Letter from a marketer disappointed with Linkedin’s sponsored ads [review]
“Dear sponsored campaign,
After struggling for two hours to manually enter 99 job titles that made sense for my ad, getting an audience of 1000 people, starting over a couple of times due to setting errors, creating a large target audience of 240000 people, all strictly off-target.
After creating 23 variations of my ad, all amazing, but not getting permission from Linkedin staff to publish them for 48 hours. After writing to the Linkedin help desk to get them activated. After spending just 10 euros in one day and then 100 euros all in one go. Here I am getting 70 clicks, 2 conversions totally out of scope spending 200 euros: 100 euros for each conversion and I sell licenses that are worth 50 euros a year.
Dear sponsored campaign, I say goodbye. I’m going to invest my money in a nice advertorial that at least I don’t have to produce results”.
(Are you curious to know how this hypothetical love story ends? Read on)
How to overcome disappointment and make peace with Linkedin sponsored ads
After a few burns that led to extreme resistance to Linkedin’s sponsored ads our disappointed marketer thought he’d give this tool one last chance, choosing to attend AJ Wilcox’s Linkedin Advertising course offered by CXL Institute. That’s when everything changed.
First of all, he discovered that Linkedin with its sponsorships is not convenient for everyone, but only for those who have an average “Lifetime value” per customer of 15 thousand dollars each year or those who offer career opportunities or higher education.
Then he discovered that the costs are yes high (according to Wilcox even $9–12 per click on average, Italian prices seem slightly lower), but against a higher quality of their leads.
Marketers are beginning to reconsider seeing that Linkedin, as a tool, is not perfect. It doesn’t allow you to flexibly schedule the adv and you have to pause manually, it doesn’t allow many operations that platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow, but at the same time, it allows you to respond to the famous B.A.N.T. scheme for lead qualification (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) while Paid Search is limited to N.T (Need, Timing).
In short, you can’t argue that Linkedin’s sponsored campaigns are or are not functional for your purpose if you don’t run tests for at least 5000 euros of budget, a high amount of money but one that can be deferred over time and that helps you get to know your audience and test what works.
Content offer: conversion is in the middle
Have you ever thought that the word “conversion” contains the concept of “act of faith”, the idea of sacredness and religiosity that there is in the trust expressed by users towards your brand?
We often tend to forget this and design content with the sole purpose of telling our product or service in the most fascinating way possible. The hardest thing is keeping the promise we make to the user when we offer content through a social platform: whether it’s organic or sponsored. The content must be useful or at least interesting.
Wilcox proposes a reflection on the type of content suitable for Linkedin, dividing the content into a scale that provides a very low level of friction but too low interest to convert (blog posts) and a high level of friction such as Live demos and consultations that are perceived as a sales pitch. The choice of the best content lies in the middle and includes all those contents such as cheat sheets, whitepapers, guides, ebooks, videos: all formats that encourage clicks without user engagement.
But what is the best distribution method? If you have worked well on creating an effective and clear landing page about the offer, you need to bring your qualified traffic (which allows you to do retargeting but strictly off the platform). The compilation of a lead generation form within the same Linkedin returns a higher number of leads but of more questionable quality.
Beware then of Sponsored Inmails because it is the most insidious sponsored content format of all: it presents itself as the cheapest and most direct way to drive conversion to all the decision-makers in the world. Instead, even though the cost per inmail display is around 0.20 or 0.30 cents, the cost per click can be as high as 29 euros. Definitely higher than the cost per click of a sponsored ad.
Bow and arrow for Robin Hood, or how to organize the targeting
On this topic all cheatsheets or whitepapers made by the same platform suggest “target broader, spend less”. Wilcox professes exactly the opposite: the audience should not exceed 80000 (and 20,000 on the downside). This is because it allows us to have a cleaner target audience. If traffic costs so much on LinkedIn let it at least be valuable! Here are some of the best practices you propose:
Remember to exclude the “Sales” and “Biz Dev” functions if they are not specific functions you want to target since they often mix with our customers
Create a list of competitors, or current customers to exclude them from the audience
Avoid sponsoring towards “Job title” because since it’s a free field, Linkedin can identify just 40% of them. Then everyone will do it and imagine the crowding to get seen.
Never Never Never flag “Audience Expansion”. It’s a way of dirtying your target audience that is almost irreversible.
Try to sponsor by Skill or by group, filtering by company size and seniority (not years of experience because Linkedin is not very precise on this).
Linkedin Advertising, a course from 10 and praise
AJ Wilcox’s course is undoubtedly the best of the CXL Institute courses attended so far. This is not only because of the clarity of the teacher, the course material, the division of topics into different courses, and the balance between theory and exercises. But above all, because it is a truly applicable course, offering continuous insights into the reality that surrounds us daily because it can really be applied from day one. In short, the 4 lessons of as many hours allow you, whether you have no basis, or you already have a smattering (or rather a burn) on the subject, to change something in their marketing strategy.
The world of teachers on the topic of Linkedin ads in Italy, and here I risk being unpopular even towards people that I estimate a lot, is divided into two:
those who follow the guidelines of the Linkedin marketing blog and the various guides and “How to” of the Microsoft company
those who follow the advice of AJ Wilcox who very often tells you to go against the best practices proposed by Linkedin. The most obvious example is targeting: for the social network of professionals, you need to have a target of at least 200,000 people while Wilcox suggests never exceeding 80,000 heads.
Find me another approach that is so original and based on evidence and results and I swear I’ll reconsider. Wilcox has made hundreds of marketers make peace with Linkedin sponsored campaigns.
Okay, but why are you telling me all this?
This post is the result of a great training opportunity that happened to me with a bit of luck. On Linkedin, I follow the marketing agency MOCA by Marco Ziero (because they have a nice newsletter, very useful and a way of perceiving marketing that convinces me). From there I saw that some accounts had obtained online certifications from a portal unknown to me. After visiting the site for a few minutes I was already suffering from that strong complex of “I’d like to but I can’t”. To my surprise, without believing it too much, I got a scholarship from CXL Institute, the Academy founded by Peep Laja. It’s a reality that brings together many marketers that I have respected and followed for a long time, with very practical courses. There remains the challenge of being able to transform the practical knowledge developed by professionals who operate in an Anglo-Saxon context, a bit different from ours, and apply it in the Italian context, which has its roots in very different assumptions.
It’s becoming a very interesting type of training because it allows me to write freely on some topics that involve me, and this type of exercise allows me to be able to fix some important concepts over time. Writing a lot and straining your mind to create narrative patterns on what you’ve previously assimilated tones up the muscle we should all be training frequently: the brain.
Wish me good luck!