When we set out to build an ads tool inside HubSpot, there were some very specific things we wanted to accomplish. Most notably, our customers told us it’s to difficult and time consuming to create good ads that support a campaign. You said having to learn complicated software, guess at measuring success and jump between ads and HubSpot made ads a pain.

As announced at #INBOUND15, you can now sign up for a free trial of our new Ads Add-On. With Ads active inside of the HubSpot marketing tools, you’ll be able to create, measure and optimize ad campaigns easier and faster than ever before. Read this post before you get started know what to do once you activate your trial and start using the Ads Add-On. Here's what it looks like:

Getting Started

It’s critical to nail down your strategy before you get started with ads. There is a lot to consider before you move budget to ads, but when you’re ready to go, here’s a few things to take note of.

  1. As of today, we’re partnering with LinkedIn and Google. For the time being, our AdWords integration is in a private beta but you can let your CSM know if you’d like to request access, or get started under Settings > Products & Add-ons.
  2. Our LinkedIn integration only integrates with the Sponsored Updates ad unit. Sponsored Updates are LinkedIn’s native advertising solution. We chose this ad unit to start with because the ad simply amplifies content. These ads appear within the LinkedIn feed on the homepage of members who fit the targeting criteria set up by the advertiser. They reach beyond the current followers of a Company Page and are seen by targeted members across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. They are a great solution to drive leads by extending the reach of already successful content offers.
  3. There’s value in awareness ads on LinkedIn, but we recommend you use ads when you want to drive leads. This will help you get the highest return from your ads. We also want you to get some tangible results early so you can help justify your ad spend. We recommend you start by identifying multiple pieces of content that have have recently been effective at driving leads. This content should be part of an already established inbound campaign, meaning you have already created social posts, blog posts, a landing page and other assets in association with the content.
  4. Before you get started, it’s also important to set clear goals and guidelines for the campaign. How much budget will you dedicate towards ads? How long will the campaign run? Are you trying to build awareness, drive leads or something else? Answering these questions will help you determine success in using ads.

Creating Campaigns

Here's a step-by-step walkthrough of creating your first ads campaign in our Ads Add-on.

If you've never used LinkedIn ads before - you'll need to set up an account in the LinkedIn Campaign Manager. 

  1. Log in to Campaign Manager.
  2. Select the type of ad you want to run.
  3. Type in a name for your account and select a currency.
    • If you already have a Company or Showcase Page, type in the name or URL, select your page, and click Next
  4. Click the gear icon to navigate to your account settings. 
  5. Enter your billing information to activate your LinkedIn Ads account.

You're now setup to run LinkedIn ads - It's time to get started inside HubSpot. 

Once inside HubSpot:

  1. In Social Inbox re-authorize your LinkedIn properties. 
  2. From Reports, navigate to Paid Campaigns in the left-hand menu on the Ads dashboard.
  3. Follow the steps in the campaign creation flow.
  4. In the upper right-hand corner, click on “Create LinkedIn Campaign.”
  5. Create a LinkedIn Ad Campaign Name.
  6. Select the Company page that your Ad Campaign will publish from.
  7. Select a language preference.

PRO TIP: You may want to use a naming convention that is easy to search. For example, “Content Offer Name-Month/Date."

Content 

When creating an Ad campaign, it’s best to use content that has already performed well. That way, you can build off of the success of that piece and promote it to new prospects.

 

If you would like to create a new piece of content, click on the button labeled “Create Direct Sponsored Content.” Direct Sponsored Content is best used to promote new content without it showing on your company page. To drive the most leads, use a content offer landing page as the destination from the ad. (It may take a second to appear in your direct content tab). For conversion tracking to work, the destination of the ad must have the HubSpot cookie. 

PRO TIP: Create multiple direct sponsored update ads during this stage. We recommend at least four. This will allow you A/B test the ads and see which content drives the most conversions. You can then optimize for the content that performed the best by moving budget and creating an organic LinkedIn Post with the content. 

Audience

Ads are great because they give you access to a big new group of potential customers. They also provide very sophisticated ways to target the right people inside that big group. It’s critical to spend time targeting the right customers. The more targeted your ads, the more relevant the message to the individual viewing it.

Targeting on LinkedIn is a dream for B2B marketers. With LinkedIn, you can easily reach the right industry, company and people inside of an organization with your message. When you have an offer that’s working especially well for one of your buyer personas, use LinkedIn to amplify that offer to more of the same people who you normally wouldn’t reach. The audience that you choose for your campaign should be based on the Buyer Persona(s) that your Ad is expected to impact.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing an audience for your ads campaign: 

  1. Location: Target your most valuable regions or areas that will have the most impact. This can greatly increase or reduce your audience size. So, be specific.
  2. Companies: Start by excluding companies you don’t want to advertise to, such as your own or competitors. Here, you can also choose by category (targeting an entire industry) or specific companies. If you use industry targeting, narrow things down by adjusting the size of the business you want to reach.
  3. Job Title: Who inside the organizations you're targeting do you want to reach? It pays to be specific. Also, you can reduce your CPC by excluding job titles of people you don’t want to reach. (More on CPC in a minute!)
  4. Skills: This can be a creative way to target customers with specific skills listed on LinkedIn. Use this tactic sparingly as to not overtarget.
  5. Groups: Are you customer’s part of certain groups or clubs? Use your LinkedIn Groups to target groups.

PRO TIP: You want a target audience higher than 50k people, but try not to exceed 300k. If your audience is below 300k, it’s important to change ad content weekly to maintain engagement. 

Bidding

Before you select your bidding method, chose a goal for the campaign. If your goal is to drive leads, select Pay for Clicks (CPC). You will pay each time that someone clicks on your ad. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, select Pay for Impressions (CPM). You will pay for every 1,000 people who view your ad.   

Setting a bidSet your bid amount. If you have selected to pay for clicks, your bid amount will be the maximum cost of each person who clicks on your piece of content. For example: if your bid amount is $5.22, each person who clicks on your ad will cost you no more than $5.22, but could cost less. If you have selected to pay for impressions, your bid amount is the amount that you are willing to pay for 1,000 impressions. So, if you win the bid, this becomes the cost for 1,000 impressions.

PRO TIP:  Bid at the high end or above the suggested bid range. Bidding below the suggested range does not result in low CPCs, but rather low performance and delivery. For example, if the current suggested range is $6 - $9.50, consider bidding $8 - $11 when launching the campaign. Please note this does not mean $8 - $11 is paid for every click, as bids function as a ceiling of what you are willing to pay.

Budget

When setting a budget, you'll want to decide on what percentage of your marketing budget you want to dedicate towards ads. A good place to start is 10% of a campaign budget. So if you have $10,000 in promotional budget for a big campaign, dedicate $1,000 to ads. 

First, decide your timeline. How long do you want to run ads? Two to four weeks is often a good timeline to support one campaign. When you know your timeline and your budget, divide your budget by the number of days you want the campaign to run. Set this as your daily budget. Make sure also to set an end date for your campaign. 

PRO TIP: Set a minimum daily budget of $200 per campaign to generate statistically relevant data and ensure content is available when the audience visits. 

Congratulations! You've launched your first ads campaign via HubSpot. You're not quite done yet though: it's up to you to follow your campaign and make it better along the way.

Optimizing for Conversions 

Once you launch your ads, you need to capture some quality data before optimizing. If your campaign has ran for a week or has garnered at least 5k impressions, you should have enough data to get started. You can find all the data you need by navigating to Paid Campaigns in the left-hand menu, and clicking on the ad campaigns you're trying to optimze. 

Here's a few things to take note of when it's time to optimize your campaign:

  1. As a first step, always optimize for conversions. Which ad or targeting method has driven the most conversions? If you have an ad that’s significantly better at generating leads or customers after a week, stop running your other ads and move the budget to that ad. Consider building similar variations of that high-performing ad. Over time, if the same people keep seeing the same ad or offer, they may start to ignore it. Keep your ads fresh by swapping out the content, offer or audience at least once a week.
  2. If you aren’t getting conversions after a week, don't panic. You may want to tweak your strategy, however. You can also use clicks and click-through rate (CTR) to optimize your ads. This ratio of how often someone who sees your ad divided by the people who view and click is a strong signal of a good ad.
  3. Overall, don’t be afraid to adjust your ads after they launch. No need to adjust your ads everyday, but make changes based on data and consider your ads a continual work-in-progress.

Welcome to HubSpot Ads! We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Ads Add-on Trial

Originally published Sep 11, 2015 2:30:00 PM, updated December 01 2017