LinkedIn Ads Case Study: +200% Meetings with Native Ads

by | Dec 1, 2022

LinkedIn Ads are the foundation of most B2B lead generation programs.  Heck, 71% of B2B marketers used Linked Ads in their strategy, and 79% say it’s a good source of leads.

But anyone that has run a LinkedIn Ads campaign knows it’s no cakewalk.  Cost-per-clicks can easily exceed $20-$40 and turning those pricey clicks into real meetings takes a well-planned and executed funnel.

I knew these struggles first handle through our client work but felt it even more directly in our own agency’s LinkedIn Ads for customer acquisition.

We spend thousands on LinkedIn Ads every month, so I constantly look for ways to increase scale and improve efficiencies.

After reading Sell Like Crazy (highly recommended) I picked up a new strategy to focus on more native ad design and offers.  And don’t worry; I’ll share a summary of those strategies below.

But the outcome of this approach to ads has been massive.  Our leads and meeting bookings surged within days of the change, while cost-per-lead and meeting plummeted.

In this case study post, I’ll share how I did it and how you can too.

How Native Ads Work

Let’s define “native ads”

Native Advertising: “paid advertising content on a website or social media feed that is independently produced by the advertiser but seamlessly integrated into the core content of the site or feed, conforming to its design and format” –

So if you’re asking, “What are native ads on LinkedIn?” these are the same Sponsored Posts or Lead Form Ads typically run on LinkedIn. Instead of looking like ads with a polished layout and a big call-to-action button, they look like engaging, audience-relevant articles.

Here is an example:

And you can see how much stronger the native ad performed in comparison.  See more of our native ad concepts here.

A point to note is that the standard ad design was pushing meetings, while the native ad design was pushing to an ebook and resource bundle download.

However, the content download funnel took the user to a “thank you” page that offers a meeting scheduler, and then the user is enrolled on a value-adding 12-step email sequence that provides more reasons to book the meeting.

You can sign up to go through the funnel on your own here to see how it works.

Another aspect of the content offer was Bonus Resources.  So even if the ebook wasn’t enough, there were a reporting dashboard, audit template, and channel cheat sheet thrown into the offer.  Everyone loves a bonus!

After the dust settled and users worked their way through the lead funnel, we saw a 200% increase in meeting bookings after a month, with the same ad spend.  We also have a new list of leads that can be nurtured and engaged over time to book meetings later.

Keys to Effective Native Ads

The core concept of why native ads are more effective is that users don’t go “ad blind” in the first second.  The primary job of the ad is to “sell the click”, not the conversion.  This gets the user to stop and pay attention to the offer, which can then sell the conversion.

LinkedIn Native Ad Example

Native Advertising Example on LinkedIn 

What Works

  • Understand your audience’s biggest challenge, then create a resource that gets them closer to addressing it
  • Ensure the offer is compelling enough to get their attention and give up their email address.  A full ebook and bonus resources felt appropriate to me and something I’d give up my email to get.
  • Lead Form Ads are a must for low-friction form fills.
  • Testing at least 5 ad designs as the performance vary wildly.  Memes and news article cover photo-type designs worked best for my audience.
  • Don’t test too much at once.  Do not simultaneously test different audiences or copy while testing the ad graphics.
  • Set up your funnel so there is a meeting booking “upsell” on the thank you page and an email nurture drip.
  • Retargeting these engaged users with a deeper funnel offer.

What Doesn’t Work

  • My least effective ad design included a picture of the ebook.  This makes it look like an ad, not an article.
  • Simply generating content download leads then not working them.  The email address alone isn’t worth anything unless you can get them to the next step of the funnel.
  • Immediate sales outreach came on too strong and resulted in some immediate unsubscribes.  Let the email drip do its work before a salesperson reaches out.
  • LinkedIn Text Ads – they get too few clicks to make a difference.

Audience Targeting: Going to the Top

Another change I made was targeting the C-suite (eg, CEO, CMO, Partner, Founder)

Historically I had targeted more Manager and Director level roles, or in other words, the “end user” of the agency.

My hunch was that if anyone understands the business challenges and needs, and is in a position to make a decision, then it’s the C-suite.  Thinking back to my time as a Manager or Director, I was not frequently thinking about or in a position to lead the change to a new agency or vendor.  As a founder, I frequently do, though.

Another layer of targeting I added was users who had recently changed jobs or been promoted.  These people are looking for change and expansion.

I also like targeting based on relevant Member Interests.  See a LinkedIn campaign manager screenshot below of my audience.

LinkedIn Ads Audience Targeting for Member Interests

My hunch has proven correct.  The overall response rate from this audience has been much higher for these reasons.  And typically, the C-suite will enter our lead funnel and then bring in the Manager or Director during the sales process.

LinkedIn Ads Case Study: Campaign Performance Results

Here are the performance highlights:

  • 4X higher CTR
  • +78% lower cost-per-lead
  • +40% lower cost-per-meeting
  • +200% meetings booked

So to wrap it up, our early testing of this concept has proven much more effective, and we’re now increasing our investment in LinkedIn Ads.

I do want to mention this approach doesn’t make sense for everyone.

For established brands, it’s harder to get away with (eg Apple, McDonalds). But for early stage and especially B2B where information-based selling works, it’s a great model.

If you’re looking for help with lead generation through LinkedIn Ads, book a growth planning session with an Upgrow strategist today.

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Ryder Meehan

Ryder has been on a 16-year journey to master digital marketing from every aspect. His resume includes Razorfish, Slighshot, Fossil, Samsung Mobile and Tatcha before launching Upgrow. Ryder is the acting CEO, heading business development and account services. He has been featured as a digital marketing leader on Forbes, PRNews,, Workamajig, Databox, Fit Small Biz and other outlets.

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