LinkedIn Advertising is many B2B marketer’s best friend. People keep their profile up-to-date, which makes targeting by role and employer both accurate and easy. But if you’re not thoughtful in your approach, your LinkedIn ads will get expensive and your budget will go fast. So to help you get the most from your LinkedIn ad spend, here are 10 ways to optimize your LinkedIn advertising in 2022.
1. Make your audience industry-specific with Matched Audiences
If you’ve advertised on LinkedIn before, you know the industry targeting is rather broad. Every company seems to be labeled as “Software” or “Internet” and it makes it hard to create ads that are relevant to your audience.
The fix for broad industries? Matched Audiences. Marketers can upload specific companies to target into LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager. There is no limit to the number of companies that can be included, and it’s an ideal advertising tool for Account-Based Marketing.
The only problem with Matched Audiences is that it’s often a time consuming chore to build the relevant targeted account list. If you're Ocean.io customers, pushing your custom audience into Linkedin is just a click of a button. For everyone else, it's a bit more manual, but definitely still worth your time!
First, you need to identify your target companies, for example with external data or by looking at your CRM. For uploading to LinkedIn you need company names and websites. We made a handy Excel tool to help you enrich company names with their websites. Click here to download it
Account-based micro-targeting can deliver great results on LinkedIn. We’ve achieved 3-4x higher conversion rates by grouping accounts into niche segments, and personalizing the messaging to those segments. When the ad and landing page speaks directly to your target audience, conversion rates go up and cost-per-lead goes down.
|We built some industry-specific Matched Audiences
for some highly targeted campaigns.
2. Exclude irrelevant companies from your audience
Matched Audiences helps you target the right accounts, but it can also be used for the opposite. LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences can be used to exclude companies from your targeting as well.
One group very likely to engage with your ads is your competitors and your customers. The problem is that they are unlikely to turn into a deal. LinkedIn’s ad machine will often show them more ads because of their higher engagement.
Luckily, with Matched Audiences you can exclude these groups from your campaigns. So instead of spending budget on competitors and customers, your budget will go toward reaching more prospects.
At Ocean.io, we have a standard list of competitors and customers that we exclude from all our ad campaigns. Additionally, we export all the companies from our CRM that are labeled as “bad-fit” to avoid driving inbounds from known “bad-fit” companies.
3. Only pay for clicks (not impressions)
LinkedIn offers two different bidding strategies for your ads: manually bidding or automated bidding.
A manual bidding strategy may seem intimidating, like something only an expert should do, but in reality it lets you play it safe with your spending. LinkedIn will make sure you spend your budget, regardless of whether you see conversions or not, and manual bidding gives you the best control on your ads.
By bidding on clicks, LinkedIn will find the people who are most likely to click on your ads. If you have LinkedIn Lead Forms connected, you are pretty sure of a 20% conversion rate. That makes it quite easy to calculate what your cost-per-lead will approximately look like.
Bidding is not everything on the LinkedIn ad auction.
4. Re-targeting inside of LinkedIn
LinkedIn offers excellent re-targeting possibilities for your ads. With the LinkedIn script on your website you can re-target based on URL, but you can also re-target based on LinkedIn behaviour.LinkedIn re-targeting possibilities include:
- Website: visitors of your website (or specific URLs)
- Event: registrants of your LinkedIn event
- Company Profile: visitors of company profile
- Video: people who viewed one of your videos (even those who watched it partially)
- Lead Gen Form: people who opened or submitted your LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
There are a number of benefits to re-target based on behaviour - such as company profile visits or video views. First, you reach a larger audience. People don’t need to reach your landing page to trigger
re-targeting. Second, LinkedIn identifies 100% of the audience who engages with your ads. By comparison, website tracking typically identifies 50-60% of the audience. Finally, the lifetime of these audiences is longer than website tags because deleting cookies doesn't impact it.
The main disadvantage is that you can't use other channels to re-target the same audience. For example, Facebook typically offers more affordable retargeting ads.
|Re-targeting audiences are built under Matched Audiences|
5. Get more leads with LinkedIn Lead Forms
Many people engage with LinkedIn on mobile, and navigating to another site can be a bump in user experience. This makes marketing landing pages and forms an added obstacle to conversion. LinkedIn offers Lead Forms to help convert sponsored content without ever leaving LinkedIn.
Lead Forms make it easy for people to opt-in. With a Lead Form as the CTA on your ads, users can perform actions like signing up for an event or downloading a whitepaper. Their data is auto-populated from their LinkedIn profile, so all they need to do is confirm their email address and click a button.
Lead Forms drive significantly higher conversion rates. We typically get conversion rates between 30-40% with Lead Forms versus a 5-10% conversion rate on landing pages on our campaigns.
Aside from the massive impact on conversion, there are a couple of disadvantages to Lead Forms.
First, you cannot re-target prospects who engage with the form through other channels. But you can re-target form opens on LinkedIn.
Next, the email people enter is usually populated with their personal (non-business) email address. We find this leads to less engagement because people are not in their work-mindset when going through their private mail. You can create a custom field on the forms for ‘work email’ but it will negatively impact your conversion rate.
6. Colleagues liking your ads = social proof
When people see likes, shares, or comments on ads, it sends social signals that the content is good. It's a very credible version of social proof. And, people are more likely to engage with your posts after they see other people engage with it.
This is especially true for organic content, but it works with sponsored content, too. The higher the engagement on your ads, the higher your Quality Score. The higher your Quality Score, the less you can bid to get great ad placement.
With sponsored content, the number of likes and amount of comments make a bigger impact. If you run your ads for a long time, you may be lucky enough to get a few likes organically, or you can lean on your team to speed the process up.
|Social proof on one of our LinkedIn ads.|
7. Always test your ads. Always.
Every sales person knows their ABC; Always Be Closing. Any marketer should know their ABT; Always Be Testing. With ads on LinkedIn it’s no exception.
It’s a good idea to keep on testing until you have optimized every part of a campaign, from captions and images to landing pages. Small tweaks can mean the biggest difference in performance.
On the next page you find some key basics to keep in mind when you are testing your ads.
The above basics are relevant to ad testing. If you want to test your targeting you can run two campaigns and compare the performance of the two. Just make sure you are duplicating identical campaigns and you keep the bidding strategy the same.
8. Job Function + Seniority > Job Title . . . Sometimes.
LinkedIn offers different targeting options when it comes to targeting specific persona at a company.
Common job targeting options are:
- Job Title: the actual job title of a person.
- Job Function: the department/team someone is in.
- Seniority: management level in an organization.
- Years of Experience: the number of years in a role.
Many B2B marketers are inclined to target specific job titles. It allows you to specifically target ads to, let's say, Marketing Managers or CFO's. However, people are increasingly claiming creative job titles that will not be included in the specific job titles you're targeting.
Also, it's sometimes hard to know what job title has what responsibilities in a company. It's therefore hard to pinpoint what job title would be decision-maker.
|Targeting a combination of job function and seniority
can help capture more job titles that are also relevant.
Unless you are promoting a product that is only relevant to a specific job title, we would suggest targeting a more general Job Function, like Marketing, Sales, or Accounting. Obviously, you don't want to target everyone on the team. That's why you should narrow down on someone's seniority, for example, Management, Director, or VP level. Targeting seniority levels is a way to target people who are likely to have decision-making power.
When you're targeting seniority, keep in mind that people higher up in organizations are less likely to convert on your content. That's just the way it is; people lower down in organizations are more inclined to download guides and try out tools than the average C-level persona.
9. The audience size sweet spot
It’s generally a good idea to maintain a decent sized audience for your campaigns. It enables LinkedIn to show the ads to the people who are most likely to convert. But if your audience gets too big it’s unlikely that your ads will be very targeted, and it may be hard to learn from your campaigns.
LinkedIn recommends audience sizes of 100,000 to 300,000, but based on our experience, this is way too large of an audience. LinkedIn is an expensive advertising tool. You want to be sure that the leads you are generating are of high quality for your sales team. An audience this large makes it difficult to create cost-effective campaigns.
On the other hand, the audience size can also be too small. If you are only targeting few people, LinkedIn won’t be able to apply much of their learning and it will be hard to get results.
If you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget (and who does?), it’s best to put a little extra effort into avoiding the wrong audience. In line with LinkedIn Guru AJ Wilcox, we recommend somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 people which is enough to learn from your campaign and its targeting options as it’s rather defined.
10. Give your ads the weekend off
Most of us don’t work on the weekend, so why would your ads?
In contrast to Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn is not a platform where your audience is hanging out in their free time. Even with pay-per-click bidding, LinkedIn will find people that will click your ads - believe us on that. And even if people end up clicking your ads, it’s likely people are less likely to convert on your forms if they are not in a business mindset.
Simply adopt a habit of pausing your Ad Groups Friday afternoon, and turn them on first thing Monday morning.
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