Lead Generation with LinkedIn Ads

November 11, 2017 / By Bruce McDuffee

LinkedIn ads can be a powerful lead generation engine with a substantial ROI. There are two categories of advertisers, self-service and working with a dedicated support team. If you have a budget of more than $25,000 per month (or whatever you can negotiate with the LinkedIn Sales Team), you qualify for the dedicated support and more options open up to you. However, in this article, we will be discussing the self-service option and assume you are working with a smaller budget.

Before embarking on LinkedIn advertising (or any advertisement), you should set some objectives, specific goals and define your ideal target audience. It is also important to consider what you want a person to do when they click on an ad and when you will do in response to a conversion. In other words, you should know how someone could move through the sales funnel. If you are paying for an advertisement, we will assume the ultimate goal is to convert that person into a customer. For example, if your ad promotes an upcoming webinar, your campaign should include a registration mechanism, confirmation page or email, auto reply email with information about how to log in to the webinar, etc. The ad by itself is only a small portion of your overall promotion.

Now that you have determined your objective, defined specific goals, prepared your sales funnel with all the assets, it’s time to decide which type of ad to use on LinkedIn. There are three types of ads available; Text Ads, Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail.

Text Ads

linkedin text ads

Text ads are the ads that show up on the right side of various LinkedIn pages. These ads are similar to the typical banner ads we see in emails and on other web pages.

Text ads offer limited content including a 25 character headline, a 75 character description, and an optional 50x50 pixel image. The ad may appear in a variety of sizes on a variety of pages including home pages, profile pages, group pages, the message page, the ‘my network’ page, the ‘who’s viewed’ page, and the search results pages. Learn more about LinkedIn Text Ads.

Sponsored Content

linkedin ads

Sponsored Content is the most effective advertising on LinkedIn. The real power of Sponsored Content is that the ad appears right in the feed of your target audience. Therefore, it is less likely to be ignored the way banner ads are typically ignored for example.

Frequently, your content is only shown to your Company Page followers and your connections. Sponsored Content allows you to place your content in the streams of a precise audience not limited by connections or followers. You can reach your specific audience at the moment they are engaged with LinkedIn across any platform, desktop, tablet or mobile.

You have more options and more flexibility with Sponsored Content than you do with text ads. Sponsored Content can include text, images, video, or SlideShare. There are numerous options for tracking conversions, impressions, and clicks. LinkedIn now offers a built-in form option where the form is automatically populated making it easier for users to convert. Learn more about LinkedIn Sponsored Content.

Check out this checklist for creating Sponsored Content Ads

Sponsored Content is the most effective advertising on LinkedIn. The real power of Sponsored Content is that the ad appears right in the feed of your target audience. Therefore, it is less likely to be ignored the way banner ads are typically ignored for example.

Sponsored InMail

linkedin advertising with sponsored inmail

Sponsored InMail allows you to send an email directly to a targeted audience via the Messaging window. The process is the same as with all LinkedIn paid ads. Just write a compelling email with a call to action, choose your target audience, set a bid and budget, and you’re done.

Each email allows for a custom subject line, personalized greeting and a call to action button. You also get a square banner ad positioned to the right of the email that highlights your call to action.

Unlike Sponsored Content and Text Ads, your bid determines how many emails are sent, and you pay per delivery, not per click. It is a good idea to keep track of the cost per click and cost per conversion if you are comparing the InMail results to a Text Ad or a Sponsored Content Ad. Learn more about Sponsored InMail. 

Choosing Your Target Audience

Each of the three advertising options allows you to choose a specific target audience. The options for defining the audience are very robust, and this is one of the big advantages of LinkedIn advertising. You can include or exclude any of the following categories:

  1. Geographic location - as granular as a specific city
  2. Industry
  3. Company Size - by number of employees
  4. Specific Company - exclusion only
  5. Job Function
  6. Job Title
  7. Job Seniority
  8. Member Schools
  9. Fields of Study
  10. Degrees
  11. Member Skills
  12. Member Groups
  13. Member Gender
  14. Member Age
  15. Years of Experience
  16. Company Followers

As you make choices to define your audience, LinkedIn keeps a tally of the total audience available. LinkedIn recommends minimum size target audiences of 300,000 for Sponsored Content, between 60,000 and 400,000 for text ads, and 100,000 or fewer for Sponsored InMail. When choosing your audience, keep your decisions aligned with your marketing strategy. A niche audience is usually more efficient than a broad audience. It is imperative to align the audience with the content offer, so it is highly relevant to the viewer.

Budget & Bidding

All 3 of the advertising options uses a bidding process to determine how often your advertisement gets in frontLinkedin advertising budget and bidding of your target audience. LinkedIn will make a recommendation as to how much you should bid and will also specify a minimum bid. Bidding is an art and science as with any pay per click advertising. Manage your first campaigns carefully by testing different bid amounts as you compare the results to determine that sweet spot bid.

Sponsored Content and Text Ads allow you to bid on a cost per click or cost per thousand impressions. The type of bid you choose will depend on your objective. Typically, cost per thousand works better for general awareness ads and cost per click is better for lead generation ads. Whichever method you choose, keep a close eye on the metrics to determine where you are getting the most impact.

In addition to bidding, LinkedIn provides options for setting a budget. You can and should set maximum budgets. You can set a daily maximum or an overall maximum budget for each campaign. You can also specify an end date for each campaign.

Performance Metrics

LinkedIn advertising metrics

LinkedIn provides robust performance metrics which include impressions, clicks, conversions (this requires a tag), cost per, averages, and social actions. LinkedIn also offers precise demographic data about those who clicked on the ad. A little-known fact about the performance metrics for paid ads is that the download option includes much more data than the on-screen reports. Check your metrics daily and tweak every aspect as needed to maximize your ROI.

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