“Lack of a clear strategy is the biggest mistake. Users sign up to LinkedIn but then have no clear plan in mind how they will use it.”
– Steve Phillip, Leading Coach, and Expert on LinkedIn best practices
Whether they be demand generation marketers focused on lead generation, B2B marketers looking to build brand resonance or marketers striving for both the aforementioned purposes, LinkedIn is the social networking platform having a goldmine of a diverse suite of marketing solutions for all of them.
LinkedIn boasts the congregation of nearly 600 million business professionals for diverse purposes such as to find jobs, grow their networks & share valuable insights relevant to their niche.
The platform is growing exponentially.
According to Hootsuite, from having 467 million users in Q3 2016, the platform surged to 590 million users by the end of 2018 (which means a whopping addition of 123 million users in two years).
According to a survey conducted by oktopost.com, more than 80% of the total leads generated via diverse social media platforms come from LinkedIn.
The two vital features that B2B marketers need to understand about the LinkedIn news feed are:
- It is primarily focused on native, organic content
- It is based entirely on algorithms
Just like the other social media platforms such as Facebook & Instagram, the LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes relevant content which can engage the prospects and deliver valuable insights.
The social media giant was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 & a recent report from Microsoft state the following:
“LinkedIn revenue increased 25% ($371 million) with record levels of engagement, highlighted by LinkedIn sessions growth of 22%”.
In fact, in the last week of June 2019, LinkedIn updated their algorithm for the optimization of the newsfeed, which led to an improvement in the audiences’ engagement on the platform.
The latest changes in the LinkedIn algorithm have impacted the “best time” for the posts to be published on the platform, frequency of the posts, as well as the best practices for optimizing the Content Marketing Score (which now needs to assimilate video marketing capabilities).
Besides helping B2B brands with expanding their reach, building their network & finding the right customers; advertising on LinkedIn also has the following benefits:
- It drives sales
- Serves as an excellent platform for recruiting talent into the business
- Is an excellent platform to get the daily dose of the industry-specific news digest
- Can be used as a platform for blogging &
- Serves as an excellent platform to video-advertise
LinkedIn has evolved dramatically & in less than 20 years emerged as a professional networking site that has all the essential features required for helping businesses across the globe. The self-service solutions provided by LinkedIn allow one to launch targeted campaigns quickly. Marketers can set-up their budgets, choose clicks or impressions & can even cease ads being run anytime with the help of campaign manager. LinkedIn is an all-encompassing advertising platform. The Content Manager supports several ad formats viz., Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail & Text Ads.
Through account-managed advertising Dynamic Ads can also be availed, in which the marketers can partner with a dedicated LinkedIn team to create hyper-targeted ads which are exclusively placed & are highly visible. These features, of course, ask one to sign up for the premium membership.
LinkedIn reports of itself as a platform being trusted by 93% of the B2B marketers, as the most effective website for lead generation.
How B2B Marketers can make the most of Their LinkedIn Advertising
LinkedIn provides a wide array of advertising opportunities for B2B marketers to capitalize upon, which range from the in-built research library by LinkedIn, to core social networking & benefits of retargeted campaigns, to platform functionality for content marketing & advertising endeavors.
Let’s scrutinize the specific aspects of LinkedIn advertising that the marketers need to incorporate into their advertising strategies (particularly those that optimize audiences’ engagement reflecting on the recent algorithm update), to optimize their Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI):
1. Frequent Posting of high-quality content at irregular intervals, including the weekends:
LinkedIn algorithms prefer natural posting schedules. So, pre-scheduling of posts is a strict “no-no”. Posts can be penalized for appearing at the same time every day. Posting throughout the week is important, which means that posts need to be published even on Saturdays & Sundays.
Content needs to be of high-quality & should be based on past engagement behaviors of users & on monitoring the pieces of content across the platform that are doing exceptionally well within the same niche. Every time something is posted, the LinkedIn algorithms analyze whether the content is spammy, of a low-quality, or good to know.
LinkedIn doesn’t require users to post dozens of posts in a day. One high-quality post per day is sufficient (Source: HubSpot).
Sharing pieces of content on LinkedIn daily, keeps the prospects in a loop, as well as keeps them intrigued.
2. Research & Create highly engaging pieces of Content:
The content being advertised on LinkedIn should be of high-quality to grab the attention of the users & to keep them engaged. If a piece of content is marked as spam by the audiences or is hidden by them from the newsfeed, it is not good news for the marketers. If users click on “Report this Post” or “hide this Post”, LinkedIn may penalize the posts.
If posts by a company are being frequently reported or hidden by the audiences, LinkedIn algorithms will filter such posts out of the news feed of the prospects.
3. Focus on Posting Network-specific pieces of content:
Posting network-specific pieces of content for engaging with the connections & niche-specific audiences is a good practice. If the connections engage with the posts, LinkedIn will reward the posts with higher visibility. In contrast, if the posts are reported or hidden, LinkedIn can remove the post from the feed altogether or can display it less frequently.
When creating network-specific campaigns, it’s entirely up to the network to engage with the post to maintain its vitality or deny it the same by reporting or hiding it.
4. Create relevant posts:
LinkedIn also employs humans to scrutinize & review the posts on LinkedIn to establish whether the post is relevant enough for the target audience. The human panel also deduces whether the post can be shown somewhere else like on a channel or whether any key takeaways can be derived from the post for future algorithm tweaks and product development.
The intervention from human minds is primarily because the LinkedIn developers want to understand why exactly a post might be performing exceptionally well on LinkedIn.
The news feed of LinkedIn is unique in that it might even prioritize posts that are several weeks old based on its relevance for a niche-specific audience. This element is missing from the past-paced news feeds on other giant social media platforms such as Facebook & Twitter.
5. Focus on tone of voice:
When it comes to the language of posts on LinkedIn, it needs to be a more professional language than say a language that the marketers use on platforms like Twitter. However, being a bit informal & humorous may also serve the purpose, as at the end of the day it is a social networking platform.
6. Opt for a Mobile-first approach:
According to a report by Falcon.in, about 60% of LinkedIn users access the network from their phones.
Hence, marketers should make sure that posts have been optimized for mobile viewing & have compelling messages & interesting visual appeal to drive conversions.
7. Diversify the Content Strategy:
The content strategy on Facebook needs to be diversified & shouldn’t follow a fixed pattern. Pieces of content should be mixed with tips, opinions, videos, images, quotes, & hyperlinks to other vital pieces of content.
8. Use keywords wisely:
The marketers must make sure that while they follow the SEO directories & the best keywords within the niche, their content isn’t very generic or else it might lose its impact. The pieces of content shouldn’t be studded with too many keywords & with irrelevant hashtags.
After all, the prime aim of the posts is not just gaining visibility across a wider audience-base, but also to generate ample Click-Through Rates (CTRs).
9. Timing Matters:
The timings of posts matter a lot on LinkedIn. While sticking to an ardent posting schedule is a derogatory practice when it comes to LinkedIn advertising, the marketers can always perform a bit of research to derive details about the target geographies of their niche-specific audiences & when they are most likely to be active on LinkedIn, keeping their time zones & working schedules in consideration.
Reviewing analytical insights & test-running diverse campaigns can help the marketers in optimizing for the timings of their posts.
According to a report published by Falcon.io, posts published at 8 AM, 12 PM & between 5-6 PM, perform the best on LinkedIn.
10. Using Appropriate #hashtags:
LinkedIn hashtags need to be highly relevant & professional. Marketers can always use a standard set of keywords that have been optimized to reflect on brand equity. Funnier hashtags can be used on platforms like Twitter, not on LinkedIn.
Also, hashtags need to be highly relevant. Using too many irrelevant keywords just from the motive of gaining higher visibility might be a bad idea.
Even if a post gains very high visibility, through irrelevant hashtags, it wouldn’t generate enough CTRs, which would mean dwindling conversions & failed campaigns.
11. Abide by the LinkedIn Posting Guidelines to gain the maximum out of advertising endeavors:
LinkedIn has clearly defined what kind of content they want to display. They are innately biased towards pieces of content that are relevant for a niche-specific audience & for the brands at large, pieces of content that provide protips for professional growth in diverse careers & have industry relevance. Also, the content needs to have the citation if has been derived from reputable platforms, the more credible the sources are, the better it is for the visibility of posts & the conversions.
Certain formats of content, particularly those pertaining to technological investment have been developed by LinkedIn & LinkedIn is prejudiced towards those. These include the following:
- Long-form content shared through LinkedIn Publisher (inviting people to read descriptive text elsewhere & adding canonical tags to the posts is a useful strategy to optimize posts)
- Conference frames (local events are of high relevance for LinkedIn algorithms, having videos with conference frames can help in optimizing news feed for target audiences)
- Native Videos (videos should be uploaded exclusively on the LinkedIn platform to optimize them in news feed, rather than marketers providing links for videos on YouTube)
- LinkedIn Live video functionality (LinkedIn is test-running its latest live-streaming feature, which is available in Beta to select participants. Marketers can sign up for this new functionality & use the same to optimize their news feed)
12. Expanding the Network:
LinkedIn evaluates the relevance of the posts by using demographic data. For expanding their reaches & strengthening their networks, the marketers can do the following things:
- Employees of a particular company need to follow their company & should also update their LinkedIn profile to display the place they work for
- Industry influencers who are active on LinkedIn should be followed (this will expose marketing content to a larger & unexplored audience base, providing marketers with a platform to showcase their interests as well as an affinity for the industry)
- Joining niche-specific groups on LinkedIn & sharing pieces of content with them
- Commenting on content relevant to the industry (the comment should reflect on a particular insight which has been deduced or should ask for some additional information or add additional perspectives or insights; amateurish comments as “Nice Post” should be avoided)
- To bring more relevant followers, the links to the LinkedIn page of a company should be displayed on their primary domain as well as on their careers page
- Mentioning people using @ name tags (to credit people for your posts or to invite them to engage with your post, this is a useful strategy)
13. Focus on Optimizing the Content Marketing Score of the Company’s LinkedIn Page:
Content Marketing Score of any company’s LinkedIn Page is evaluated by the following factors & is directly correlated with the good performance of advertising campaigns on LinkedIn:
- Pieces of content being posted should be highly-relevant & engaging & should be posted on frequent intervals
- The posts should generate ample amounts of likes, comments & shares from partners, employees as well as from influencers
- High employee engagement is beneficial for the LinkedIn Page of a company & hence, the number of shares by employees matters
- Strategize & invest aptly in Paid Campaigns powered by LinkedIn as they prove to be beneficial for the organic contents as well
All the above strategies optimize the Content Marketing Score of a company & are beneficial for architecting targeted advertising campaigns on the platform which eventually translate into higher conversions. Pages having high Content Marketing Score save costs in Campaign Manager.
14. Go for Longer Writing:
For personal LinkedIn posts, 1,300 characters are available.
According to Impactbnd.com, some people report that long-form updates may receive 10x more visibility than short posts or a mere link to the article.
Also, while promoting blog posts on LinkedIn marketers should make sure that:
- They showcase a brief value of the post on the platform itself
- They eliminate the link preview to the posts as it can get pretty mundane for the readers
15. Run self-service ad campaigns using Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMails or Text Ads:
Running self-service ad campaigns can be done in the following steps:
#1. Sign Up for Campaign Manager:
Signing up for Campaign Manager can help marketers in managing & optimizing their advertising on LinkedIn. Campaign Manager facilitates dynamic visual reporting that exclusively displays the data as per the searches being made or as per the filter settings. The number of Clicks, Shares, Comments & Follows are quantifiably derived, analyzed & optimized. Detailed demographic segmentation of the prospects engaging with ads can be assessed which is available at the account, campaign & creative level.
#2. Choose an Appropriate ad Format:
LinkedIn facilitates several ad formats for the advertisers including Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, Text Ads, or a mixture of all three.
- Sponsored Content: This ad format appears directly in the LinkedIn feed of professionals. The target audiences may be provided with brand messages on their preferred device platforms viz. – desktop, tablet or mobile. Rich media can be used to stand out in the feed. Ads can be tested & optimized in real-time.
- Sponsored InMail: This unique & native ad format by LinkedIn allows marketers to deliver relevant & personalized information through LinkedIn Messenger which helps in optimizing the conversions through the ads. Furthermore, the target audiences can be reached via desktop or mobile. The ad campaigns can also be split-tested & optimized, to best resonate with the interests of the buyer personas or target audiences.
- Text Ads: These relatively simpler ad campaigns can be used to create pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) ads. These ads can be created & launched within minutes & can be used to deliver tailored messages to the target audiences. With these ads, marketers need to pay only for the ads that fetch a value (i.e. per click made or per impression generated).
#3. Creating the ads:
Once the ads have been selected, they need to be created. LinkedIn has a pretty simple user interface (UI), which allows marketers to easily create their Sponsored Content Ads, Sponsored InMail Ads as well as text ads. LinkedIn provides detailed flowcharts with a step-wise description for architecting such ads.
#4. Targeting the Ads:
Selecting the target audience works in the same way for all types of paid ad campaigns. LinkedIn provides diverse filters to choose or define a niche-specific target audience. LinkedIn also provides the Audience Expansion feature which exposes & promotes paid ads to similar audiences that the marketers are targeting their campaigns to. Using LinkedIn’s network of partner audiences, the content can be delivered to the target audiences beyond the traditional LinkedIn feed.
#5. Selecting the Budget:
For budgeting the campaigns three options are available: cost per click (CPC), Cost per Impression (CPM) or cost per send (CPS).
CPS is for InMail campaigns & marketers pay for successfully delivered InMails
CPC is usually used for action-oriented campaigns like lead generation or event registration.
CPM is a better fit for brand awareness-oriented campaigns.
Marketers need to enter their selected bids, daily budgets, start date, end date, & total budget. They can cancel their campaigns anytime irrespective of a definite end date. Furthermore, LinkedIn leverages an auction system for bidding purposes that rewards for building engagement. One can win the auction without essentially being the highest bidder.
#6 Measuring & optimizing Ad Campaigns:
Once, LinkedIn advertising is live, ad performances can be evaluated using Campaign Manager, which entails the details about each campaign being run by a company.
Marketers can evaluate the overall performance of their ad campaigns. Social actions or free organic engagement being driven as a result of paid campaigns can also be tracked. CTRs of each campaign can be derived. Marketers, based on insights generated can edit their ads, redefine their targeted niches & can adjust their advertising budgets.
Wrapping it up
Strategizing LinkedIn advertising helps the marketers in optimizing it for the discoverability and gets ads delivered to the most relevant, niche-specific clusters of audiences. Marketers can also measure referral traffic being generated by LinkedIn on the primary domain of their website.
LinkedIn a versatile & ever-evolving professional networking platform & hence the ad strategies need to accurately measured in terms of relevance & a positive ROMI. Optimizing advertising on LinkedIn for the year 2019 & beyond can be based on the tips mentioned in the blog. However, the marketers need to keep themselves abreast with the latest tweaks by LinkedIn, particularly those related to algorithm updates & their impact on the bigger picture of advertising on the platform.
We, at Valasys Media, deploy our wealth of expertise to help our B2B clients with hyper-targeted campaigns, focused on making them achieve their bottom-line goals such as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), optimized users’ experiences & optimized sales revenues.
Our lead generation services, account-based marketing services, content syndication services & list building services, have all been articulated to deliver the best value in terms of revenue optimization to our clients. For the furtherance of perennially healthy & revenue-driving sales pipeline by availing of our services, feel free to contact us.