How to Get Better Results from an Under-performing LinkedIn Ads Campaign

May 4, 2017

Improve results for your LinkedIn Ads campaign

We’ve all had campaigns that don’t take off right away. I’ll be the first to admit there are times I check my analytics dashboard and wince.

It’s important to remember that no campaign is perfect straight out of the gate. The best part of being a modern digital marketer is that you can improve even top-performing campaigns by experimenting, evaluating the results, and optimising. LinkedIn makes it easy to run a wide range of experiments and get immediate feedback to fuel better performance.

So don’t despair if your LinkedIn Ads campaign doesn’t immediately perform to expectations. Try these experiments to take it to the next level and beyond.

1. Change up Your Targeting
LinkedIn makes it easy to target the most relevant audience for your message, but it may take some experimenting to find the sweet spot. You’re looking for an audience big enough that your campaign will have an impact, but small enough to reach only those who are likely to click through.

It’s worth trying some A/B tests with different targeting criteria. For example, if you’re using age as a criteria, you may be missing a sizable chunk of your target audience—up to 70%, according to our data. For most B2B ads, it makes more sense to target by years of experience than to a particular age group.

Also experiment with job function or skills instead of job title or seniority—titles and hierarchy can vary widely from company to company.

As you experiment with criteria, Campaign Manager will estimate the size of your selected audience. Most successful campaigns have a minimum of 60,000 and a maximum of 400,000.

2. Use Expanded Audiences
As you fine-tune your criteria, you will likely start seeing improved results. Hop into the dashboard and look at your click demographics to see with whom your content is resonating the most. Then you can begin reaching new audiences based on what’s already working.

Choose the “Expanded Audience” option and LinkedIn’s algorithms will automatically find members who are likely to be receptive to your content. This new audience will be demographically similar to the criteria you chose, so it’s likely to help reach people you might not have thought to include in your initial targeting.

3. Tweak Your Creative
It’s amazing how big a difference you can make with minor changes to your visual or headline. We test dozens of these little tweaks per campaign. For example, in one campaign we tested a photo with a person’s face versus one with hands and technology:

The pic with more personality saw a 160% higher click through rate (CTR).

We tested a headline with a statistic versus one without, and saw 162% more impressions with the former. In another campaign, we halved the length of a headline and saw an 18% boost in engagement rate.

My favourite example is when we increased CTR 95% and impressions 50% by swapping a single word. See if you can spot the difference:

In this case, calling our asset a “guide” instead of an “eBook” dramatically improved performance.

Note that there are no hard-and-fast rules for what works. Keep trying variants to see what moves your specific audience.

4. Tighten up Your Bidding Strategy

An amazing ad with precision targeting still needs the right bid to make sure it gets seen. Try these suggestions to get more from your budget:

  • Set Competitive Bids. We have found it’s worth bidding a few pounds over the suggested bidding range. Remember, you only pay enough to beat the second-highest bid, so raising your maximum bid is a relatively low-risk way to increase your odds of winning.
  • Don’t Set Daily Caps Too Low. A low daily cap can make it hard to get enough data for the next round of optimisation. We tend to keep the cap high early in a campaign, then lower it once we’ve optimised.
  • Frontload Your Budget. Set your daily budget higher earlier in the month to collect data. Then you can do more with less toward the end of the time frame.
  • Aim for Quality and Relevance. LinkedIn evaluates past performance when determining winning bids. Turn off underperforming campaigns and boost your top performers. Over time, you will raise your relevance score and stretch your budget farther.

This video explains how bids and user feedback combine to determine auction winners:

Some ad campaigns will soar immediately to great heights. Some will spend an uncomfortable amount of time taxiing on the runway. Think of the latter as an opportunity to do what marketers do best: Experiment, evaluate, and optimise. With a little time, testing, and effort, your campaign can reach cruising altitude in no time.

To learn more about optimising your LinkedIn marketing for extraordinary results, download The LinkedIn Content Marketing Tactical Plan.