LinkedIn offers a gold mine of potential returns for B2B organizations. Anyone interested in reaching a targeted audience of professionals can tap into LinkedIn’s self-service campaign creation tools to experiment and find success.

By researching the respective strengths of each ad format, crafting carefully structured campaigns and following best practices, B2B organizations can generate substantial new leads or help push existing leads further down the sales funnel. These capabilities make LinkedIn the “big dog” in the B2B social networking world.

And best of all: advertising on it has never been easier.

To help your B2B company find success on LinkedIn’s ad platform, let’s take a look at the various available ad types and their best uses.

LinkedIn’s Self-Service Ad Types

Popularity for LinkedIn has grown steadily over the years. The company now boasts 467 million users, more than doubling from 2013 to 2016. According to Pew Research, 29% of all internet-connected adults have a LinkedIn profile.

Professionals flock to LinkedIn to make industry connections, research other companies and absorb informative content. In fact, 70% of surveyed professionals describe LinkedIn as a trustworthy source of professional-oriented content.

For B2B companies, LinkedIn’s brand authority and reputation can translate to huge successes for targeted paid ad campaigns. By sponsoring company posts or crafting custom, text-based display ad campaigns, B2B companies can reach a targeted audience of professionals. Targeting options include company, industry vertical, job title, job role and even individual users.

LinkedIn’s ad platform provides two main options for advertisers: Self-Service campaigns and Advertising Partner Solutions. The latter category often involves much larger minimum budgets and more carefully structured campaigns. B2B companies just cutting their teeth on LinkedIn ads may therefore want to look to Self-Service campaigns in order to develop best practices and hone in on your audience.

B2B companies have three choices of self-service ad formats:

  • Text Ads
  • Sponsored Content
  • Sponsored InMail

LinkedIn Text Ads

LinkedIn’s Text Ad format should be familiar to anyone who’s done paid search/PPC campaigns. The format includes:

  • A small 50×50 pixel Image
  • A 25 character Headline
  • 75 characters of Ad Copy
  • A destination URL

This format can either charge per-click (PPC) or per 1,000 views (PPM). Minimum PPC bids start at $2, which is higher than quite a few paid search campaigns. Ad creators therefore want to ensure that any clicks lead to a landing page or content piece that has a strong CTA in order to maximize their returns. For large-scale campaigns — or campaigns focused on brand awareness — the PPM setting may be more affordable to B2B advertisers just getting started.

LinkedIn allows you to create up to 15 different variations of a single Text Ad, allowing you to A/B test without constructing multiple campaigns. For all variations, ensure you are following recommended best practices. As an example, addressing audiences by their job title can help grab their attention and lead them to the CTA.

Remember to monitor campaign performance closely, and never be afraid to adjust things like text, maximum bid or your maximum daily budget in order to improve your ROI.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

LinkedIn Sponsored Content is nearly identical to Facebook’s Promoted Posts and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. Essentially, you take a company update or piece of content already published on your page and show it to people who do not follow you. Put simply: you expand your organic post reach to a paid audience.

A Sponsored Content Ad consists of:

  • A 200 pixel-wide image
  • A 36 character Headline
  • A 155 character accompanying description
  • A 128 character Intro lead-in to your content

The “promoted post” nature of Sponsored Content ads make them a form of native advertising. LinkedIn users will see the promoted content within their typical timeline, as opposed to in strict “advertising only” spaces like the right-hand bar. Audiences prefer this type of subtle, native content to traditional display ads.

“Consumers are 25% more likely to engage with a native ad when compared to a traditional banner advertisement,” says Earnify CEO Kyle Ryan. “Even more impressive is the fact that 53% of native ad engagement is positive, which helps to build credibility and a great brand experience.”

The key to driving engagement through your LinkedIn Sponsored Content campaigns is to have great content. If you are seeing low engagement with your organic audience, chances are that paying to have your ad displayed will lead to low engagement even with a large reach. In that light, focus on crafting high-quality content that will pique the interest of your target audience or industry. Test assets internally and on platforms like Facebook or your LinkedIn page to track organic engagement, particularly shares.

As you begin to develop click-worthy content, you will also have to hone in on factors that optimize conversions for your Sponsored Content ads. For instance, the lead-in text should be pithy and directly related to the topic at hand. Practice skipping to the most interesting fact or assertion of your article and putting it front-and-center, right as the content starts. Additionally, identify accompanying images that get attention while subtly leading people toward your headline.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

The third ad format available to LinkedIn advertisers is Sponsored InMail. This format leaves a message right in user’s inboxes, potentially starting a 1:1 conversation. CTAs in this format generally aim to drive specific conversions as opposed to brand/product awareness. Many Sponsored InMail campaigns aim to drive event registrations, for instance, or enroll people in promotions through a personal invite.

When using Sponsored InMail, advertisers tread the line between being personable and being invasive. Perhaps this is the reason that LinkedIn creates hard caps on the number of Sponsored InMail messages a user can receive. The default settings for many campaigns limit one Sponsored InMail per user every 60 days, for example.

Since access to individual people through Sponsored InMail is limited, B2B brands may want to combine the format with other types of ads. A qualified lead who signed up for your newsletter can be sent a personalized invite to an event, for instance.

Using Targeting and Segmentation on LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn allows you to customize your campaign targeting down to a fairly specific level. You can include certain criteria, like targeting those in the networking or cyber security consulting industry. You can also exclude certain audiences, such as filtering out entry-level help desk IT workers.

You can choose up to 100 selections per targeting option. Campaign creation for Text Ads and Sponsored Updates requires at minimum that you select a geographic region target. Selecting “Audience Expansion” can also help you find lookalikes based on certain criteria. However, remember that this setting can dilute your targeting parameters while raising your campaign costs without necessarily raising your conversion rate.

Advertisers can also use partner audiences crafted by publishers and media suppliers like DoubleClick, BusinessWeek, NY Times and more.

Targeting options include:

  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Company Connections (i.e. reaching all 1st-degree connections to a selected company)
  • Company Size
  • Followers (target only those who already follow your LinkedIn company)
  • Job Function
  • Job Title
  • Job Seniority (e.g. only those in the C-Suite)
  • Groups
  • Age
  • Many more

These powerful filtering and targeting features can make the most of your segmentation strategy. As such, B2B brands advertising on LinkedIn should develop specific personas to direct targeted campaigns toward. The same Sponsored Content asset may use a completely different headline for a VP of sales compared to the company’s CMO, for instance.

Additionally, campaigns should reflect the current stage in the sales pipeline for targeted audiences. If you’re just prospecting, you may want to help entry-level workers discover your solution and nurture their interest. If you are close to a decision phase, you can target specific InMail or Sponsored Content toward senior decision makers.

Put simply: campaigns should use the most relevant messaging and content possible to reflect the values of the targeted buyer persona and their stage in your sales funnel.

Generate B2B Leads With Symphonic Digital

LinkedIn promises huge returns to B2B companies capable of mastering its unique demands and features. Rather than learning through trial and error, these companies can look to an experienced social media advertising partner like Symphonic Digital.

We have years of experience in crafting customized social campaigns, A/B testing assets, and developing segmentation strategies that help B2B companies get the results they need. Let our team of expert marketers craft the perfect set of campaigns for your goals. As your partner, we also work with your team to optimize campaign performance across channels and develop strategies that nurture leads from their first discovery of your solution all the way up to their final “yes.”

Get started with expanding your prowess on LinkedIn when you contact us today.