Facebook may be the largest social networking site in the world, but LinkedIn is considered the out-right largest professional network in the U.K. and worldwide. With over 830 million members and almost 60 million registered businesses, LinkedIn helps users find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships as well as learn additional skills to improve their professional profile or employability.
For businesses, LinkedIn can you give the ability to recruit new staff, market your business to expand your client portfolio, as well as show off company milestones or client wins.
LinkedIn has transformed in recent years to become a powerful ads platform, rivalling that of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the growing B2B space. More and more businesses are not only trialling but successfully implementing a consistent LinkedIn ads strategy, tapping into potential new customers and driving awareness among key stakeholders.
In this blog, we will run through the basics of LinkedIn advertising – detailing the various types of ads you can run, as well as some top tips and tricks to optimise your ad creative to ensure great results for your first LinkedIn ads campaign.
How do LinkedIn ads run?
Like most platforms, LinkedIn ads use a bidding strategy for those wanting to promote content. Social networks determine which ads to run based on a behind-the-scenes’ auction’ with advertisers competing for ad space almost by the second. The outcome of the auction tells the platform how much each advertiser will pay for their ad to be served to their target audience, within a time-frame. Although much of this process is automated, LinkedIn users have the choice to select one bid strategy to try and maximise delivery (which we will detail later).
Setting up your ad account
LinkedIn ads accountOf course, the first step is to create a LinkedIn account and ensure the business you are promoting has granted you admin access – ensuring you can both create and optimise ads via LinkedIn Campaign Manager.
If your business or client does not have LinkedIn Campaign Manager, then this will need setting up. This can be accessed directly or via LinkedIn in the top right corner of the page. This process shouldn’t take too long and once the billing details are confirmed, your business page will be ready and you can begin creating your first LinkedIn ads campaign!
With Campaign Manager, you can create and manage multiple ad accounts, create and optimise campaigns, select your goals, define your audiences and have complete control over your brand’s LinkedIn ads strategy.
Creating your first LinkedIn campaign
Your LinkedIn advertising campaigns will live on a platform separate from the LinkedIn you see every day. Using Campaign Manager you can keep the two completely separate ensuring no crossover or confusion with your personal profile.
Campaign groups allow you to group related campaigns together to manage them easily and practically. This allows you to report on social ad results more collectively, grouping various campaigns or business periods without the fuss.
Each ad account automatically starts off with at least one, ‘default’ campaign group. When creating a campaign group, you can either set a budget or allow it to run infinitely. Don’t worry, the budget you set for each campaign will determine the total spend. You can set a schedule for how long the campaign group (containing each campaign) will run. We would recommend again not setting an end date for your campaign group, ensuring your campaigns run smoothly without suddenly stopping spending due to a budget cap.
Next up, campaigns. At the campaign level, you will first set the objective of your campaign. To understand this, ask yourself – what are you trying to achieve with your campaign? Are you trying to reach as many people as possible? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website’s new landing page? Or are you trying to gather details from your audience? You must consider what you want to gain from your specific campaign and what your LinkedIn ad strategy will be, in order to set the right objective.
Broadly, there are three, overarching objectives to choose from.
The first is awareness. Within this section, you can only choose a brand awareness campaign. You should select a brand awareness campaign if your goal is wanting more people to learn about your business. This could be the history of the company, its values, an upcoming company event or a new product launch.
Secondly, we have consideration campaigns. If you consider your customer’s journey, this can be thought of as the second stage. Your target audience is now aware of your business, but at this point, we’re asking them to take an active, measurable interest in your product or service. This could be achieved via a website visits ad campaign, focusing on driving traffic to the website and encouraging LinkedIn users to click the link. This could also be in the form of an engagement ad campaign, encouraging users to like, comment, share or click your advertisement. For ads to be ‘engaging’, you should consider strong, visual content, clearly targeted at the right audience so that the ad that appears on their LinkedIn feed is both relevant and interesting. Finally, another type of awareness campaign is video views – encouraging users to simply watch all or most of the video. To achieve high results here, again marketers should consider videos with little jargon and strong, powerful visuals that encourage the viewer to watch and find out more.
Third and finally, we have conversion ads – defined as someone not only actioning your ad but then doing something that positively impacts sales or profits for your business. The user converts their interest into something of economic value to your company. A type of conversion ad is a lead generation ad, which encourages users to fill out a lead form with their name, contact details and employment details. This form can then be used for contacting about a new product, a possible job role and so on. Website conversion ads encourage users to buy a product or service, thus driving sales to your website.
Once your objective is set, you can then move on to creating your campaign audience.
Creating an audience
Once your objective is set, you can create and customise your audience. As a business network, LinkedIn offers you the perfect platform for creating focused, purpose-led audiences. As LinkedIn collects so much information on its users, including their job history, profession, industry and so on.
You can advertise on LinkedIn using an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach. The ABM approach allows for personalised campaigns, targetting individual accounts as per their personal details and employment details. This allows marketers to target the right businesses and businesspeople.
First, you set your location. Where are you looking to target? In the U.K. or overseas? In London or in Warrington? The location will depend on your target audience, however, if you’re looking at expanding or various locations these can be incorporated into various other campaigns.
Targetting is a fundamental element to not only LinkedIn advertising, but social media advertising. LinkedIn offers a number of profile ‘attributes’ for you to focus on and target, for example:
- Job title
- Job seniority
- Company size
- Company name
- Member schools
- Member interests
- Member groups
As well as targetting profile descriptions, marketers can also target ‘lookalike’ audiences. The lookalike audience feature helps you target people with similar characteristics to a matched audience segment, ensuring you can focus ads on what LinkedIn thinks is a demographic very comparable to your account followers, in terms of location, age and employment characteristics.
The next step is selecting what kind of ad you want to showcase to people. You can only select one of the ad types for the entire campaign; unlike Facebook, Instagram and Twitter you can not mix and match.
The list includes:
- Single Image ads
- Carousel Image ads
- Video ads
- Text-based ads (ads that will show up in the text section on the right of your LinkedIn feed)
- Spotlight ads (dynamic ads that ‘pop up’ and when clicked will direct users to your businesses webpage)
- Message ads or conversion ads (delivered to your target audiences inbox)
- Event ads (promoting an event or activation)
Choose the ad format that best works for your objective. To play it safe, start with single image ads or video ads, but following A/B testing and greater confidence in social media marketing, you should always consider optimising your ads strategy but using a variety of different creatives.
Budget and bidding
Next up, set your budget and schedule. You can choose between a lifetime budget or a daily budget, depending on how much you want to spend and when you wish to spend it.
Select the bidding type depending on what you think will work best for your campaign. There are three bidding types to choose from:
• Manual bidding – Users set an amount to bid in the auction, granting more experienced users the chance to trial and optimise ads based on how much each ad bids for space on LinkedIn.
• Cost cap bidding – Users set a target cost per result, which our system uses as a benchmark when setting adjusting bids in the ad auction.
Maximum delivery bidding – Automated, LinkedIn’s advertising system automatically bids to deliver the max results with its prediction for the best budget efficiency.
Many first-time advertisers will click maximum delivery when setting up their first campaign for ease, but we would recommend either manual bidding or cost cap bidding to ensure you can optimise your ads and achieve improved results across your creative campaigns.
Like Facebook and Instagram, you can also boost your organic LinkedIn Page posts. You’ll select an objective for boosting your post, select an already created audience, as well as setting a daily or lifetime budget.
Boosting content on all social platforms makes for an easier, more creative experience. If you’re in a rush it can be a great way to maximise results without having to complete the Campaign Manager process, which can prove lengthy and time-consuming. However, boosting is less specific and therefore results can be impacted. Users are given fewer objectives to work with when boosting content and you cannot create a post to be boosted – it must be visible already on your page’s LinkedIn organic feed.
There’s no resting in the social media marketing space. Once you boost a post or create a campaign, you must continue to follow up to ensure your ads are running smoothly, sticking to your allocated budget and yielding results.
When ads don’t perform as well as expected, we must work on optimising our campaign and rethinking our advertising strategy. This will ensure you’re on top of your creative campaign and doing what you can to gain those few extra link clicks, video views or conversions.
Top tips for your LinkedIn advertising strategy
Creating a social ads campaign is one thing, but it takes real skill and optimisation to maximise results. With higher results come a number of benefits to your page and wider business, so do not underestimate the time spent monitoring your ads and trying to make them work more efficiently.
Don’t overcomplicate things
With no prior social advertising experience, too often businesses set ads up which are text heavy and more ‘informative’ instead of engaging. The best-performing ads are often short and simple, containing little jargon and a short but snappy call to action (i.e. click the link below to find out more!).
Keep your ads fresh and engaging but continue to trial various copy paired with visuals and imagery. Work out what copy is snappy but effective at generating results, and use this to guide your next campaign.
High-res imagery and appealing video content or animation are great ways to generate results on your ads. Campaigns should not be dull and grey, but instead, be an attempt to really sell the best of your business or brand. This can be achieved with dynamic, visually engaging creative that generates positive interest from LinkedIn users, with a clear call to action following the ad to learn more.
By using various ad creatives, marketers can really entice target audiences to first of all engage, but then consider becoming more involved with that business by perhaps becoming a customer, considering an employment move and so on.
Make use of LINKEDIN analytics
LinkedIn offers various analytics both on your business page, but also through Campaign Manager. This will grant you access to key metrics and a greater understanding of who is engaging with your page and their professional background.
This should be at the forefront of your mind when considering future campaigns. If you can see a growing audience of ‘directors’ visiting your website via link-click ads, this should be a consideration for your next campaign.
By utilising the analytics section of LinkedIn, users can work out who their audience is and who it isn’t, allowing you to make informed decisions when creating an audience for your next ads campaign.
A/B tests often reveal that the smallest tweaks in your ads can make all the difference in generating greater results, whatever they may be. A/B testing allows you to spend a fraction of your advertising budget to test various creatives and audiences, helping you understand what to do and what not to do when spending the overall budget.
Consider A/B testing before launching a huge campaign, to make sure you can iron out any problems or creative issues before truly commencing work. For example, with A/B testing you may figure out one audience performs better than the other, a sponsored content ad is not generating results in a certain region, or that your creative is not engaging enough. Before commencing with your campaign you should want to be prepared as possible, conducting a ‘pilot study’ before you spend thousands on advertising.