How to get started with LinkedIn ads
LinkedIn’s advert platform is a valuable weapon in the B2B marketer’s tool box for promoting content and services to other …
Published byAlexis Pratsides
LinkedIn’s advert platform is a valuable weapon in the B2B marketer’s tool box for promoting content and services to other companies. It’s a platform that all major businesses use, offering B2Bs easy reach to their target audiences. This accessibility means companies that use LinkedIn ads have an edge over competitors that don’t.
For those getting started with LinkedIn ads, we outline the key steps in setting-up a LinkedIn ad campaign so your paid media strategy produces the best possible results.
Why use LinkedIn ads?
The biggest advantage LinkedIn ads has over other social ad networks is its detailed targeting and B2B audience. You can drill down to detail such as school, as well as targeting across other parameters like industry and job seniority.
You may also find that LinkedIn advertising is more cost effective than PPC with Google Ads. Cost per click (CPC) is not based on keyword and you have more control over who your advert is being served up to.
LinkedIn’s CPC is more expensive than Facebook or Twitter, but its targeting capabilities mean you will be more likely to generate better leads.
How LinkedIn measures CPC
CPC is measured based on engagement – a click can be on the link you are promoting, your company name or logo. This is important as there may be a discrepancy between click-through rates in LinkedIn and your website analytics.
Step 1: Set-up your account
LinkedIn allows you to set-up multiple advert accounts. Ideally you should set up an account for your company and then invite other users you want to share the account with. It costs £4 to set up an ad account.
Note that you can’t change the currency after an account is created so select the right one!
Step 2: Create your campaign structure
You may want to run a number of ad sets at the same time based on who you are targeting.
For example, you could use the same adverts but set-up multiple campaigns where the audience differs. Or you may want to create campaigns that are aimed at the same audience but one set of adverts uses sector-specific language but the other doesn’t.
The first campaign will always be an unknown and that’s okay. You need to run a set of ads to understand how the audience will respond and then refine the ads from there.
Campaign structure can be complex as there are many variations that you can do based on all the targeting options LinkedIn offers:
- Location – continent, country, city
- Company name
- Company size
- Job title
- Job function
- LinkedIn groups
Depending on who you want to target, your advert campaign may look something this:
You would write ad sets (see Step 3) based on service lines and using location-based words.
While running adverts you may want to refine and create new sets based on results. For example, you may find that the response from Manchester was higher and better than the other locations and add more services.
Step 3: Write adverts
For each campaign you can have up to 15 ad variations – this is challenging due to the character restrictions. A LinkedIn advert needs:
- Title – 25 characters
- Description – 75 characters
- Image – 50 x 50 pixels
- A link – this can be your LinkedIn page or an external link. Make sure you use a campaign URL builder to track the links (see Step 4)
I recommend breaking down sets into groups, and you may find that it works better to create more campaigns to cover the different advert ideas you have.
In this example, we’re testing the effectiveness of different titles and descriptions with 3 groups of 5 ads. We’ve written 5 descriptions and each ad will have the same image and URL destination. Each group is the same apart from the title.
With 15 ads per campaign, it’s hard to test every variable. If you did want to test how different images performed then you would need to ditch one of the current variables (e.g. descriptions) or set-up a new campaign. Your structure would start to get more complex as the diagram below shows.
If you want to test more variables within campaigns then you could break the group into more groups, e.g. 5 groups of 3 ads or 7 groups of 2 ads. It will depend on what you are advertising.
If you are just starting out then I would recommend setting up one or two campaigns to gather initial data on how the audience is responding and then refine adverts from there. For example, you may notice that ads perform well when you use a particular description. When setting up the next campaign, you probably won’t want to test different descriptions when you know that one works.
I keep track of ads using a spreadsheet and simple campaign codes to check them in Google Analytics. Each ad group is numbered (1,2,3 etc.) and each ad variation within the group a letter (a,b,c, etc). In the first example the ads would be 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 2a, 2b etc. Download our LinkedIn ads template to get you started (you will thank me for this in Step 5).
You’ll see on the template that the destination URL is using campaign URLs. You should use these to track behaviour of LinkedIn ad visitors and we’ll cover setting these up in the next step.
Step 4: Create landing pages
Successful adverts are let down by poor landing pages. The page must convert the visitor and convert well.
Don’t just send them to your home page or service page on your site. The page should match your advert and meet their expectations. I find it’s better to write the landing pages after the adverts so the page is optimised to increase chances of conversion.
If the aim of your campaign is to generate leads, make sure contact information and calls to action are clear and appealing. If it’s to complete a form and capture information, test the form thoroughly to check it works.
What makes a good ad?
I recently clicked on this ad from my profile:
The message is tailored to me (CSU alumni) and there is a form that can be filled out quickly with my LinkedIn details – my expectations have been met. The page explains the benefits of joining and reassures me that there is no charge or obligation to apply. The form also worked.
The page you send to visitors to should speak to them exactly about the ad content – they will expect it and will not linger if the page isn’t relevant.
By using a campaign URL (see below), you will be able to track this audience’s behaviour. If the bounce rate is high and the time on site low, then your landing pages are wrong and need to be changed. Make sure that your website isn’t harming your conversion rate.
Building campaign URLs
The URL for the page I went to uses campaign code so Bristol can track how alumni are responding:
Breaking it down:
- Source – LinkedIn: This is where I clicked from so it will count this in the source and channel of Google Analytics.
- Medium – NA: They’ve chosen not to tag this but you could add CPC (I usually do).
- Content – Ad2: They can easily identify what ads are clicked on and which convert.
- Campaign – By+College+Colorado+State&text1_=Colorado%20State%20University&text2_=Alumni: Again, they can identify the behaviour of visitors based on what college they are alumni from. If one college has low conversion then they could try different adverts or a different approach altogether.
When you use code like this, it will appear under the Acquisitions >Campaigns tab in Google Analytics:
I can easily identify the campaign and what the most successful source and medium is. You can generate this campaign code by using a URL builder.
When you’ve generated the code add them to your advert spreadsheet for the relevant advert so you can track behaviour and results.
Step 5: Set-up and target
After planning and writing your ads and landing pages, it’s now time to start the ads:
- Log into your LinkedIn ads manager and click on Create new campaign. Select “Create an ad”.
- Name your campaign sensibly, e.g. Campaign1: London – Service Name.
- Copy and paste the ads from the spreadsheet – LinkedIn helpfully generates a preview on the right-hand side as you do this.
When all ads are copied over, click next.
- Based on your initial plan (Step 1), select who you are targeting.
- The audience number will alter depending on what you select. If you do decide to change the audience based on numbers, review your ads to make sure they are suitable.
Step 6: Budget
LinkedIn gives you two choices:
- Cost per click (CPC)
- Cost per impression (CPI)
I prefer CPC because it either ends up being cheaper or the same as CPI.
How much should I bid?
LinkedIn will suggest a bidding range for you. Jeff Rajeck recommends using the minimum and I concur. I’ve tried higher bids but it makes little difference.
You will normally spend somewhere between £1.50 – £2.30 per click so your daily budget needs to be realistic. The minimum (£8) would only give you 4-6 clicks so make sure it’s healthy enough to give you a decent amount of clicks without breaking the bank.
LinkedIn have a 20% overcharge policy so bear this in mind if your budget is high.
How long should I run my LinkedIn campaign for?
This will depend on what you are promoting. I generally see a drop-off after a week as the audience gets tired of seeing your ad. This is typical for social networks.
If the campaign is successful, e.g. generating enquiries, then you can leave it running even if the clicks drop. Remember that you can turn ads on and off. You may find that adverts get a better response on certain days.
Once your budget is set, then you can launch the ads. It will take LinkedIn up to 24 hours to approve the campaign so don’t expect to see immediate results.
Step 7: Monitor and tweak
Once the campaign is approved and the ads are served, you will be able to track their success through the ad manager and your analytics. You will want to keep a beady eye on the first couple of days.
As LinkedIn serves up ads, it will start to serve up the ads that perform best more frequently. You should still turn off ads that are not attracting clicks or, revise them to improve their click-through rate (CTR).
The downside to this is that your best-performing ad will end up with a lower CTR but this is to be expected as it is reaching a much wider audience than the others.
Keep checking Analytics to see how visitors perform – are they bouncing from the site? How long are they spending on it? Are they completing goals?
Depending on what the aim of the campaign is (enquiries, form completions etc.) track what ad is delivering these.
Build on your success
The first campaign will give you invaluable information about the target audience – what words push their mouse buttons, images they respond to and if they find your site interesting.
Use this data to plan and create better LinkedIn ad campaigns. You should always be refining them, and you will be able to see quickly if a campaign is successful or not based on previous campaigns. It will also help you set a benchmark for the CTR.
- Always create unique landing pages for your advert campaigns to maximise conversions.
- Use a URL builder to track campaign success.
- LinkedIn takes up to 24 hours to approve an advert set so factor this into your timeline.
Want more from paid media advertising?
We love planning and running LinkedIn and other online ad campaigns such as PPC. Say firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can take your social ad strategy to the next level. Or, contact us via our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.
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