LinkedIn advertising has been quickly gaining momentum as a critical tactic for our clients at Tuff —and for good reason.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Google, with LinkedIn advertising, you can connect with granular, business-oriented audiences with targeted copy and creative. It’s no wonder advertising on LinkedIn expanded 36.5% to $1.58 billion in 2019. The LinkedIn ad stats are, to say the least, very impressive.
At Tuff, we’ve known the value of a comprehensive LinkedIn ad strategy for the last couple of years. We ran our first LinkedIn advertising campaign back in March 2017 and are still actively running campaigns for clients today.
We’re also willing to bet that LinkedIn will continue to grow throughout 2020 and beyond, especially as LinkedIn advertising features continue to improve and advance to match the same level of sophistication as other paid acquisitions channels.
That’s why we recommend LinkedIn display ads to a variety of our partners, B2B, SaaS, and eCommerce, especially those with valuable content, brand awareness goals, or leads to collect.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the LinkedIn ad campaigns we have run so far in 2020 alongside our partners.
Follower Growth for CITI Program
CITI Program offers research ethics and compliance training for organizations like Harvard University, as well as ad hoc courses for individuals. When an organization subscribes to CITI Program, the annual base fee starts at $4,500 and scales from there.
We’ve been working with their team since October 2019 — and our focus has been on running campaigns and testing new channels to drive traffic and get more organizations to subscribe on their website. Our core channel mix includes Bing, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
For LinkedIn, we’ve leveraged the Sponsored Content ad format with a focus on three core objectives:
- Generating leads by sending highly targeted traffic to a landing page
- Increasing qualified traffic to posts or pages
- Boosting follower total
For CITI, our best results have come from our campaigns that focus on follower count, which to be honest, was surprising to our entire team. Out of all the paid channels, LinkedIn is the most expensive, which means if you’re going to put your ad dollars here you typically need solid ROI numbers and last-click attribution data that signals this channel is worth the high sticker price.
Optimizing campaigns for followers works well for CITI because the buying cycle is long, sometimes up to 6+ months. With very specific job titles and email list uploads, we can grow the brand’s followers on LinkedIn with highly-targeted leads. From there, the sales team at CITI can develop a relationship with these followers and slowly move them down the funnel.
For these LinkedIn lead gen campaigns to be successful, we knew it was important to nail the targeting. We were able to serve ads to key employees of target institutions that were not yet CITI Program subscribers. For these campaigns, we tested three different types of targeting:
- Saved Audiences: Company, job seniority, job title, Groups
- Lookalike Audiences- build audiences that look like your current customers
- Nudge people in the funnel; Email List – Institutional contacts not yet subscribed
This isn’t a strategy that is applicable to everyone (we’re paying almost $5 per quality follower!) but for CITI, it’s been one of their best performing campaign types.
Demos for ThalamusGME
ThalamusGME is a digital interviewing software specifically designed for application to graduate medical education (GME) training programs.
We’ve been working with their team since March 2019 and our focus has been on running campaigns that drive more demo sign-ups on the websites. Our core channel mix includes Bing, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
For Thalamus, we’ve seen the most success with Sponsored Content campaigns with a “Book Demo” CTA – and similar to CITI Program, the keys to our success have been in the targeting. For Thalamus LinkedIn ads, unlike Facebook or Google, we can target Residency Coordinators and key Program Managers at specific hospitals, making this a key channel for us.
With these particular campaigns, we’ve experimented with optimizing for demos as well as landing page views and the results are almost identical. This screengrab from the ad account is a 7 day period – the top campaign was optimized for demos and the bottom for landing page views. The landing page views campaign was slightly cheaper ($1.21 per visit vs $1.34) but the onsite metrics (time on site, pages viewed, bounce rate) were almost identical. As of now, we’re still experimenting with both optimization objectives.
LinkedIn Lead Generation for Xendoo
Xendoo is a small business bookkeeping and accounting service. We’ve been working with this team for over three years and testing campaigns on almost every single platform.
For the last two years, we’ve intermittently run campaigns on LinkedIn with a variety of objectives. We promoted webinars, boosted posts for engagement, grew the follower count, and sent sponsored in-mail for more direct lead generation.
Out of all our campaigns, one of the areas we’ve seen the best success is with Sponsored In-Mail. This can work well for B2B and SaaS if you’ve already seen success with cold email outreach or if you have a specific, well-defined list of prospects.
When it comes to Sponsored In-Mail it takes a few weeks to really find traction. We ran this particular campaign (see above) for 30 days. Here’s what the stats looked like:
- Clicks: 271
- CPC: $1.85
- CTR: 43.71%
The key to Sponsored In Mail, like cold email, is the message. We had tested a variety of different CTAs on the website (and in other ads) and knew that the ‘Free Consultation’ was the most popular. We honed in on Xendoo’s USP and really channeled their target audience to craft the right message, which is why the CTR was so high.
We love experimenting on LinkedIn to get results for our clients and are excited to see the channel continue to grow.
It’s important to note that with these three examples, the clients all have higher acceptable CACs (in the $250-500 range) with over $3k LTVs. When it comes to LinkedIn advertising, you need big budgets, higher LTV, and an acceptable CAC above $300. It’s expensive, tricky, and is an easy place to waste money, especially if you’re a bootstrapped startup. This isn’t where you want to invest a bunch of resources if you haven’t already tested on other channels.
That said, with the right targeting and ad budgets, we’ve seen consistent results with LinkedIn.
Ellen is the founder at Tuff and one of the team’s core growth marketers. She is a versatile marketer with expertise in multiple channels – from ppc to seo to email to others – responsible for the experiments and testing. She is happiest when she’s on the ski hill or outside pointing her mountain bike downhill.