5 Things We've Learned After a Year With LinkedIn Ads

September 19, 2016

This guest post was contributed by Marcus Andrews, who is the Product Marketing Manager for Ads, Social and HubSpot Connect. Read Andrews' original post.

HubSpot customers have been running LinkedIn Sponsored Content through HubSpot for almost a year now. Using these powerful social ads to get more from their content and inbound strategy. When we first integrated LinkedIn Ads into HubSpot, we weren’t sure what to expect. But since launch, we’ve had the opportunity to review our customers' performance and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned.

1. LinkedIn Sponsored Content Posts Aren’t Just for Awareness

Many people think social ads are only good for generating top of funnel awareness and that they can't  drive leads and create customers. However, HubSpot customers have been driving a huge amount of conversions from LinkedIn Sponsored Content. On average U.S. customers drive a 6.1% conversion rate from LinkedIn Ads, an impressive number. For context the average conversion rate for B2B advertisers on Google search is 2.58%. Globally our customers are performing even better. When we look at all regions, customers converted traffic to their landing pages at 9% from LinkedIn ads. It’s important to note that the CPCs on LinkedIn are much higher than search and other social networks so you’re paying more for this higher CVR. In the U.S. HubSpot customers using ads paid around $5.74 per click on LinkedIn, they only paid $3.35 per click on AdWords. If you break these numbers down even further, our customers paid about $90 per lead through LinkedIn ads and $125 for AdWords leads. These numbers aren’t by any means conclusive, and a smart strategy usually involves search and social ads. We think it's safe to put the myth that LinkedIn ads aren’t great for conversions, to rest.

Globally HubSpot customers average a 9% conversion rate from LinkedIn Sponsored Content. 

To enable you to drive even more conversions through LinkedIn, we’ve added the ability to import all of your existing campaigns into HubSpot Ads. With this update, HubSpot pulls all your LinkedIn campaigns into the Ads Add-On. This means historical campaigns will be added along side new campaigns that you’ve built in HubSpot. We’re unable to track ads that aren’t added through HubSpot but now with your campaigns imported, it’s simple to just add ads to a campaign to activate automatic conversion and ROI tracking.

You’ll know an ad isn’t tracked when you see an N/A in conversions and customer fields in the tool.

2. Click-Through Rate Is Really Important

If users aren’t clicking on your ads, LinkedIn will penalize them, and you’ll end up with less conversions and a much higher cost-per-lead. To combat this focus on two things, great targeting and excellent creative.

Targeting: Most of our customers have the urge to over target with LinkedIn Ads. They want to narrow in on a specific audience. This feels right but can limit your potential audience and give you issues using all your budget and driving clicks. Build targeting based on your buyer persona and aim for an audience higher than 50k people, but try not to exceed 500k. If your audience is below 300k, it’s important to change your ad content weekly to maintain engagement and CTRs.

Creative: The professionals on LinkedIn perusing the feed are doing so for a few reasons. They may be interested in industry news, learning new things, or just browsing for interesting professional topics. Your ads should feel like this kind of content. Try to share something interesting and newsworthy in your ads. Then lead users to an optimized landing page with a simple form to capture a lead. Always use a large image that can cut through the noise and capture your audience’s attention. Even the professionals on LinkedIn are very visual creatures.

HubSpot Ads now supports rich media support for Sponsored Content. So when building an ad in HubSpot you’ll be able to add a larger image to go along with your ad. See the example below.

As you can imagine these larger images perform much better than the simple thumbnail images. They also offer new formats that you can publish in such as Power Point. Make sure to use the new images when building your ads inside of HubSpot and focus on a relevant image that will help your ads cut through the noise and connect with users.

3. If You're Not Testing You're Losing Money

When we looked at customers who drove the most conversions with LinkedIn Ads they all had multiple ads inside each campaign. The point was to test different creative options to see which ads drove the most conversions. When they found a winning creative combination, they put more budget towards those ads and campaigns to drive the most leads at the lowest cost. When you launch a campaign try different images, copy and CTAs. All your ads will be targeted to the same audience and lead to the same landing page but little tweaks to the creative can have significant impacts on click-through. It’s often hard to tell what a new audience will respond to so get creative and decide what works based on the data you see.

4. A Healthy LinkedIn Company Page Makes Great Ads Easier

More than a few of our higher performing advertisers had big, healthy LinkedIn pages with lots of engagement. They would often test a post or offer organically on their page first and only sponsor it (turn it into an ad) if it performed well with their organic audience. This helps them ensure they’ll get the most out of their budget. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use ads if your page is small, but consider building your organic audience first to at least a few hundred followers before sponsoring content. You can do this through a strong inbound content strategy. Share your best content on LinkedIn and take advantage of the social and viral aspects of the network. Make sure your employees are active and sharing on your LinkedIn page to help give your page a boost. 

5. Make Sure to Combine Ads and Inbound for the Biggest Impact

All of our top performing advertisers combine ads with inbound. Their ads were part of a holistic campaign. They had remarkable content that they turned into an offer. They used optimized landing pages and simple forms. They promoted their content through their blogs and social channels and they used ads to amplify their best performing offers. This approach is important as B2B buyers often need more than one touch before they buy. This can be short or long depending on your industry but people are doing more and more researching online before they buy and LinkedIn has become an important place where they learn about products and services.

Stay tuned for more improvements to HubSpot Ads and please reach out to your CSM to learn more about how you can combine ads and inbound and drive more leads. 

For more information on how to get the most out of LinkedIn Sponsored Content, download the new guide, "Laser Focus: 10 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Sponsored Content," today.