If you’re working on the B2B market, using LinkedIn ads is almost a must
What is LinkedIn?
I’m sure that you know about the social network for business professionals, but have you ever thought about it as a marketing channel? If your business targets other businesses as customers, you should definitely use LinkedIn as an advertising platform. With more than 150 million users, this network shouldn’t be missed – LinkedIn gives advertisers access to a business-centric user base and can be extremely effective, when used correctly. You have the opportunity to create highly targeted ad campaigns because users of LinkedIn share a lot of information, like who they are, where they live, where they work, and what their professional interests are. The B2B target market is there, you just need to know how to reach it. You have an option to create a free account on LinkedIn (Basic Account) or choose from 3 paid variations which offer you more functions. In the posts of this Practical Guide we will use the free account and the functionality that it offers.
Four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions, so LinkedIn users are a great target when we’re talking about the B2B market. Before you start considering advertising on LinkedIn though, you should find out whether or not this network is used in your country. According to LinkedIn, the spread of their users around the world looks like this:
But what about your country – if it’s not mentioned in the graphic above? You can find out yourself – we’ll see how when we talk about targeting of LinkedIn Ads. Just follow the steps described next.
LinkedIn gives marketers the opportunity to create business accounts so that they can separate ad campaigns and billing information from their personal accounts. With business accounts you can give other people access to your campaigns and you can assign those people different roles: Standard user, Admin, Campaign contact, Billing contact, and Viewer. Business accounts don’t show in searches and don’t have connections but be aware that they must be tied to a Company Page on LinkedIn.
You can create multiple business accounts if you need to. To create a business account you should first go to LinkedIn Ads Dashboard, then to your name on the top right corner and select Create Business account. After this, you have to select your Company page from the list that LinkedIn shows you, give an Account name and click Create.
You can access your business account from the Ads dashboard – under your name you have a View all accounts button. In your account you have access to the campaigns connected with it and also to the users with access to the account and their roles. You can create new campaigns and add new users.
Before you can start an ad campaign you must fill in your billing details in the Ad campaigns tab. LinkedIn Ads activation costs $5. LinkedIn is not cheap for advertising compared with other social networks like Facebook and, in some ways, Google AdWords (depending on the words), but your targeting options are great and if you’re targeting business professionals, no other advertising platform can offer you the exact match of people that you’re looking for. So considering this, it’s logical why LinkedIn Ads are more expensive and why you need to pay even to create an account.
Creating an Ad campaign
To start your campaigns go to the LinkedIn Ads Dashboard where you will be asked to enter your password. Then you have to take the first step and actually create your campaign. You have to add a name for the campaign – this name is for your internal use only, so don’t worry too much about it. Set your ad Destination Link, your Title and your Copy. You don’t have much space to be imaginative with 25 characters for the title, 75 characters for the copy and 50 x 50 for the picture, but be creative. Keep it simple and tell your users only what they need to know. Create a clear call-to-action and use a picture which people can see and recognize despite the tiny size. Never leave the image out of your ad – ads with pictures tend to get more attention and more clicks. You have the option to add up to 15 variations of your campaign so that you can test different pictures, titles and copies. This lets you find out in a couple of days which ad is the most effective – leave it as the only ad, after that.
Targeting LinkedIn Advertising
The targeting options on LinkedIn focus on the professional interest of users. You can target people by demographic criteria like Geography, Age and Gender and by their professional characteristics such as Job Title, Job Function, Industry, Company Size and/or Name. In fact, the most important thing to do before you choose your target group for the ad campaign is to be well aware of who you really want to reach – who your potential customers are. For example, if you’re selling e-mail marketing software, there is no sense in targeting the Chief accountant of a company, right?! So, let’s take the following example and do the needed targeting: let’s say we want to sell e-mail marketing software for small businesses to customers in Bulgaria (that’s my home country, so I’ll take the opportunity to use it my example :)).
The first step is to choose the location – choose the continent and then the country. If you want to choose a small country like Bulgaria, the geotargeting is fine, but if you want to advertise to users in the USA, it may not be so precise despite the fact that it offers the option to choose the state, etc. In the upper left corner you can see the estimated reach of your ad, depending on your targeting criteria. When you choose your country or region you can see the overall number of LinkedIn users. You can choose up to 10 locations in one campaign. For our example we choose Bulgaria. The next step is to target people by the exact company they work for, the size of the company, or the industry. In our example we don’t want to target a specific company, nor an industry – these can be reached more easily with e-mail marketing. Because our software is meant for small businesses, we target companies with 11 to 50 employees. We want them to be likely to have a marketing budget to spend on our product, so we don’t target companies smaller than this (in my country, smaller companies tend to use free products).
Then comes the most important targeting criteria – the specific job or job function. Because you know who the decision makers for buying your product are, you can advertise specifically to them. In our case we’re not using a specific job position or seniority level because we don’t know if our small companies have a Marketing Director or other person solely responsible for marketing. So we choose only the Function Marketing. But if you want to target by Job Title, keep in mind that similar positions have different names in different companies, so be open to try different job titles for the same position.
You have the opportunity to target people by their school / college / university, skills, gender and age. In our example we target people between 25 and 54 years old – people who tend to be interested in online marketing and who are more likely to be responsible for making spending decisions on their own. With our criteria, we have a target group of under 1,000 people – not large, but very specific and they are precisely our potential buyers. Here comes a problem – if you target less than 1,000 people, that’s not enough for LinkedIn and it won’t let you create the campaign. So in that case, think about how you can broaden the audience – for example, by including other Functions like Media and Product Management, etc.
As I said at the beginning, before starting a LinkedIn campaign you should research how many of your target audience are on LinkedIn – use the above mentioned targeting tool to find out, without creating an ad, of course.
We have another great targeting option – targeting by group. My advice is to use this option separately from the other criteria, combining it only with the geo location, if needed. Think about a group that your potential customers might have joined. Find the group and go through it just to see if this group is what you think it is and if its members are the professionals that you’re interested in. If so, target the group with your ads. The deeper research for groups may take a little longer, but this will make your campaigns more effective. LinkedIn Groups are the place where users spend a lot of their time on the network so this can be a great way to reach them with your ads – while they are discussing hot business topics.
At the end of the targeting you’ll be asked if you want to show your ads on the LinkedIn Audience Network. This means that when members of your target group visit other sites from the LinkedIn Network, they’ll see your ad. This enlarges the opportunity for users to see the ad. If you’re just beginning LinkedIn advertising, don’t use this option. Experiment with the ads to find out which ones work best, and after that continue with the LinkedIn Audience Network, broadening the display opportunities and increasing the click volume.
There are a couple of places on LinkedIn where ads may appear: Profile Page, at Home Page, Inbox, Groups and Search results Page. LinkedIn allows advertising to people with certain qualifications and jobs, which makes it really valuable as a marketing channel. The costs however are not so low as in other social networks, so you must be careful when determining your budget and bid. How you can improve your ads, so that you can increase the effectiveness of your campaign, you can read about in the next post on LinkedIn advertising. LinkedIn offers a couple of Case Studies for successful use of LinkedIn for business – so go through them and if something fits your type of business, make use of their tips.