For digital marketers, who spend much of their working day absorbed in platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager, LinkedIn Campaign Manager is at best fiddly, and at worst, completely exasperating.
However, we’re seeing increasingly consistent results from LinkedIn campaigns. Much of this is down to improvements in the platform’s capabilities a better, and easier tool to use than in its previous iterations.
It’s easy to see why more and more investment has been made into the platform’s advertising capabilities since its purchase by Microsoft at the end of 2016. At that point, ad sales generated 18% of its cash flow – as opposed to its recruitment solutions which generated 65%. As more and more money pours into online advertising, they would be missing a pretty gigantic trick not to have improved their advertising offering.
On paper it’s a B2B marketer’s dream: the ability to target by company name, job title, location etc means that developing a highly tailored account-based strategy is easier to achieve than on many other channels. I’m also seeing an increase in B2C advertisements appearing on my feed for high-ticket, luxury items – which goes against common thinking.
I have often recommended LinkedIn to clients as part of media plans in certain specific scenarios:
- B2B/Lead gen campaign
- Higher priced products
- Specific job titles or skill sets to target
- Accommodating CPAs
- Good pre-existing content (or appetite to develop some)
But have always advised clients to approach it with the understanding that results can be less predictable than paid search or Facebook.
So what has changed?
There have been quite a few updates made over the last 18 months or so – I’m going to list a few I see as having been particularly handy:
Remarketing: we run remarketing for just about all of our clients, whether it be through the Google Display Network, Facebook, YouTube or any other platforms which are relevant to the target audience. LinkedIn added remarketing capability at the beginning of Q2 2017. As with all remarketing, we’re seeing that this helps us to improve engagement, increase conversion and ultimately reduce CPA.
Account Targeting: this feature allows you to upload a list of target companies directly into Campaign Manager. This is a massive time-saver – if you’ve ever had to manually create campaigns with a list of 500+ target companies, you’ll know what I mean.
Video Ads: if you run many campaigns on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that overall performance tends to be particularly strong with video, as opposed to static content. Earlier this year, LinkedIn added video for sponsored content ads. According to LinkedIn, time spent by users interacting with video is three times longer than sponsored content ads.
LinkedIn video is still in its nascency. However, we’re seeing promising results from it so far – which doesn’t come as a great surprise.
Lead Ads: here’s one that Facebook has gone on to copy (it’s definitely usually the other way around). Lead Ads, for mobile, were originally released at the end of Q1 2017, and this was rolled out on desktop too at the end of last year.
We see a lot more success on LinkedIn with lead generation campaigns in comparison with simply trying to drive users straight to a site to convert. One of the challenges with this strategy is to maintain a high enough conversion rate at each step, so that CPA is kept as low as possible.
Lead Ads enable advertisers to capture lead details in a customisable form without users needing to leave LinkedIn. This eliminates a conversion step and removes page load times from the equation. We’ve seen great results from lead ads on LinkedIn and Facebook too.
Carousel Ads: I like the look of carousel ads as I scroll through my Facebook timeline, and was pleasantly surprised when I started to see them popping up on my LinkedIn feed.
From a performance point of view, however, we’ve often seen Facebook carousels underperform versus video, or even single image ads, when it comes to bottom of funnel metrics ie conversion and revenue. They’re a much more natural format for awareness and storytelling.
I haven’t had the chance to test them on LinkedIn yet – however I have seen a number of B2C brands using them – for example this Toyota Ad:
My suspicion is that carousels will perform better, relatively, on LinkedIn than they do on Facebook. Either way – the addition of new ad placements, and formats, enables us to be more strategic and nuanced in our approach to using the platform.
So LinkedIn is great now, right?
Although we’ve achieved great success through the work we’ve done on the Google Ads platform specifically, we approach each new client or campaign as channel agnostics. What I mean by this is that we look at different ad platforms as tools to solve a marketing problem, or set of problems, without any bias. Just because we’ve won awards for our paid search activity, that doesn’t mean we favour it over any other online channel.
Personally, I have a bit of a predisposition towards LinkedIn, as I’ve worked with it for the longest of any of the social sites, having started my career in a recruitment agency at around the time LinkedIn was really taking off (c 2007). I really feel that if LinkedIn isn’t already part of your digital marketing toolkit you should reconsider it. Yes, LinkedIn still has a long way to go before it catches up on the big boys. However, it’s taking all the right steps to turn the sliver of ad spend it gets into a genuine piece of pie.
Connect with Jake on LinkedIn
4 September 2018
By Jake Surrey