Whether you are a Digital Marketing specialist or an entrepreneur who wants to boost his business’ profitability, LinkedIn Sponsored Content could be a great option to reach a more professionally-oriented and industry-specific audience.
Sponsored Content is probably the most popular ad format on LinkedIn, and there is a reason why. To find out, just keep reading!
What is LinkedIn Sponsored Content?
Well, Sponsored Content on LinkedIn is pretty much self-explanatory.
As you scroll down through your LinkedIn feed, you will see a lot of publications made by companies and other LinkedIn members. The majority of them are published organically by users who want to share an experience, a video, or simply a good article with their professional network.
Just like people publish content that they find interesting on other social media channels.
However, among organically-shared posts, you will also notice that some publications that appear on your feed have the word Promoted just above the text of the post.
This tiny little word changes the whole meaning of a LinkedIn post. Well, not exactly, but it simply makes Promoted posts a little bit different from organic ones.
In other words, when you see a Promoted post, it means that someone – usually a company, is paying for this specific content to reach someone like you.
Why? Well, for one of many reasons why a business would make an ad on any advertising channel. To engage with you by providing useful content, to make you buy a product, attend an event…the opportunities are endless.
Sponsored Content is one of several other advertising formats on LinkedIn, and it is the most popular one because it fit seamlessly into the feed of your target audience. This native format is a lot like a chameleon. Because it looks like a regular publication, it does not disrupt user experience on LinkedIn.
To wrap it up, companies sponsor their posts to reach their target audience with a specific message. So, if you are seeing a Promoted post, you are probably the target audience of a specific company.
What are the benefits of LinkedIn Sponsored Content?
So, we already saw that Sponsored Content serves the same purpose as practically any other digital and even real-world advertising. However, you are probably wondering: why is it better than, let’s say, Facebook or Instagram ads? And here comes the fun part.
Take a look at your personal LinkedIn profile. You have probably filled it out with certain information such as:
- Your area and sector/s of experience;
- Years of experience;
- The companies you worked at previously (and the company you are working at now)
- Where you studied and the degree of education that you have;
- Your licenses and certifications, as well as volunteer experience;
- Your skills and endorsements;
- The languages that you speak;
- The projects you’ve worked on.
Now that we’ve summed this up, think about your profile from an advertiser’s perspective.
How great would it be to target your audience with refined professional data that no other platform provides? To reach people who actually work in a certain industry, or even work in a specific company? Or maybe they even have the exact skills or interests that you desire in a lead? Exactly.
That’s what Sponsored Content does that other no other channel does. It helps you generate high-quality leads that meet very specific professional requirements.
Without any doubt, Facebook, Instagram and Google can be amazing channels for certain industries or types of leads.
However, LinkedIn has a huge database of professional information that none of them will ever have because of its very specific nature.
This type of advertising allows you to drilldown your ideal audience to such an extent that you describe them exactly the way you want them to be. How awesome is that?
Your First Campaign – Setting an Audience
Once you’ve got your account all set up and running, you are ready to start creating your first campaign.
First, you will need to choose the name of your campaign, and its objective.
This section is extremely important because once you´ve saved your campaign, you can´t change its objective later.
You can find additional information about objective selection here. But for now, what you need to know is the following:
- If you want to take users to a landing page on your website, select Website Visits or Website conversions. To use this objective, you will need to have your conversion tracking enabled first.
- If you want to generate leads without making them leave LinkedIn´s feed, select Lead Generation. This objective will allow you to speed up the conversion process by using the platform´s native pre-filled forms. You can learn more about Lead Gen forms here.
If none of these objectives fits your goals, take a look at the other ones.
However, for our example, we are good to go with Website visits!
The next step of your Sponsored Content creation is to start defining your target audience.
Before you move on to specific segmentation criteria, there are two obligatory steps that you will have to complete:
No campaign on LinkedIn can run without having a location. At this step, you will have to choose your target countries or cities, depending on the goals of your campaign.
If you want to target various geographical areas at once, I highly recommend that you to choose 4-5 key countries or even cities. Many companies are tempted to spread their message to the whole wide world at once, but unless you have unlimited budget, this is not a good idea.
In fact, it is not a great idea even if you have unlimited budget. Why? Because your audience can get too wide and vague, and it will be very difficult to analyze your results later.
You can also exclude users from non-desired locations.
This step is very important as you can only choose one language at a time. So, you will have to choose wisely!
For example, if you want to advertise in Spain, do you want to reach a target audience who has their profile in English, or in Spanish? This will depend on your case, but it’s something to keep in mind while refining your target.
It is essential that your Language settings are aligned throughout the whole campaign process. For example, if you implement a Lead Gen form in Spanish, but the profile language of your campaign is English, your form will probably be rejected by LinkedIn. It has happened to me!
Tip: Choose 4-5 key countries, or up to 20 cities to better refine your audience and test it out. You can always change it later if your current audiences it not bringing the desired results.
Now that you’ve set up your desired countries and languages, it is time to play with the multiple possibilities to refine your target.
This is where the fun begins, and these are some examples of all the possible targeting criteria:
Are you targeting people from big companies, SMEs, or autonomous professionals? You can filter by company size and even exclude options that don’t fit your target. At my company, we usually exclude autonomous professionals or small companies because of the peculiarities of our product.
For example, you might not be interested in the option Myself Only if you are a B2B company, but of course it will depend on the case.
Are you interested (or not) in potential leads or clients from specific industries? Maybe you want to reach people in the FinTech sector? Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t always have super specific sectors.
However, you can always choose the most similar ones like Financial Services or Banking, and see how they are performing. Later, you can always adjust if needed.
Tip: Don’t forget to exclude sectors that you are not interested in! This way, you will ensure that you won’t be wasting your money on someone who isn’t precisely your target.
This targeting criteria gives you the option to target your audience by directly selecting company names. For example, you can combine it with job functions and target only Managers or Directors who work in, let´s say, Google or Microsoft.
Keep in mind that these audiences are usually smaller as they are quite specific. However, they can be really effective in some cases, even more effective than vague generic audiences.
Tip: LinkedIn matches a company name with the corresponding Company Page of the organization in LinkedIn. If you want to target a specific business that doesn´t have a Company page in LinkedIn, you won´t be able to do that.
Another interesting option is to target by Job Titles, Job Functions or Job Seniorities. Just keep in mind that these three options are mutually-exclusive as they are quite similar. If you need a more specific target I would recommend the option Job Titles.
However, if you want a wider audience, you can either go by Job Functions or Job Seniorities. You can play with these options and select the one that best adapts to your needs.
Tip: Keep in mind that the targeting criteria for Years of Experience means years of experience in general, not in a specific sector, as it might be confusing sometimes.
Another powerful tool that you can use within your segmentation options is Lookalike Audiences.
This tool allows companies to upload lists of their current contact or account databases. After the list has been processed, LinkedIn builds lists of profiles that are similar to the ones that you have uploaded.You can learn more in my article Understanding LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences (2019).
Matched Audiences, also called Website Audiences on LinkedIn, is what we usually understand as retargeting. In other words, they allow you to track the visitors that are coming to your web from your LinkedIn campaigns.
Once you´ve built your list to a minimum of 300 users, you can use it within your campaign to retarget them with a second impact. You can learn more about Matched Audiences here.
These are only a few examples of all the segmentation criteria that LinkedIn offers so that you can refine your audience.
Of course, you will need to perform constant A/B testing to see which ones work better for your business. If you have a small budget, you might need to go directly to the point with a more specific target.
However, if you are more flexible with your budget, I would recommend starting with a wider audience first. Once the campaign has collected enough data to draw conclusions, use the performance analysis to refine it:
Budget and Ad Format for LinkedIn Sponsored Content
The next step of the process is pretty straightforward. First, you will need to select an ad format – it could be a simple text ad, a single image ad, a carousel, a video…for the purpose of this post, we will choose a Single Image Ad.
Next, you will need to set your budget and a schedule for your campaign.
You can either set a daily and a total budget, or set a daily budget and let the campaign run for an indefinite amount of time until it runs out of budget. You can also set a start and end date, which is highly recommended if you are promoting an event or something that has an end date.
Tip: If you have a specific budget but no time pressure (for example, you are selling your product instead of promoting an event), I wouldn’t recommend setting an end date. If the campaign runs out of time before running out of budget, it will not serve its total budget – unless you don’t necessarily want to spend it whole. And don’t worry – actual daily spend may be up to 20% higher but the total budget will never be exceeded.
Next, you will need to choose a bid type. If your budget is limited and you want a better control over its spending, choose Maximum CPC bid.
It will let you select the highest bid that you are willing to pay for an ad click. If you have a bigger budget and want LinkedIn to optimize it for better conversions, you can select the Automated bid. Just keep in mind that you might pay a higher amount of money for a single click than usual! So I wouldn´t necessarily recommend this one.
If you choose the Maximum CPM Bid, you will have to pay per thousand impressions of your ad. However, this bid type usually doesn´t optimize for conversions, so keep that in mind when selecting it.
At this step of the process, you can set up your conversion tracking. However, I always recommend that you do that beforehand to ensure that it will be running smoothly.
Conversion tracking is optional, but very important, and it helps you measure conversions coming from your LinkedIn Ads.
You can learn everything about setting up LinkedIn Conversion Tracking in this article.
Creating a New Ad
Now, you are ready to create your first ad! Click on Create New Ad, and give it a name that will make it easily distinguishable from other campaigns. Don´t worry, your audience won´t see it.
Your introductory text is important as it will be the message that your audience will see. Keep it short, catchy, captivating, and don’t forget to include a Call-to-Action. It will need to convince the user to take a further action with your campaign.
Paste the URL of your landing page, upload the banner, give your ad a nice headline and you are ready to go! The majority of your users won’t see the description but you can always ad it as a nice finishing touch to your campaign.
If you want to learn how to make high-converting Sponsored Ads, just click here for my top tips.
Tip: Don’t forget to perform A/B testing with different banners, introductory texts and headlines to see which one works better!
That’s all, folks! If you have any questions concerning LinkedIn Sponsored Content, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below! You can also get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in my next post,