What is LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn. Ads is the advertising program of LinkedIn, the world's leading professional social network. Officially launched back in 2005, in conjunction with the introduction of the first advertising format, LinkedIn Ads for many years has been far from the richness of features of online advertising programs such as Facebook Ads, o Google Ads, also due to some structural limitations such as the absence of the possibility of tracking conversions, geographical profiling criteria that are anything but delimited (basically zones, such as the area of Venice, excluding any possible geographical profiling under Rome).
LinkedIn Ads, unlike another paid service, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, is an online advertising tool, while the second is more of a prospecting, sales, outreach tool.
Years go by and from 2019, with the introduction of the new Campaign Manager, advertising on LinkedIn is changing with the introduction of a modern campaign creation platform based on the objectives of the sales funnel (similarly to what happens in Facebook Ads, e Google Ads), the reintroduction of the ability to track conversions.
But let's go step by step and start to see in detail why and how to advertise on LinkedIn.
Advertising on Linkedin: pros, cons and how to get started
In a few lines above we mentioned how LinkedIn has not been a cutting edge online advertising program in the past and how the situation has changed since the last few years. Evolution aside, let's see what are the strengths, weaknesses and why to do advertising on LinkedIn.
Let's start with the strengths: LinkedIn boasts 15 million members in Italy, of which 1/3 are decision makers, i.e. profiles capable of making purchasing decisions within companies. Market Share aside, not equal to Facebook's (more than 30 million in Italy) but still significant, the real spearhead of LinkedIn Ads are the unique profiling options for B2B, on the basis of which I can personally say that LinkedIn Advertising is confirmed as an effective tool for B2B marketing. Lead Generation in B2B, especially for those targeting structured companies in specific sectors.
Let's move on to the sore points: partly overcome the technological backwardness compared to other platforms, remains the Achilles' heel: the costs. According to Adstage report the CPC and CPM of LinkedIn Ads are in fact from 3 to 5 times those of Google Ads:
Okay, LinkedIn Ads costs money. But:
- do we want to talk about Google Ads, Search Network, in transactional queries?
- Okay, the costs are high, but the profiling, I can personally confirm, is surgical.
- Ok, the costs are high but, as we will see in a moment LinkedIn Ads is not for everyone: and if you fall into the "Buyer Person" of the platform your ROAS (return on advertising investment), your margins will be high enough to allow for uneconomic costs per click and per display.
Linkedin advertising is for you if...
So let's look at the third point: is LinkedIn Ads right for you?
The answer is yes if:
- You work in B2B, meaning you sell to other companies;
- you have a product or service with a high margin;
- your target audience, your Buyer Persona, is a decision maker of companies in certain sectors and perhaps with other characteristics: in short, you need to precisely profile your potential customers;
- your macro conversion target is the Lead Generation.
If you answered yes to these 4 points...let's continue with our journey along LinkedIn Ads by going over how to get started with the Campaign Manager.
LinkedIn Ads Campaigns: The Campaign Manager
The Campaign Manager is where you'll manage your LinkedIn ADS campaigns.
Before we go through it, let's make a premise: to start advertising on LinkedIn you need to Create an Advertising Account and a Campaign Group.
The Campaign Group is the first step in the hierarchical structure of advertising on LinkedIn.
Like other major advertising platforms, LinkedIn Ads has a tiered structure that includes:
- at a higher level, account and campaign group
- inside, the campaigns
- below, the adverts
Let's come to the Campaign Manager: the first thing we notice is its structure that follows the traditional steps of the funnel Sales, Awareness, Consideration, Conversion:
The 3 columns group different promotional objectives, let's see them together.
The goals of LinkedIn Ads
- Brand awareness (Awareness): as you may have guessed, this is a goal aimed at increasing the views of the post in order to work on awareness, the notoriety of the product or service.
- Website visits: with this objective we enter the Consideration phase and as you may have guessed the choice of this objective helps to maximize visits to the landing page of the ad, whether it is your showcase site or (better) your Landing Page.
- Interest, translation of Engagement, is useful to increase likes, shares, comments and Follows to the Company Page on LinkedIn Ads.
- Video Views increases the display of your video ads.
- Lead Generation (Lead Generation) is the first goal of the Conversion phase and we could call it the cousin of the Facebook Advertising Lead Adswith which it shares, after clicking on the CTA of the ad, the collection of contact data through a form at least partially pre-filled, which can also be integrated, through Zapierwith your Email Marketing Automation such as SendInBlue, GetResponse, Aweber, Drip, ActiveCampaign.
- Conversions on the website, similarly to the Facebook Advertising objective of the same name, optimizes the chances of conversion, which can be created within the campaign or in the Account Assets (a section we'll see in a moment) and can be tracked thanks to the Insight Tag, a code snippet that allows you to track conversions and remarketing, thanks to the creation of Matched Audiences (which we'll talk about in the next lines).
Once you've chosen your target, LinkedIn Ads breaks down into the following sections:
- Ad Formats
- Placement and Budget
- Creation of the ad in the chosen format
Let's go through them.
Audience: LinkedIn Ads Audience
LinkedIn Ads' profiling options are the spearhead of the platform.
LinkedIn Ads allows you to first create an Audience by choosing from options of:
- profile language
At this point you have 2 roads to follow: one leads us to the selection of a Matched Audience or a Lookalike Audience, 2 types of Audience similar to the Personalized Audiences and Similar to Facebook Advertising. The other leads us to the choice of audience attributes: this is where the spearhead of LinkedIn Ads emerges.
The Audience Attributes section includes 4 major "families" of profiling options and the same number of profiling sub-options, so I refer you to my LinkedIn Ads Video Course or to the LinkedIn Ads consulting for operational advice based on followed campaigns and some advanced audience choice strategies such as Boolean AND and OR operators.
Ad Formats: ADSs in LinkedIn
After the Audience section, where you choose the most appropriate profiling options to reach your potential customers, it's time to choose the ad formats that make up the 4 major families of ad formats on LinkedIn Ads:
- Sponsored Content, which includes single image ads, carousels (form-size image ad) and video ads (video ad).
- Sponsored Messaging, with Message Ad and Conversation Ad.
- Text Ads.
- Dynamic Ads (Spotlight Ads).
In my LinkedIn Ads Video Course we see distinctive features and use cases, potential and limitations.
Placement and Budget
After a section dedicated to the choice or not of Audience Network, it's time to choose Budget, Bidding Strategies, Optimization Goals.
Let's talk about the Budget with some important points:
- you can choose between daily budget, total budget or both;
- you have a minimum daily budget of 10 euros per campaign.
Pay attention to the last point: on LinkedIn Ads you cannot spend less than 10 euros per day per campaign, which means that the minimum budget of an advertising campaign on LinkedIn Ads will be 300 euros.
In LinkedIn Ads Video Course we are going to see in the platform, minimum budget, choice between daily, total and daily and total budget, bidding strategies and optimization goals also depending on the different objectives, the 3 bidding strategies and Audience Network.
Creation of the ad in the chosen format
The next screen of the Campaign Manager allows you to create the ad, in the format you have chosen previously: in the LinkedIn Ads Video Course I dedicate 16 videos inside each of the ad formats, going to see how to create an ad with Single Image Ad, Form Format Ad (carousel), Video Ad, Message Format Ad, Conversation Ad, Text Ad and Spotlight Ad, seeing live features, potentialities, limitations, use cases, best practices and mistakes to avoid.
LinkedIn Ads Campaign Yield and KPIs
Once your campaign is up and running (ah, review times aren't exactly fast and Friday afternoon...it's on to Monday!), impressions, clicks and conversions will grow over the next few days: LinkedIn Ads, in the menu item related to. Yield Campaign allows us to analyze the various KPIs (performance indicators) of the campaign.
Thanks to the analysis of real campaigns, in LinkedIn Ads Course I'll show you the Columns that LinkedIn Ads provides to evaluate the performance of a campaign, which ones to take into consideration according to the chosen promotional objective, what to expect in terms of CTR, CPC, quantity and cost per conversion.
Account Assets and Demographics
The functionality of LinkedIn Ads does not end with the creation of the campaign: this section, which I will review in the LinkedIn Ads course, includes a few sections including:
- Insights Tag: this is a code snippet, similar to the Facebook Pixel, which can be implemented on the site thanks to Google Tag Manager and which allows you to track conversions and create Matched Audiences.
- Conversions and Forms for contact acquisition: allow you to set and edit conversions and forms respectively of the Contact Generation objective created during the Campaign.
- Matched Audiences: Matched Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are the cousins of Facebook Ads' Custom Audiences and Similar Audiences and like the latter are created by an Audience that has engaged on the site or Company Page, by uploding lists and in other ways, including the 2 we see below.
Retargeting on LinkedIn ADS
Similar to Google ADS and Facebook Advertising, on LinkedIn ADS you can also create Audiences, useful for retargeting.
Thanks to retargeting you can re-engage sets of users who have interacted in some way towards your product or service with an ad in order to advance them in the sales funnel (for example by making them perform a more significant action) or simply bring them back into the Landing Page in case they left without performing the desired conversion initiative, such as filling out the form in the case of Lead Generation.
More specifically, retargeting on LinkedIn ADS is divided into 3 macro sets: Company (or Account) Targeting, Contact Targeting, Retargeting. Let's see them together:
- Company (or Account) Targeting: allows you to profile an imported LinkedIn list.
- Contact Targeting: allows you to profile an imported LinkedIn contact list.
- Retargeting: allows you to profile who has interacted with your product or service, for example:
- by visiting your site (it requires, as we will see, the installation of the Insight Tag, better if through Google Tag Manager;
- watching a certain percentage of your video (e.g. he watched at least 25% of it);
- the opening of the Lead Gen Forms advertising target form;
- who interacted with the Company Pages;
- the recipients of an event.
Retargeting in Facebook ADS, Google ADS, LinkedIn ADS
As you may have noticed, many of these options find a counterpart in Facebook Advertising and partly in Google ADS, such as retargeting of those who have visited the website, the ability to profile by lists of email addresses (e.g. customers or prospects), the ability to profile those who have interacted with a Page, with videos in an ad, with the promotional goal form Lead Gen Forms (the "cousin" of the Lead ADS).
What differentiates retargeting on LinkedIn ADS are a number of conditions and innovations:
- the first is a precondition: to do retargeting you must have installed the Insight Tag, which works in a similar way to the Facebook Pixel;
- the second is in the numbers: you need at least 300 cookies in order to create an audience, whether they are contacts you own or contacts you profile from scratch, although the recommended number is at least 1000;
- The third is a unique new feature - profiling for people who work in certain (company) names.
Matched Audience and Lookalike Audience
But if for example on Facebook Advertising we find Custom Audiences, here we find Matched Audiences, while similar is the term for the creation of Lookalike Audiences from previously created Audiences: Lookalike Audiences.
Lookalike Audiences "combine the traits of your ideal customer with our rich member and company data to help you reach new professional audience segments similar to your existing customers, website visitors and target accounts."
Within the Account Asset / Matched Audience section you can:
- Manage your audience in one place
- Create, edit, or delete audience segments
- Share your audience in your advertising accounts
Here's a video that gives an overview of Matched Audiences:
Retargeting Video Views and Lead Gen Forms
It is also recent news that a new feature has been implemented within LinkedIn ADS.
These are a couple of features that add to the retargeting capabilities on the platform, namely engagement-based retargeting on Video ADSs and Lead Gen Forms.
If you are familiar with Facebook Advertising you will have guessed what we are talking about: these are in fact two features mirroring the Personalized Audiences created on the basis of video viewing time and the opening and/or sending of the Lead ADS form, the Contact Generation objective of Facebook Advertising.
As Abhishek Shrivastava, Senior Director of product at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, detailed, advertisers on the platform can now create ads that target those who watched the 25, 50, 75 or 100% of the sponsored video and those who opened or submitted the Lead Gen Form.
These 2 features fit well into the LinkedIn ADS ecosystem, a specifically B2B platform oriented to businesses with long and complex purchasing processes, where it is necessary to approach the potential customer along the different touchpoints of the buying process.
If you want to learn more about LinkedIn Ads or optimize your B2B lead generation initiatives with LinkedIn's advertising program I refer you to my LinkedIn Ads Video Course or you can contact me for a LinkedIn Ads consulting.