4. LinkedIn Ads Essentials for B2B Marketers

10 min read
Jan 10, 2022

As a business-to-business brand, it’s essential to find the right audience for all your online marketing endeavors. Otherwise, you waste your hard-earned revenue and see nothing for your efforts.

Paid searches on search engines are great at matching a person’s intent based on keywords when they search online, and there are other online marketing tools available, but LinkedIn provides B2B brands with a one-of-a-kind opportunity:

You can use LinkedIn to target more than 700 million business-focused individuals, all in one place.

Here’s what you need to know about the essentials of “The World’s Largest Professional Network on the Internet” and how you can use this ad platform to increase the efficacy of your LinkedIn marketing endeavors.

What Makes LinkedIn Ads Different?

LinkedIn is a social media platform just like Facebook or Twitter. What’s different about LinkedIn ads? The truth is, there are some distinct differences between LinkedIn and other platforms, which can be beneficial to you as a B2B brand.

LinkedIn is geared towards professionals, giving the platform a unique advantage. They have volumes of high-quality data that are incredibly useful to B2B brands, including job descriptions and resumes, which is very hard to replicate on platforms like Twitter or Facebook, where information is limited or more personal. This can make a huge difference in your marketing results.

Facebook has almost 3 billion people on its database, and LinkedIn has 700 million users, a smaller reach than larger platforms like Facebook. Also, users interact with the site differently and may spend less time on LinkedIn compared to other social media platforms.

However, there’s still plenty of opportunity on LinkedIn to deliver more targeted advertising that can make a huge impact. And truly, unless you have a pre-existing wealth of information or have access to third-party platforms that can layer that information into platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn natively has the most advanced knowledge available for B2B marketers.

Defining Your Goals and Objectives

When you are starting a B2B campaign, the most important thing you can do is define clear goals and objectives for your campaign based on what you want to accomplish. On LinkedIn, even with the same target audience, ads, and formatting, two ads can behave very differently depending on the objective you select. This is because LinkedIn’s algorithms excel at matching advertisers’ goals to the audience that they reach.

LinkedIn has three major categories for marketing goals:

  • Awareness-building: Reaching a large audience and making a lasting impression
  • Consideration: Taking action like visiting your website, watching your video, or engaging with your LinkedIn page
  • Conversion: Personally engaging with your brand, starting a service, or applying for a position.

These first two goals, awareness-building, and consideration are all about making an impression and ensuring your target audience remembers and understands your brand, what kind of problems you solve, and the solutions you bring to the market. They may look like website conversions or engaging with job applications when it comes to conversion.

The main difference between these stages? The first two are all about lead generation at the top of the sales funnel. LinkedIn users don’t have to leave the platform to visit a landing page or submit their information for a follow-up sales call. The final stage is only about conversion at the bottom of the sales funnel.

These three stages can also help you establish a workflow to achieve your ultimate goal. Depending on the objective you are trying to accomplish, you may only need two of these stages (awareness and consideration, or consideration and conversion, for example).

By defining your objectives and determining how they fit into LinkedIn’s goal categories, you can set up a dedicated budget and get to work. You’ll want to keep in mind that you can’t expect one specific campaign to accomplish multiple goals at multiple stages simultaneously with the same amount of proficiency.

Remember, if you want your campaign to reach as many people as possible, you may not get as many conversions during that time. You may not have as many page visits if you seek conversions, but you will interact with fewer, more interested people.

Defining Your Audience

The next step in setting up a successful LinkedIn ads campaign is having a well-defined audience. LinkedIn helps by providing some unique audience-targeted criteria that will help you make the most of the information they have regarding their users.

How can you define your audience? There are several criteria you can use to hone and refine the audience for your B2B campaign on LinkedIn:

  • Users based on location, including city and state
  • Users based on language, gender, or age
  • Users based on interest
  • Users based on membership in groups
  • Users based on product interest
  • Users based on education, degrees, field of study, and similar information

For example? Say that someone is looking for call center software. LinkedIn’s algorithms mirror the actions of search engines with keyword searches, targeted keywords, sponsored ads, and some ads that target specific audiences based on user behavior on the platform, which is beneficial in targeting job seekers.

Perhaps the best criteria for targeting specific audiences via LinkedIn advertising? Users related to the companies where your potential buyers work. In some instances, you can select companies and even categories of companies—which means you can market your ads to only Fortune 500 companies if you’d like. When narrowing down these companies, you can also single in on factors like:

  • Industry
  • The size of the company
  • Growth rate
  • And even individual company names (which is unique to LinkedIn)

What’s more, you can focus your efforts even more, which is helpful with aiming your ads at specific, very large companies with hundreds of employees to designate who you would like your buyer to be.

  • Are you gearing your ads towards someone on the sales or accounting teams?
  • Are you hoping to reach someone with a senior-level position?
  • Are you channeling your ads to reach decision-makers or company influencers?
  • Do you want to reach business partners, managers, or C-suite executives?

When you figure out who you target, you can make these kinds of selections and exclude those you don’t intend to reach based on these categories. This is just one more powerful feature that LinkedIn has developed over time.

Another simple but effective thing you can do on LinkedIn is to import your pre-existing audiences—the people and contacts you store on your CRM or in any other database. You can upload your list of contacts or even companies, then connect with LinkedIn users based on their domain. With LinkedIn, you can also take advantage of lookalike audiences, and much like Facebook, if you have a website with a big crowd visiting every day with specific pages for a particular type of audience, you can use this lookalike audience to target this group.

LinkedIn also gives you the power to conduct regular remarketing to target people who have visited your website in the past. One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn’s marketing is that you can integrate your marketing on the platform with your customer relationship manager (CRM) tool, like HubSpot.

This means that if your marketing and sales teams are actively adding companies and contacts to their CRM database, you can sync this information with LinkedIn and build dynamic audiences for your LinkedIn ads. With this feature, you can gear certain ads only towards open opportunities to nurture these contacts instead of building your list of leads.

The key? Whatever audience you define, keep in mind your objective from the very beginning. You can go broad and connect with new audiences, build brand awareness, and let audiences know about the kind of problems you solve and the solutions you offer. You can focus with laser-like precision to convert meaningful leads from your CRM or anything in between. If you are gearing your goal objectives towards conversion, it’s best to target warmer audiences; small and specific audiences, to ensure the best performance.

Choosing Your Offer

What happens after a user clicks on your ad? The next important criteria to determine is what happens when a person clicks on your ad. You have options of what you can offer:

  • Demos
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Calculator tools
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • And more

There are many kinds of offers you can test to see what gives you the best results, but generally, you should try to match your offer to fit your initial goal and your audience—this is something brands forget time and time again.

If you are planning a conversion campaign and want users to engage with your sales team, your offer has to match your audience. The same goes for offers for a case study—they are only effective for those already familiar with your brand.

These offers can be broader at the top of the sale funnel: Offers for eBooks or perhaps a webinar to match the consideration and awareness stages. When laying out the expectations of your campaign, be sure to match the audience, offer, and goal to have the best results.

Choosing Your Ad Format

How are you going to convey your message to your target audience? Your next step is to choose your ad message. There are several options regarding the format of your ad.

Images

The ad format that is most commonly used (and very effective) is a single picture, followed closely by a carousel of images. For maximum impact, your image should include very little text—if any at all. With LinkedIn, you also have the option for a headline, as well as a short description. Don’t underestimate the importance of this text, which behaves like the description on a regular post.

This image-text ad format is a very flexible one. You can use it to increase brand awareness, build brand awareness, and even convert leads. What should change based on your goals? The offer when someone clicks on your ad.

Video

A video is also a valuable tool for brand awareness, consideration, and sometimes for conversions. However, video is most effective for building awareness for broad subject matters and best for the consideration stage if your topic is more specific. And truly, videos don’t often work for conversions unless you share a recording of a customer testimonial or a similar subject.

When it comes to LinkedIn video ads, it’s wise not to think of a video as enticing someone to take the next step right away, but instead is suitable for building brand awareness.

Other Formats

But videos and images aren’t the only ad types available. There are other formats to choose from, some specific to LinkedIn. For example, follower ads can be used to build engagement campaigns to invite people to follow your page, which is ideal if your goal is to increase your following (which is a worthy goal to have!).

Other ads that can be effective for lead generation are the message and conversation ads. Message ads show up in a user’s inbox like an InMail message from another user on the platform. Conversations show up in a chat format, similar to what Facebook does with their Messenger app. Both of these ad formats have the benefit of limiting friction and boosting lead generation. Why? You don’t have to send someone to a landing page; you can just gather the information users have on their profiles.

This can be helpful, but there are a few disadvantages to keep in mind. Yes, you can reduce friction, but this might result in less qualified leads since it’s easier for someone merely curious to reach out. For this reason, it’s a good idea to test messages and conversations first.

One of the ways to test this is to conduct an A/B test and set up a conversion goal-oriented campaign using message or conversation ads as the format, then set up another campaign that sends users to a landing page to submit a regular form, then compare the quality of the leads based on:

  • The amount spent
  • The long-term performance
  • The caliber of leads

This kind of testing can help you figure out the best ways to make the most of your advertising budget.

Setting a Budget

It’s important to set a budget for your marketing campaign before beginning. Why? Advertising on LinkedIn can get expensive quickly if you aren’t careful or thoughtful in your approach.

There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Like with other social media platforms, ads are generally cost-per-click, cost per impression, or cost-per-impression, and the cost is a bit higher than with platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
  2. LinkedIn has a smaller user base and a higher level of competitiveness.
  3. The minimum budget is high compared to other platforms, starting at $10 per day.

If you want to run multiple ads for A/B testing, have numerous industries, or target multiple decision-makers, your costs can rise.

However, for the right crowd, when dealing with a high-value product, and especially in the B2B world, spending a fair amount to reach your goals makes sense. If you have a clear understanding of the buyer or the industry, invest your marketing budget within that category—be mindful of the cost-per-click, cost-per-impression, and cost-per-action, which can be relatively higher than on Facebook or Twitter.

Tracking Results

One final, important aspect of building a successful LinkedIn ad campaign to reach B2B companies is to track your results—then use them to refine your methods. The results you have to track will depend heavily on your goal and objective.

The best course of action to track your results? Visit the demographics section of your LinkedIn account—this is a feature that LinkedIn does very well. Here, you can view information about the kinds of companies that are watching your brand or seeing your ads, as well as their size and the parameters you set up at the beginning of your campaign. In the beginning, these metrics will favor heavily on impressions, which will eventually trickle down into clicks.

When you’re tracking conversions, use the demographics tool to see the kinds of users watching your ads and observe how they are engaging with your ads so you can make faster, better decisions about which industries, ads, and users are most effective for you.

Within this demographics tool, you can track:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Cost-per-click
  • Cost-per-conversion
  • And more

Depending on your goal, you’ll focus on the metrics best served by your campaign. This can help you figure out if you are reaching your whole population. If you aren’t? If you have the budget, you may wish to increase your ad spend to make sure that you get to everyone.

If you want LinkedIn users to visit your website, it’s also wise to set up conversion tracking for your site. Via LinkedIn, you can track things like specific pages or specific conversions. When combined with the right tracking software, you can record phone calls, take a look at what kind of questions potential buyers have to refine your ads, track conversions, and even set up integrations to track purchasing paths if you have an established eCommerce marketplace.

Creating a Successful Campaign

If you are hoping to build a successful campaign, make sure you have a clear understanding of your goal. Be sure to set up suitable ads and offers, then be sure to track your results to analyze your campaign, then make changes to continue to improve your performance.

At Boundify, our business is all about growing yours. With specific interest and expertise in working with B2B brands, we can help you make the most of platforms like LinkedIn. To learn more, connect with our team today!

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