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LinkedIn advertising uncovered

April 14, 2020

LinkedIn is the primary social media platform for B2B professionals, with 675 million monthly users, including 80% of the people who 'drive business decisions'

However, even if you’re using it to publish content and drive brand awareness, you could be missing out on valuable leads. To really use LinkedIn to its full B2B lead generation potential, you have to try LinkedIn advertising.

In 2018, 26% of social media marketers were using LinkedIn ads, but 58% of B2B marketers rated it as the best value platform. 

We sat down with Dean Seddon, CEO of Maverrik, to find out more. Dean is a B2B LinkedIn consultant and his company, Maverrik, has helped companies such as Coca-Cola, Bose and Ikea acquire customers through digital channels.

Dean shared with us seven tips for LinkedIn advertising success.

7 steps to improve your LinkedIn advertising

1 – Know your audience

You need to know who you’re targeting before you create your ads and commit budget. You need to make sure that the people who see your ads see something they are likely to respond to. 

For example, the messaging you use for a salesperson will be different from the messaging for a marketer. Salespeople tend to prefer direct language and statistics to prove value, while marketers may be looking for more creative ideas. Marketing people are also often drawn in by controversy and innovation.

When thinking about who your audience is, a good idea is to return to your Ideal Customer Profile. Or, if you haven’t done so already, developing your ICP is a very worthwhile exercise. Once you’ve defined it, you’ll know who you should be targeting with your ads.

2 – Segment your audience

Once you’ve defined your main target grouping, you need to break this down into narrower segments that you can target with ads. 

Let’s say SMBs are your primary target. As a whole, this sector is too broad to target on its own. What you need to do is split the primary target into separate industries, such as events, recruitment and tech etc.

Having narrower B2B lead lists based on industries is vitally important, for one main reason: they will give you a steer on the content of your LinkedIn ads. You can create variations of your ads for each industry, using relevant terminology and images. 

3 – Select your metrics

Compared to other social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn is a more expensive advertising channel. Although, as we have seen, the audience is exclusive and many marketers find value from it. It just means you have to be smart with the money you spend.

Best practice when evaluating your LinkedIn marketing and its performance is to select your metrics upfront, then track them regularly. This will enable you to make quick adjustments or optimisations where necessary.

Dean recommended the following three metrics for data driven marketing:

  • Open rate – the proportion of people that open your ad versus the number sent. 45% is a good number to aim for.
  • Clickthrough rate – the proportion of people that click through to your landing page after engaging with your ad.
  • Cost per click – the budget needed to achieve one click. A CPC of less than $2 is a general indication of ad performance. Anything higher and your targeting is probably off and you may need to reset.

4 – Create a content funnel

Different types of ads work at different stages, depending on where your targets are in your B2B marketing funnel. 

For example, at the top of the funnel, they have just engaged with your brand. At this point, more generic content marketing is best, such as whitepapers, eBooks or guides. The goal is to cast a wide net and attract as many people as you can.

Then, as they move through the funnel, you can get more specific. Retarget those leads with more specific pieces of LinkedIn advertising, relevant to their business proposition. These could include case studies for companies similar to theirs, or ads showing relevant product features.

5 – Choose your media

The media you use for each ad can make a big difference. In his experience, Dean told us that video works well at the top of the B2B marketing funnel, on broader campaigns. 

However, further down the funnel, they can be a distraction. At this point, image-based ads perform better. You’re not giving too much away and they don’t require much attention from the audience. For Dean, they are often the ticket to better clickthrough rates.

6 – Try getting personal

A B2B marketing experiment that Dean recommends is to create highly-personalised ads, aimed at senior management in one specific company.

Research the company as thoroughly as you can. Look at their LinkedIn feed to see the kinds of messaging they use on a day-to-day basis. Then, use those insights to tailor an ad that resonates solely with them.

Mention the company name in your ad, as well as any other information you can find, such as their office location. Maybe they have bought some new technology? Get as personal as you can. When you do, your prospect is much more likely to engage with your ad.

It’s a bit more work than usual, but it can produce a great payout!

7 – Always A/B test

Testing is essential in LinkedIn advertising. You need to lock down quickly which ads perform better than others. 

So, when you come up with an ad campaign, create several different variants. Try them all out and track them against your chosen marketing metrics. Which one performs best?

Certain ads may work better at different stages of your funnel. Make sure you test this out too!

Final thought

Dean shared with us a final top tip for LinkedIn advertising:

“The bottom line is that LinkedIn advertising is an expensive business, but when you get it right, it can work extremely well. My advice is to keep testing and iterating. Anything you can do to optimise your ads and improve their performance has got to be a good thing.”

Learn more about B2B marketing

Thanks to Dean for sitting down with us and sharing his insights. Maverrik has published several useful LinkedIn guides on their blog, which are well worth seeking out!

Here at Cognism, we’ve recently published a demand generation eBook. It’s a complete manual to growth hacking and content marketing, with contributions from the world’s top B2B/SaaS companies!

Click below to get Demand Generation: How to create demand that drives growth.

Demand Generation eBook