By Caden Jones
Advertising has grown to take many forms over the years. If you were born before Y2K, most of the ads you saw growing up were likely in television, print, direct mail, and billboard formats. But the digital era has since shifted the landscape by introducing ads in social media, video streaming platforms, and paid search. While those mediums were already in place well before the pandemic, COVID-19 accelerated their growth by several years.
LinkedIn has exemplified this trajectory, reaching “more than 770 million members in over 200 countries,” a 500% growth during the past five years. Granted, LinkedIn is recognized as one of the leading credible platforms for professionals and businesses to network, create brands, and grow. However, it can be challenging to compete for attention, even when you pay to play.
For this blog, I’m joined by Andrea Platt, Social Media Senior Manager for BDO USA, which has been recognized by LinkedIn for its nimble test and learn strategy, to discuss how marketing teams can develop impactful paid advertising strategies that engage unique audiences no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey, while supporting campaign objectives.
Andrea, thanks for joining me. Before we dive in, let’s start with the basics. What questions should any campaign manager be able to answer before starting a new (or first) campaign?
Andrea: Campaign managers should ask, “What do we want to accomplish? What do we want the user to do?” Answers can include visiting a webpage, downloading a piece of content, or registering for a webinar. But no matter the call-to-action (CTA), make sure the destination, content, and messaging reflect your answers—and the needs of your audience.
With the heightened competition in digital advertising, it’s difficult to grab and retain viewers’ attention. What are best practices you rely on to make a great LinkedIn ad – no matter the format? What factors make an engaging video ad?
Andrea: One of my favorite quotes when it comes to social media is, “To stand out, you have to fit in.” In your effort to be a differentiator, stick to common best practices for text and design. You don’t want to look unprofessional or seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. This can damage brand reputation. Make sure you show the value and the answer to “What’s in it for me?” Share how or why the user would want to read your article or sign up for your webinar. Keep it short, simple, and easy to read. Take the time to review, get feedback, and make changes or develop multiple iterations. The first draft should rarely ever go live.
How should campaign managers approach targeting options to ensure they’re not limiting potential reach while also prioritizing their preferred audience?
Andrea: If you’re running awareness content with awareness goals, then the audience should reflect that. They can be a combination of new prospects, decision and non-decision makers, influencers, stakeholders, etc. If your goals and content are middle of the funnel or your CTA is asking them to “do something,” then it’s time to get granular. Focus on your priority audience so you don’t spend dollars on users that won’t help you accomplish your goals.
In regard to the full-funnel approach, how should ads differ at different stages of the buyer’s journey? When are lead generation forms the most successful?
Andrea: The type of ad doesn’t necessarily need to change. The CTA and content do—and so does the targeting. When starting at the awareness phase, your audience size should be larger than the evaluation and consideration phases.
Lead gen forms are successful when:
- The target audience has been “warmed up.” They’ve been exposed to your advertising and already aware of your brand.
- You have retargeting audiences set up and ready to be used. A lead gen form should not be the first ad or message a user sees from you.
- You make sure the content and CTA is worthy of a user’s information.
At what stages in a campaign’s lifespan should a campaign manager assess its performance metrics? Which metrics are the most insightful? And if a campaign starts to fail, what can you do to pivot quickly?
Andrea: There are a few items to consider.
How long has the campaign run? By 30 days you should have earned enough impressions and reach to adequately evaluate performance.
What are other campaigns earning during this same time period? Only compare campaigns with similar goals and objectives.
What is it costing you? Is your cost-per-click (CPC) high or is your budget running out? If performance is low, you can:
- Turn off the lowest performing ad. A click-through-rate (CTR) below 0.2% is our common benchmark.
- Adjust targeting based on LinkedIn demographic reports. Are the right users seeing your ads? Don’t forget about exclusions.
- Look at CPC to determine possible volume in case your budget isn’t allowing for enough click.
Take note of the optimizations you made and when. Allow time for them to make an impact. Re-evaluate. Is there still no change? If so, you should ask:
- Is there an ad that is clearly resonating? Should you develop new ads focusing on this message? Can you refine other key messages to develop new ads? Check which ad is driving conversions, including pageviews, registrations, etc.
- Are there other ad types to invest in? Depending on budget and available time left in market, consider pivoting to a different ad type.
And for those who have yet to start paid social campaigns, can you discuss the value of investing in automation and integrated databases? What challenges would marketers likely face without them?
Andrea: Automation and API syncs easily pass data to marketing tools and databases and enables them to be leveraged in other marketing mediums—like email. There’s always an investment because you’re either investing your team’s time by manually passing along this data or investing in the integration setup to automate this process. Integration also eliminates user error or mistakes. And the easier the process, the more successful the adoption by marketers.
That’s a great point and a viable solution for those looking to streamline complexities. One last question for now: As capabilities continue to advance on LinkedIn, what impact do you expect the digital age to have on ad content in the near- and long-term?
Andrea: Looking forward, we’ll see advertising solutions become more advanced as platforms like LinkedIn grow with more content and users by the day. To maintain their voice and spread brand awareness among the competition, campaign managers will have to get creative—and agile—in their responses to changes with campaigns, advertising objectives, and tools. The digital age is already here so it’s time to reassess what success looks like for your brand if you haven’t already.
Thank you again for joining me, Andrea. If you’re interested in learning how to refine their LinkedIn advertising strategies to reflect these considerations, please reach out to me on LinkedIn.
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels