For years, the LinkedIn advertising platform was lackluster at best.  With a clunky user interface, glitches, manual ad approvals, and minimal case studies of success, there wasn’t much about the platform that would persuade users to start dumping money into it as a method of collecting leads or driving traffic.

As Facebook now shuffles to reorganize the data available to advertisers after a few public follies, LinkedIn seems to be making a strategic move to improve their ads platform and deliver results to advertisers. They have updated their user interface, expanded the advertising styles available, and their 3rd-party data integrations have become simpler than ever.

Now don’t get me wrong, Facebook is still king of the hill in my book when it comes to cost, volume, and targeting options.  Here at Elite, Facebook is our bread and butter for driving thousands of leads per month for our clients. However, LinkedIn has really caught our eye after placing just north of $80k in ad spend over the past 3 months while testing the platform. Today I’ll highlight some of the pros, cons, and ROI we have seen while using LinkedIn ads.

Let’s get the cons out of the way real quick.

  • Higher acquisition costs
  • It takes a bit longer to collect data
  • Slight creative limitations
  • Targeting is only based on professional data (this is sorta both a pro & con)

 

As it stands now, LinkedIn is a premium-priced platform. This means you’re going to pay up for the leads you get here. In general we see about double the acquisition cost on LinkedIn as we do within Facebook. I’m pretty happy with this higher price tag, though, and I’ll touch on that in the pro section. As a result of this premium price point, you really need to spend some money to collect basic data about your ads and to get them in front of the right users. No $20/day ad sets here. We normally start with a minimum of $75/day per targeting group, with an ideal daily spend per targeting group being $100+.

In terms of ad creatives, their system does not allow for the use of Emojis. While this may sound like a silly con to list, we have seen the use of emojis increase click-through rates and results. People now use emojis in their daily digital conversations, so by adding them to your ads they look more native and gain more attention. Other than that, LinkedIn does have a strict video aspect-ratio size that you must use with your video ads (unlike Facebook which lets you upload pretty much any video size into your ads).

For targeting, the only platform data available is based around professional information such as job titles, company sizes, job roles, etc. So if you’re looking to target dog lovers or health food loving moms, this won’t be the platform for you. I noted above that the limited targeting plays both to the pro & con list so let’s get into the good stuff!

Pros of the LinkedIn ads platform:

  • Targeting options you just can’t get from Facebook
  • Top notch lead quality
  • Direct to appointment, skipping the warm up
  • Solid data insights from pixel tracking
  • Low competition
  • High ROI

 

While we can’t go after interest-based targeting, we do get a bevy of prime professional targeting options within LinkedIn. Everything from industry to position within a company is fair game for targeting. This is extremely ideal for those looking to reach decision makers directly. Facebook is working on bringing back some professional job title data to its platform, but LinkedIn seems to have them beat when it comes to this category.

 

Those with a sales team understand the eternal struggle between the marketing department and sales. After $80k in ad spend, our internal sales team has been reporting above average lead quality from LinkedIn. This means they are not only keeping, but closing more appointments per month. So much so that we are still increasing our spend month over month on the platform. This is the exact reason why I don’t mind the higher than normal acquisition cost for these leads. These leads are quality like we have never seen before.

One of our primary funnels takes cold users direct to appointment. While we do still run report downloads and webinar ads within the platform, we have seen cold users register for a consult right from the newsfeed without a warm-up step ahead of it. I attribute this to the pure nature of LinkedIn. As a platform which is professionally focused, its users are there with business on their mind, whereas Facebook users are there to hang out and have a good time. So your approach to those users needs to be a bit more subtle.

LinkedIn offers their own tracking code much like Facebook. You can place this on your website and Landing Pages and begin to collect professional data about site visitors that can help you dial in your targeting. You can see what the job titles are of those visiting your home page, check out what industries they come from, and even see what their seniority is at their company. This is immensely helpful when trying to pin down your ideal avatar to go after with your ads and marketing in general.

Right now there don’t seem to be too many folks shouting from the rooftops about the LinkedIn ads platform. Since it is still a mystery to most, and there is quite a bit of skill involved in making it work, the space has yet to be overly flooded with advertisers copying each other’s tactics and vying for users’ attention.

As a result, we have seen a phenomenal ROI from LinkedIn. That $80k in spend is a mix of testing webinars, PDF opt-ins, sponsored in-mail, and direct-to-appointment ads. Of that $80k, about $66k was directed to funnels which drove to an appointment. From those appointment-based funnels, roughly $180k in contracts have been generated to date. That gives us an ROI of 172% from direct-to-appointment ads alone. That’s what I like to see!

In short, it appears LinkedIn’s ad platform is having its own coming of age. The data they offer to advertisers is high quality and the platform shows increasing signs of active improvement. In the months to come we plan to refine, scale, and leverage LinkedIn as a traffic source not only for ourselves but our clients as well.

If you would like to chat with our Director of Client Strategy to determine whether LinkedIn or Facebook is right for you, click here now.

 

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