The following is a guest post by AJ Wilcox, of B2Linked.com.
As a LinkedIn Advertising consultant, the question I get most from small business owners is, “Should small businesses be advertising on LinkedIn?”
LinkedIn is the most under-appreciated social media advertising platform out there. Most don’t know it’s an option, which is unfortunate because it has the most robust and precise targeting of any platform that I’ve ever seen. The fact that it is overlooked is actually a great opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of low competition and strategic advantage over your competitors.
Let me walk you through the business models that tend to be extremely successful LinkedIn advertisers to help you decide if it’s worth a test for your business.
Where LinkedIn Advertising really excels is in the business-to-business space. It allows you to target people by their LinkedIn profile content, so if you know the job titles/seniorities/etc. of your customer, it’s a great fit.
B2C can work as well if you have great persona data in a business context. Say, for instance, that you’re selling technology that happens to have a very heavy focus on user aesthetics. It may make a lot of sense to target designers who tend to appreciate the beauty in product design.
In July of 2013, LinkedIn announced a new ad unit called “Sponsored Updates.” These are native ad units that appear to users within their news feeds. Along with LinkedIn’s acquisition of the news service “Pulse,” these moves telegraphed the company’s move away from being a job-searching platform, and towards being a business-centered content hub.
Obviously, a smart move as users who view content return much more often and spend more time on the site than users who come back only to update their resume every 6 months.
LinkedIn’s direction and this new ad unit are content marketers' best friends. Sponsored Updates are formatted perfectly for featuring content, and coupled with the ability to share, comment, and like posts, they provide just the right mix of social media and advertisement.
Content marketers looking for additional reach will find LinkedIn Advertising an effective channel.
SaaS, Subscription, and High-Ticket Sales
SaaS and subscriptions tend to work very well on the platform for a couple of reasons:
SaaS often carries a higher price point where one of the biggest challenges is qualifying whether a prospect has the budget and authority to make the purchase. Through LinkedIn’s stellar business targeting, you can control these factors by targeting seniorities and company sizes who are sure to fit the bill.
Cost per click is regularly above $5, so subscription-based advertisers are more able to show ROI when a customer is likely to remain a customer for multiple cycles.
High-value items fall into a similar bucket. Since LinkedIn ads are Display, prospects who see them may not be ready for purchase. Higher price points and margins allow for more impressions to catch the members when they are ready for purchase.
I highly recommend LinkedIn advertising campaigns in concert with both paid search and retargeting campaigns. The reason for this is that LinkedIn advertising allows you to qualify the seniority and authority of your audience quite well, but lacks the ability to control position in the purchase funnel. AdWords, on the other hand, controls the intent and timing quite well but is unable to qualify the prospect’s ability to purchase.
Combining paid search and LinkedIn advertising gives you an excellent mix of qualified prospects that your sales team will appreciate.
Retargeting in concert with LinkedIn advertising is a beautiful thing. As opposed to AdWords where all the data you have on someone is the keyword they typed, LinkedIn allows you to create retargeting funnels around who that prospect is.
Did you originally reach a group of marketing managers on LinkedIn with a content offer? Reach out to them with an ebook or a free demo through your retargeting channel. Your messaging will be very targeted because you know with confidence who is in this group, and it allows you to speak to them very intelligently.
Retargeting allows you to make the most of your valuable targeting, and keep your message in front of these valuable prospects.
Many small businesses I’ve spoken with have a list of high-value targets (HVTs). If you have companies or thought leaders that you want to reach, there’s no better way than LinkedIn advertising.
LinkedIn allows you to target specific companies by name, which is great for a sales accelerator campaign, or allowing you to raise awareness with valuable members of your audience.
You can also target those who may be considered thought leaders in your industry with your content, which can be powerful and worth every penny when your content gets shared by these mavens.
There are other great ways to reach your HVTs on LinkedIn as well, so experiment away. Keep in mind, though, that LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to target audiences smaller than 1000 people, so you may have to keep your targeting slightly broader. LinkedIn doesn’t want ads getting too creepy (I’m looking at you, Facebook).
Your power as a small business is your ability to get scrappy. Feel free to get ultra-creative with your audience targeting as LinkedIn gives you many options to do so. Think of your audience in different ways and test running multiple campaigns, addressing them from different directions.
Test various offers and audiences that the bigger companies wouldn’t be able to, and find the gold that they’re leaving behind!
AJ Wilcox founded B2Linked.com for specialized LinkedIn Advertising consulting. Having managed many large, sophisticated, corporate accounts, he’s uniquely qualified to help B2B companies expand their demand gen channels. He’s a triathlete, avid hiker, and exotic car lover. He lives with his wife and 3 kids in Lehi, UT.