Earlier this year, we worked to develop a social media strategy in support of a client’s portfolio of quarterly print journal, events, an executive network and an exclusive, invitation-only membership council for C-suite and very senior executives. The immediate business goal was to increase membership of the membership group to meet an aggressive Q4 target.
A bit of “umpph” in the marketing mix was needed — something that would generate a set of high-quality leads for the executive group, which cost between $4,500 and $13,500 to join.
We immediately thought of LinkedIn, and convinced the client to run a modest trial campaign of LinkedIn text ads.
The client had been successfully using the platform as a point of engagement via a LinkedIn Group. The group had provided invaluable insight into the content interests and needs of the industry, and had been the source of leads for the print journal as well as their events—with each new member qualified and also messaged with an invitation to join the appropriate level of membership. We also knew that there were many CXO titles among the 4,000 group members.
LinkedIn Text Advertising: The Pros and Cons
LinkedIn text ads is a self-serve program. Read time-intensive.
The advantage is that it is also completely controllable — you set the targets, you set your budget, you set your bids. You can also change everything–from creative and targets to total budget and your per-click bid, to timing. Not working? You can put the campaign out of its misery.
Best of all, if pulling the plug is necessary after your best effort to crack the code, you have not spent a fortune: because of its precise targeting capabilities, you can trial a focused campaign on LinkedIn for just a few thousand dollars. (How many of you have had a zero return on an email campaign to a purchased list? How large was the rental check, how many hundreds of dollars spent on the creative? How much of your own time was spent on deciding on selects?)
For a small media company, or even a large company with a special project that needs some extra “umpph,” if you have the time, go for it.
The Campaign Results — And What We Learned
The total spend for this initiative was less than $5,000 — and we achieved a total of 1,329 LinkedIn members clicking through the ad to the website. And, over 3% of the people who clicked asked to be contacted through LinkedIn or (best of all) via email, resulting in 40 targeted, qualified leads for this high-value product.
Over the month-long campaign, adjustments were made and lessons were learned. Here are a few:
1. Think and rethink. What are you are selling? Who are you selling to? Where does that customer fits LinkedIn’s definitions–of industry and seniority most especially. Don’t overlook the opportunity here to target members of LinkedIn Groups. In our case, we identified no fewer than 30 groups that were a good fit. That meant setting up 3 additional alternate ads within the campaign (there’s a limit of 10 per), but looking at the response to these in particular gave us a lot of insights into what was working.
2. But don’t over think. Prepare to try to figure out why LinkedIn does this or that and not be able to. Self serve definitely means what it says, and there is no service to speak of. Just keep going and make changes based on performance.
3. Get your ducks in a row. Plan to spend time on the site, getting to know what the target choices are, where you may want to test a number of ad variations–including different combinations of graphic, header and text. Graphics are square, and they are resized to fit a pretty puny 50×50 pixel square. Headers are a maximum of 25 characters (yes including spaces), CAPS are illegal, no exceptions, and descriptions at 75 characters max, span two lines. Prepare for frustration if you need a dozen approved variations and copy is written by committee!
4. Test. Track. Reevaluate. Test your variations, taking a daily look at and tracking performance. Look beyond total clicks for insight into why any one variation might be performing less well than others: we found, for instance, that a bright-colored graphic worked better than a subtle one. Combined with one headline, a man’s face worked better than a woman’s; the reverse was true for an alternate headline. One 25-character headline worked best with a certain version of the 75-character description. Et cetera.
The upshot? Testing combinations over the course of the first week of the campaign was well worth the tedium of creating yet another version. Ad versions that targeted LinkedIn members who also belonged to industry groups worked well; although the group was relatively small, having a separate version of the ad just for them may have doubled the chances of reaching any one of them. The version created the CXOs-only group also pulled its weight.
5. Take advantage of the lead collection option – if it makes sense for you. In our experiment this definitely did make sense – a multi-thousand dollar membership is something a person might want to talk to a real person about before applying. An offer of another kind might not warrant the expense in time of having to respond.
6. Respond. Respond immediately to the leads you do receive. The LinkedIn user experience is as simple as the ad itself: a (real) person clicks on your ad, they see a message to contact you if they need help, they decide that yes, they do. How would you feel if that help was offered days later?
LinkedIn advertising is cost-effective, flexible, and can deliver great results. How are you using it to drive leads or for your event attendee marketing?