LinkedIn is a veritable gold mine for B2B marketers. Research cited by content marketing firm Foundation finds that LinkedIn has over 500 million members, with 40% of users logging in once a day (I know I do). Even better, the network is actively used by many Fortune 500 decision-makers to make connections and find valuable content.
The good news is that getting in front of these decision-makers with engaging content from your brand has never been easier thanks to LinkedIn Native Ads. The bad news is that every other marketer has figured this out too and decision-makers are now faced with a deluge of sponsored posts every time they log in to add a new connection or check their InMail.
Competition is fierce and the world of LinkedIn native advertising can seem daunting for beginners and professionals alike – no one wants to have to go back to their VP or CMO to explain why their campaign generated just 2 prospects, zero of which became MQLs. Fortunately, there are a few common missteps that, once avoided, can help you optimize your spend and generate more high-quality leads.
1. Targeting an overly broad audience
Social media giants like Facebook and LinkedIn owe their rich valuations to the fact that they know so much about their users and can therefore allow marketers to target prospects with far greater specificity than they ever could in the past.
LinkedIn, in particular, allows marketers to target users based on their company (name, size, industry, followers, connections), experience (job title, function, seniority, years of experience), education (schools, degrees, fields of study) and interests and identity(skills, groups, age, gender, location). The more you can hone in on your specific audience (and of course write copy and provide an asset that speaks to that audience), the better your ads will perform.
2. Forgetting to tag URLs
While this may seem like a basic step, it’s absolutely critical to accurately measuring the results of any paid promotions and justifying spend to your executives. At the risk of stating the obvious, a lack of UTM parameters included in your URL will make it much more difficult for you to determine the full success of your campaigns. This is true not just of LinkedIn Sponsored Posts but also paid search, display ads, etc.
However, as Daniel Mancini, Analytics Supervisor at Essence, has written on LinkedIn, proper tagging is about more than just including the right components in your URL (this can be done quickly using Google’s URL Builder). There is also a need for advance planning as marketers need to decide on the formatting they will use in order to avoid data fragmentation later. Care must also be taken to not use tagged URLs internally, lest colleagues skew traffic data and other reporting metrics.
3. Not setting up conversion tracking ahead of time
Conversion tracking requires that you implement either the site-wide Insight Tag or the event-specific pixel. Most of the time, the Insight Tag is sufficient, however, you’ll need to use the event pixel in certain scenarios.
For example, when using a form that doesn’t load a “thank you” page upon submission. Essentially marketers need to have clear KPIs in mind (conversion rate, click-through rate, etc.) and internal processes in place in advance to track visitors (subject of course to regulation in the area you’re operating in) and track their interests as they return to your site (and hopefully identify themselves).
4. Not being aware of benchmark click-through rates
Click-through rates on LinkedIn Sponsored Posts typically range between 0.3 and 0.4%, however this can vary by industry and topic. While you should always aim to do better, industry benchmarks are invaluable in setting realistic expectations. A lack of benchmark data means that overconfident marketers can promise the moon, leading to executive disillusionment when promised results fail to appear. This, in turn, can cause executives to discount the power of LinkedIn Sponsored Posts when it is the execution, not the medium, that is to blame.
5. Failing to A/B test
Nothing we do as marketers is likely to be perfect the first time around and LinkedIn Sponsored Posts are no exception. Certain topics may have more resonance with your audience than you first anticipate, while the ones you assumed would be a sure hit fail to gain traction. Likewise, certain styles of articles (listicles and how-to’s are always good) may have more resonance than others, as will certain layouts.
It doesn’t make sense to commit your entire spend to a particular piece until you have solid data suggesting that it’s going to be a hit and it’s worth directing a small piece of your spend towards getting that insight. Remember, Google famously tested out 41 shades of blue before deciding which one to display on their results pages.
LinkedIn Sponsored Posts are one of the most powerful tools at a modern marketers disposal. However, they are not something that can simply be turned on with the flick of a switch and expected to generate leads. In addition to allocating spend and writing compelling content, marketers will need to have clear goals in mind when setting up their campaigns and the proper processes in place in advance to monitor traffic and user behavior.
Expectations regarding engagement and conversions should be realistic and based on industry standards and content, design and targeting will need to be regularly re-assessed in order to ensure that your ads, and overall campaign, has the best chance of reaching your goals. Failure to follow, or even take into account, these basic steps could very well lead to wasted time and resources.