So you’re dabbling in LinkedIn advertising…
I’ve been running LinkedIn ads since 2012 and I’ve done a lot of testing in different markets — you could say I wrote the book on it (because I did).
There are essentially two types of LinkedIn ad campaigns (three if you are a big brand with at least $25,000 to spend on ads). The Self-Service ads and the Sponsored Update ads.
Before you can determine which is right for your business, you need to know…
What is the Difference Between Self-Service and Sponsored Update Ads?
Self-Service ads are the small ads you see in the right column of LinkedIn and at the top of pages as a text ad. You’ll see the sidebar ads under the Ads You May Be Interested In widget similar to the image below. The ads are grouped in a series of three ads and contain a thumbnail image and text.
Sponsored Update ads allow brands to deliver their content into the homepage feed of members beyond those who are following their company. They can be targeted to a specific audience, and can be seen on desktop, smartphone and tablet device.
So which is working best in LinkedIn Advertising ?
I recommend not running self-service ads unless you’ve done a lot of testing and have winning campaigns.
In my experience, LinkedIn members don’t click on the Self-Service ads as often as they click on Google ads and if they do click, they don’t convert as well as Google and Facebook ads. (LinkedIn is working hard to improve the performance of Self-Service ads.)
For that reason, we’re focusing on Sponsored Update ads in this post.
The Sponsored Updates were released in mid-2013 and work very well in most cases. When you treat Sponsored Updates as native ads, you receive a high Click Through Rate (CTR), a low Cost Per Click (CPC), and high conversion rate (CR).
Here is a sample Sponsored Update from Google. Notice 419 people liked this update and there are 16 comments. Look for updates which receive numerous likes and comments and save screenshots so you can use the same approach in your sponsored updates.
There are three parts to getting the best performance out of your Sponsored Updates and I’ve created a checklist for you to measure every time you set one up.
Check it out below and download a free PDF version of this LinkedIn ad checklist when you’re done!
1. Optimizing content
Always Ask, “Why Would the Audience Want to Read This?”
Most online banners get little response because we see so many banners and suffer from “banner blindness”. Online marketers are always looking for tips to improve ad performance so Google sharing examples which work for them.
Use Concise and Compelling Intros and Headlines
Banner ads get a bad rap – but when done right, they can really boost brand lift.
As an online marketer, you’re aiming for a headline that grabs their attention so they’ will click on the ad to learn more.
Ask Compelling Questions to Engage Your Target Audience
People are always looking for answers to their problems so get their attention by asking them a question and giving them the answer in your ad campaign.
Look at the interaction BrightRoll created by asking a simple question. 649 Likes and 37 Comments is great interaction for LinkedIn ads.
Always Include a Clear Call to Action
In the BrightRoll update, they’re inviting you to learn the strategy Kellogg’s used to engage their audience on new screens.
Optimize Your Landing Pages for Mobile Traffic
Most LinkedIn traffic is mobile.
The landing page for the BrightRoll ad is clean, mobile-friendly and lets you fill out the form using your LinkedIn contact information with one click. This is one of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn Sponsored Updates where you can fill in your web forms with a single click.
2. Managing Updates
Plan an Editorial Calendar and React to Timely Events
Plan your editorial calendar at least one quarter in advance so you’ll be sharing relevant, timely information. Also plan for holiday promotions and special events well in advance so you have time to prepare high quality content.
Respond to Comments Quickly
Social media is all about timeliness so you need to monitor your sponsored updates and reply quickly. Occasionally disgruntled customers may vent in the comments of your sponsored updates so you need to act quickly to defuse their frustration.
Keep updates running 24x7x365
In today’s business environment, people can be working online any time of day or night. Keep your ads in front of them 24x7x365 so you maximize your chance of them seeing your content.
Run 2-4 Sponsored Updates Simultaneously to Split Test
Always split test your ad campaigns testing different headlines, ad text and images to see what your audience responds to.
Test, Engage, and Refine
When people respond to your content, it tells you what their biggest pain points are so you can create more content to address their problems. This also gives you ideas for new products and services which solve your customers biggest issues.
3. Optimizing Visuals
Always Include an Engaging Image, Video or Presentation
Adding engaging images or videos to your blog posts, articles, and online ads almost always increases engagement.
Ensure Your Image is Relevant to Your Content
I’m sure you’ve seen a compelling image in an ad that made you click on the ad then you were completely disappointed when the landing page and offer had nothing to do with the image. It’s a bait and switch and you immediately distrust the business because they tricked you. Make sure your image matches your product or service so you gain the trust of the viewer.
Use similar visuals on your landing page
Here’s a great example of LinkedIn using the same image in the sponsored update and again on the landing page. This continues the conversation from the sponsored update to the offer page which will improve your conversion rate significantly.
You can see LinkedIn’s complete advertising specifications here.
Remember, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates work very well when you treat them like native ads. Make your Sponsored Update look like content with an interesting image and direct them to a landing page with great content and your conversion rates will skyrocket!
Download your LinkedIn Sponsored Update checklist here.
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