LinkedIn Ads: The Red-Headed Stepchild of B2B PPC

This week AJ Wilcox (@wilcoxaj) hosts PPCChat while Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) eats oddly shaped Cheetos on his couch. This question set titled “LinkedIn Ads: The Red-Headed Stepchild of Business to Business Pay-Per-Click.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How do you determine which products/services/clients would be a good fit for LinkedIn Ads?

  • I recommend companies with either a LTV of >$15k, or an EXTREMELY efficient funnel check out LinkedIn Ads. It’s a very expensive channel, so I feel like stars should be aligned going in. – AJ Wilcox
  • If they can define their ideal customer in terms of job title, company size, industry, skills, etc. Then go LI. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • It’s a very expensive channel, so I feel like stars should be aligned going in. – Tad Miller (@jstatad)
  • Any vertical where it makes sense to target by job / industry or degree / field of study. B2B, education. – Colleen McCaskell (@SpitfirePPC)
  • I like to see if my clients’ target audience can be narrowly targeted with some good volume at a bare minimum. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Anything B2B with a decent deal size is good for LinkedIn IMO! – Dave Rigotti (@drigotti)
  • Our B2B client who does dental software management is excited to start Linkedin ads next week! – Travis Johnson (@PPCSuperSaiyan)
  • I don’t think LinkedIn works very well for selling actual products. But is great for content marketing. – Tad Miller
  • Reflecting what others are saying. B2B, large deal size or good LTV. Also would add clear personas can help out here. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • If you have decent personas in place it seems to be the only channel capable of targeting at that level. – Sam Fonoimoana (@samfonoimoana)
  • When marketing at a professional angle, LinkedIn is the place. Earning an MBA, adopting new technology, etc. – Katie Mullins (@katiemuffins)
  • I’ve rarely run LinkedIn ads as lead-gen and every time I was shocked at costs. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Before advertising on LI they must know their target audience / personas: Title/Company/Skills. – Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
  • Usually also for larger scale companies. Haven’t seen SMBs respond well on LinkedIn. – Michelle Morgan
  • It all depends on how you target. A consumer brand could do well if has awesome marketing and targets marketers (for shares). – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)

Q2: What foundation must be in place for you to consider or recommend LinkedIn Ads?

  • B2B, Good Content Marketing Asset, Good mobile landing page, a customer persona is vital. – Tad Miller
  • CPCs are too high not to have sales funnel ironed out. Email nurture, retargeting, SDRs. – AJ Wilcox
    • Agreed. I feel better when budget to deal size ratio is strong enough to warrant testing. Tough if you need direct conv. – Michelle Morgan
  • Good measurement! LinkedIn has high CPCs so important you’re measuring down-funnel impact/results to justify the spend. – Dave Rigotti
  • Yeah, the costs can be high on LI, but based on the specificity of demo targeting it can really be worth it! – Christi Olson
  • A client has to have a true idea of their actual audience and who is ultimately making the purchasing decision. – Jessica Mash
  • We have worked on making a killer Remarkering Strategy. The content is higher funnel, so getting them later is key! – Travis Johnson
  • I like promoted posts better visually, but even those need to be planned out to not overkill same ads to same users. – Joe Martinez
  • Also on LinkedIn, if you’re trying to prove that you’re professional, you should have a modern, professional-looking website. – Katie Mullins
  • Tracking of the customers’ full lifecycle. Report on the webinar attendees that became MQLs not “we got 50 webinar signups”. – Colleen McCaskell
  • Building out solid retarding game plan is essential to make it work. – Bryant Garvin
    • Agree! Build your audiences and develop solid remarketing strategies across all of your digital channels. – Christi Olson
  • Tracking all the way to deal size is critical in proving that LI bring in higher % of enterprise deals (which it should). – Sam Fonoimoana
  • Execs won’t take Li seriously without stories/studies they can relate to. Large brands need to start sharing Linkedin results. – Ryan Nadeau (@dealership)

Q3: Which ad units do you prefer, and for which goals?

  • The Desktop Self-Serve ads are a great value, but are fading out because LinkedIN is highly mobile. Sponsored updates are where the volume is though. CTR is 1400% better than Self-Serve ads. – Tad Miller
  • Bar none, regular Sponsored Posts for basically everything. Text Ads don’t do much and Rich Media seem to get clicks, but not conv. – Michelle Morgan
  • Sponsored Updates are the go-to in my opinion. The text ads haven’t been worthwhile for us before. – Katie Mullins
  • I make Sponsored Updates work for about every purpose, but mostly tailored to content. More real estate, nearly same price. Text Ads work well for a direct sales approach, but they get SO little traffic that it’s really hard to count on them. – AJ Wilcox
  • Haven’t used the ad units with the Marketing Solutions stuff, but honestly, none are impressive to me as I’m not a recruiter. – Michelle Morgan
  • The text ads get so little attention it’s hard to get volume. Sponsored updates are where it’s at. – Robert Brady
  • Sponsored posts all the way. Need that larger image and reach. Use text ads in addition to try and boost awareness. – Joe Martinez
  • Sponsored posts useful in the right niche for getting highly tailored content in front of the right people. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Sponsored Updates fro about everything, but with a dash of Lead Accelerator powering a few other ad formats for retargeting. – Dave Rigotti
  • Makes sense, but do you see a solid CVR? Feels like if they’re looking to leave there’s little buying/staying power. – Tad Miller
  • Sponsored Ads are like chameleons, They hide well into normal content you see. Its a good approach to slip into peoples feed. – Travis Johnson

Q4: What creative LI targeting combinations have you found for reaching an ideal customer?

  • LinkedIn Group targeting brings in the biggest LinkedIn regular users. But we use them ALL. – Tad Miller
  • I REALLY love using company name as an exclusion to keep competitors from seeing clients’ ads. Fly stealth! – AJ Wilcox
  • Exclusions are just as powerful as inclusions sometimes with LI targeting. – Tad Miller
  • Like most PPC nerds, I think in terms of PPC combos: Linkedin + RLSA, Rmktg display + similar audiences. – Katie Mullins
  • Job targeting as one layer is my personal favorite. Easier with my clients to find the decision maker (Owner, VP Finance, etc.). – Joe Martinez
  • Layer together a BA and relevant field of study. Now sell some Master’s degrees with “upskilling” messaging. – Colleen McCaskell
  • Has anyone done extensive testing on the “Years of Experience” target? – Robert Brady
  • Target titles, company size, and location. LI is the best platform to target individuals by those three. – Greg Edwards (@gedwards56)
  • The more broad match targeting options like job function or seniority = senior work very well. – Tad Miller
  • I’m using it. Seems to work well. Inferred data based on how far experience goes back. – AJ Wilcox
  • Industry is nice because most sales teams know which industries produce the best leads. – Robert Brady

Q5: What targeting do you wish LinkedIn had on its Ads platform?

  • Remarketing. Unlimited company targeting (coming soon?) – Tad Miller
    • Yes! Unlimited account-based targeting is here – just have to work with a rep. – AJ Wilcox
  • Search for groups as well. That’s been for successful for us to target specific LI groups tied to an industry. – Greg Edwards
  • Something around LinkedIn activity like “Logged in during last 7 days” or “Active today”. – Robert Brady
  • I would love to see ability to target by past work experience, and also by device (mobile vs desktop). – AJ Wilcox
  • Not targeting – but I want a standalone tool for audience creation that I can easily share with clients. – Tad Miller
  • Bid modifiers like AdWords would be killer. – Tad Miller
  • Some psychographic targeting would be nice. (e.g. Is job hunting) – Paul Wicker (@Wickerpedia)
  • Sponsored Updates are such strong ad units, but so much traffic from mobile. Need to segment out mobile for some offers. – AJ Wilcox
  • They need to get some sweet 3rd party data in there (Datalogix, Epsilon, etc.) – Robert Brady

Q6: Which lead generation assets have you found to be most successful on LinkedIn Ads?

  • It’s not unusual for us to get over 10% conversion rates on White Papers/E-books. – Tad Miller
  • I’ve found whitepapers & ebooks to be my best assets. Webinars can work. Rarely see a contact/demo request work tho. – AJ Wilcox
  • Best practices guides have been solid. – Robert Brady
  • Webinars do better on LinkedIn than any other online ad channel, but still inferior to White Papers by quite a bit. – Tad Miller
  • Free stuff. Webinar sign ups FTW. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • Content that follows blogging best practices: number of actionable insights, topics that are top of mind, easily digestible. Meaning: white papers, ebooks, self audit spreadsheet collateral, etc. Anything that’s DIY and not salesy. – Michelle Morgan
  • Free guides or downloads! Promoted videos have been good from an engagement standpoint but less site visits. – Joe Martinez
  • Very rarely does the lead want to talk to a salesman first. – Robert Brady
  • TOF content marketing assets that are very narrow in focus to ensure lead quality is good: Articles, how tos, white papers. – Tim Mayer (@timmayer)
  • Whitepapers, Webinars, content packs. You can go for the throat (direct response) in the text ads though. – Colleen McCaskel

Q7: What can you get from LinkedIn Ads that you can’t get from any other platform?

  • Lead volume from enterprise level B2B that is qualified. – Tad Miller
  • The granularity of targeting obviously. I’ve also noticed brand association is very positive compared to FB, making high CvR. – AJ Wilcox
  • Lead Quality is the best thing about it and makes it worth the high CPC. – Tad Miller
  • Better access to high-level decision makers. Those people are insulated from inboxes & KW searching by asst. – Robert Brady
  • The ‘qualified’ part is key for B2B. We all long to get in front of the key decision makers, and LinkedIn makes that possible. – Travis Johnson
  • I love the targeting! Instead of someone random looking for a KW, we get the right content in front of the right person. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • The LinkedIn audience is truly unique. – Paul Wicker
  • Targeting is the best. Just wish some of the duplicate company names would be cleaned up. – Joe Martinez
  • Buy-in from B2B clients who perceive it as a serious network and aren’t yet willing to apply a budget to other social networks. – Colleen McCaskell
  • The more expensive the B2B product the more you need to be on LinkedIn to qualify your traffic – and build targeted remarketing. – Tad Miller
  • The context for B2B Marketing- Users are there for business rather than on FB where they are there for Pictures etc. – Tim Mayer
  • When running campaigns on both LI and FB, I’ve noticed 2X CvR on LI. I attribute to state of mind. – AJ Wilcox
  • The targeting, but also appetite for work-related ads/content. Whitepapers on Facebook don’t work well. – Dave Rigotti

Q8: Where would you like to see LinkedIn Ads go for the future?

  • They need an ad format like Twitter Lead Gen Cards or FB Lead Ads that submits lead info to CRM with 1 click. – Robert Brady
  • A huge opportunity was missed by Google not buying LinkedIn. I don’t know if Bing can really expand beyond LI impressions. – Tad Miller
  • I’d love to see the LinkedIn Ads platform improve to the point where it provides the return on effort for learning the channel. – AJ Wilcox
  • How about a conversion tracking pixel and half-decent reporting, for a start? – Colleen McCaskell
  • Have a proclivity score to see if the buyer is looking to buy a product or service at that particular time. – Tim Mayer
  • More options of ad formats. People engage in different ways, and we really can’t test much besides ad content & audience. – Joe Martinez
  • I’m a little freaked about LI invading my Windows apps potentially – don’t think it’s good from a backlash standpoint. – Tad Miller
  • Would love to see offline conversion imports (similar to Adwords) so that it is easier to close the B2B loop. – Sam Fonoimoana
  • The platform is simple, but pretty steep learning curve. Feel like most marketers stick to adwords because familar. – AJ Wilcox
  • Hiring/job opening type of ad format. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Lower spend requirements. High CPCs and some ad formats have $25K ad minimums, which is wayyy to much for some clients. – Katie Mullins
  • Adgroups! please! – Dave Rigotti
  • No more insertion orders for banner units or any ad units. – Tad Miller
  • For the love all things holy, they need to have a better Ad Preview feature. – Greg Edwards

Q9: Are you hopeful or worried about what the Microsoft acquisition of LinkedIn might mean for LinkedIn Ads?

  • Worried about the creep factor of LI invading your Office Apps – shouldn’t be ads in Excel. – Tad Miller
  • Truthfully, I’m very encouraged if the Bing Ads team gets involved. I have immense respect for what the team has accomplished. – AJ Wilcox
  • Be nice to export customer lists right out of CRM into LI for targeting= Fresher lists problem most people use SF not Microsoft. – Tim Mayer
  • I like where Microsoft is headed and this is a smart acquisition. Time to combine audience targeting with search intent. – Robert Brady
  • Hopeful for something that links MSN advertising-LinkedIn and relationship. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • If MS puts ¼ the resources into LinkedIn Ads as into Bing Ads, no question it will become THE B2B ad channel. – AJ Wilcox
  • Fearful that nothing will happen for 4 years. – Elizabeth Marsten
    • We need to get whoever does the Office Updates on this. Then it will happen tomorrow. Then Thursday. Then… – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • It’ll be exciting to see if Bing gets some sweeter targeting from LinkedIn data. – Joe Martinez
  • I’m more curious than anything about the Microsoft/LinkedIn combo. There are so many angles, so many possible integrations. – Katie Mullins
  • Hope they help the platform mature. Also not bleed boundary outside of LI & into all MSFT products. Privacy important. – Julie Bacchini
  • Very hopeful. Adding LinkedIn audiences to Bing Ads could be a huge blow to AdWords for attracting B2B over to Bing. – Kirk Williams
  • Actually, I wonder whether MS resources will be pulled into LI, or whether it will be mostly LI data being used to improve Bing. – Katie Mullins
  • Execs in acquisition announcement didn’t cover ads much. Still a LOT left to figure out, but I hope they see value. – AJ Wilcox
  • I know there’s so much opp with Bing/MSFT – maybe a better “partner” network through LI? – Elizabeth Marsten

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• AJ Wilcox (@wilcoxaj)
• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
• Colleen McCaskell (@SpitfirePPC)
• Dave Rigotti (@drigotti)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Greg Edwards (@gedwards56)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Katie Mullins (@katiemuffins)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Paul Wicker (@Wickerpedia)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Ryan Nadeau (@dealership)
• Sam Fonoimoana (@samfonoimoana)
• Tad Miller (@jstatad)
• Tim Mayer (@timmayer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Travis Johnson (@PPCSuperSaiyan)

The Dark Brown Headed Stepchild of Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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