A guide to LinkedIn advertising for small businesses

If you’ve tested the waters of LinkedIn you may have already begun exploring its uses – from  connecting and building relationships with professional contacts, to following companies in your industry and gathering colleague testimonials.

However, if you run a small B2B business and want to get even more from this social network, then LinkedIn advertising should definitely be one to put on your radar.

LinkedIn advertising

LinkedIn is a good place to start if you’re new to advertising your B2B company on social media. The reason this platform is so valuable for B2B businesses is because it’s a professional network, the people using it are doing so while they’re in a work frame of mind. So as a result, you’re more likely to reach people who are serious about what your business has to offer.

There are a number of marketing benefits to using LinkedIn advertising including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Relationship building
  • Improving poorly performing posts
  • Advertise job vacancies
  • More exposure on best performing ads

Putting the above advantages aside, LinkedIn Ads has one more trick up its sleeve – targeting. The targeting for adverts can be set to a very specific demographic and you can even narrow down as far as job titles, functions and levels of seniority. If you’re looking for local clients, you can also target specific locations.

 

LinkedIn ad placements

There are several types of LinkedIn ad content that you can experiment with according to your goals and target audience. Types of LinkedIn advertising placements include:

Sponsored Messaging

These are messages that go directly to LinkedIn user inboxes, increasing the likelihood of a direct response or conversation.

Sponsored content

This appears in the news feed of users, and essentially gives your normal posts a boost so that more people see them.

Dynamic ads

These are eye-catching, premium ads that appear on the side bar of the site.

Text ads

These are simple text only ads that appear along the top of the site.

The ads themselves can take a number of different formats depending on their position, and can include video ads, text ads, single or carousel image ads, spotlight ads or message ads.

The formats available to you will depend on the campaign objective you set when creating your campaign. You can find useful information from LinkedIn on the best types of ad formats for different objectives here.

It’s important to note that there are two different routes to advertising on LinkedIn – self-service ads and managed campaigns.

Self-service ads are just that – you set them up and manage them yourself. Managed campaigns, however, involve partnering up with the LinkedIn team who will work alongside you to help you run your campaigns.

Dynamic ads are only available through the managed campaign route, but these are premium ads and more suitable for larger companies with big budgets.

 

Advertising costs

There is no set figure for how much ads cost to run on LinkedIn. As you have the ability to set your maximum spend, LinkedIn advertising costs as much as you want it to cost. Ads are sold automatically in an auction-type process in which your ads are competing with bids from other advertisers targeting for a similar target audience.

When compared to other social advertising platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn does tend to fall on the more expensive side, and this is partly due to the extensive targeting options. So, while you may not be able to achieve as many clicks or likes for the same budget as you would perhaps on Facebook, rest assured that the engagement on LinkedIn is likely to be from a highly relevant audience.

The advertising platform will automatically recommend a bid price for your target audience, and as it’s an auction, a better bid price gives you a better chance of success.

It’s also worth noting, however, that it’s not just about how much money you throw at your ad campaigns; LinkedIn says“LinkedIn uses an auction system for bidding that rewards engagement, meaning you can win an auction without being the highest bidder.” In other words, creating engaging ad content is important too – you can’t rely solely on a big budget.

 

Weighing up using LinkedIn advertising

If you’re still undecided about taking the leap into LinkedIn advertising, here are some of the key pros and cons to get you thinking:

Pros

  • Flexible pricing – it’s easy to control your budget
  • Huge professional network –LinkedIn claims to have an active audience of 630 million professionals, making it perfect for B2B advertising
  • Sophisticated targeting – LinkedIn’s highly refined ad targeting helps you reach professionals by job title, function, industry, location and more

Cons

  • Sponsored Messaging – feedback is that it can often feel intrusive, when it looks like more email spam, users tend to hit the delete or ignore button pretty fast
  • Cost – it can work out more expensive than other social media advertising platforms, though this consideration should be balanced against the increased likelihood of success with a targeted professional audience
  • Business audiences don’t suit all products – you’ll need to have the right type of business and content to really benefit from advertising, so make sure you have thought carefully about who you’re trying to reach and what messaging you’ll use

 

Setting up your first LinkedIn ad campaign

Ready to set up your first LinkedIn campaign? Follow this simple step-by-step guide to get you up and running.

1. Set up your company page

Your company page is just like your own individual LinkedIn profile, but for your business.

If you haven’t already set one up, you should do so before you create your LinkedIn ad campaign. Your company page should have plenty of information about your company, including your specialities, location and a link to your website.

2. Identify target audience and goals

Like any marketing campaign, you’ll need to have a strategy in place before diving in.

What are your objectives from this LinkedIn ad campaign? Are you trying to increase brand awareness or generate new leads? What kind of audience are you trying to attract? Being clear about these details from the outset will give your campaign the focus it needs to succeed.

3. Create the campaign

Next on the list, you’ll need to set up a Campaign Manager account, which will give you the option to link it to your company page or set up a new one.

Click ‘Create Campaign and follow the instructions to start setting up your campaign, including naming your campaign for your own reference and setting your objective, such as ‘website visits’. Or if you hover over the options for more information on each of them, this can help you pick the right objective for your business. There are also some options which are specific to certain objectives, such as conversion tracking for website visits.

To launch a new campaign, you’ll first need to enter your billing details. Here, you can add a company credit card, monthly invoicing is also available but typically for large business accounts as there is a minimum spend.

4. Select audience and budget

In the next section you’ll be able to choose your target audience and enter the budget.

You’ll see detailed audience targeting options, so take the time to narrow it down and you’ll see an estimate of how big your audience will be with the options you’ve chosen as you go along.

LinkedIn target audience

When it comes to budget, you can choose between a number of bid options – Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Impression (CPM) or, for Sponsored Messaging, Cost Per Send (CPS). If your goal is lead generation then CPC is the best option for your campaign, while CPM is better for brand awareness campaigns. You’ll also be able to set a daily budget, start and end date, maximum spend and bids to keep your spending under control.

5. Create the ads

It’s now time to start creating your ads. There are different ways to create ad content, including promoting existing posts or updates and creating ads from scratch.

Choose the one you want and the Campaign Manager will guide you through the process of creating them – it’s all clearly labelled and self-explanatory, with simple rules such as character limits and pixel sizes for images that you’ll find easy to follow (it’s 25 characters for a headline and 75 for the ad copy on a text ad, for example).

There will also be the option to create multiple versions to give you the ability to A/B test your ads and really figure out what works best for your business.

Once your LinkedIn Ad has gone live, you’ll have access to valuable metrics, which will enable you to track how well your campaign is performing and spot any areas for improvement. You’ll see stats such as the amount you’ve spent, the number of impressions, likes and clicks your ad has received, the click-through rate and the average cost per click.

Be sure to monitor the performance of your ads and experiment with them by making simple tweaks and observing whether this improves the results.

As with any kind of online advertising, the best approach is to start with a small budget and test different types of ads and wording to see what works best for your business. Then you can bump up the budget for the ads that achieve the best results, until you have a finely tuned campaign that’s helping you accomplish your goals.

From there, you can create further campaigns equipped with the knowledge you’ve gained, so that you’re even more successful next time.

Originally posted by Rachel Ramsay on the UK Domain.

© Nominet UK 2020