Discover how B2B marketers like yourself can leverage LinkedIn as a means for effective marketing and advertising by way of lessons learned from one marketers’ failures and successes.
Like many marketers, you may be feeling the pinch from the stream of algorithm updates Google implemented in 2019 and the early part of 2020. And if you’re like me, sometimes it feels as though all of the time you spent conducting research, modifying keyword plans and adjusting advertising strategies is time wasted. And while this obviously isn’t true, considering Google is still the largest and most popular advertising platform, with more than 3.5 billion searches performed each day, it does have its flaws. Most notably, the targeting is severely limited and in the world of B2B marketing, it’s all about getting in front of the right people in the right stage of their buying journey.
One platform that’s allowed us to do that extremely well is LinkedIn. And although LinkedIn too has its flaws, understanding the power behind it and how to work its vast capabilities has made LinkedIn the winner in my eyes when it comes to B2B marketing channels. But trust me—this distinction didn’t come to me overnight. After tried and true attempts to get various campaigns right, they somehow never reached their potential. Determining why and how to course correct is what has led to some of today’s successes. Here are 4 lessons I’ve learned in my battle with from marketing on LinkedIn:
- Clear, Personalized Content Wins
- Tailor Your Targeting
- Campaign Objective and Ad Format Matter
- Optimize and Test Often
#1 – CLEAR, PERSONALIZED CONTENT WINS
One thing LinkedIn really makes you work hard at is determining what you want to say and how best to say it. There are very specific character count limitations across the various ad types, which means when developing copy for these ads, you need your message to be clear and compelling. If it’s too vague, you’ll likely push users away from engaging with your content, which can negatively affect overall performance. And to ensure your message resonates well with your intended audience, it’s always best to make your ad copy as personalized as possible.
For example, if you’re a firm that offers 4 diversified services and are looking to engage potential customers on each, one holistic message may not work. One reason is the audience for each service is likely different (something we’ll get into in a bit), but another may be the way they want to engage and talk about your services is different. In my work with private equity (PE) professionals, I’ve learned that they are a no-nonsense group. If you want to engage with them, you need to get straight to the point with your message and should have clear calls-to-actions (CTAs) if you want a follow-on conversation. If those elements aren’t taken into account, your chances of wooing them or even having them attempt to re-engage with you is slim.
So, take note. Mindful, direct and consistent messaging is the key to not only increased interaction and engagement, but perceived customer value.
#2 – TAILOR YOUR TARGETING
One of the best parts of marketing through a platform like LinkedIn is the ability to narrowly define who it is you want to reach. Narrowing an audience solely based on demographics and geography is a thing of the past. With LinkedIn, you also have the option of targeting by, but not limited to:
- Company Name
- Company Size
- Company Industry
- Job Title
- Job Function
- Job Seniority
The more targeted you can get, the better. Yes, depending on your campaign objective, which we’ll talk more about later, you may not reach as many people or get as many asset downloads, but the payoff is you’re getting in front of the right people. And considering LinkedIn is 227% more effective for lead generation than other social networks of its kind (at least according to Hubspot), the narrower the audience, the greater your potential ROI.
#3 – CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVE AND AD FORMAT MATTER
Before embarking on set-up of any sort of campaign, you must first ask yourself what it is you hope to achieve as it’s running and/or when it concludes. Are you looking to simply raise awareness of your brand? Or, are you hoping to drive more traffic to your website? Maybe the end all be all is lead generation? Knowing the end game is not only critical to driving your business forward but allowing you to better achieve these goals using the platform. Once you know WHAT it is you want to achieve, LinkedIn can better suggest HOW to achieve it. That takes us to ad format.
Depending on your objective, LinkedIn allows you to select from a variety of ad types to best suit your objective. You can stick to one format per campaign, however, it’s best to utilize several of them, especially when launching your first campaign. It’ll help determine if a particular type of content is more appealing to your audience than another. Ad formats include:
- Single Image Ads appear directly in the user’s news feed and act as Sponsored Content
- Carousels Ads work the same way as Single Image Ads, but the marketer is given the option to utilize 2 or more images
- Message Ads are delivered directly to your target audience’s inbox
- Text Ads operate in a similar fashion to pay-per-click (PPC) ads and appear in the sidebar of the LinkedIn site
- Video Ads appear in the user’s news feed, but a video is used in place of an image
- Follower Ads are personalized, using profile data, to promote a Company page on the user’s desktop
- Spotlight Ads are personalized, using profile data, to promote an offering on the user’s desktop
- Job Ads are personalized, using profile data, to promote a job posting on the user’s desktop
Say your primary goal is to create awareness of your brand, you may want to consider running text ads that drive to the homepage of your site while also utilizing a video ad to promote your awesome brand video. If the goal is lead generation, you could gate an asset within the LinkedIn platform using a single image ad with a lead gen form to do so, but also use a message ad to send the asset directly to a group of targeted contacts, in hopes of directly getting a conversation going.
There’s no wrong way to get in front of your audience but it’s critical to assess their responses to the approaches being taken and adjust accordingly. You never know until you try!
#4 – OPTIMIZE AND TEST OFTEN
Running an ad campaign in LinkedIn does NOT lend itself to a set it and forget it type of management mode, at least in the beginning. Each campaign requires active monitoring, measuring and refinements to ensure content is not only getting in front of your desired audience and that audience is engaging with it, but that the messages are resonating with them and generating qualified leads.
To ensure your ads are performing to the best of their ability, you must put different messages in front of your audience using variations of headlines, imagery, and CTAs. What you find works and doesn’t work may surprise you. In running a campaign for one client, what we discovered was the ads that pose a question typically perform better than ads that don’t and after thinking about it for a little bit, it made sense. This client develops software for small to mid-sized manufacturers designed to determine the root cause of problems and provide solutions of acting upon them. In posing a question to this particular audience, it allows them to step back and analyze whether or not the question we’ve posed applies to them and from there, determine whether or not engaging with whatever it is we were pushing (a downloadable asset, a blog post, etc.) was the best course of action.
It’s important to note that the way your audience reacts to one piece of creative today may change as the nature of their business needs change but knowing how they think about certain things can give you a leg up on getting what they need in front of them sooner and potentially better, than your competitors.
For many of our clients, LinkedIn has become a surprisingly helpful approach to delivering messaging on firm-level services and content. But what works for one marketer may not necessarily work for another. It’s about understanding your audience and your end goal and leveraging LinkedIn as a means for making it happen. Take these lessons learned to heart and know that you can succeed, even if you fail once, twice or even three times. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?