Why LinkedIn Ads are My #1 B2B Marketing Channel Pick for 2019
If you asked me this time last year my outlook on the LinkedIn Advertising platform I would have told you it was over priced, limited in volume and conversion rates were too low. A year later and I couldn't feel more differently about their PPC platform.
While Facebook has been plague by privacy issues resulting in a decrease in user engagement and reduction in advertiser targeting options, and Twitter has an ever-increasing fake accounts and fraudulent clicks issue, LinkedIn just keeps getting better. Google Ads remain the PPC king for B2C but LinkedIn, in my opinion, is the best platform now for B2B lead generation.
By now most brands have created a LinkedIn company page or showcase page, but I feel like a lot of the B2B digital marketing community still isn't doing much on LinkedIn so for those completely new to their advertising platform I'll start with a little overview.
Like other social media ad platforms, LinkedIn offers sponsored content ads which appear in the news feed, text ads, and sponsored InMail which goes to the users LinkedIn inbox.
Similar to Facebook Ads, LinkedIn allows advertisers to set audience targeting options like job title, company size, company name, job function, education, skills, industry, location and more. LinkedIn ads can also be used to target custom audiences which the advertiser uploads as a spreadsheet file with a list of prospect emails, and they also offer retargeting by placing their pixel.
Bidding an be set as a CPC or a CPM. LinkedIn will provide a recommended bid to start based on competitors with your similar targeting. The more narrow and competitive your targeting, the higher the bid you'll need to reach them.
How LinkedIn Got Better in 2018
Until recently, LinkedIn felt like it has 2 real users. First, it was your online resume and place to try to find your next job. Second, it was a place sales people could find and reach potential clients. So if you weren't looking for a new job or trying to sell, you weren't logging in very often.
So when LinkedIn introduced their news feed a few years ago, it was the begging of a new era for them where professionals would have a reason to login on a recurring basis. The addition of ProFinder, their tool for post work needed requests and to apply for gigs, further increased the usefulness of LinkedIn. Other additions like their acquisition of Lynda for online training, global LinkedIn Member expansion and increased use of business leaders putting out content exploded the platform's adoption and engagement.
Need more proof? Check out some of their impressive user growth and usage stats.
The social network grew but their ad campaigns also gained new features. Most significantly custom audiences, retargeting and new ad styles like carousel, video ads and lead ads. Campaign Manager has surpassed other pay-per-click platforms as the place every B2B brand needs to have a daily budget set aside.
8 Strategies for LinkedIn Ads in 2019
- Target Your Sales Prospect List Before Outreach. The best thing about LinkedIn is the custom audience targeting and how well B2B marketing connects with sales outreach. My favorite strategy is to start with a list of target prospects, but before you or your sales team begins email or phone outreach, target the audience with a LinkedIn campaign. The campaign is both for lead generation but also just to increase awareness before outreach. This makes your cold outreach a lot warmer as the prospect will have been seeing your brand and messages in their feed and in text ads. After a week or two of ads, start your sales outreach, continue to run the ads during the outreach as well. Doing this is ideal if you're selling a high ticket product or service, at least $1,000 LTV. LinkedIn ads are still expensive (generally $5 to $50 CPC) so being able to bake in a good margin is necessary. This also allows you to invest heavily to reach a well-defined audience list that may be small but is highly qualified.
- Themed Audience, Ad, and Landing Page. Creating themed experiences for a target audience makes your campaign much more relevant to them. As an example, when we run ads for our agency, we target a B2B software audience (based on job title and company) then serve an ad all about B2B software and how we can help drive MQL's, then point to a landing page also about B2B software. Be sure to have multiple ad variations and create a consistent message based on the audience so the ad and landing page are specific to them.
- Prioritize Text Ads. LinkedIn text ads should make up most of your budget and go light on sponsored content and sponsored InMail. The cost-per-click on text ads is much lower and even though the click through rate will also be low, it still works out to a better ROI.
- Retageting. It should be a part of every program as well. Sponsored content ads are better for retargeting since they have a higher impact and retargeting is a hot prospect.In both use cases your ad copy, offer and landing page will play a huge role.
- Use a Top of Funnel Offer. If you're selling a high consideration B2B product or service, start with an offer like an ebook, industry report, or webinar - but make sure it is email-gated to build your list. Retarget users deeper in the funnel with a deeper offer like a sales meeting or demo.
- Link Your Sponsored Content Images. One big mistake I see a lot of advertisers make with their sponsored content ads is to set the image to pop out as a lightbox instead of clicking through. Make sure your image is a link to the landing page. The image in the sponsored content ad should have your primary message in it and a big logo if you're using it to warm prospects to increase brand awareness.
- Text Ads Should Raise a Question. Create some intrigue that the user needs to click to learn more. As an example "Download XYZ Report to See the #1 Most Hacked Open Source Software" would be a good text ad for an IT security brand using the targeting criteria for Chief Security Officer as an audience.
- Used LinkedIn Conversion Tracking. This will allow you to better optimize so targeting reaches the right people and you serve more of your best ads.
So what did I miss? Tell us in the comments below. Need support with your LinkedIn advertising program? Learn more about Upgrow managed LinkedIn Ads services.