LinkedIn Advertising 101: Measurement & Optimization

August 24, 2016

LinkedIn Advertising 101: Measurement & Optimization

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn is the social network of choice. In Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 2016 survey, 94% percent of B2B respondents said they used LinkedIn to distribute content.

It’s not surprising that LinkedIn is popular for B2B. A 2014 study of 100,000 posts across social media platforms found that LinkedIn accounted for over 80% of B2B leads generated. Not only that, but leads generated via LinkedIn marketing products tend to be more relevant than those from other channels. In a trial of LinkedIn Sponsored Content and Native Ads versus Google Adwords, NewsCred found that LinkedIn generated twice as many high-quality leads.

So if you are a B2B marketer, there is massive potential for reaching and engaging your audience on LinkedIn. But it takes strategy to get the best results. In the first part of the LinkedIn Advertising 101 series, we covered best practices for targeting the right audience. In the second part, we talked about bidding strategies to get the most out of your budget.

For the final installment, let’s get down to the most crucial element to master for successful LinkedIn advertising: measurement and optimization.

Start with Clear Goals and Meaningful Metrics

Sponsored Content, Text Ads, Sponsored InMail and Dynamic Ads can all be useful for a variety of goals from brand awareness in the upper funnel to lead generation in the lower funnell. So there’s no one set of metrics that will fit every campaign, instead each campaign strategy is unique. It’s important to identify the goals for your campaign and the metrics you will use to measure them before anything else. Goals and metrics will drive your creative, calls to action and bid strategy.

Depending on your objectives, here are some critical questions you should be asking about measuring the results of your marketing programs. What your measure will differ based on, for example, whether your goals are boosting brand awareness and other upper funnel objectives or whether your goals are generating leads and other lower funnel objectives.

Upper Funnel:

  • Branded search. In the days and weeks after launching your advertising program on Linkedin designed to boost brand awareness, have you seen an increase in Google or Bing searches featuring your brand? Such an increase would indicate raised awareness of your brand.

  • Website and referral traffic lift. Use your website analytics tools to determine if you are getting an increasing amount of traffic to your website from LinkedIn.

  • Increase in engagement. Look at page views for targeted pages, but also pages per visit and time on site. Is your content inspiring people to dig deeper into your website?

  • Subscriber lift. Are more people opting-in to your email newsletter or subscribing to your blog?

Lower Funnel:

  • Website conversions. Are your LinkedIn ads drawing relevant prospects who are not only visiting your website but filling out forms, sharing their email addresses, and becoming leads?

  • Growth in qualified leads. Are your ads attracting people who have influence, budget authority, or both in the purchase of your solution?

  • Cost per lead. Are the ads attracting sufficient numbers of quality leads to bring down your overall CPL?

These are just a few examples of metrics you might use, depending on each LinkedIn campaign’s goal. For a comprehensive look at measurement, read The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Metrics & Analytics.

Track Performance

With clear goals documented and metrics in place, you can launch your campaigns and begin monitoring performance. We recommend running multiple variations of an ad at the same time, to test which version performs best and optimize. To gauge how well your ads are doing, it’s important to track them both on LinkedIn and on your site.

Keep an eye on the LinkedIn Campaign Manager. You will have access to your LinkedIn ads’ total impressions and clicks. For Sponsored Content, you will also see your engagement rate, which tracks clicks, shares, and comments.

For off-site performance, make the URLs in your ads unique. That way, it’s easy to attribute the source of traffic to your target pages. Make the tracking codes different for each variation on your campaign to see which campaign best achieves your goals.

For example, you may find one ad may get fewer clicks from LinkedIn, but a high percentage of those who click complete your offer and have a shorter cycle to purchase. With trackable URLs, you will have a more complete picture of each ad variation’s performance.

Optimize and Improve

The way LinkedIn members engage with your ads is part of the algorithm that determines which ad wins an auction. If your ads historically have a higher CTR, you get a boost; that means you can potentially win an auction without being the highest bidder.

So it’s important to keep optimizing. Here’s what to do:

1. Run multiple variations of each ad, with one variable changed (A/B testing).

2. Focus your budget on your top performers, and cut spend on low performers.

3. Use the data generated to improve each round of ads.

4. For Sponsored Content, use Direct Sponsored Content to test variations without oversaturating  your LinkedIn Company Page.

There’s one reason that B2B marketers use LinkedIn more than any other social platform: It’s where their customers are. LinkedIn advertising can bring your content to your target audience. And because ads on LinkedIn are shareable, it can also help you discover a larger audience than you expected. To get the best results from your investment, align your ads to measurable goals, closely monitor performance, and aim for continued improvement over time.

Further refine your LinkedIn campaigns and improve your leads when you download Laser Focus: 10 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Sponsored Content.