Have you ever felt like your LinkedIn Campaign Manager is managing you rather than the other way round? Having difficulty controlling your spend, ensuring your ads show to the right people or simply getting the results you need? You’re not alone. Many seasoned marketers struggle to get high-quality leads from LinkedIn, at the scale and cost they desire. And to feel confident LinkedIn campaign management.
Luckily, our newest guide to LinkedIn campaign management, is full of the tips, tricks and insights to put you back in the driver’s seat. And ensure you’re getting the most out of the platform. We’ll start our journey with campaign objectives, audience tips and then guide you through nailing your bids, crafting compelling creative, analysing your data like a pro and optimising effectively. All we ask is that you keep your eyes peeled and ready to absorb our LinkedIn campaign management wizardry.
Nail your audience
What’s the main thing B2B marketers rave about when it comes to LinkedIn Ads? Yes, you’re right – its insane targeting capabilities. Making use of these and nailing your LinkedIn targeting is an essential ingredient of campaign success. After all, you can spend ages crafting the right message and communicate it at the right time, in the right way, but if you’re not in front of the right audience, you’ll fail to make an impact. We’ve been creating perfectly curated LinkedIn audiences for years and have a bunch of helpful tips to share with you. Let’s dig in.
The first step in creating an effective audience is ensuring it’s an ideal size. You’re probably asking yourself: where is this magical sweet spot? Obviously, this depends on a number of factors (the objective of your campaign, your budget and your target audience). However, we’d typically recommend landing somewhere between 40,000 and 400,000. The higher end is typically more suited to awareness campaigns, while the lower to remarketing or particularly niche acquisition segments. Within this range, you’re able to get targeted enough without restricting your reach and hampering your results.
Layering is key
Like your winter wardrobe, the key to a perfectly curated audience is layering. Depending on who your audience is, we typically look to layer filters like location (city, country or continent), seniority, job function and company size. Obviously there are variations based on your specific circumstances, but it is important that you make the granularity of LinkedIn targeting work FOR you.
For example, say your target audience consists of marketing professionals in Australia. Rather than targeting every Joe Blow with a marketing title – set up your audience so that you capture the most impactful group of people. For example, people with a marketing job function, in the key suburbs (Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne) at a company size above 11 people, and with a decision-making seniority.
You could also look to layer in skills, interests or groups. For example, if digital marketers are a higher-value prospect, consider adding on relevant platform skills like LinkedIn Ads, Facebook ads and groups like Digital Marketers Australia. The more fleshed out your personas are, the easier this process will be, and the more effective your audience will be.
Segment to slay
If you have multiple personas, regions and demographic groups you’d like to target or your current audience after layering is too broad (300,000 and above), never be afraid to segment. In fact, we strongly recommend audience segmentation. Not only does this enable you to stay within the ideal audience size (2 audiences of 250,000 rather than one 500,000) but it also gives you the opportunity to tailor your campaign (offer, creative, content, bids) to the specific groups – which can improve results.
One reason why segmentation is so important is the common variance in cost per click between different segments. For example, if you are targeting India and also Australia in the same campaign, the CPCs can vary greatly (for example, the average cost per click for India could be $2 vs $12 for Aus). On the surface this may not sound like a big deal, but if you keep them in the same campaign group, and bid somewhere in the middle (say $7) you’re likely to be drastically over-bidding in India and under-bidding in Australia, which have a noticeable impact on results. Remember this tip for stellar LinkedIn campaign management: segment to slay!
Leveraging lists and lookalikes
While layered demographic audiences are highly valuable (and definitely our go-to), we’d also suggest you experiment with lists if you have them at your disposal. Whether it’s a customer list, competitor’s customer list, a prospect list from intelligence databases like Zoom.info OR Builtwith: uploading these types of high-intent lists to the platform and testing them can take your LinkedIn activity to the next level. It’s also crucial to start using retargeting lists – by lead gen form opens and completions, company page views, event RSVPs, video watches and website visits as soon as they become available so you are maximising your opportunity to move prospects down the funnel. Plus, you can get double value out of a good list by using it as a lookalike – just select this list, select create lookalike and find 1000s of people with similar attributes to your target audience.
You can’t sit with us (why exclusion is necessary)
While we advocate for accessibility in many other realms – for list-based, lookalike or demographic audiences, excluding irrelevant people is a must. At the outset of a campaign build, if you have a clear idea of the types of people that may be interested in your ads who you wouldn’t want to be shown to them e.g. interns or students, you should manually exclude them. Why spend money on a bunch of nice but no-value prospects? What’s perhaps even more crucial is adding additional exclusions based on sales feedback and demographic data – you can never have too many exclusions (& they can always be reversed!)
The need for constant refinement
Leading on from the need for exclusion, a great Linkedin audience is never static. If you’re not continually breaking your back to update or refine your audience based on data insights and sales feedback, your audience is never going to be as effective as it could be. If your sales team tells you the quality of your leads is sub-par, that you’re getting too many Marketing Assistants as opposed to Marketing Managers, you need to update your audience based on these observations. If your sales team is telling you nothing – it’s your responsibility to check in!
Bid like a boss
Beyond nailing your audience, bossing your bids is another crucial ingredient of any A-class LinkedIn campaign. If you don’t know how to approach your bids strategically, you could be throwing away buckets of money and find yourself failing to meet performance targets.
Stay away from Maximum Delivery
One of the most important LinkedIn best practices involving bidding is to steer clear of the maximum delivery strategy. It’s like a slimy real estate agent, pretending to be your friend and claiming to get you the best deal, but really helping themself pay for a more expensive car 🐍. Manual bidding is your trusted ally, and unless you are having serious problems spending your budget, we’d recommend you stick with it always. Also do not, under any circumstances, check the checkbox for “enhanced.” Why would you spend all this time determining the lowest bid just to let LinkedIn increase it whenever they like?
For example, for a $100 a day budget, at $20 you’re only going to get 5 clicks per day, at $10 per click you’re going to get 10 clicks per day. So by opting for the lowest bid possible, you’re doubling your clicks and potential for leads without spending an extra cent. Trust us. If you find you are not spending your budget, you can always increase the bids later.
Keep an eye on spend (and adjust accordingly)
The golden tip of bidding, is to adjust your bids based on the data you see coming through. Head to your “Performance” chart section in Campaign Manager. If you see 3 days or more of underspending your budget in a row, it’s a good sign to increase your bids [see below, the budget was $50 but we were consistently spending less so we increased bids]
If you notice the reverse – you’re overspending or hitting your budget for 3 days in a row, try reducing your bids and further maximise clicks. For example if the bid is $10 and you aren’t spending your $30 budget, it’s worth increasing your bid by a couple of dollars first (say to $12), and then give it a day or 2 to see if this makes an impact before increasing further. Add this tip to your LinkedIn campaign management notes section please!
Create killer creatives
While advanced LinkedIn savants claim creatives do play a far less important role in campaign success than audience and bidding decisions, without compelling, strategically-chosen creative, prospects are unlikely to convert. It’s basic human psychology. At the end of the day, we’re all human and humans like attractive things. Without eye-catching creative, why is someone going to stop scrolling? So with that in mind – how do you make sure your creatives stand out from the crowd, catch the attention of your target audience and generate high CTRs?
Carousel, Single Image, Conversation, Text, Video, Animation, GIFS!?
With the plethora of ad types available to LinkedIn marketers, selecting just one can be a difficult decision. You might be stuck thinking which way do I go? Again, it comes down to a number of factors BUT as a blanket rule, we suggest starting with a single image for lead generation / conversion campaigns, video / carousel for awareness / website visits and all types for remarketing. To provide you with some inspiration, we’ve compiled some examples of the best LinkedIn Ads out there.
If you have the budget to test multiple (more than $100 per day) we’d suggest branching out to some of the more adventurous choices – animation, GIFs, conversation ads, text ads, and see how this performs against your default choice. Perform an A/B test, same budget, same audience. What works best?
Avoid click theft
When creating ad copy to go with your creative, you need to keep it simple, concise and stick within character counts (155 intro text and 70 headline). If you go over these limits, particularly in the intro text, your copy will be truncated, and if someone clicks “see more” you will pay for the click, without them going through to the page / lead gen form attached. PS: Don’t worry about the description, this only shows on desktop on specific devices and isn’t worth spending time on.
Master your messaging
Arguably, the MOST important component of your creative is the messaging you choose to highlight. This includes the messaging on the banners, the introductory text and the headline. With the exception of brand awareness ads, the key is honing in on your audience, their pain points, their stage in the funnel and in some cases, linking them to your solution. While you want to highlight the benefits of your business and tell the world how great it is, your ad is about them not you. Remember: write for your audience!
Example: a digital marketing agency owner who specialises in SaaS clients is scrolling through LinkedIn. They see a piece about boosting marketing leads. They might stop, hesitate, but they’re more likely to keep scrolling. However, if they see an eBook titled a “Digital Marketing Agency Owner’s Guide to Boosting SaaS leads” the chances of them being interested are far greater. Go specific and you shall thrive.
Consistency is key
While appealing to your target audience and choosing compelling visuals in the right format are important – the number one rule of LinkedIn creative is consistency. Your prospects should be able to follow their eyes from the banner, to the intro text, headline, CTA, form / landing page copy, all the way through the email follow up / nurture and everything should fit together perfectly like a well-made story. They should be able to tell you what the offer is, why you need it and how to get it. The smallest inconsistency in this narrative causes friction and friction causes less leads. Checkout a great example of alignment across the journey from lead gen ads to forms.
Analyse & act on your data like scientist
While the setup process is a critical part of LinkedIn campaign management, even more critical to the overall success is what comes after it is live. Particularly when things have taken a wrong turn in the results department. You have all this data at your fingertips, just sitting, chilling in your Campaign Manager waiting to be leveraged. But how do you use it? Every Linkedin expert needs to be able to generate actionable insights from their campaign data and act on it to improve outcomes. But how do you do that? Let’s begin.
Everyone running LinkedIn ads knows performance data is important. But they also know there is a lot of it and depending on the number of campaigns you are running, the sheer volume can be overwhelming. So, as a starting point, where exactly should you be looking? When it comes to lead generation or conversion objective campaigns, we suggest you should hone in on: lead / conversion numbers, cost per lead / cost per conversion, conversion / lead gen form completion rate, CTR and frequency.
Alternatively, if your campaign objective is awareness or website visits – we’d suggest focusing on impressions, reach, CTR & engagement rate and if you’re using videos for any of these – you need to look for video views, video view rate and video completion rate. Whereas, for conversation / messaging ads, it’s open rates, click through rates & conversion rates you need to be alert to. For the latter, it’s also worth downloading the “Conversation Ads CTA Performance” report for more targeted insights. Regardless of the campaign objective, you have the flexibility of customising your dashboard so that the specific metrics you want to track are immediately findable and grouped together.
It’s important that you look at your chosen metrics in the context of time (we’d usually suggest week on week and / or month on month). This can be done easily through the performance charts section in Campaign Manager. We’d also strongly recommend you compare what you find to industry / platform benchmarks. By doing your analysis in this way, you’ll have a much more holistic understanding of what you’re seeing, what’s doing well, and where you can improve. This is key to effective LinkedIn campaign management.
So you’ve had a look at your key metrics and how they measure up historically and in the context of your industry; but where to from here? Well, first off you need to isolate the specific metrics that are underperforming. Is your CTR lower than 0.35% or has it dropped drastically compared to last month? Is your CPL over $200 or is it much higher than last week? Is your daily spend lower than your daily budget? You need to know where the dip/s are, and how big they are, before you can act on them. It’s only once you’ve detected the problem/s, and the extent of them, you can move onto addressing them. This is the same for if you are wildly outperforming them, you need to be aware so you can tweak your campaign choices accordingly.
Example: Your ad frequency is high
You’ve noticed that your ad frequency has climbed above the recommended range (around 3-5). What next? We’d suggest a creative refresh. Work on some new creatives that take learnings from the best variant but incorporate something entirely new – that way you can re-engage your audience with the appearance of added value. Alternatively, you could consider expanding your audience so your pool of people is bigger, and people who haven’t seen your ads already will see them.
There’s never one simple answer when it comes to analysing and acting on data, but it’s more a process of elimination to see what works. The key to helpful analysis and effective optimisation is close monitoring, quick troubleshooting and decisive, planned action.
Important: Once you’ve made a change, give it at least 2-4 weeks to accumulate data before you make any further changes.
What to look out for
While performance metrics is the go-to for most marketers, especially when they have a background in other platforms like Google Ads, when it comes to LinkedIn Campaign management – analysing your demographic data is equally important. Just as often as you slide into the “Performance” chart section of your Campaign Manager, you should be jumping into the “Demographics” chart too. Be alert for 2 types of anomalies – those you should exclude if not contextually relevant and those you should hone in more if they align to your campaign goals.
For example: is one demographic group e.g. the business development function, generating a disproportionate amount of impressions, clicking on your ads and spending your money but aren’t a key audience? Are there irrelevant job titles e.g. students who are seeing your ads? Are your key demographic clicking on your ads but not converting? Is there one country that has a higher cost per lead than the other or isn’t spending at the same rate?
How to optimise
All of these types of observations can be harnessed to improve your LinkedIn Campaign management. For example, if you are seeing irrelevant people clicking on your ads, exclude them in your targeting. If you see one country performing very differently to another (i.e. having a much better CTR and lead volume), consider breaking it out into its own campaign and tailor the messaging specifically to it to maximize this potential. Truly, the possibilities when it comes to demographic data & optimization are truly endless. If you miss out this important vehicle of analysis – you’ll regret it!
Beyond analysing your performance and demographic data (which are both important), you need to make sure you’re consistently checking in with your sales team for their feedback. After all, what is the point of putting all your time, energy and money into generating 1000s of leads at a decent cost, if none of these leads are progressing with your sales reps?
While it may look all positive on the platform-side, it is ultimately what the sales team is seeing on their end that matters. Set up a frequent meeting with your team (for example, monthly) and use it to sound out lead quality. Understand their general perception of the leads you are passing through and their overall conversion rate. Making decisions based on these insights is possibly the single most impactful action you can take to ensure successful LinkedIn Campaign management.
Voila! After a long-journey through all things LinkedIn Campaign Manager — objectives, audiences, bids, creative, analysis and optimisation— we’ve finally reached the finish-line. Congratulations! You’re now an LinkedIn Campaign management expert. And with these handy insights, tips and tricks in your toolbox, you have no excuse but to smash your targets through this channel, prove your worth to the wider business and ensure maximum ROI in 2022.