Most of us have figured out that LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to network with like-minded professionals. But what about using LinkedIn for marketing? More and more marketers are turning to LinkedIn to promote their products, services, and content.
But you have more power at your disposal with LinkedIn than you might realize. LinkedIn also has a powerful ads platform. So if you're using PPC to power your presence on Facebook, Twitter, or Google, consider yourself lucky -- you can add LinkedIn to that list, too. If you're new to LinkedIn ads, reference this post, which will walk you through the steps to set up your own LinkedIn ad campaign.
Setting Up Your LinkedIn Ad Campaign
Step 1: Create a New Ad Campaign
To start creating a LinkedIn ad campaign, go to https://www.linkedin.com/ads/. Once in the ads platform, select New Ad Campaign and Start New.
You will want to choose a name for your ad campaign that 's unique and relates to the campaign you're running, for easier identification if you start running multiple ad campaigns.
These are only visible internally, so the more informative the name is, the better. For example, if I was doing a test to determine what demographic targeting was the best, I may call one campaign:
"Unicorn Food Ad Test-North America -18 to 24-female"
When I look at this name, I know exactly who I am targeting, without having to click into this campaign. A bad name for this campaign, however, would be:
"Unicorn food test 1"
By calling it "Test 1" I have no way of knowing who I am targeting by just looking at the name of the campaigns.
Step 2: Select Your Language
You can now choose what language you want your ad to be in. LinkedIn will not translate your ad into other languages, but it can be written in any of the languages LinkedIn supports, including Spanish, French, and German.
Step 3: Choose Your Media Type
Next, choose between LinkedIn's two media types, which include a basic text ad, and a video ad. Keep in mind videos must be 30 seconds or less.
Step 4: Write Your Ad Copy
Now you're ready to start writing the copy for your ad! First, decide where you want people to be directed after clicking on your ad. You can send people to a specific external web page, such as a landing page for an offer on your website, or you can send them to a page on LinkedIn about your company, such as your company page or a group discussion.
Ad Headline: The headline of your ad cannot be more than 25 characters.
Ad Body: The body of a LinkedIn ad can be up to 75 characters long. The copy of your ad should be relevant both to the person viewing the ad, and the offer or page to which you're sending them. For best results, create a different ad for each buyer persona you have, and tweak the copy accordingly. For example, when promoting a book to college professors, putting the words "College Professor's Guide to …" may generate a higher clickthrough rate (CTR) than generic, untargeted copy. I mean, that copy certainly wouldn't perform as well if it was viewed by elementary school teachers, right?
Call-to-Action (CTA): Having an actionable CTA within your ad copy will also help you improve your ad's clickthrough rate. Tell people to "Download your ebook now!" or "Click now for free samples!" instead of writing compelling ad copy (great!) devoid of actionable copy that tells the reader what to do next (not so great).
Value: Incorporate your value proposition into your ad copy, making people more likely to click on your offer. If you tell them, "20% off your first purchase," or "Clearance sale ends today, shop now!" you're letting people know what specifically they can gain from clicking on your ad right now.
Don't be afraid to test our your ad copy, either. You can create up to 15 variations of your ad in each campaign, and all variations of your ads within one campaign will be seen by the same people. These variations allow you to test different images and copy within your ads to find what works best for your audience.
Step 5: Target Your Ad
Targeting who sees your ad to a very specific and relevant group can help increase conversions -- more relevant, more clicks. LinkedIn lets you target by location, company, job title, school, skils, group, gender, and age.
Location: You must select as least one location for your ads. Depending on your business, more specific targeting may be helpful. You can select a location as broad as North America, and as specific as the San Francisco Bay Area. So if you're trying to expand franchise sales in Hartford Connecticut, showing your ad to people in Los Angeles, California would be a waste of money, and you should take advantage of this targeting option. You can also tailor your ad copy to specific locations. For instance, hardware stores may do best selling snow shovels to the Northeastern part of the United States, but should create ads that sell hurricane protection to the Southeast.
Company: If your target audience works at a specific company, you're able to target them directly -- even by name. You don't need to have specific names in mind, though; LinkedIn allows you to also target companies based on categories, like Legal, Non-Profit, or Finance.
Job Title: If your product or service is best for CFOs, targeting only people that have CFO in their title will increase your conversions, and ultimately save you money. You can choose specific job titles, or chose from job functions and seniority. From the CEO of manufacturing companies, to the entry level associates at an accounting firm, you can target a specific group of people for your LinkedIn ads.
School: If you are looking to target people who have a particular educational background, you can target your ads based on schools. If you know a lot of your prospects and customers come from a certain school, try reaching out to them through LinkedIn ads.
Skills: Your target audience may have a certain skill set -- email marketing, financial planning, risk management -- think about what your target audience is good at, and try targeting people on LinkedIn with similar skills.
Group: One of LinkedIn's best attributes is the groups that like-minded professionals join to discuss industry trends and topics. If your audience is very vocal on a topic, or you're trying to gain thought leadership in a certain area, this advertising type may be a good option for you.
Gender and Age: If your audience is heavily skewed toward one gender and/or age group, target your advertising toward them.
Step 6: Choose Your Payment Method
After selecting your targeting options, you can set up the payment method that works best for you. The two options you have for any pay-per-click advertising are 1) cost per click (CPC), or 2) pay per 1,000 impressions (CPM). If you pay per click, you will be charged each time someone clicks on your ad. LinkedIn will suggest a bid range depending on your budget and the competition for your ads; the more advertisers bidding on a similar campaign, the higher your bid will need to be. This bid is the maximum you will be charged. If the current rate is lower than your max bid, you will only be charged the current rate. If you choose to pay per thousand impressions, you will be charged a certain amount each time your ad is shown to one thousand people on LinkedIn.
Deciding what form of payment to use and the best maximum bid can be tricky. When deciding between CPC and CPM, think first about your end goal. Are you trying to get as many people as possible to see your ad to help with, say, a branding campaign? If so, CPM may be the way to go. If you're trying to get more people to click on your ads to drive traffic to your website, or generate new leads, CPC may be better for you.
When thinking about an optimal maximum bid, some trial and error is needed. LinkedIn will give you a suggested bid, which is a good place to start. Then, think about when your audience is most likely online. You may want to bid higher during this time to be sure that your ads are the ones being seen. There are also certain times of day, and days of the week, that have a higher average bid based on usage and industry. Play around with your bids and see when you get the most return for your dollars spent.
Step 7: Set a Daily Budget
Set a daily budget for what works best for your company's marketing budget. Before putting a lot of money into one campaign, first test out the success of each campaign and ad variation -- you don't want to put $1,000 into an ad that ends up not resonating with your target audience.
Let's say you're the VP of Marketing at floral shop. You assume the majority of your target market is brides, so you direct your ads on LinkedIn to bridal groups. After spending thousands of dollars, you only generated 10% of the leads you were hoping for. After doing some research, you found that the people near your store and on LinkedIn are actually looking for flowers for corporate events. Wouldn't it have been nice to know that before spending a large amount of your budget on LinkedIn ads?
LinkedIn ads can be really successful for targeting niche markets. Because of their extensive targeting opportunities, almost any industry can find success on LinkedIn. Don't be afraird to test things out. If something is going well, put a larger budget toward it, and watch the leads come in!
Step 8: Decide on Lead Collection
LinkedIn now provides you with the option to collect leads on your behalf. This new feature allows people to ask for more information or to be contacted by your company via a checkbox at the end of your ad. You will be notified by email when someone has asked for more information, allowing you to promptly respond and hopefully turn those leads into customers. Keep in mind, however, that the only way you can contact them is via LinkedIn InMail; you will not receive an email address or phone number with which to contact this person.
Finally, you can choose if you want your campaign to be shown continuously, or until a certain date.
LinkedIn Ad Reporting
Now you're ready to start your first LinkedIn ad campaign! You can track your progress in the LinkedIn ads platform home screen. Here you will be able to see a graph mapping your clicks, spend, CTR, and more over set periods of time. You can also see statistics and average CPC for each campaign to make educated decisions as to how to optimize each campaign. For all PPC ads, the CTR will be a very small number. On LinkedIn, a good benchmark for a CTR is around .03% or higher.
If you have campaigns that are under-performing, there are several things you can do to optimize them. First, click into the campaign you want to look at so you can drill down into data on only one campaign. All ad variations of this campaign will appear, with separate data.
Look at the CTR of each ad. Is one variation performing better than another? If so, you may want to pause the less successful campaign. LinkedIn will begin to show your less successful campaigns less frequently, so putting more resources into your most successful ad variations and campaigns will help you reach your marketing goals.
Now that you have LinkedIn ads running that people are clicking on, it's time to determine whether they're actually driving qualified traffic to your website. That isn't something LinkedIn can tell you -- you need to do some closed-loop reporting on these campaigns to see who this traffic really "is." After someone clicks on your ad and lands on your site's web page, put the content you are offering behind a form. On this form, ask people important questions that help you qualify them as a good lead or not. This lead capture form should be connected to your customer relationship management (CRM) software so that once the lead's information is in your CRM, your sales team can act upon these leads, and hopefully turn them into customers!
After launching several ad campaigns on LinkedIn, look at the landing page form data in your CRM. Is the traffic to your website generated by LinkedIn ads qualified? Is it generating customers? If not, you may want to optimize your campaigns. For instance, if your LinkedIn ads are targeting people in companies sized 1-10, but you find that the majority of the closed deals in your company are from leads with company sized 100-200, stop targeting those smaller companies on LinkedIn! Because of awesome targeting capabilities on LinkedIn, you can target companies that have 100-200 employees, which may increase the number of closed sales from your LinkedIn ads campaign.
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