Over the last few years, Facebook has been championed as the premier social network for targeted ads. However, recent changes to Facebook’s advertising algorithm and the removal of third-party data sources has made it far less marketer-friendly. Meanwhile, a national scandal involving customer data has soured many users, and ‘ad blocking’ softwares have made the site a promotion-free zone for more savvy account holders.
So where do B2B marketers turn, now that the world’s largest social network is showing diminishing returns? To LinkedIn, a platform practically invented for B2B marketers and advertisers.
Though I'll be discussing Text Ads, it's important for campaign managers to learn more about all 3 types of promotional products - Sponsored Content, Text Ads, and Sponsored InMail - offered by LinkedIn.
Why is LinkedIn the "next big thing" for Text Ads?
- No more guesswork, better targeting. The LinkedIn user base is comprised entirely of working professionals, who self-identify their titles and responsibilities, and directly align themselves with their businesses. LinkedIn lets marketers target individual users through company size and name, industry, job title, you name it.
- Superior Forecasting. Marketers can gauge the Return on Investment of their paid ad spend far more accurately on LinkedIn.
When working on an Account Based Marketing campaign that requires an understanding of a user’s daily responsibilities, LinkedIn eliminates the need for ‘cyberstalking’ or educated guesses. This is also true for paid ad spends, an area where limitations abound on most social network platforms.
On sites like Facebook, you can sometimes glean a user’s involvement in a particular career, field, or job title, but only if they’ve ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ a related page. There was a time when advertisers could target people on Facebook by their job titles, but this option is no longer available, making it very difficult to know if the person you’re trying to market to actually holds that position, or wants to hear from you at all.
LinkedIn allows for specific targeting parameters like Job title, company size, company name, and industry, so paid ads are highly tailored to the appropriate audience and, therefore, extremely effective.
LinkedIn is ideal for results-oriented campaigns with direct calls to action, with far more sophisticated forecasting capabilities on this platform than on other networks.
On LinkedIn, marketers can choose their cost-per-click.
On Facebook, you can only submit a daily or lifetime budget. From there, you’re given reach estimates, which are less accurate and less telling of the actual cost-per-click numbers and by extension, your cost-per-lead numbers.
How should B2B marketers take full advantage of LinkedIn for paid ads?
TEST, TEST, TEST! Because there are multiple ways to get your ad in front of the same folks, you’ll definitely want to test your paid ad audiences and determine which convert the best.
So, if you’re targeting professionals in the Information Technology space, you can identify users with titles that include “IT”, or you can segment your audience by their level of seniority, and their job functions. With LinkedIn, you can see who performs the best based on the job title, company industry, job seniority, job function, company size, location, country, and company.
On Facebook, the most you can see is which gender was more likely to engage, and which age range performed best.
LinkedIn provides better insight for audience demographics. You can test which audience converts, then compare the data and make changes to the audience on the fly. So, if your current list isn't engaging with your paid ad, you'll be able to use their data and refine your list until you’re seeing more promising results.
USE THOSE USER GROUPS. I personally believe marketers don’t take advantage of these enough. In order to leverage LinkedIn groups effectively, a paid ad program will require a bit more research before you implement, but users who join groups are typically way more engaged on the platform, so it’s great for learning more about your ideal audience.
BUT JUST HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
The proof is in the numbers, my friends.
This year, a SaaS security management client tasked our team with setting up and tracking LinkedIn ads for an upcoming webinar. With only a $2k ad budget, and about 10 days to run our ads, we set about creating our lists.
We began by targeting around 32,000 users in the US who were listed as security professionals. But, since this client operates in the physical security space, and not the cybersecurity or IT space, our qualifiers had to be extremely specific. We excluded specific job titles and targeted LinkedIn groups dedicated to physical security, contact security, and security guard management.
We estimated the cost-per-click was going to fall around ~$11. Thanks to LinkedIn’s forecasting capabilities, and thanks to the specificity of their audience building feature, our highly refined list wound up yielding a cost-per-click of only $8.79, and boasted a click-through-rate of 0.8% (over double the estimated benchmark of about 0.3%) allowing Salted Stone to spend only $1,388.07 of the $2,000 budget and to re-allocate funds those towards future campaigns for the client. Our ads also saw a 17% conversion rate, well above Facebook’s benchmark 2 - 3% conversion rate for technology-focused ads.
Kinda cool, right?
TL;DR - For predictable, successful, and eyebrow-raising B2B advertising campaigns, LinkedIn is your new best friend.