Let’s be honest: no matter the channel, we all want to pay less when it comes to our advertising spending. After all, who wouldn’t want to get more results for the same amount of money? I don’t know about you, but I do! For this reason, today we will see some effective strategies to reduce LinkedIn advertising costs so you can optimize your budget for maximum results.
With over 660 million active members, LinkedIn is the most popular professional social media platform on the market. It is also a golden mine for advertisers who want to reach highly-targeted, niche audiences that are difficult to find on other platforms.
However, LinkedIn is not precisely the cheapest advertising network. Which is not to say that it is not worth the money! It definitely is, especially if you are doing it right. For this reason, I think that today we could all use some tips and strategies to reduce LinkedIn advertising costs:
1. Start with the right bidding strategy
Before we dive into more advanced strategies, the first thing we will need to do is ensure that we are using the right bid type.
I already discussed the different bid types in my previous article, so I am not going to explain them in detail here because this is not the point of the article. And of course, for some objectives you only have certain bid strategies available, so you don’t have too much choice either.
However, for the majority of cases, you can select between the following main bid types:
- Maximum Cost per Click (Maximum CPC) – this bid type gives you the highest control over your spending. It allows you to select manually the maximum amount that you are willing to pay for a single click.
- Enhanced Cost per Click (Enhanced CPC) – this one is very similar to the previous one. However, there is one main difference. With Enhanced CPC, the system will auto-optimize your bid to deliver the ad to those who are most likely to engage, click, or convert.
- Automated Cost per Click (Automated CPC) – and last but not least, we have the automated bidding strategy. With this one, you don’t select manually the top amount that you are willing to pay for a click. Instead, LinkedIn will bid and decide for you.
Choosing a strategy that works for you
Having said this, our first tip to reduce LinkedIn advertising costs is to have higher control over your Costs per Click. You see, many advertisers decide to go with Automated bid because they think that it will be the most efficient strategy.
However, at least from my experience, it can cause your CPC to skyrocket as you have no limit set for it. Which means that, if algorithms consider that a person is more likely to convert, they will bid as high as possible to make you win this bid.
And the problem is, algorithms can be wrong as well. So, if you are on a limited budget, you don’t have much margin to pay up to 10€ (or more!) for a single click without conversion. And, unfortunately, no one can give us a guarantee that a user will convert.
For this reason, not using Automated bid is the safest bet to control your spending and lower costs. This way, you ensure that they don’t go overboard innecessarily.
Between Maximum CPC and Enhanced CPC, it is up to you to try and choose. From my experience, enhanced CPC has been the one working better. The reason why is because you get your campaign optimized while controlling your costs. So, it’s a win-win!
2. Recommended bid
The second strategy to lower LinkedIn advertising costs is through recommended bid.
When you configure your segmentation, LinkedIn will recommend you a minimum bid based on two main factors:
- Competition – in other words, what other advertisers are bidding for a similar target audience;
- Country – this is tightly related to competition. However, some countries are almost always cheaper or more expensive than others.
Some experts will recommend to start by bidding lower than LinkedIn’s recommendations. However, from my experience, I don’t think this is the most optimum strategy. The reason why is because bidding lower might cause your campaign to underperform.
Having an underperforming campaign means that you will not receive many impressions or clicks. In other words, LinkedIn will show your ad to only a few members as other advertisers will almost always outbid you. As a consequence, algorithms will not have enough data to optimize and work with.
And you, as an advertiser, will not receive enough results and data to optimize either. After all, the most effective way to reducing advertising costs on LinkedIn is to optimize constantly. Without enough performance data, it will take forever to make adecuate decisions for the better use of your budget.
For this reason, I highly suggest that you bid at least according to LinkedIn’s recommendations.
3. Target only one country at a time
Next on our list of tips to lower LinkedIn advertising costs is targeting only one country at a time.
In the previous point, we already mentioned that the country that you are targeting will impact your bids, and thus your advertising costs. In some countries, you will pay higher Costs per Click than others, no matter what changes you make to your segmentation.
Obviously, the biggest reason why that happens is competition. In some countries, there are more companies advertising on LinkedIn. Because every business will try to outbid the other to grab the attention of the user, the bids will end up rising and rising.
However, another factor that will impact costs by country is user penetration. This referes to the percentage of a country’s population that has a LinkedIn account. For example, take a look at this super awesome data chart from Thinknum:
As you can see, the United States has a much higher LinkedIn penetration than India, for example. This, combined with the total number of LinkedIn users, means that companies will have more incentives to advertise on the platform. Why? Because the probabilities of them finding their ideal target audience are bigger.
But also because they will have a bigger variety of audiences to work with.
The point I am trying to make is that every country is different. And the exact same segmentation might cost more in one country than another. For example, let’s take a look at this audience of Finance Seniors with +10 years of experience in Spain:
And in the United States:
As you can see, advertisers are bidding up to 5.94€ in Spain, and up to 16.18€ in the United States! The difference is over 10€, which can make a huge impact on your LinkedIn advertising costs.
Now think of a campaign that has Spain, Switzerland, and the United States at the same time. If you are targeting multiple countries at once, you don’t know exactly which countries are cheaper and which – more expensive. Because all you will see is a recommended bid which is average for the 3 countries:
However, if you create separate campaigns, one for Spain, one for Switzerland and one for the United States, you will have a much better vision of how much exactly you are paying per click. Which will help you decide how to use your budget efficiently.
After all, if your daily budget is 10€, it is probably not worth targeting a country in which only one single click costs 10€.
4. Get specific
Another common myth is that specific, niche audiences cost more than generic ones. And although this might be true in some cases, this is not necessarily true for LinkedIn.
Let me explain.
You see, it all comes down to how many people are competing for the same audience as you. For example, if everyone is targeting Marketing professionals with Job Functions, it will natually be more expensive as more people are bidding.
However, if you are targeting Marketing professionals via Member groups, although it is a small-sized, very niche audience, it doesn’t mean that it will be more expensive. This will all depend on whether your competitors are targeting Member groups as well.
Now, I am obviously not saying that highly specific audiences are always better. This will depend on your business, products, and the industry that you are operating in.
What I am trying to say is that getting more specific usually means that you will have less competitors. Because the chances that they are refining their audience the same way you that you do are smaller. Try to think like your competitors, and take a different direction!
5. Use Lead Gen forms
One of the best ways to reduce LinkedIn advertising costs is to use Lead Gen forms.
Lead Gen forms are LinkedIn’s native forms that you can use to capture leads on LinkedIn instead of taking them to your landing page. In other words, when a user clicks on your ad, the form that you have configured previously will pop up:
There are multiple reasons why Lead Gen forms are so efficient:
- They automatically extract users’ data from their LinkedIn profiles. This means that they will not have to fill out the fields manually, saving time and efforts along the way.
- Users will not have to leave LinkedIn – taking the user to a landing page means that he will have to leave LinkedIn to go to a third-party website. However, members that are browsing on LinkedIn usually don’t want to leave the platform.
- Data is given to a trustworthy platform – depending on the website, users might or might not trust you with their data. However, because LinkedIn is a well-established platform that they already know well, they will be more willing to submit their personal information.
According to LinkedIn, you can reduce your Costs per Lead by up to 3 times with Lead Gen. However, in my experience, these results have been even better! We managed to drop our CPLs by 5-10 times for some campaigns.
If you want to learn more about Lead Gen forms, I also recommend you these articles:
6. Improve your Quality Score
Next on our list of strategies to reduce LinkedIn advertising costs is to improve your Quality Score. Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ad is for your target audience, and how it compares to similar advertisers.
A campaign with better quality score will be more efficient in the auction, and will be able to win over competitors with a lower bid. Reducing your Costs per Click means that you will also be able to lower your advertising costs as well.
Although LinkedIn is not as transparent with how it calculates Quality score as Google, we know for sure that there are two main factors:
- The maximum amount you are willing to pay for a single click;
- Relevance score, which takes into account all user interactions with your ad;
We already talked about bidding strategies and how they can help you optimize your budget.
As far as relevance score goes, it takes into account some of the following interactions:
- CTR (Click-through rate);
- Engagement rate.
To check your the quality score of your Sponsored Content, select a campaign from your account. Then, adjust the date that you wish to see the quality score for in the right corner of the Campaign Manager.
After that, click on Export and select the option Campaign Performance:
Once you’ve exported the performance report, you will be able to see the Quality score for that campaign. Keep in mind that this information is not available for video or carousel campaigns.
Now that you have the data, you can work on optimizing your campaign to improve performance. And having said this, we have come to the next point:
7. A/B Testing
Undoubtedly, one of the most effective ways to reduce LinkedIn advertising costs is to perform A/B testing.
A/B testing is the controlled observation and evaluation of different components to see which one works best. For example, two landing pages in which the only difference is your Call to Action so you can see which CTA draws the attention more.
In LinkedIn, you can test multiple things to see which ones work best. For example:
- Segmentation – test different targeting criteria to find the best way to reach your audience;
- Creatives – run multiple creatives at the same time, changing designs, texts or CTAs;
- Ad copies – different people resonate with different copies, so make sure to try at least 3;
- Ad headlines – you could try a creative with CTA in the headline, and one without;
- Landing page – you can also try lead gen against your regular landing page.
And so on! The point is, what we think our audience will like does not mean that is true. For this reason, the best way to find out what works is to let your own audience decide. And sometimes, this will mean testing out as many different things as possible.
Do not ever stop testing! Every couple of weeks, check your results, and pause the low-performing campaigns, creatives, or copies. Then, add new ones, and repeat the process.
Understanding your audience and who they are is key for reducing LinkedIn advertising costs. Why? Because, as we just saw, relevance is one of the key components of Quality score. The more relevant your ad is to users, they more they are going to interact with it, and the lower you will have to pay for click.
Use LinkedIn Analytics to tap into key performance and demographics data.
From your account, select the campaign you want to view the data of. At the top of the Campaign Manager, you will find two blue buttons: Performance Chart and Demographics. Click on any of them to see the results for that campaign:
Take your time to analyze the results and see which campaigns have potential and which not. Use the data to see what audience converts better. For example, you might notice that certain Job Functions, Job titles or Company Industries convert more than others:
Once you have accumulated enough data, go back to your campaign and make the necessary adjustments. This will not only help you improve relevance score and reduce costs per click, but also Costs per Lead. Which is absolutely great!
9. Audience size
Next, a tip I wanted to share from my own experience is to not go for audience sizes that are too big. I have seen campaigns of 2, 5, and even 10 million people!
This is way too big for any budget. Instead of launching a single campaign with 2 million people, launch a few different ones with size 100-300 thousand people at most. This will not only help you concentrate your budget, but will also help you extract better performance results.
After all, if your audience is huge, your budget gets diluted, and there is so much data that you will not be able to make the right conclusions.
And last but not least, configure matched audiences and lookalike audiences.
Matched audiences allow you to retarget website visitors who didn’t convert, so you can re-impact them with a second, more personalized message. Retargeting campaigns usually have higher Clickthrough rate, engagement rate, and the costs are cheaper. Because this audience has already shown interest in your business.
Lookalike audiences, on another hand, allow you to create new audiences based on existing ones, such as list uploads of leads and customers. Because lookalikes share similar traits to your already converting audiences, they interact more with your ad. Which, as a consequence, has a positive impact on your costs!
And that was all from me, folks! As always, I hope you enjoyed my article on how to reduce LinkedIn Advertising costs!! If you need help with your LinkedIn ads, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or download my ebook.