type of advertising requires a personal profile and not just a business page. The messages need to be sent by an individual, which can help them to appear less like spam and more like someone who is trying to make a genuine connection. When used correctly, they can have pretty good conversion rates.
Sending mail as an individual already helps to make it seem more personal, and gives the sense that people can communicate with a representative of your company. You should also be sure to personalise these ads when writing them. Don’t just use a template that you send out to everyone.
Display ads are a great option if you want to be able to target your audience well. They’re just like other display ads, such as those you might find on the Google Ads network or on Facebook.
Dynamic ads allow you to make your ads a little more personalised. You can use them to promote a number of things, including job postings, content downloads, or your company page, as well as use spotlight ads to drive traffic to your website. These ads have the options of set templates, as well as auto-translation so that you can personalise them for your different audiences.
Video is one of the best mediums for promoting your brand. It has high engagement rates and it catches people’s attention. If you’re not already creating video content to share online, you need to start doing it. There are various things you can do with video, from showing your company culture to talking about your products, offering tutorials, conducting interviews, and much more.
You can experiment with different types of video, how long they are, whether you use animation or live action video, and other factors to decide what gets the most engagement and conversions.
Things to do before setting up your LinkedIn campaigns
There are many things that you might want to do before you set up any advertising campaigns on LinkedIn. You don’t want to spend anything until you know at least the basics of what you should be doing. A good place to start is with the LinkedIn advertising guidelines and specifications. You can find these in the LinkedIn help pages, including guides for different types of content. Once you have made sure you understand the guidelines for different types of ads, there are some more things to do before you create your campaigns.
Get the LinkedIn Insight Tag
It’s easy to add the code to your site, whether you do it yourself or get your web developer or manager to do it for you. The data that you collect can be useful to help you target your ads, but it can take a few weeks to get some useful data.
Prepare and consider content to leverage
Using LinkedIn to promote content is a great idea, but you first need to have that content available. You can promote blog articles, ebooks, videos, infographics and other content that can be used to collect leads. If you don’t already have some content to use, you should think about what you want to offer.
Some content is quick and easy to create but other items, like ebooks, could take a while to develop. Think about how you can educate your audience about your products or services, as well as related topics.
Add a contact list
LinkedIn allows you to upload a contact list from a database so that you can create a target audience. LinkedIn recommends that you have at least 1,000 account-level contacts or 10,000 contact-level contacts if you want to make the most of the tools that they have available.
LinkedIn will take your contacts and try to match them to verified email address. Using your existing contact list allows you to unify your contacts across different marketing channels.
Look at different bid strategies
You might not decide exactly how to spend your money just yet, but you should start off by considering the different ways to bid on ads. LinkedIn is like other platforms in that there are a few ways to place bids on ads. One option is auto-bid, which is a low-maintenance option if you want LinkedIn to manage your bids for you.
You can also set a cap, so you can decide how much you want to spend each day, just like you can with platforms like Google Ads. You should also consider whether to base your spent on cost per click (CPC) or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM). CPC is often the recommended choice to make sure your ads reach more people and to help you get the best return on your investment.
Be prepared to test first
Although you might want to get going, you don’t want to immediately commit your whole ad budget and run full-blown campaigns. It’s smart to be prepared to test things first so that you can figure out what works. Different strategies work for different businesses, so it’s best to test things first and avoid wasting money.
How to set up a LinkedIn ad campaign
When you’re ready to set up your first LinkedIn Ads campaign, you’ll use the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions platform to get started and to manage your ads and campaigns. To begin, you simply need to go to the page and select “Create Ad”. This will ask you to create a Campaign Manager account if you don’t already have one. If you have a company LinkedIn page, you can associate it with your account. On the Campaign Manager dashboard, click on “Create campaign” to get started with making your first campaign.
The first things you will need to do are to name your campaign and select a campaign group. Campaign groups help you to organise different campaigns, so you might not find them useful just yet. You can leave it on the default campaign group or create a new one. Choose a campaign name that describes your campaign and, if multiple people will be working on it, something that informs people of what it is. Try to be as descriptive as possible to make it easy to identify and to quickly spot among other campaigns.
When you’ve set your campaign group and title, you need to choose a campaign objective. This means that you have to consider what your goal is, and what you want people to do when they are shown your ads. The options for objectives include website visits, engagements, video views and lead generation.
- Website visits focuses on driving traffic to your website and boosting brand awareness
- Engagement helps you to get people to engage with your content and increases your followers
- Video views aims to get more people watching your videos by targeting the right audience
- Lead generation uses a LinkedIn lead generation form with pre-filled profile data, which will be shown to the users most likely to engage with it
Choosing your target audience
Next, you need to target the right audience with your campaign. LinkedIn gives you a variety of options for targeting your ads, from language and location to company, education, gender and age, job experience and interests. Start off by choosing the language you want your ad to be in and at least one location that you want to target. You can be as broad as selecting a continent or you could be as specific as choosing a city. You can also choose to exclude locations that might not be so relevant for the objective of your campaign.
Click the “+ Add new targeting criteria” link to start adding more targeting categories. Here are some things that you can add:
- Company: target particular employers if you have a target audience that works for certain companies. You can also just choose by industry or company size.
- Demographics: target your ads by gender or age group if your audience is made up largely of certain groups.
- Education: you can target your ads based on educational institutions, as well as field of study and degree.
- Job experience: targeting by job experience and title helps you if you want your ads to be seen by a particular level of an organisation. Maybe you want to target the decision makers or those who have influence on them.
- Interests: if there are certain topics that your audience is particularly interested in, targeting these interests can further hone the targeting of your campaigns.
When you have set up these campaign basics, you can create a template to use on later campaigns. If you want to include other people who are similar to your target audience, select “Enable Audience Expansion”.
Choosing your ad format
You have a selection of ad formats to choose from, with eight main ad types.
- Text ads
- Single image ads
- Carousel ads
- Video ads
- Follower ads
- Spotlight ads
- Job ads
- Message ads
If you’re not sure yet which type of ad to use, LinkedIn can help you to decide. When you switch between different ad types, you will see Forecasted Results. This information will analyse the settings you have chosen for your campaign and predict the results you could get based on other campaigns and advertisers that are similar to you. It will give you information about spend too, which can help you decide how to use your budget.
You also have the option to decide if you want your ad to be displayed on the LinkedIn Audience Network. This is only available for some ad types, but it lets your ad show on LinkedIn’s partners and third-party platforms. You don’t have to use the whole network; there is the option of blocking or excluding categories, apps or sites.
Set a budget and timing
The next thing you need to do is set a budget for your campaign and schedule it to run for however long you want it to. Start by choosing a date when you want your campaign to start and either choose an end date or for the campaign to run until you tell it not to.
When you’re setting up a campaign for the first time, don’t immediately commit all of your budget to it. It makes sense to spend some time testing things out and making adjustments before you go full steam ahead with your campaign. You first need to spend some time looking at the analytics for the ad or ads you set up to see what works and what doesn’t.
You can choose from three bid types when you set your budget: automated bid, maximum cost-per-click (CPC) or maximum cost-per-1,000-impressions (CPM
Automated bid instructs LinkedIn to choose how much to bid for your ads, based on either clicks, impressions or conversions. CPC bidding means you will pay every time someone clicks on your ad. LinkedIn suggests a bid range for you based on the amount of competition and you set a maximum bid, but you won’t always be charged this amount. A CPM bid means you will be charged for every 1,000 people who see your ad. You can’t use this option if you decide to opt into the LinkedIn Audience Network.
Set up conversion tracking
Tracking conversions from your ads is handy, and it’s essential if you want LinkedIn to take conversions into account when optimising your ad performance. Click on “+ Add Conversions” and you will be taken through the steps that you need to carry out to fill out conversions.
You need to name your conversion, enter some settings and choose how you want to track your conversions.
Set up your ads
Once your campaign parameters are in place, click “create new ad” to get started with setting up the actual ads. Add your chosen text, image and destination URL to provide all of the necessary information for your ads. Check the LinkedIn guidelines for your chosen type of ad to make sure you’re following their best practices.
How to analyse your LinkedIn ads and what to look at while your campaign is live
When your campaign is live, you need to know how to analyse the data it gives you and what you should be looking at. You’ll see how your campaign is doing on your dashboard, under “Campaign performance”. Some key things to consider include your spend, click through rate, conversion rate, ad performance and demographic reporting information. You can see charts that show you important data collected from your ads. At first, you won’t see much of anything useful. However, after running your ads for a couple of weeks, you’ll have much more handy information.
Making sure that you’re spending the right amount is important. LinkedIn can spend up to 20% more than your daily budget, so you might find that you need to lower your budget if it’s tight and you don’t want to go a penny over. See if your daily budget is reaching its maximum every day or not.
The click through rate is one of the key metrics, indicating whether people are engaging with your add. While there is no hard and fast rule on what’s a good CTR, anything below 0.6% could mean that there’s a problem with your ads. You might need to adjust your audience targeting or your message to ensure you’re capturing the right people. Conversion rate is also important. If you’re getting lots of clicks but no one is converting, there might be a discrepancy between what people expect and what they find when they get to your landing page.
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While you might just set up one ad at first, it’s a good idea to have at least three ads or messages for your campaign. They can be rotated so they all get equal exposure or LinkedIn can optimise them for you and show the ads that are performing better. Whichever option you choose, you should still be checking on which ads are performing well.
You can also check demographic information for clicks and conversions to see who is engaging with your ads. You will be able to see different industries, job titles, locations and other information to see if the people you expert are engaging with your ads or not. If you’re surprised by the results, it could be time to change your targeting to make it more accurate.
How to optimise your LinkedIn ad campaign
You won’t necessarily get everything right with your campaign right away. Making some changes will allow you to optimise it and improve its performance. When you first set up your ads, you might not know exactly what to do, but you can use the analytics data that you collect to make improvements.
Firstly, you might want to perfect your targeting to ensure you’re reaching the right audience. You need to know who your audience is, which is hopefully something you have had to consider for other advertising platforms. However, you can discover that things are different on LinkedIn and your ideal audience isn’t what you expected. Sometimes you might have different audiences that you want to target. When you do, creating different campaigns that allow you to target these audiences is important.
If you find that you’re not getting enough clicks or conversions, it could be because there’s something wrong with your targeting. However, the issue could lie in many other areas too, including the wording of your ad or your landing page. You should take a look at the demographics of the people who are engaging with your ads to see who is paying attention to them.
Your bidding strategy also makes a difference to how well your ads performing. If you’re being out-bid by other advertisers, you will need to adjust your bidding accordingly. Pay attention to the Campaign Quality Score, which is how LinkedIn estimates the quality and relevancy of your ad to your target audience. The better the score is, the lower you can bid to get your ad seen. When you have a high score, you can save money and your ad will be shown more often. If you have a low score, you could still struggle to get your ads seen even if you bid more for them. Creating relevant ad content for your audience will help you to improve your score.
Making sure that you choose the right bidding option is also important. CPC is often the recommended option if you want to make the most of your marketing budget. If you choose CPC, you only have to pay if people are clicking your ads. So you won’t pay anything unless people are engaging. Stick with CPC when you’re testing and experimenting to ensure you get things right without spending too much.
When looking at your click through rate, there are some actions you can take to ensure your ads perform well. If your CTR is 0.35% or lower, you probably need new ads because you’re not getting enough engagement. At between 0.35% and 1%, you’re getting good engagement. You might choose to lower your bid if you’re trying to be frugal with your budget. However, if you want to increase engagement, you could choose to raise your maximum bid. Only raise it a little at a time, instead of all at once. When you have a CTR of more than 1%, this is when you can switch to higher bidding and use a CPM bidding strategy, instead of CPC. CPM is a good choice if you’re sure your ad is going to the right audience.
Remember that if you want to get your LinkedIn ads right, testing is essential. As a marketer, you should know the value of testing things before fully committing to them. You might start with just one ad but it’s more useful to have a few that you can monitor. It will allow you to see what’s working and what isn’t so that you can concentrate your budget on the ones that work and adjust or get rid of the ones that don’t.
Improve your company page
When linking to your company page from your ads, and even when you’re not, it’s a good idea to have a well-built page. Ensuring that you have a good number of followers, you have plenty of information about the company and that you’re sharing content will be useful when you start promoting your business using paid advertisements. You can build up your page by encouraging employees to share it and using the social side of LinkedIn to get noticed.
Change one thing at a time
When you’re trying to optimise your LinkedIn Ads, don’t be too hasty. The best thing to do is to tweak one thing at a time. If you change lots of things at once, you won’t be able to tell just what it was that has had an effect if you then notice any difference in performance. Pick just one thing at a time for the best results.
How to plan your LinkedIn ad spend
It can be difficult to set a budget for your LinkedIn campaigns and know how to plan your spending. If you’re trying to decide how much to spend, keep in mind that a budget of any less than £500 a month is unlikely to do much for you. You can get high conversion rates from LinkedIn Ads, but only if you’re willing to commit at least a moderate budget to it. You might not spend much while you’re still testing, but you should set a minimum budget of £500 each month if you want to get anywhere once you’ve confirmed a few well-performing ads. If you spend less than this, you could end up just wasting your money.
Firstly, keep in mind that your daily budget could be up to 20% higher than what you set it to. This is because LinkedIn might still display your ads for a short period after your maximum budget has been reached. If you want to stick to your budget really closely, you might want to set it lower to avoid going over your maximum spend.
To work out how much you want to spend each day, consider the maximum amount that you want to spend per click and how many clicks you want to get each day. If you want to spend no more than £2 per click and you want 10 clicks each day, you’ll want a daily budget of £20 per day. To make sure that you’re being realistic with how much you bid, take a look at the Forecasted Results when choosing your ad type. LinkedIn will also show you a recommended bid when you’re setting your bid if you choose either CPC or CPM options. You can choose to have LinkedIn automate your bidding, but doing it yourself gives you better control
Remember to test some ads before you commit your whole budget to your campaign. Before you put your maximum budget into your campaign, you can turn off the ads that aren’t doing so well. LinkedIn makes it simple for you to perform A/B tests with different versions of your ads so that you can dig deeper into what is and isn’t working.
There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful B2B advertising campaign on LinkedIn. Fortunately, the platform isn’t too difficult to start using, and you can find what works for you in no time.