We’ve dabbled with paid promotion on LinkedIn both for clients and for Southerly’s own marketing strategy. We’re not going to lie, it can be a difficult beast to tame (we’ll chat more about building the ad in a sec), but we’ve seen the results and they are good. In short, it’s worth doing, even if it takes a little time to set up.
So, before you decide to invest in promoting your own content, it’s worth reading through our ‘mini guide’ and our own experiences to make sure you’ve got everything you need to get the best results.
A little overview…
Over the last few years, LinkedIn has established itself as the place to be for marketers; you get access to over 414 million registered members worldwide (of which over 100 million are in Europe).
‘Sponsored Updates’ is the name LinkedIn gives its advertising format. Using this feature, you can either promote existing company page updates or new ones to new audiences that you wouldn’t have reached organically.
Generally, it allows you to advertise any type of content – blog posts, whitepapers, videos, presentations and other documents, infographics, the list could go on. But whatever the content you’ve got planned in your marketing strategy, you should at least be open to advertising it on LinkedIn.
1. How we’ve used it
In the last month, we’ve used Sponsored Updates to promote our own research report and a SlideShare packed full of handy tips.
Our Senior Content Strategist Tor says: “We’ve run two LinkedIn Sponsored Updates campaigns over the past month to promote our ‘Recruitment Marketing Insights 2016‘ report and our ‘How to brief your creative agency‘ SlideShares.
“We kept the budgets low, at just £20 per day over the course of a week, to see how things panned out. That delivered around 25,000 impressions across the two campaigns, with an average click through rate (CTR) of 0.4 and an average engagement (taking likes, shares and comments into account) of 0.5.
“As we all know, CTR is a very subjective metric, but my research suggests that’s fairly good so I feel confident that the ads were well targeted.”
On top of all of this, in February, LinkedIn was our top social referrer, driving nearly 41% of our total traffic. It’s a huge improvement when compared to January when LinkedIn drove 24% of our visitors.
2. What you need to run your own
Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all the necessary building blocks:
- LinkedIn account
- Company page (check ours out for inspiration)
- Engaging ad copy
- Strong eye-catching image
- Link to a page where you want to direct your audiences to
- KPIs that you know you want to track (traffic, likes, comments, downloads, etc.)
We’ve also found that having a few of different versions of your ad is helpful for delivering results. You can do this by creating up to three variations of the ad copy or trying a different image. You can set the campaign to either rotate between the various versions equally or to adapt based on the results and favour the most popular version, which is the automatic setting and the one we’d recommend.
3. Setting it up
Unlike what other articles have said about setting up Sponsored Updates, we don’t think the set up is as user friendly or intuitive as it can be, particularly if you’re not familiar with anything else like it.
Tor explains: “Setting up the campaigns was fiddlier than I’d expected, particularly as I wanted to test out different ad variations in one of them, but once they were up and running it was easy to monitor what was going on.
“My two main gripes with the whole process are that it’s not possible to extend a campaign once it’s up and running – you have to duplicate the existing one and set new dates.
“And only the person who set up the campaign has access to the analytics, which is annoying when we have several admins of our company page who would benefit from being able to see the data and edit/duplicate activity as necessary.”
Also, remember to give yourself at least a day before you need to start your campaign. LinkedIn requires 24-48 hours to approve your ad, so it’s vital you factor this into your plan.
4. Know your audience
One of the most useful features of Sponsored Updates is that they provide you with the means to reach finely targeted audiences, whether they are followers of your company page or not.
While setting up the ad initially can be a struggle, targeting your campaign couldn’t be easier. And personally I think this is the fun part.
Here are just some of the targeting filters that give you the opportunity to reach the people you need to target – a.k.a. the decision makers and budget holders.
- Company name, industry, size
- Job title, function, seniority
- Qualifications and degrees
As you refine your audience you’ll see that LinkedIn shows you how many potential impressions you achieve with the settings you’ve chosen, allowing you to widen or narrow your requirements as appropriate. Don’t listen to LinkedIn’s advice when it recommends having at least 60,000 members in your target audience – your ad will work better the more targeted it is, even if that only means only reaching a few thousand people.
If you’ve created personas for your business or your product, build your target audience around them.
5. What are your goals?
As any good marketer knows, the key to successful marketing is setting realistic, measurable goals. Pin down exactly what your campaign is aiming to achieve (whether it’s raising brand awareness, lead generation, increasing your LinkedIn referral rate or a combination of factors). This will make it far easier to to analyse whether your ad was successful.
With good goals in place you’ll be able to accurately track your progress, which you can then use to inform future sponsored content.
6. Final thoughts…
“Everything aside, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates are a useful way to extend your reach beyond your existing audience,” says Tor. “In addition to the engagement with promoted content we’ve attracted a number of new followers to our company page and seen a real uplift in engagement on that page, which is great to see.”
I agree. If you want to reach a business audience and are open to the idea of trying paid promotion on social media then LinkedIn Sponsored Updates is a great tool to try.