LinkedIn and beyond

LinkedIn and beyond

LinkedIn and beyond

LinkedIn and beyond

LinkedIn and beyond

B2B best practices and takeaways

B2B best practices and takeaways

B2B best practices and takeaways

B2B best practices and takeaways

István Bálint, Head of PPC, i.balint@mito.hu 
August, 2020 · 6 min read

More than 150 countries, lots of Euros spent, challenging niche B2B audiences and countless hours of planning (and replanning), fine-tuning and optimizing. What we’ve learned for certain is that while remarkably useful, LinkedIn is also a tricky creature that can turn into a real money-pit if there is no well-thought-out strategy behind the ads.

In this article, we’ll take a look at LinkedIn as an advertising platform and its intricacies.

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There are three aspects we definitely need to examine before starting to advertise on LinkedIn. The first one is the available budget. Though this seems obvious, clients are often shocked to learn how expensive this platform is. In some countries, targeting the executive level can cost you up to 25 Euros per click. So we need to decide right at the beginning of the campaign who we are going to target and how, because advertising without a well-devised strategy is simply a waste of money. However, having a good strategy is not enough in itself. If you lack pertinent content to offer to your professionally educated audience or if you do not have a suitable website, the campaign will not bring the desired results. 

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Strategy

Before launching a campaign, we need to clarify the following questions: Who do we want to reach?; With what tools?; And what is the goal of the whole campaign? Answering these will help us build up all the elements of our campaign in a purposeful way.

Target audience

Ideally, a company knows who their (potential) customers are, who make up the target audience that they want to reach in some way with a campaign. It’s worth defining these groups on LinkedIn based on the available targeting parameters. Business decisions are not made by a single person. The target audience can be divided into different groups based on their role in decision-making: those who influence decisions and those who make them. It’s not enough to convince the decision-makers: you also need to reach people with influencing power multiple times, and this must figure into your strategy. If these groups are split into even smaller target groups based on their most dominant characteristic, we end up with personas. Creating personas help in understanding the target group better. From a communications viewpoint, personas need to be handled separately, as each have their own interests, language characteristics and priorities, so our product/service might be relevant to them for different reasons.

Objective and advertisement type

If we’ve identified our target groups, our next task is to determine at which point of the customer journey they are currently, and to define a goal that can bring them to the next level.

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Our target audience can be categorised into 4 groups based on how much they know about the advertiser and their products/services:

does not know the advertiser

knows the advertiser but is not directly interested in the advertised business service

is directly interested in the advertised business service but needs more information to be able to decide

is about to make a business decision

Based on this, the objectives of LinkedIn campaigns can be sorted into the following categories: 

  • Reputation/thought leadership (awareness): our goal is for the users to encounter our company/service as many times as possible (within reason), for them to get to know the brand’s essence, its key message and its values. Some typical KPIs might be: the number of video views, the number of impressions, reach and frequency.
  • Aiding consumer decision-making (consideration): our aim is to make the user group/buyer group learn as much as possible about our company/service. A typical goal is to direct people to the website; possible KPIs are the number of clicks, the number of engagements, the click-through rate, the viewing time.
  • Lead collection (action): our goal is for the users to perform some desirable action, whether it’s filling out a form or supporting some point of the sales process. Accordingly, KPIs might be the conversion rate or the number of leads.

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Having considered everything above, we can select the campaign objective on LinkedIn’s campaign management interface. After the campaign objective has been selected, the range of advertisement types we can use in the given campaign automatically narrows. This is because it’s generally true that a given advertisement type cannot serve every campaign objective.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are certain types of advertisements that can be used for all three objective categories, though with different settings. Direct Sponsored Contents, or by their new name, Single Image Ads are such an example. With a general creative, they can serve reputation objectives, with a product- or service-focused creative, they can help consumer decision-making and with an attached lead generation form and appropriate CTA, they are also perfectly suitable for collecting leads.


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Lead generation can happen two ways in a LinkedIn campaign: either with the help of a Lead Gen Form or through the website of the advertiser. In the case of Lead Gen Forms, users do not have to leave LinkedIn’s website, as the form can be attached to a compatible ad and appears when the CTA on the ad is clicked. In our experience, the conversion rate is higher when Lead Gen Forms are used than in the case of landing pages. This is largely thanks to the fact that LinkedIn automatically fills out all the basic fields (name, email address, company name, position, etc.), making the user’s job easier. The advertiser can download the submitted data as tables but importing the data into their own CRM system can also be automated. In our experience, continuous quality control of the leads is essential for every LinkedIn campaign, as is routing back the related information to facilitate regular fine-tuning of the targeting.

Targeting your LinkedIn ads

The next step of the process is determining the appropriate targeting. The user data collected by LinkedIn enables us to define the B2B audience we’d like to target along various parameters.

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Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when targeting LinkedIn campaigns:

  • Appropriate audience size: when setting up the campaign parameters, the size of the campaign audience (and the estimated results) can be seen before launching the campaign. An audience smaller than 1,000 people is considered too small; the campaign presumably won’t generate enough traffic and LinkedIn won’t be able to learn either without enough room for manoeuvre. In case of an audience over 50,000 people, there is a high chance of significant waste coverage; the audience could be further refined without going below the recommended minimum audience size.
  • First-party data: before targeting in any other way, it’s best to utilise our own data, as it’s bound to be the most accurate, whether it’s a company list of potential/current clients or a list of competitors to be excluded. Company names/contact names can be uploaded to LinkedIn which matches them to the businesses/users already in the system. The best-quality lists (e.g. clients) can be used for building lookalike audiences, which is certainly worth testing.
  • Remarketing: in our experience, the best results can be achieved with remarketing audiences. The lists can be segmented based on what pages the users have visited, what materials they have downloaded, so that we can always show them something new, leading them through the customer journey.
  • Group targeting: before utilising more general, broader targeting techniques, it’s worth trying Group targeting (which is used for targeting the members of professional groups we select). In the case of almost all of our campaigns, group targeting had a higher CTR than targeting based on job function + industry had. An explanation for this might be that users who have joined a relevant professional group are more interested in the subject than the average user. The categories available for simple interest-based targeting are too broad, so if our audience is even just a bit specific, this won’t be a good solution for us.
  • Filters: though we have to attempt to set our targeting as accurately as possible by combining the available filters, trying to use too many of them at the same time will once again throttle our campaign. There are also some filters that can’t be combined (e.g. job title and seniority), so this needs to be taken into account.
  • Exclusions: an interesting thing about LinkedIn is that not targeting someone does not mean that our ads won’t appear for them. To make sure that, we reach the right people, we have to exclude the given category. LinkedIn’s explanation for this phenomenon is that a person who has a seniority of manager in one of their positions might have a seniority of CXO in another position at the same time. If we only target CXOs and do not exclude managers, our ads are going to appear for this person. There are some categories (e.g. business development job function) that include a lot of users, so if we decide to exclude them, the size of our audience can decrease considerably.
  • Budget distribution among countries: LinkedIn is a decidedly expensive advertising platform. And this holds especially true for certain countries, e.g. USA, UK, Australia. If we advertise in these countries, it’s worth targeting them in a separate campaign, otherwise they might eat up our whole budget.

Content

Besides strategy, it’s also important to offer appropriate content to the users. At the very beginning of campaign development, we have to examine whether the target group actively uses LinkedIn to obtain information. Launching a LinkedIn campaign is only worth it if the answer is yes.

In our experience, leaders are open to branded advertisements but only if they find something of value in them. So good content is content that the target audience finds useful, but it’s worth determining through marketing research what shape that content should take in the given case. Such contents might be industry/market analyses, articles about products or innovations, leader insights, success stories/case studies. 

The message conveyed by the advertisement has to match the campaign objective and the language of the persona, while also conforming to the nature of the advertisement type. We’ve found that the best way to demonstrate this is a message matrix, with the personas and advertisement types represented in the rows and the different phases of the campaign in the columns. 

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Based on this, we can build a detailed content flow that determines the order in which the users will see the contents.

Beyond LinkedIn advertising

If we have successfully defined our target group, translated them into LinkedIn’s language, reached them with suitable targeting and advertisement types, showed them content relevant to their interests and were also able to measure the campaign’s effect on the customer journey, the battle is half won.

It is generally true that users who have encountered the advertiser before and have visited the site are more likely to positively react to an advertisement the next time than those who have never seen it before. Being present on other channels and showing something new to the users helps us make the most of our audience collected on LinkedIn.

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The synergies stemming from the simultaneous use of different advertisement channels cannot be ignored in the case of any B2B campaign. However, detailing a whole B2B advertising strategy is beyond the scope of our subject, so we’ll elaborate on that in a later article. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Mito Performance, click here to see our previous work.

Do you need help with your LinkedIn Ads strategy? Let's talk.

Do you need help with your LinkedIn Ads strategy? Let's talk.

István Bálint