When it comes to marketing, there are always new strategies, tactics and hacks on the horizon. If you're new to it, it can be difficult to distinguish what actually works from the other marketing fluff.
The top agencies and marketers will approach any new campaign they are working on with a fresh pair of creative eyes while also reflecting back on their previous results they have got for clients. They will have assumptions and biases towards the types of structures and formulas that will work, and for good reason - they've seen it perform in the past.
While you should always be testing if it's not broke, why fix it right?
At least that's how we approach campaigns for our clients at Evolve Marketing. We want the campaigns we build and the work we do to drive key results in the business.
So when we hear of these "new hacks", we generally run the other way. It isn't until we hear of something repeatedly gaining traction that we decide to do it for ourselves and test the water.
Most recently, we wanted to test out the LinkedIn Ads platform for our own business. While we're really familiar with LinkedIn from both an organic and direct response perspective, we've tended to shy away from the ads side of it for our own and our client's businesses.
The ads platform on LinkedIn is by no means new and we are big fans of paid traffic campaigns (when created/managed well) and run large scale ones across Google and Facebook, but, we were yet to experiment when it came to LinkedIn. Before we could suggest it as a suitable strategy for our clients - we wanted to run a test campaign on our own business.
In this blog, I want to run through a guide on both how you could set up a campaign for your own business and also the results we received (along with what we would do differently next time).
How To Create A LinkedIn Ads Campaign
You may already have a personal and company LinkedIn account but to set up an ad through the platform, you will need to create a LinkedIn Campaign Manager for your business. The steps are really straight forward to go through and be sure to link the company page that you want to advertise from.
Campaign Objective - Value or Offer?
Before running any marketing campaign, you should always decide on what exactly it is that you are trying to achieve.
As I mentioned already, we run marketing campaigns to drive key business results. So review your annual goals and make sure your campaign is in line with them.
Depending on your type of business and the stage you are at, you may be trying to:
Increase Sales of a New Product
Get Subscribers or Downloads
Get Video Views
Grow Brand Awareness
Make sure you're crystal clear on the reasoning that you are doing this campaign or any for that matter, so you know what to track.
What is your objective?
When it came to our own campaign, we took a bit of a different route than we would usually. With any major campaign we run on our own business, it is generally a leads based campaign.
We try to generate interest in how we can help law firms and we generally target Ireland, the UK & the US. From the ad, we will try and get a key decision-maker within that firm on a phone call to learn more about their challenges and figure out if we can help them.
But, this time we took a different approach. For this test campaign, we experimented with a strictly value-based ad and no hard offer. We decided this for two reasons:
Our agency is very close to full capacity. While this may change in the coming months, we cannot take on many more new clients at the minute.
The current climate and timing are so strange that while we know law firms still want to grow online, we wanted to offer a helping hand and give out some solid free information to help them instead.
For those reasons and the fact that one of our annual goals, was to further grow our reach and be seen as the legal marketing experts in Ireland, we decided to run a website traffic based campaign. When you decide on your objective in an ads platform, the algorithm will optimise for you to achieve that result so make sure it is exactly what you want.
You will also see above that as you start to create your ad, you will see different estimates for your campaign. The targeting options that I have chosen are giving me an estimated audience size of 870,000. While the budget and start/ end date of my campaign are telling me I'm likely to get 50,000 - 190,000 impressions.
Those estimates give you an insight into potential campaign performance. Those insights caused me to edit my end date and daily budget so I could run my campaign for longer.
Who To Target?
One of the first things you should begin thinking about is who you should be targeting. This was one of the first areas I was specifically interested in monitoring. Like Facebook, LinkedIn is a social media company and they do what is called people-based targeting (as opposed to Google which is keyword-based targeting). This means that we will target specific people based on their characteristics with our ads.
You should be targeting people you want to perform the action (objective) This is another reason why it is so important to have clarity on who your ideal audience is.
You can see an array of LinkedIn targeting options from below. Given it is a professional networking website, they have a huge amount of data on people's current job and previous experience. This also allows them to gather information on interests their users hold, their skills as well as information on their education.
Having that clear understanding of your overall campaign objective will mean that you know the segment of people you're looking to target with your ads.
Job Title/ Industry/ Age
Once you have that clear understanding, it is time to build a clear profile of the person for your campaign. While getting too granular will reduce your audience size, you do still want to ensure the people who will be served impressions for your campaign fall within your potential client list.
Along with targeting the entire country of Ireland, below were some of the targeting options we choose for our test campaign.
We know the targeting differences LinkedIn has with Google, but here is one of the first major points of differentiation LinkedIn Ads has compared to a Facebook campaign that we would create.
You get rewarded on Facebook by keeping your targeting as broad as possible. That way you allow the algorithm to find your potential buyers/ subscribers etc. Once your pixel and the Facebook algorithm has built up a clear understanding of who is interested in your offer, they do a much better job at targeting for your ads than you ever could.
Where Should You Send The Traffic?
You'll send the traffic from your campaign depending on the objective of your campaign. If you're just promoting a video, they will stay on the LinkedIn platform.
But, if you are trying to send them to a page on your website then you should make sure you are optimising that landing page for the visitors you will be sending it.
What are some things you can do?
Ensure the page info & SEO is correct
Ensure all the links are working
Ensure the information on the page is relevant to the ads you will be directing that way
Have a clear next step/ CTA for people on the stage
Link in other relevant topic clusters so visitors can continue to navigate on your website
We created a small blog where we hosted the video of a recent podcast interview I did with a law firm, Sweeneys Solicitors, down in Cork.
We chose this as it gives solid practical advice to the audience we will be targeting the ad with. There is good information within the interview and it covers some interesting topics for law firms (as described in the screenshot below).
While we were entering the world of LinkedIn ads as an experiment, like with everything you do with marketing, you should be still monitoring it and reviewing the results.
Given it was a new platform, we weren't too sure what KPI's to set or what return on the ad spend we could expect.
With that being said, here's a snapshot of some of the results we received.
In case you aren't familiar with the terminology, here is what the above terms mean in simple language:
Impressions: How many times your ad loaded on the homepage.
Clicks: How many times someone clicked on your ad
Average CPC: The amount it costs per click, on your ad
Total Social Actions: The social engagement your ad received. It includes everything from reactions, comments, shares, follows, and clicks.
As you can see we were spending approx €30 per day and we received just over 300 clicks and visits to our website during that time.
We were surprised and a little disappointed to see the high number of impressions, yet only receiving 19 engagements.
Like with all results, metrics can paint different pictures. We can also look through the metrics from an engagement perspective a bit deeper. The below metrics are relatively self-explanatory but let's go through them again:
301 people clicked and went through to our landing page.
66 people went and checked out our LinkedIn page.
It shows that in total 2.18% of people engaged with our ad from the people who saw it.
Ad Results - How Does It Compare To An Organic Post?
I've always relied upon my personal account to grow the brand on LinkedIn. But with the ad, as mentioned, you have to share it via your LinkedIn company page.
With that in mind, I created the ad very similar to a post I had shared on my own page. I did this so we could compare the results of both. The below image is how the LinkedIn ad would have shown on our company page.
And below is my organic post from my personal page. These were the results:
- Approx 4,500 Views (Impressions)
- 60 Likes & 6 Comments
While you have no control where your organic posts show, it was interesting to compare the results. There was a huge difference when it came to the difference in the engagement rate.
One assumption we could make is that personal profiles outperform company pages. This is something I've always believed as it comes across a more authentic way to share your brand's message.
Hold off on LinkedIn Ads campaign for the moment and concentrate on opening new conversations and growing your brand through your personal profile.
I love the LinkedIn platform but you can become an expert and thought leader in your field through consistently posting information that is entertaining or educating through your own profile before you have to start pouring money into ads.
In comparison to other social media giants, they offer great opportunities for growth when it comes to your organic reach so take advantage of that while you still can.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this deeper dive into the LinkedIn Ads platform. If you found it valuable please share it with a friend or colleague and get in touch with any questions on this topic or any other area of digital marketing if you're interested in growing your own business online.