Why Conversation Ads Are the Lead Gen Engine B2B Startups Have Been Waiting For

August 28, 2020

Man working alone in a café

If you ask ten B2B startup marketers about their growth strategy, you get ten different answers. Before joining LinkedIn, I spent five years running early-stage marketing teams, from Seed stage with less than 10 people to Series B with more than 100 people. At each stage, the tactics I used were different, but the growth goals were always the same. 

B2B startup marketers are tasked with generating high quality leads that convert into sales pipeline, and ultimately marketing sourced revenue - at the highest possible ROI.

In my time running marketing at startups, my most successful growth strategies were a result of constant iteration, a deep understanding of my ICP’s buying behavior, and a pulse on B2B industry trends.

It is for these reasons that I introduce you to Conversation Ads, the newest messaging format from LinkedIn. Conversation Ads allow marketers to accelerate lead gen through highly customized experiences for prospects -- all while gaining valuable buying behavior learnings. 

Before we dig into how Conversations Ads will increase ROI, let’s first review why personalized messaging with prospects directly aligns with B2B buyer preferences.

Messaging is the Preferred Method of B2B Communication

B2B buyer behavior has evolved as a direct result of the shift to digital; tailored online experiences have increased buyer autonomy and as a result, heightened buyer expectations.  

Today, customers make it through 90% of the buyer’s journey before reaching out to sales and consume 10 pieces of content in this process. In addition, B2B buyers expect this content to be relevant and personalized.

Further, it’s not surprising that 89% of consumers would like to use messaging with businesses. eMarketer projects almost half of people globally will use mobile messaging by 2023. Engagement on LinkedIn between brands and prospects reflects this same trend; in the last 5 years, LinkedIn’s messaging reply rate has grown by 30%.

It’s apparent marketers who adapt to these B2B buyer preferences by creating a customized prospect journey will reach their growth goals faster.

Use Conversation Ads To Accelerate the Buyer’s Journey

As a B2B startup marketer, the real magic of LinkedIn is the ability to target prospects with relevant messaging when they’re looking for it. No other platform has the B2B targeting and professional context to achieve this level of relevancy.

Conversation Ads bring the value of LinkedIn to the next level: startup marketers can now accelerate the buyer’s journey by creating a highly customized experience for prospects with full funnel messaging. In just one ad, marketers can promote several call-to-action buttons to provide a complete “on their terms” experience. This increases lead conversion likelihood, generating more leads, sales pipeline and ultimately revenue.

Do they want another piece of content, more information on your solution, to join a webinar, or are they ready for a demo? Prospects have the options to decide. 

And, with our flowchart reporting tool, you can measure prospect engagement with each button to optimize for better engagement based on that behavior and increase conversion efficiency overtime.

Here’s an example of a top performing Conversation Ad:

Pro Tip: Append LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms to your Conversation Ads to reduce cost per lead by up to 40% compared to traditional landing page forms. Lead Gen Forms create a seamless conversion experience by enabling prospects to submit their lead info via pre-filled forms without leaving the LinkedIn platform.

How Metadata Drove Hundreds of Demos with Conversation Ads

Metadata, one of the fastest-growing Series A startups, helps B2B marketers automate their ABM efforts and tested Conversation Ads by accident. Jason Widup, Metadata’s VP marketing was looking for the best parts of email with a channel that had the best targeting for B2B audiences.

“Our premise was that even if someone doesn’t submit a demo request, we’re driving twice or three times as many opens or engagements than we would with email. Even with that premise, we still saw CPLs around $70, with 80% of those who filled out the lead gen form, taking the demo with a member of our sales team.”

For Jason, Conversation Ads are the only place where he can deliver full-funnel experiences that truly engage prospects in efficient and cost-effective ways.

“As a startup, Conversation Ads are a no-brainer. Taking someone through the entire funnel, from awareness and social proof to qualifying and demo request - startups just don’t get that opportunity to have someone’s attention in 500 characters or less. That’s why it works.”

3 Myths About Conversation Ads and LinkedIn

Now that we’ve addressed why Conversation Ads will help you hit your aggressive lead gen growth goals, let’s debunk three myths to ensure you can hit the ground running with this new ad product.  

Myth #1: LinkedIn is expensive to advertise and test new product strategies

Some startup marketers, hearing about high CPCs, have hesitated testing LinkedIn. As someone now on the other side, I’ll reaffirm that the quality of leads on LinkedIn offset the upfront CPL costs. Given the accuracy of our targeting, there’s a higher likelihood every click garnered is the right prospect. As such, LinkedIn is often more efficient than other channels when evaluating metrics such as cost per sales meeting or opportunity. Moreover, because of the informality of Conversation Ads – you feel like you’re just chatting with someone in your Inbox – we’ve seen CPLs cut by as much as 50% compared to Sponsored Content, with open rates 3x higher than traditional email. 

Myth #2: There’s no difference between Conversation Ads and Message Ads [formerly known as Sponsored InMail]

Sponsored InMail, now called Message Ads, is what many marketers have used on LinkedIn for messaging. Message Ads look and feel like an email in your LinkedIn inbox with a subject line and a generous character count so that you can explain any topic on your terms. Message Ads also provide a single CTA which is great if you’re driving one main action.

Conversation Ads are a much more informal format, with fewer characters but more call-to-action buttons to accomplish that highly personalized experience. We saw where the market was heading, and that marketers were investing in chatbots, messaging tools, and even writing shorter copy to take advantage of 21st-century attention spans. 

Myth #3: Conversation Ads are cumbersome to set up

We’ve leveraged best practices and learnings from early adopters to streamline the success you see with your campaigns:

  • Select from a list of pre-filled templates based on your objective that will include which CTA buttons and copy to use that you can further customize.
  • Repurpose Sponsored Content campaigns so that you can take what’s working well in the feed, and promote the same offering in messaging. 

There’s no question that B2B buyer behavior is changing. The world we live in today is driven more by convenience and relevance than any other time in history; I want to be contacted with context and personalization that speaks directly to how your solution can help me as a professional. That’s why Conversation Ads accelerate lead gen and should be at the foundation for every startup marketer’s growth strategy moving forward.