If you have a profile on LinkedIn, you might have received a $50 coupon code recently (I did) to get you started with LinkedIn Ads. Don’t delete that email just yet, LinkedIn might be just the ad platform you’ve been looking for.
Here’s what I love about LinkedIn: It is all about business. While Adwords, Facebook Ads, and countless other ad platforms all have their benefits, none target business professionals specifically. When a user is browsing LinkedIn, you can be pretty sure they aren’t also checking to see if their 2nd cousin in Ohio has posted new pictures of their cat drinking from the faucet. As a rule, LinkedIn activity is strictly business and networking. For those that still desperately want to see a cat drink from a faucet, see image to the left. Cute huh? Ok, let’s move on.
LinkedIn reached 150 million users and over 1 million groups as of March 2012. While that number is simply staggering in its own right, what is truly amazing is how you targeted you can be when building your ad campaign. It is possible to target a specific industry, user group, or even an individual. Your ad can be linked to a website page, your LinkedIn profile or company page, or any other URL you specify. The only question now is how clever you will be at leveraging LinkedIn’s targeting features.
How to Set Up a LinkedIn Ad Campaign
1. Powerful Copy & Compelling Images
LinkedIn ads are short and sweet. You get just 25 characters for your headline, and 75 characters for your message. Don’t be fooled – shorter isn’t easier, so do your best to create a compelling message. Remember CopyBloggers 4 U’s:
Useful. Your offer should solve a problem.
Urgency. Convey a sense of urgency with your ad copy.
Unique. What is your unique selling proposition?
Ultra-specific. Make sure your audience know exactly what action you want them to take. You can use phrases like “Get a free quote”, download your copy now”, “sign up”, or join our group”, etc.
LinkedIn Ads allow you to include a 50x50px image. It can be your own photo, or something else relevant to your ad copy. Remember that people are visual creatures and don’t overlook the importance of the image.
Make sure your ad is compliant with LinkedIn Advertising Guidelines and that you can deliver on your promise. Avoid using any tricky or misleading tactics.
2. How to Split Test Your Ads
We’ve always said that you should run three variation for each ad. LinkedIn actually allows you to create up to 15 variations for each ad, but really this is just too hard to manage and not necessary. Not only that, you don’t want your ads competing against each other resulting in low CTR’s or click-through-rates. What you may not know is that LinkedIn will actually deactivate your ads if they have a CTR of under 0.025%, unlike Adwords and Facebook where poorly performing ad campaigns can continue to run indefinitely.
As you start to gather data in your ad campaign manager, take note of which ads are getting the most clicks and pause the ones that aren’t performing. LinkedIn will automatically display the better converting ad for you, but don’t let your stinkers continue to run. As your campaigns mature, take note of what factors have contributed to your best performing ads.
3. Select a Target URL for Your Ad
You can direct users to any URL of your choosing. You can choose a page on your website (create one that is relevant if you don’t already have), a social media account you control, or your LinkedIn profile, group, or company page. The last option (company page) presents an interesting opportunity. LinkedIn has been slowly adding features to company pages, and it’s a safe bet to assume that in the near future company pages will offer way more functionality. Wherever you send your users, be sure that the landing page delivers on the promise you just made in your ad. Getting people to your desired destination is great, but converting them into emails and phone calls is the hard part.
4. Choosing Your Target Audience
LinkedIn Ads offer some exciting targeting options, allowing you to drill down and be ultra-specific with who you are trying to reach. It makes sense to target by industry, job function, or groups, but you can also target specific companies or even an individual. Imagine you are angling for a job with Nestlé USA. You could run a campaign to target the CEO Brad Alford, or perhaps a brand manager for one of their companies like Wonka or Lean Cuisine; can’t do that with Facebook or Google ads.
Some businesses just don’t lend themselves to social media. For example, your mobile knife sharpening business isn’t going to go viral on YouTube and no one is going to join your FaceBook group, but LinkedIn Ads can be extremely powerful for B2B marketing. Just set up a campaign to target restaurant owners, chefs, and maybe even serial killers and you’ll get direct access to the people that need your service most.
5. Setting Your Daily Budget and Cost-Per-Click
LinkedIn allows budgets as low as $50/day. When you are setting up your campaign you will be able to set your daily budget as well as your bid price. LinkedIn displays ads with varying rates throughout the day depending on when users are most active. For example, 50% of your ad spend may happen during the first half of the day, 25% in the afternoon, and the other 25% at night. When you reach the max set in your daily budget, your ads will stop being displayed. If you aren’t getting enough impressions (number of times your ad is displayed per day) try raising your daily budget.
Setting your bid price is the other factor which will determine how much your ad gets displayed. Essentially, every time a targeted page is displayed, your ad will be in a bidding war with other advertisers also targeting your same audience. LinkedIn will suggest a bid price for you, try it for a couple days and then play with raising it or lowering it depending on your goals. Obviously a higher bid is going to prevail more often and get more exposure.
If you’re new to PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, it’s a good idea to set an end date for your ad campaign in case you forget to monitor it regularly. This will help you avoid adding an extra $700 on your credit card before your remember to check in.
LinkedIn Ads New Lead Capture Feature
LinkedIn does have one potentially cool (albeit untested) feature that you should consider. When you set up your campaign, you have the option to set up a lead capture on your landing page. Basically, if you say yes, LinkedIn will put a frame at the top of your website or LinkedIn page where the user can tick a box to allow you to contact them directly.
Monitoring Your LinkedIn Ad Campaign
Make sure you create a reminder for yourself to check your campaign every day until you get an idea of your average ad spend. I’m guilty of letting campaigns run for days without checking from time to time, but only after I have a really good idea of how they perform, my average monthly ad spend, and after having fine tuned my ad copy. There are a few metrics to watch before you can take a breather from monitoring your ads.
CTR (click through rate): Good ads will have a higher CTR than 0.025% according to LinkedIn, in fact anything less than that and you ad won’t be displayed. You’ll want to watch your CTR daily for the first while and adjust ad copy and images until you get everything performing well. A common mistake is to target to wide an audience, resulting in a poor CTR. Narrow your audience and you’ll do better.
Tracking Leads: How many people completed the process by emailing or calling? It is impossible for you to set a marketing budget if you don’t track leads from your ad campaigns. If you aren’t getting enough calls or emails, you need to adjust or improve your landing page. Make sure your landing page delivers on the promise made in your ad. Increasing your visits-to-leads ratio will allow you to raise your bids and daily budget.