The LinkedIn world has gone ad crazy. Not just with regular ads, but with a new kind of social media ad that companies are eating up like candy.
With millions upon millions of members, LinkedIn proved to be such an attractive platform that its ad revenues hovered around $550-million by the third quarter of 2014 – a 45% growth over the previous year and all because of a new type of sponsored ads.
If you’re not using this feature, it’s time you should. According to an article in the Digital Journal’s B2B Network, paid ads on social media generate 25% more conversions than organic posts, and for B2B there’s no better platform than LinkedIn.
What’s In It for You
These sponsored ads – or what LinkedIn likes to call Direct Sponsored Content Ads – take paid social media advertising to the next level by dropping your ads into targeted member’s newsfeeds, even if they don’t “follow” your company.
These ads allow you to sponsor your own content, and then target the ad to fit your niche market. That market could be companies in a region of the country, or particular industries. You can also use filters to target (or exclude) CEOs and CFOs, for example.
It’s a beautiful thing. Face it, people like to work with people they know. So if you’re offering a great new service, doesn’t it just make sense to make sure your concentric circles of influence are in the loop?
Buckle Down if You Want Results
Clearly there are thousands of users who have figured out precisely how to take advantage of sponsored ads. But I suspect there are many who still shy away, simply because the process is so painstaking.
Part of the issue is that LinkedIn assumes you have piles of information at your fingertips when you start creating your ad. In truth, you need to go in fully armed if you want a streamlined experience.
How to Generate Leads with LinkedIn
Make sure you take care of these four critical items first, before you get started.
- Check your administration privileges. Only administrators to create ads. Check with your team to get added. Once that’s done, the option “Advertising” appear in your account settings under your profile icon on the right.
- Determine a budget for your campaign. You will need this information in Step 5 of creating the ad. You can set a total budget for the entire campaign. Charges are only incurred when people click your ad.
- Determine what item on your LinkedIn page you want to “sponsor”. If you already have your item visible on LinkedIn, great. If not, you’ll need to create one. The post should link to your website page. It could promote an event, blog post, or news release – something that would attract interest or position you as a thought leader. Don’t forget to include an image.
- Create a campaign tracking URL. Google URL builder will generate a uniquely identified URL so you can accurately measure success of your ad
Build Your Ad with Context
Direct Sponsored ads are more connected to the personality of your company, rather than the profile of your company. The reason is simple: each of these ads is going to appear above a post that appears on your page. So it’s personal.
These ads won’t appear on your company page, so you don’t have to worry about them looking out of place. But what targeted clients will see is both the URL you want them to link to (which may or may not also be on your LinkedIn page) and your CTA (call to action) – so the two pieces need to work together.
- Forget about your logo. This is not the time for you to use your company logo as an image. Save that for the regular ads that are more akin to what used to go into the newspaper. What you want to do is send a signal to your targeted industry that you understand them.
- Choose a sensible image. If you’re trying to attract the construction industry, choose an image that lets them know you understand their business. Think: what do they do, rather than what do you do.
- Write like you talk. You have 160 characters to work with, so make it meaningful. You want to compel your reader to click, but B2Bs might want to avoid puns. You want to sound like an insider rather than an outsider.
- Run, Review, and Repeat. Just because you think you’re ad is great, doesn’t mean anyone else does. After a couple of days, review the performance. Tweak your intro message, your image and even the content of your URL until you get the results you want.
Overcome LinkedIn’s Obtuse Interface
With so much revenue streaming in to LinkedIn, the company clearly isn’t concerned with those who find themselves stumbling around in the dark due to their platform’s utter lack of user transparency.
I say this because I’m one of those old fogies – a member of the generation that didn’t grow up with a keyboard glued to her fingertips (although I’ve been clocked at 89 wpm).
I have no patience to fast forward through nebulous YouTube videos in search of what I need. And as for the training tools on LinkedIn’s own site, they’re frequently masqueraded sales pitches that scurry past salient details.
I feel your pain.
Make Your Media Buy Count
Not so long ago, sales jumped in where marketing feared to tread. Today, social media marketing does much of the heavy lifting, so that your sales team can focus on what it’s truly good at: closing the deal with that perfect client your marketing efforts have brought in.
Figuring out how to conquer marketing tools like LinkedIn will help you expand your reach, and deliver the leads that work precisely for you.
If you find yourself struggling with the finer details, check out this full step-by-step guide to launching your first Direct Sponsored Ad campaign, and feel free to share it with your team.
Before you know it, you’ll have direct sponsored ads working for you, and your “links” will really count for something.