The business-to-business (B2B) advertising sector can be a hard nut to crack. With so many businesses jockeying for your attention, it can be difficult getting your message across to an interested, engaged audience. Fortunately, LinkedIn ads make this process a whole lot easier.
We often use LinkedIn to network with like-minded professionals and rub elbows with other members of our industry. However, LinkedIn’s true potential lies in its ability to showcase business’s advertisements to a highly curated, premium audience of white-collar professionals.
LinkedIn is a top-shelf inbound marketing platform and not just another social network. If maximizing your engagement and professional exposure is a priority of yours, you might want to consider adding LinkedIn to your existing pay-per-click (PPC) marketing strategy. In this quick guide, we’ll show you how.
Table of Contents
- Why LinkedIn Ads?
- Definitions: Your Pre-Campaign Checklist
- Step 1: Creating Your Campaign
- Step 2: Build Your Audience
- Step 3: Choose a Format and Placement
- Step 4: Settle on a Budget and Schedule
- Step 5: Track Your Performance
- LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Advertising
- Are LinkedIn Ads Worth It?
Why LinkedIn Ads?
Pay-to-play marketing can be a daunting game, with many social networks and advertising platforms racing to the bottom to ensure you pay a super-low cost-per-click (CPC) rate. However, this usually ends up in low engagement, few conversions, and minimal results.
Paid content promotion on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat surely have their place. However, opting to “Boost a Post” on Facebook or “Sponsor Content” on Snapchat might not get you the results you want unless you pay an arm and a leg for thousands of impressions.
Fortunately, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions offers high-value content promotion services that boast significantly higher engagement rates—although at a cost. The average Linkedin CPC is up around the $5.00-6.50 range, territory significantly higher than its Facebook or Instagram counterparts, which both sit under $1.50.
Although many still question whether LinkedIn ads are worth the costlier investment, it’s a no-brainer that having direct access to C-suite executives and senior business officers makes your PPC strategy a whole lot stronger. For that reason, you simply can’t put a price on the value that LinkedIn ads can provide your business.
A “Focused” Ad Experience
Sponsored content on LinkedIn is more popular than ever. This is due, in large part, to the fact that LinkedIn is now the #1 B2B social network platform for content distribution, with 94 percent of B2B content marketers now using LinkedIn to reach their audience.
LinkedIn holds the distinction of having the world’s only “professional feed” on its platform. In other words, LinkedIn focuses on professional content that appeals to businesspeople.
For this reason, LinkedIn is all about forging relationships between like-minded people in high tech, financial services, consumer services, and higher education industries, to name a few.
It’s no surprise, then, that 66 percent of content marketers claim that LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform for their business. By harnessing the power of LinkedIn, you too can reap the benefits of this influential professional-focused platform and watch your engagement figures soar.
Definitions: Your Pre-Campaign Checklist
You must define the parameters of your LinkedIn advertising campaign before you decide to throw your hat in the ring.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most important aspects of your pre-construction LinkedIn ad experience—that is, the crucial definitions and goals that your campaign needs to be built around.
- Content: Have you designed your photo content and copy that you want to advertise? Is this content appropriate for a professional audience? Before you get started, you need to ensure you have well-formatted visual content to promote.
- Audience: You need to define your ideal audience. Who do you want to view your ads—what is their gender, age, income status, education level? Before you launch your ad campaign, you need a well-defined target audience for your ads to reach.
- Content Type: Unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, LinkedIn allows for multiple kinds of sponsored content, including Sponsored Content Ads, Direct Sponsored Content, Text Ads, Dynamic Ads, and Lead Gen Forms.
- Conversion Goals: What would a successful LinkedIn ad campaign look like to you? What counts as a conversion, how much would you be willing to pay for one, and how would you be able to track progress?
With these categories defined you can move forward with confidence knowing that everything you need to start a successful LinkedIn PPC ad campaign is in place.
Step 1: Creating Your Campaign
Your first step is to visit the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions homepage. As one of the key components of the LinkedIn for Business suite, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions sorts through the 610M+ professionals on the LinkedIn platform to find the targeted audience you need.
Since most advertisements on LinkedIn are text ad campaigns, we’re going to go ahead and get started on a basic text advertisement for a construction worker job opening. To do this, we’re going to head over to the LinkedIn Campaign Manager and create an account.
From there, you will be tasked with creating an objective under the Objective panel. Here you can select what the goal of the campaign is—in our case, viewing our website and filling out a job application form (i.e., lead generation).
The Campaign Manager is where all new advertisement campaigns are set up.
LinkedIn heralds its “objective-based advertising experience,” which is another way of saying marketing funnel. Once you have established what the medium of the ad is (text) and the objective (website click), they will be able to design the ad in a way that is most likely to lead to this desired outcome.
Step 2: Build Your Audience
Now’s the time to let LinkedIn know who you want to view your ad. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn doesn’t care about the TV shows or political interests of your audience. Instead, LinkedIn homes in on the careers, job experience, education, and company details of your intended audience to find the perfect candidate to view the ad.
The more information you have about your desired audience the better. Before you complete this all-important step, consider asking yourself the most in-depth questions possible about your potential audience. A few common micro-targeting questions you can ask are:
- Is my demographic rural or urban-living?
- Are they considered upper or lower management?
- Do they follow Bill Gates on LinkedIn?
- Did they graduate from an Ivy League school?
- Have they worked in the same industry their whole lives?
By answering these questions LinkedIn can squeeze even more value out of your clicks by ensuring they fall into the laps of the right candidates.
The Audience panel lets you tailor your audience to a narrow segment of LinkedIn’s user base.
Ensure that you also include the location data of your intended audience at this stage. For instance, a job posting in New Jersey should be limited to the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area. You can also exclude certain candidates from viewing your ad on this panel by narrowing your geographical viewing area.
Step 3: Choose a Format and Placement
LinkedIn offers several ad formats that can help you make the impression you want. However, a plurality of ads on the LinkedIn platform is text-based rather than image-based (unlike Instagram and Facebook). For this reason, we’re going to choose “Text ad” from the selection menu, although there are several other options including:
- Single image ad
- Carousel image ad (slideshow)
- Video ad
- Follower ad
- Spotlight ad
- Job ad
- Message ad
Simple text ads are the most economical choice for LinkedIn users interested in spending the least while still reaping the benefits of high engagement relative to Facebook or Instagram ads.
These ads appear in the right column of LinkedIn user’s feeds or at the top of the page on desktop and are one-to-two lines in length.
At this stage, you will also be asked whether you would like to take part in placing your ad on the LinkedIn Audience Network. This is an opportunity to pay a premium to have your ad displayed on LinkedIn’s network of affiliate sites and pages such as Tech News and Adtalk, which LinkedIn claims to increase exposure by up to 25 percent.
Step 4: Settle on a Budget
You can’t launch a successful PPC ad campaign without first deciding how much you want to spend. Using the Budget & Schedule panel you can set a maximum amount that you want to spend within a given day. However, be warned that LinkedIn reserves the right to increase your daily spend by up to 20 percent “for a short period of time” after your budget limit is reached.
For this reason, we recommend creating your first campaigns with a conservative budget so you know LinkedIn won’t overcharge you for reaches and impressions that you can’t afford. On this panel, you will also decide when you want your ad campaign to end, or whether you want the campaign to run indefinitely.
The Budget panel lets you adjust your maximum bid and daily spend amounts.
One of the most important elements of the Budget & Schedule panel is found at the bottom. Here, you decide on the bid type—either a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid, or a maximum cost-per-thousand (CPM). The latter denotes the highest amount you would be willing to pay for 1,000 impressions on a single website.
If you want the most control over your campaign, LinkedIn suggests you choose the CPC bidding option and manually adjust it to an amount you’re comfortable spending.
Note that your campaign might not fully deliver its budget if the bid isn’t competitive enough compared to what other LinkedIn advertisers are bidding.
Step 5: Track Your Performance
After you’ve clicked the blue Save button at the bottom of the ad creation panel, your ad will be saved to the LinkedIn Campaign Manager. At this point, your ad account will be rendered active after your billing information has been verified and the start date of your campaign has elapsed.
You won’t be able to know whether your money is being put to good use unless you track the performance of your ad using the Campaign Manager. To access the Campaign Manager dashboard, simply select the LinkedIn logo menu from the top-left of the desktop interface and click “Accounts.”
At this stage, you can view all active campaigns and view charts depicting total impressions over time. Naturally, you will notice cyclical highs and lows in the impressions made over the weeks that your campaign is running. However, it’s important that you ensure your campaign is generating roughly the total engagement figures that LinkedIn estimated at the outset.
The Campaign Manager dashboard displays spending, impressions, and other KPIs over time.
Although conversion tracking is an optional function, it’s vitally important for savvy marketers who want to get the most out of their PPC campaign. If your conversion data isn’t lining up with the overall impression count on your campaign, then you should either make adjustments to the campaign or pull the plug entirely and choose a different platform.
LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Advertising
We’re often asked whether LinkedIn Ads or Facebook Advertising is the better decision for small to medium-sized business owners (SMBs) who want to get the word out about their venture. However, we don’t think this is the right question to ask since it implies that the two platforms present a binary, mutually-exclusive choice.
The truth is, they don’t. There is no forced choice that needs to be made between the more professional-facing LinkedIn advertising platform or the public-facing Facebook. Both PPC platforms offer marketers unique benefits that can’t be found anywhere else.
Below, we’re going to touch on some of the primary differences between Facebook and LinkedIn advertising. This way, you can make a more informed decision regarding which is “better” for your business’s needs, or whether you should invest in both as part of a well-rounded PPC strategy.
The sheer breadth of Facebook’s reach is reflected in its colossal user base. At present, Facebook enjoys over 2.2 billion active users, while more than quadruples LinkedIn’s community of 550 million unique accounts.
Better, however, isn’t always better. This is because Facebook Ads are generally more personal and appeal more to casual friends and family than white-collar professionals. For this reason, ads tailored toward career-oriented people and job seekers are usually better-suited for display on the LinkedIn platform rather than Facebook.
LinkedIn is a hotbed of activity for business-to-business (B2B) marketers due to the volume of activity on the platform among those on the platform. For this reason, LinkedIn provides greater value if you want to appeal to other business owners who might be interested in leveraging your product or service to improve their own.
However, e-commerce brands and those selling directly to consumers are likely better off utilizing Facebook and Instagram to reach a highly targeted audience base.
Facebook offers several advertisement options that LinkedIn doesn’t. Although photo and text-based ads are prevalent on both platforms, Facebook includes a few interactive ad formats that you can’t find anywhere else, including:
- Canvases (otherwise known as “Instant Experiences”)
- Video Playables
As of late, the Facebook Stories feature has proven popular thanks to the immersive, full-screen experience that this video format provides. For this reason, Instagram and Facebook Stories provide a unique advantage over static LinkedIn video or photo content.
In gross terms, the overall cost-per-click (CPC) of a LinkedIn advertisement ($5.61) far exceeds that of Instagram ($1.28) or Facebook ($0.51). But this doesn’t imply that LinkedIn ads are overpriced—quite the contrary, actually. Generally, LinkedIn leads have a higher conversion rate and thus provide a greater ROI than your standard fare social network PPC leads.
Although both Facebook and LinkedIn offer comprehensive analytics and KPI tracking for ad campaigns, LinkedIn offers a host of analytic options that Facebook doesn’t. Some of the more useful performance indicators that LinkedIn offers advertisers include:
- Followers acquired
- Organic vs. paid impressions
- Follower demographics
- Visitor demographics
- Your follower count vs. competing companies
Are LinkedIn Ads Worth It?
Ultimately, LinkedIn ads are worth splurging on if you want to attract top talent, grab the attention of senior professionals, or advertise in the B2B marketing space.
However, a well-designed PPC ad strategy should combine the powers of larger social platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, with the more business-oriented LinkedIn channel.
The bottom line is that LinkedIn provides advertisers with a channel to reach new audiences in ways that have never been possible before. With direct access to white collar professionals and business owners, LinkedIn advertising is worth the investment for those that need to get through to this otherwise hard-to-reach audience.