In the world of B2B online marketing, LinkedIn PPC ads are an important and fast-growing trend that many marketing directors have not yet fully explored.
The advantages of LinkedIn advertising go deep and wide, largely due to the potential to target audiences with a high degree of precision. As the leading online professional networking platform, LinkedIn members share a wealth of information about themselves that includes their job title, employer, expertise, experience, current responsibilities, education, industry type, size of their employer, seniority, special interests, and membership in professional organizations. LinkedIn users can also join groups, initiate conversations, and develop followers.
In the current climate, keeping LinkedIn data thorough and up to date is viewed as an essential professional networking strategy, as well as a celebratory step that accompanies a promotion or a new job.
This treasure trove of data is accessible by marketers. It can serve as a veritable gold mine for hyper-focused advertising campaigns that allow for targeting by title, industry, company, role, level of responsibility, location — to name the top-level categories for creating an audience. There are also exclusion options which can block an ad from being delivered to specific competitors, or to LinkedIn members who have a particular title, or who lack a given threshold of seniority or experience.
LinkedIn actually offers hundreds of different audience segmentation strategies and methods.
As is the case with other PPC platforms, LinkedIn enables marketers to set up a daily budget, or a budget to run for the duration of a campaign, enabling close tracking and control over dollars spent.
A Great B2B Audience Platform
Another critical factor supporting LinkedIn’s prime position for B2B advertising: LinkedIn got its start and remains a platform for and about professional matters. Even though Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are now overloaded with ads and sponsored posts, much of which is viewed as clutter and not welcomed.
No one ever logs on to LinkedIn, though, expecting entertainment in the form of fun photos, family and friend updates, snappy political commentary, or heartwarming videos of babies and dogs. LinkedIn is all business. As such, well targeted B2B ads that appear directly in a member’s news feed and are relevant to their professional interests, have a good chance of being taken seriously there.
Case in point: this recent LinkedIn image ad from Solid Digital. We received a great response from it! We chose something fun and eye-catching and targeted our primary audience – Marketing Directors segmented further by years of experience, company size and industry – with a relevant piece of downloadable content. LinkedIn provides the forecasted audience size – in this case 47,000+ and in the end resulted in a lower CTR but higher conversion rate and lower cost per acquisition than something like Google Search Ads making it an overall win for lead gen.
We know what you’re thinking – It’s Google though, not other social media platforms, that currently own the biggest chunk of PPC activity. And of course that is true.
However, consider that Google Search and LinkedIn have fundamental differences as PPC platforms for B2B advertising, both with distinct advantages.
LinkedIn, of course, has a far narrower potential audience reach than Google — 500 million professionals on LinkedIn vs. 4 billion Google users. Along with LinkedIn’s narrow audience comes the ability for B2B companies to target and connect with relevant decision makers. Google’s massive reach means that Google search ads can also target B2B clients. The essential difference is the wider net that’s required.
LinkedIn’s ads are generally more expensive, on a per-click basis than Google’s. The average LinkedIn cost per click is $5, with an average of $1 for Google. Despite Google’s lower per-click cost, however, a sharp focus on audience segmentation is needed to ensure a satisfactory return on investment. Generally speaking, if the PPC budget is tight, a sharper focus on LinkedIn PPC ads can potentially have a greater impact and better return than a wider reach of Google PPC ads.
Essential Differences: Google vs. LinkedIn
Keep in mind, there is not an apples-to-apples comparison between LinkedIn and Google PPC ads. Google PPC ads can offer an excellent opportunity to get the attention of someone who is searching specifically for what it is that you have to offer. LinkedIn PPC can help to get in front of your target audience earlier on in their buyer’s journey — an opportunity to gain mindshare before they’ve demonstrated an intent to search for your product or service.
Google’s targeting options are also considerably more limited than LinkedIn’s. This, combined with the platform’s vast reach, can lead to a greater and unavoidable percentage of clicks from unqualified leads.
Based on the differences (and similarities) between the two platforms, best practice would be to use both to meet different ends as part of a strong digital marketing program.
Best Practices for LinkedIn PPC
While single image ads work well on LinkedIn, we’ve found the best success for optimizing these ads has stemmed from added value and offers such as downloading an asset, signing up for a webinar, getting a free demo, clicking on an article link, or some sort of engagement outreach. LinkedIn PPC ads include the option of a CTA button, and enable the tracking of impressions, click-throughs, and conversions which show in the platform.
A/B testing can also be set up on LinkedIn PPC, allowing for intelligence gathering on different messaging, design treatments, images or CTAs. LinkedIn will determine which option is performing better, provide metrics, and then optimize by showing the best performing ad.
Getting it Right
Calibrating the optimal mix of PPC ads is a function of many factors that includes your budget, your target audience, specific offering, your marketing goals, and a lot more. The good news is that you are not required to stick with one strategy. All PPC ad platforms track response rates, allowing for learning and possible strategy switches at any point.
That said, it’s complicated.
Specialized expertise is a critical advantage in sorting through the range of considerations and constantly changing options. Our advice at Solid Digital: Make sure that LinkedIn PPC ads are considered in the mix, and remember, we’re advocates and big time experts at this. Let us know how we can help.