Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 | 9 min read
Within the past year, LinkedIn quickly emerged as the ultimate publishing platform for B2B professionals. And to help marketers reach the people who matter most, the network created the most effective targeting program yet.
According to research from CEB and Google, 60 percent of the sales cycle is over before your consumer even talks to a salesperson. This means you need to have as much control over that first half of the buying process as possible. With LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, that’s easier to do than it sounds.
Over 360 million people now use LinkedIn, but let’s say you want to engage just a few VPs at top companies in your industry. With Sponsored Updates, you can boost your strongest content to appear natively in their feeds. Not only will you spread your message across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices; you’ll also ensure that your budget is working to cultivate the most high-quality leads for your business.
First off, it’s important to pin down exactly what you want to accomplish by using LinkedIn Sponsored Updates. There are a range of goals you might choose from, such as gathering sign-ups for an ebook, establishing thought leadership, promoting an upcoming conference, or even just gaining new LinkedIn followers.
For instance, HSBC’s marketers wanted to drive traffic to the company’s new Global Connections content hub. By using LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, HSBC was able to spark 40,000 new interactions with the site and gain thousands of new followers on LinkedIn.
With a clear goal ahead of you, you can make sure you get everything you need from your experience with LinkedIn Advertising.
There’s no excuse not to take advantage of LinkedIn’s hyper-targeting capabilities. Sure, you can target based on location, age, and gender, just like you can on Facebook. But LinkedIn Sponsored Updates takes it even further.
On LinkedIn, you can narrow your audience by job title, industry, location, seniority, field of study, degree of study, and specific skills. LinkedIn even offers a solution for those who aren’t sure which audiences to reach or who don’t feel they have a big enough audience. The Audience Expansion feature enables you to get your updates in front of audiences who share similar attributes with your target campaign audience. After all, secondary targeting of tangential audiences can be just as powerful as primary targeting.
For B2B marketers, targeting options don’t get much more thorough than this. Still, it’s important not to over-target. Remember that the more specific the targeting, the smaller the audience. LinkedIn suggests casting a wide net, and then refining your preferences.
Still, targeting can only get you so far. Once you reach the right people, you want to be sure you’re engaging them with the strongest possible message. Before you publish, it’s important to decide on the content that best represents your company and is most relevant to your audience.
Since these native ads will show up directly in people’s feeds, consider what they might want to see when they sign onto the network. LinkedIn advises offering content that is helpful, informative, and most of all, human. Show your colleagues that your company is made of people who understand their consumers’ interests and needs.
For example, HubSpot wanted to drive leads from marketing professionals in small to medium-sized businesses. Using LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, the company targeted these marketers with relevant ebooks, webinars, and how-to guides. As a result, HubSpot generated 400 percent more leads through LinkedIn Advertising than through any other lead generation platform.
According to LinkedIn, more than 70 percent of clicks from Sponsored Updates come from mobile devices. In fact, the company sees desktop usage spike during the day, tablet usage spike in the morning and evening, and mobile devices being used at all hours.
To make sure you don’t fall short on your opportunity to engage new consumers, you must tailor your content for audiences across all devices. As LinkedIn advises, the best way to do this is to optimize your landing page to be mobile friendly. This involves incorporating responsive design, using images that appear on-screen at least 10mm x 10mm in size, and placing your primary call to action above the fold.
To direct readers’ attention to the content you’re offering, you’ll want to include some teaser text. The best advice? Keep it brief. In fact, Buffer found that the ideal length for LinkedIn posts is 25 words.
LinkedIn recommends calling out your readers directly and using first-person language. For optimum engagement, try including a question and/or a call to action. For instance, check out how HubSpot called attention to its infographic templates:
If you post a link to LinkedIn, the link will expand to include a thumbnail and caption for your content. If you don’t like the image that is plucked from your link – or if it looks warped at all – upload your own before you publish the Sponsored Update. More specifically, LinkedIn recommends using bright visuals and pictures that include people.
According to Jon Salm, Associate Client Analyst at Millward Brown Digital, “Visual content generates 30 times more traffic than text articles, meaning native advertising campaigns that include a visual component, such as infographics and data visualizations, are far more likely to be successful than those without one.”
Through LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, you can spend by cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM). It’s important to make the smartest choice depending on your content goals. For instance, a truly valuable lead in a small target audience might be worth a higher CPC spend, especially considering LinkedIn’s sophisticated audience targeting. Or, if you’re focused on visibility, consider focusing on a CPM spend per impressions. By targeting on a CPM basis, you can amplify your ad to reach as many users as possible within your targeted demographic to help achieve greater brand awareness on LinkedIn.
You can also set a total campaign budget, daily maximum spend, and campaign running time. So, if you want to stretch your budget out across a work week, then set a daily cap at one-fifth of that budget. If your message is more time sensitive, you may want to set up a budget with no daily cap that you know will exhaust itself within a couple of days.
You may want to test out different options for your posts’ links, captions, and images. The best way to do this is through LinkedIn Direct Sponsored Content.
With Direct Sponsored Content, you can reach your target audience in-feed without publishing posts on your Company Page. This way, you can evaluate how your key consumers respond to certain pieces of content before they go live to your entire base of followers.
For marketers that need LinkedIn Sponsored Updates in their marketing mix, but might not have the bandwidth to maintain them, LinkedIn offers access to Certified Sponsored Updates Partners, including 4C Insights, AdStage, Brand Networks, and us here at Sprinklr.
These companies provide advanced tools to help you manage campaigns, devise strategies, improve ROI, and increase visibility. For example, Sponsored Updates Partners can help target different audiences at scale, schedule updates in advance, and track campaign performance using unique dashboards.
Once your Sponsored Updates campaigns are live, you need to be sure you’re reaching the right audiences and getting the most bang for your buck. Using LinkedIn’s analytics tool, you can track the performance of your posts in real time with impression and engagement metrics.
From here, you can fine-tune your strategy by managing and adjusting your campaigns against your benchmarks.
With all of the features in LinkedIn Advertising, it’s clear Sponsored Updates is the answer to B2B marketers’ prayers. Whether you want to increase attendance for an upcoming industry event or grow your email subscriber list, there is an option fit for your marketing strategy, and an audience ready to hear what you have to say.
About the Author: Amanda Walgrove writes about content marketing, social media, and online entertainment. She has written for Advertising Week, The Huffington Post, Tablet Magazine, and The Content Strategist, among others.