For B2B marketers LinkedIn advertising is a fantastic platform to promote products and services to a professional audience. To run ads successfully (and cost effectively) on the platform you’ve got to understand how the platform works, and also how decisions you make during set-up can affect your marketing intelligence.
Some of these pointers may not be news to you, and therefore you can breathe a sigh of relief, but for many there may be a few enlightening nuggets of information in the following words of advice…
Choosing your conversion type
The type that best describes the action you want your website visitors to complete actually has a bearing on how often a conversion is counted in the platform.
When setting up a conversion, you have to select whether your goal is a download, install, purchase, lead, add to cart action etc. If you have multiple conversion points on your site, you’re probably going to want to track all of these within LinkedIn too, but just be careful labelling them under the same conversion type.
Whilst to you and me, having multiple actions labelled as ‘lead’ for example makes sense (e.g. contact us form, data capture form for a resource), if someone was to fill in both of these forms from interacting with the same campaign, LinkedIn will only count a conversion against one of them.
In some ways this is handy because one person should equal one lead, right? But what if you want to know how many different actions occur on your site across all your lead points, and how popular each action is? If you’re using GA then you’ll be counting all actions, so why not mirror this in LinkedIn?
Most advertisers calculate cost per [action], rather than cost per unique [action] and rely on closed loop reporting to analyse the single customer view across a range of conversion points. LinkedIn is sort of being helpful here, but it’s best to know they’re doing it, and alter your set-up if that’s not how you want the data to behave.
The only two exceptions are ‘purchase’ and ‘add-to-basket’ types - these will count as many times as they occur. LinkedIn probably does this because whilst one person is one lead, they can trigger multiple purchases and add many items to a basket, and the results should not de-dupe for this behaviour.
My advice would be to think whether this in-built attribution rule helps or hinders your marketing intelligence. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just a personal circumstance and it’s important that you apply the best logic for your business.
If you want to count multiple action points as separate conversions opt to label them as ‘purchase’ - the conversion type itself doesn’t have much bearing on how LinkedIn uses the data, it’s purely semantics - but the data you’ll receive may be valuable.
Setting your conversion windows
LinkedIn offers the opportunity to select a conversion window for post click and another one for post view. Other platforms like Facebook also offer this level of setting which is handy when much of the impact from social media is on awareness rather than direct action. But how should you choose what conversion window to set?
I like to think about what I’m trying to achieve, how and what I’m communicating, and how useful being short or long with my attribution window will be to my decision making.
Default windows are typically 30-day post-click, and either 1 or 7-day post-view. The decision you make in the next bit (how each ad interaction is credited) may also alter how strict or relaxed you make this window, so read that section too before you decide...
30-day post click seems pretty standard for most advertisers. Perhaps if you have a long purchase cycle and you don’t advertise very frequently to the same people you may consider opening this up to the maximum of 90 days.
Similarly though, if you’re a heavy advertiser and you're communicating with your audience regularly over the month you may prefer to reduce the look-back window so that you’re not making it harder for yourself to determine which of your ads had the most impact.
If in doubt, perhaps create two conversions (note how you assign conversion type though) and set one up for 30 days and the other for 90 or 7 days and see what happens to your data - as far as I’m aware there is no limit on the number of conversions you can create.
*If you do optimise for conversions though in your campaign set-up having duplicated conversion tags will not be advised. You have to make sure that only one of these conversion tags are included otherwise you run the risk of the system thinking it’s performing better than it is because the results will be duplicated. If it’s not assigned, it cannot track though.
Depending on the default window you set, you will have to give the system the time for results to mature before analysing your marketing activity. So if you’re willing to credit conversions within a 30 day time frame, you shouldn’t really close-off your performance analysis until 30 days after the final day of your campaign. This could be as far away as 60 days from the first day of activity! How often do we all just look at results for the last month in the first few days of the subsequent month and make decisions. Hmmmm....
Specify how each ad interaction is credited for a conversion
The two options in LinkedIn are Last touch - Each campaign and Last touch - Last campaign. This means that you can either grant the last action within each campaign with a conversion credit (if you have multiple campaigns targeting the same audience) or you only want the credit to be awarded to the very final interaction.
The choice is dependent on whether you would prefer a de-duped data set and only know which piece of activity achieved the final activity (albeit only from LinkedIn’s POV) or whether you’d like to assign credit to all ads within your campaign(s) if they helped to achieve the end goal(this will inflate your total numbers). Sadly the Last touch - Each campaign model does not (yet) apportion a % of one action to each campaign, it’s either 1 or 0.
When creating a new campaign, the first thing you have to decide is the objective that best fits your goals. The selection you make here will impact how the system optimizes your ads.
- Want to guarantee impressions or control delivery with CPM - select Brand awareness
- Want to generate site traffic and pay on a cost per click basis - select Web visits
- Want to improve engagement with your ads and benefit from the addition of a Follow button to increase your page followers - select Engagement
- Want to generate more video views* - select Video views
- Want to increase conversions - select Web conversions
Unlike other ad platforms currently LinkedIn doesn’t have a minimum threshold to use the conversion objective. So you don’t have to have 15 conversions in 30 days etc in order to launch this type of campaign. It may struggle to deliver, but there is no harm starting out this way and creating additional campaigns afterwards if it’s not performing.
Depending on your objective you will have access to different ad types, and in some instances the LinkedIn audience network will be disabled automatically. The best thing to do is select each one and see what greys out or disappears...
I earlier * the video views objective. A fairly new, but somewhat hidden feature within LinkedIn is the ability to remarket to people who have watched 25% / 50% / 75% of a video.
LinkedIn actually offers three ways to retarget members - via website tracking code on your website, via remarketing off video views, and by re-engaging with someone who opened (or filled in) a lead generation form.
The lead generation retargeting can go as far back as 365 days, so pretty handy for long purchase funnels, typical of B2B decision making.
Uploading a list
If you can get your hands on a list of ideal target companies - their name and domain - then LinkedIn’s upload feature could be a fantastic way to reach your target customers. Obviously you shouldn’t stop at just uploading this list, you’ll need to filter by geography, job seniority etc. when you go to use the audience in a campaign, but it saves manually entering lots of company names in the search box!
- For companies you need at least 1,000 records.
- For individual contacts you’ll need at least 10,000 records.
For any audience matching to take place there must be a minimum of 300 active members on the platform which meet your criteria.
Why job seniority and function is better than job title targeting
This next piece of advice was given to me by our LinkedIn rep. When finding people on the platform that meet certain job specifications it is better to opt for job seniority combined with job function rather than applying specific job titles.
As you may have seen, job titles can be very niche, ‘made-up’ at times, and quite frankly an infinitely long list. So trying to reach some people in your target audience may be impossible.
If you opt for seniority and function you stand a better chance of reaching the biggest universe suitable for your campaigns. If you’re concerned about this being too broad, you can apply some job titles as negatives if it’s clear that you run a risk of targeting them when you don’t want to with this approach.
If you’re interested in LinkedIn ads and would rather someone else does the heavy lifting for you then get in touch.
LinkedIn advertising isn’t cheap. As a professional network with the ability to reach influential business decision makers, LinkedIn charges a premium compared to the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter. That being said, if the return on investment stacks up, why does it matter if the CPC is more in the region of £10-£20 than £1-£2.
You must however be willing to spend £8 per day, and this can increase by 20% should the system determine it would be wise to do so to hit your objective. There is also annoyingly no scheduling feature so you can’t automatically schedule your activity off/on by day of week - this would be handy LinkedIn if someone from the company is reading this…
So you either have to manage your spend by manually turning on/off or you accept that your monthly media budgets will need to be at least £240 per campaign. The more campaigns you have, the bigger your budget needs to be…
LinkedIn Message Ads
The only campaign type where daily budget is irrelevant is Message Ads. If you didn’t know this already, a member is only sent one ad per advertiser per 30 days. So it doesn’t matter if your ad hits their inbox on the 1st or 30th of the month, they will still receive it so daily pacing of delivery is not required.
Always-on gets rewarded
A final thought is that LinkedIn rewards advertisers for constant investment, so if you can keep spending on the platform for a decent amount of time (weeks or months rather than days) then your costs should be slightly cheaper than those who don’t (although you’ll never know).