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Are You In With The In Crowd? Step-By-Step Advertising On LinkedIn

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Synopsis — LinkedIn has been around for quite some time now, but there are still businesses that haven’t looked into this useful social networking site. For those who have a LinkedIn presence, they know that the site can be a gold mine if one is looking to fill a job opening, searching for a new job, checking out and connecting with professionals in similar industries to yours, reconnecting with former co-workers, and similar activities. But did you know that you can advertise on LinkedIn cheaply and easily?

In her article “Are You In With The In Crowd: Step-By-Step Advertising On LinkedIn,” Lisa Raehsler helps those interested in using the cost-per-click advertising program offered by LinkedIn . With a simple, four-step process, you can micro-target your audience and set up campaigns for branding, lead generation, driving traffic, and other advertising goals in a cost-effective manner. Raehsler walks you through the steps, with screenshots to help illustrate the process. If you’ve ever wondered if LinkedIn might be worth investigating for advertising purposes, this informative article will give you a quick view to help you judge its potential.

The complete article follows …

Are You In With The In Crowd? Step-By-Step Advertising On LinkedIn

For advertisers trying to reach the professional set, LinkedIn offers a cost-per-click advertising platform that provides access to their 90-million-plus members. This professional social networking website sees over 14 million visits a month. The ad platform is text-only, self-service, and recommended for advertisers with less than a $10,000 budget. Thus, it can be a way for smaller businesses to experiment without a great deal of investment of time or money.

Until recently, advertising to LinkedIn users only offered general targeting, but new features launched this year allow advertisers to micro-target users, making it a compelling opportunity to reach your market. In general, ad performance is similar to display advertising. LinkedIn states that “good ads have a CTR greater than 0.025%,“ which is somewhat on the low side and requiring performance optimization.

Before digging into the ad set-up interface, take time to think through your strategy. Determine your campaign objectives and how they will be measured. You can construct campaigns for branding, driving traffic, generating leads, and other advertising goals. Brainstorm different ways to reach your audience on this site, keeping in mind that LinkedIn primarily is a professional social networking site. What job titles is your target audience likely to hold? What professional groups are they members of? Develop a profile and determine the number of campaigns and desired micro-targeting details for each.

Step 1 — Creating The Ad

The creative approach for LinkedIn ads should be similar to other pay-per-click media, with compelling ad text containing messaging consistent with your other marketing initiatives. The ad should include a unique benefits and/or offer and call-to-action, such as “buy now” or “sign up today.” Ensure your ad copy supports your overall strategy.

Access the ad tool via www.linkedin.com/advertising. Since the last line of some LinkedIn ads displays the name of the ad creator (i.e., “from your username”), be sure to log in under the username you want to appear on the ad. Create the ad from your company page if you want the company name to appear in this spot.

Choose the Start Now button to reach the Create An Ad box. If you already have delved into LinkedIn ads, instead choose Manage Your Ads and click on New Ad Campaign to the right of the My Ad Campaigns box. This will provide options to create a new ad or copy an existing one.

A campaign on LinkedIn is composed of one or more ads. You can create up to 15 ad variations. Keep in mind that all of these ads will share the same budget and bids, so use this as a way to test creative approaches within the same campaign. When adding the second variation, the ad tool makes a copy of the first, making it a bit easier to enter changes you want to test.

The ads themselves are composed of a headline, description, destination URL, and image with the following limitations:

  • headline of 25 characters
  • description of up to 75 characters spanning 2 lines
  • destination URL can direct to a web page or a LinkedIn page
  • image/logo files in PNG, JPEG, or GIF format with a 2 MB maximum size. Images are resized to fit a 50 x 50 pixel square.

Unlike Google AdWords, editing the ad copy of a LinkedIn ad does not create a new ad. If you are looking to compare performance before and after a change, be sure to create a completely new ad.

Step 2 — Targeting Your Audience

The total target audience selected in this step helps determine the bid ranges for your campaign. With targeting, advertisers can select from several options, including company size, job function, industry, seniority, gender, age, and geography. A welcome capability enhancement in January 2011 expanded targeting to exact job titles (rather than job function), company name, and LinkedIn group members. As you type the job title into the form field, suggestions appear in a drop-down box, as well as similar job titles below.

While you narrow down your target audience, LinkedIn dynamically updates the number of members fitting your criteria. LinkedIn also offers the ability to target members on other websites through their audience network, where ads are also delivered to targeted LinkedIn members when they visit partner sites. A simple checkbox lets you opt in or out of this network. Test some campaigns with the audience network checked and some without to compare performance and decide which is the best choice.

Step 3 — Setting Campaign Budgets

Budgets are set at the campaign level, with a minimum $10 daily budget. Allocate budget evenly to campaigns at first, then reallocate depending on performance, shifting more budget to better performing campaigns.

First, select the payment method, which in this case means choosing between pay/cost per click or pay-per-thousand impressions (CPM). Your choice may depend upon the size of your daily budget and the suggested bid range that LinkedIn provides. If you are just starting out, you may want to create two campaigns to test these approaches to determine which works best for your business. Keep in mind that LinkedIn allows up to 20% overage on your daily budget. Finally, decide if you want your campaign to run until a certain date or continuously (until you indicate an end date).

While running a local campaign to target search engine marketers, I found the following bid ranges and minimums:

PPC Suggested Bid Range at $2.41 – $2.99
Minimum Bid: $2.00

CPM Suggested Bid Range: $3.02 – $3.04
Minimum Bid: $3.00.

Step 4 — Entering Billing Information

The billing process for LinkedIn is pretty standard. Once billing information is complete, the ad goes into review. The review process seems to take several hours, so prepare to do this during off-peak hours. Once the campaign is launched, allow it to run for a few days before making any big decisions about changing settings. Gather data first, and then try other targeting and ad copy options that may help performance.

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Checklist For Advertising On LinkedIn

  • Have you considered your objectives?
  • What is your target audience’s profile and how can you reach them on this site?
  • Is your ad copy compelling? Does it include benefits and a call-to-action?
  • Have you tested components such as ad variations, CPC vs. CPM, and the LinkedIn Audience Network?
  • Is your campaign budget allocation focused on the best-performing campaigns?

About the Author

Lisa Raehsler is a SEM Strategy Consultant who has led strategy on over 30 PPC accounts, including ecommerce and enterprise level accounts. She is an organizer for MnSEM and speaker at search engine marketing conferences.

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