For consumer-facing brands, the preferred social media platforms have always been Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. But for B2B companies, LinkedIn has always played a special role, thanks primarily to its audience of 500 million business-focused individuals. LinkedIn advertising spending is now up 10 percent on a year-over-year basis, and B2B companies are becoming more creative about ways to leverage LinkedIn’s expanding number of advertising options. So what’s the best way to effectively use LinkedIn ads?
Set the right goals
At the outset, it’s important to define what, exactly, you plan to achieve with your LinkedIn ad spend. For B2C companies, the primary goal is usually “brand awareness.” But for B2B companies, the goal is usually much more targeted around measurable business goals. For example, one goal might be to “build a contact list,” while another goal might to “generate new leads.”
Come up with a realistic spending target
Once you’ve identified what you plan to do, it’s time to come up with a spending target. LinkedIn has much less available ad inventory space than, say, Facebook, and that overall scarcity makes each ad more expensive than you might originally anticipate. For example, the average CPC on LinkedIn is $6.50, compared to a CPC of just $2.32 for Google AdWords. That’s why it’s so important to set the right business goals – if you’re spending more than six bucks for a click, you want to make sure that you’re getting the right ROI. If you’re acquiring a new customer (and not just boosting brand awareness), then paying a higher CPC makes business sense.
Choose the right ad type
What B2B companies are discovering is that LinkedIn actually offers a growing number of ad formats. So you really need to think about which format can help you deliver on your upfront business goals. The three primary ad types are text ads, sponsored content ads, and sponsored InMail ads. If your target audience likes to read white papers and case studies, then coming up with sponsored content ads probably makes sense. Business executives would be encouraged to click on your content, as long as you are helping them make better business decisions.
Test, test, and… test again
If you’ve used other social media advertising solutions, you’re probably aware of how important it is to test and experiment. With text ads, for example, you need to be continually testing the small message that you are running in those ads. With the InMail ads, you need to be testing out different options (e.g. bigger or smaller companies, different business verticals, different geographies).
Using these steps above, you can optimize the effectiveness of your LinkedIn ads. You’ll be reaching the right decision-makers at the right time with the right message. And, since the LinkedIn ads have already been aligned with key business goals from the very outset, you’ll be filling up your sales funnel with new leads and converting more prospects already in your sales funnel. At the end of the day, that is going to lead to increased revenue and profitability, as well as an impressive ROI on your LinkedIn ad spend.