With over 500 million users worldwide, many of whom help to drive important business decisions, it is no surprise that LinkedIn ads are an attractive proposition for businesses looking to promote their product or services.
However, two main criticisms are often voiced when discussing the platform with fellow advertisers with many believing it is too expensive while others complain that it just doesn’t work. Normally, these criticisms come from those who don’t have the right business to be advertising on LinkedIn, rather than specific failings of the platform itself.
So what kinds of business should be advertising on the platform? This is something that is dictated by targeting options available, the ad formats, and the cost of advertising.
Targeting options on LinkedIn are very well suited to B2B companies. As well as the usual targeting methods of Location, Age & Gender we can more specifically target members based on their company name, company size, industry, job title, job function, job seniority, schools, degrees, fields of study, LinkedIn member groups and more.
These targeting options are all geared up for effective B2B advertising and make it possible to get your brand or product in front of decision makers in other companies. However, advertising on LinkedIn is not exclusive to B2B and can be useful for recruitment or for higher education using the degree and field of study options.
Matched audiences allow advertisers to retarget previous site visitors and are a very effective way to re-engage with users who have shown an interest in your product or service. It is rare that a user will make a business decision after one visit to your site and the same may be said of students looking to find the best provider for their next course.
There are 3 targeting methods that can be used to engage with users through Matched Audiences.
There is no doubt that LinkedIn advertising can be expensive with CPCs hitting the heights of over £10 in some instances. This can be off-putting for companies who are used to advertising on other social channels with lower CPCs. However, it all depends on your marketing goals. If your goal is to drive good quality leads with a high LTV then it is often worth spending a little more for a click and this is where LinkedIn comes into its own from a B2B perspective.
It should also be taken into account that a £10 CPC is not always the norm. CPC goes hand in hand with targeting. For example, when targeting C-Suite members from large enterprises you can expect a high cost due to increased competition based on the users’ level of influence within the company, which could potentially be worth thousands, or even millions, to the advertiser.
In other instances, far cheaper CPCs of around £2 can be achieved when targeting users who are further down the chain of influence and work for smaller companies, but who may still fall into your targeting criteria. An example would be subscription services (like SaaS), which tend to be ideal for LinkedIn due to the predictable revenue over time which can mean higher profit per customer. These are often targeted to smaller companies or end users within companies who are generally cheaper to target, e.g. accounting and invoicing software targeted to users who work in finance and accounting.
So, cost is relative. Although you can also bid on a CPM basis which can be beneficial in some cases, especially if your goal is to get as many impressions, or eyes on your brand, as possible.
Once targeting has been established the message still needs to be conveyed and choosing the correct ad format will be instrumental in getting that across.
With Sponsored Content, ads appear on the News Feed of the target audience. This is a popular ad format which is great for sharing your companies content and case studies, or for promoting webinars, conferences, events, white papers and e-books.
Sponsored Content ads can capture highly qualified leads with gated content or pre-filled LinkedIn lead gen forms. One of the benefits of this type of ad is the social reach which can extend through shares, likes and comments.
Sponsored InMail allows you to target audiences with relevant content delivered through LinkedIn messenger. Sponsored InMail messages are only delivered when members are active on LinkedIn and banner images can be used alongside for added brand impact. This format can be useful for boosting registrations with personalised invites to webinars or in-person events but can also be useful for driving conversions with targeted product & service promotions.
If you have a lot to say about your product or service Sponsored InMail can help to get this message across as there are far more characters allowed than in other ad formats. Retargeting users through matched audiences is a great way to get more information to potential customers who have shown an initial interest
Text ads tend to be less impactful but can be a more cost-effective way of targeting ads on LinkedIn.
Text ads tend to have lower CPCs than sponsored updates but also have a lower CTR due to their position on the page and the lower character limitations.
LinkedIn CPC can be a lot higher than other social platforms. However, the advertisers who are getting the best returns are those who reserve their costliest clicks for their most valuable customer. It can be far easier to justify higher costs when the LTV of a lead or a product is worth so much more.
However, LinkedIn is not right for every business and advertisers should only launch campaigns once they have a solid understanding of the platform, the targeting tools and the ad formats available as well as how these relate to the goals they are trying to achieve.
Unlike search, users are not on social channels looking for a solution to their problems, therefore we need to understand the target audience and present the most relevant and appropriate offer. As lead times can be far longer in the B2B space this can often mean engaging the user with content such as a white paper download before nurturing further down the line by retargeting with event invitations.
So, do LinkedIn ads work? By taking a more thoughtful approach, and by ensuring your business and product is suited to the platform, advertisers will no doubt find that LinkedIn Ads do work.