LinkedIn Ads Strategy: Effective B2B Lead Generation
Many businesses, especially those selling to other businesses, can see LinkedIn has some of the best company, job title, and industry targeting in the online space.
After all, everyone has a LinkedIn profile, right? And let’s also not forget, LinkedIn engagement grew by a whopping 22% in 2022.
However, a few months after trying some ad campaigns on LinkedIn, marketers are frequently left disappointed by the lack of leads and give up on the platform altogether.
Are you targeting the right people?
Let’s say you are selling B2B software that helps with financial record-keeping. Your software saves large businesses time and money by centralizing and simplifying financial processes.
You’ve found the CMO and/or CFO are the final decision-makers in choosing the right financial software. They’re the ones who always sign the contract and speak to the salesperson.
So you should make sure that your ads only target the CMO or CFO at the companies that you want to target, right?
While the CMO and CFO are likely the final decision makers, they are not going to be the ones recognizing that they have a need, researching different software options, and narrowing down the list to the top 2-3 candidates before reaching out to sales.
The people most likely interested in and influenced by the true value of your software and content are the people who will be using it daily—the actual accountants and their managers who are in charge of streamlining the processes.
Is targeting the C-suite the most effective strategy?
Many companies make the mistake of only targeting the C-suite or VP level or higher at businesses that they want to sell to.
That may not be the most effective way to get on the shortlist or get your message across. Those leaders are often inundated with B2B ads, so getting your ads noticed is very competitive.
Ads targeting the top people at companies can cost much more than ads targeted at mid-level employees, like managers and directors.
The top business leaders are not the ones using LinkedIn in many cases—this varies by the type of business and industry. Some of them may appear to be very active posting on LinkedIn but actually have a social media team writing and responding to posts through their account.
If you limit your audience to only the C-suite at a business, you may find your ads showing very little with a very high cost per click.
Targeting your audience based on location in the remote work era
Consider where your audience is.
If your audience is in-office in industrial areas, don’t target the entire United States. Target those top industrial areas and make sure you don’t spend in rural Montana.
This type of targeting has become more challenging in the remote era because a business leader could be working out of a house in a rural area. But if people in the industry must be working from the office, it’s likely their employees live nearby and large parts of the US can be excluded.
Targeting your audience based on behavior
Finally, examine your audience’s behavior.
Are they in an industry that uses LinkedIn often? Are they in an industry that rarely posts on LinkedIn? Are they in a frontline job or an office job that allows for more work time online?
Certain job types seldom have a LinkedIn profile, much less are engaged with the platform. I was a zookeeper for many years before going into the business world and almost no one I knew in the zoo industry is on LinkedIn at all—they don’t even have a profile.
If you are looking to reach people who are not on LinkedIn in the first place, another marketing platform may work better for you.
Is your audience on LinkedIn?
It may shock you to learn that many people set up profiles on LinkedIn and rarely visit the platform unless they are searching for a job. Only 16.2% of LinkedIn users are active daily. However, over 48% are active on a monthly basis.
Unfortunately, that means even if your campaigns are targeting the right profiles by company, title, etc., those people may not spend enough time online. They won’t see your ads in the News Feed or their InMail—especially if your budget is not large enough to show ads often or in many placements.
What are the benefits of InMail?
So how can you make sure that your audience is seeing your ads when they are not visiting the platform often?
One of the best ways is to make sure you are advertising via InMail, even though they are the most expensive placement on the platform. These ads will send an email notification to the receiver (depending on their settings) that lives in their mailbox until they open the message.
InMail doesn’t rely on the user to scroll through their news feed and stumble upon the right ad.
What are the benefits of LinkedIn Audience Network ads?
Another tip is to make sure your campaigns can show on the Audience Network.
This is LinkedIn’s group of partner websites that are not on the LinkedIn platform that will show ads to users with LinkedIn cookies.
This way, even if one of your targets never comes to the LinkedIn platform after setting up their profile, they can see your ad on one of these other sites. You can see the performance of the Audience Network compared to LinkedIn in your reporting to determine if it is a valuable strategy for your company or not.
Some of Perfect Search Media’s B2B clients get the majority of their LinkedIn leads from Audience Network Placements.
What are the benefits of targeting related member groups?
One last strategy that works to make sure that your audience has the opportunity to engage with your ads is to target your ads to related member groups.
When users go beyond creating a basic profile to actually joining member groups about their professional interests, they are more likely to visit LinkedIn often and be engaged with the content—along with your ads.
However, you will usually want to limit your targeting of those member groups to people with the correct job titles or companies–member groups often contain other salespeople looking to target that audience like you.
Are you using the right message?
The audience on LinkedIn, outside of remarketing audiences, are not actively searching for your product or service, like they are with Google or Microsoft Search, and may have never even heard of your business or product.
Therefore, you need to get them familiar with your brand and the benefits of your product before you ask for anything in return or try to directly sell to them.
Many businesses try to ask for direct leads through cold LinkedIn Ads and then are surprised it does not work. Your audience is not sitting on LinkedIn and waiting to see an ad from you—you must convince them that you will save them time or money and show you are a reliable business first.
Top funnel messaging strategy
LinkedIn can be a powerful ad platform but it takes the right messaging. Also, understanding this is the top of the marketing funnel and doesn’t immediately drive bottom-funnel results.
Because it influences decision-making indirectly throughout the funnel, it’s difficult to measure the exact effect LinkedIn has on your business—whether it’s from advertising or the organic presence. Admittedly, tracking direct 1:1 leads and sales on LinkedIn is more difficult than Google Search.
LinkedIn is so upper-funnel that even asking for personal information in exchange for gated content can be too large of a request from your audience—especially if they have never heard of your brand.
Offering free high-quality content
It’s usually better to provide high-value content for “free” at first until the audience gets to know your expertise in the field. Then ask for information to provide even more in-depth content. The best LinkedIn campaigns usually offer free content first. Then follow up with gated content. And then follow up with more intensive offerings like webinars or one on one meetings. They make sure the content they are offering is high-quality and useful to their target audience—not just salesy.
High-quality, useful content will grow trust with prospects and your brand and inspire a willingness to continue the conversation.
Do your ads match the platform?
Your ads should look native to LinkedIn, not like you are selling something. They should offer free, high-quality content that your audience will be interested in.
The word “Promoted” at the top of the ad should be the only thing that distinguishes your ad from all of the other content in the news feed. If your ad stands out as an ad, it will be ignored and scrolled past for better organic content.
Ads on LinkedIn should push your most impressive content in front of the right audience to improve brand awareness, engagement, and clicks to other pages on your website.
The lead will come after the audience trusts you, becomes educated about your product, and recognizes a need in their organization—just not always in that order.
LinkedIn can be a powerful paid and organic platform for businesses that are trying to reach other professionals.
However, it can also be an expensive and frustrating tool for people who do not approach LinkedIn Ads strategically with their audience and the right message in mind.
It is not often an immediate lead driver but can be used to help prospects to trust your brand’s expertise, make them aware of a need, and educate them about your solution.
We understand the complexities of building an effective LinkedIn Ads marketing plan. Contact us to learn more about partnering with Perfect Search to create a strategic LinkedIn campaign for your business.
Emily Lutz is from Kalispell, Montana and has been camping more times than she can count. She geeks out over musicals and the TV show Firefly (yes, she’s on some chat sites). Before joining Perfect Search, Emily was a zookeeper for ten years.