Three Brands Killing It with Sponsored Updates

How three top brands raise awareness, build relationships & drive leads by getting the right content in front of the right audience

May 28, 2015

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A content marketer has a variety of options when considering where to spend their marketing time and energy. In that sea of options, it can be challenging to identify the most effective mix, as well as the right technologies to support those efforts. When making your decision, here are a couple of important statistics to consider:

  • 90% of the buying cycle is complete before a prospect reaches out to sales.
  • The average person consumes 10 pieces of information before making a buying decision.
  • 43% of marketers produce new content daily

In a world of infobesity, it can be difficult to make your content rise above the noise in order to reach and nurture your target audience. One marketing solution that has been extremely effective for our clients and partners is LinkedIn Sponsored Updates. It is an effective way for brands to raise awareness, build relationships, and drive leads by getting the right content in front of the right audience. But don't take my word for it; see for yourself.

Here are three brands crushing their marketing goals with Sponsored Updates:

1. Dell Effectively Engages Audiences

Sponsored Updates that don’t engage audiences are unlikely to produce results. According to Dell’s Social Media Program Manager Adam Price, the key to avoiding having your content fall flat is listening. “We want to make sure that we’re providing information that’s useful,” Adam said in a recent LinkedIn webinar.

Using a variety of marketing channels is an important part of that listening strategy, because today’s market isn’t single-minded when it comes to content exposure. In fact, Americans now engage with 7 different sources of information every day through multiple channels. “Our customers are extremely smart,” Adam continued, “and they’re extremely agile in the way they receive and process information.”

Sponsored Updates are one way Dell is effectively delivering content to its audience because it allows them to start a conversation. The key, according to Price, is that those conversations mean something to the people they’re hoping to reach.

So, how can your brand start one of these conversations? Price recommends the following process:

  1. Listen to your audience. Know what they want. Before Dell had established good listening practices, Price said their Sponsored Updates had an average performance. But, since taking the time to build strong platform foundations, their Sponsored Updates are 4-6 times more effective.
  2. Build credibility. If you don’t focus on being credible, your audience might feel like you’re speaking out of turn. Involve yourself in a community first instead of abruptly inserting yourself into a conversation as an outsider. Establish relationships, then source insights from that community to drive the success of your updates.
  3. Test organic posts first. By testing unpaid updates first, you can discover what works and what doesn’t before investing marketing spend.
  4. Use the Direct Sponsored Content option on LinkedIn to test your messaging. This way, you don’t need to test messages on a large audience every time you want to see how a certain target will respond to your update.
  5. Finish the conversations you start. Don’t just post a Sponsored Update then walk away. Be there to engage the audience in the conversation you started. The goal here is to encourage dialogue, so that your audience knows you care about what they have to say.
  6. Analyze performance and adjust accordingly. Don’t guess; measure. Let the numbers guide your strategy. Listen to what the results and data from previous campaigns are telling you about how to make your next Sponsored Update even more effective.

2. NewsCred Really Knows How to Measure Success

“We don’t want marketing to be thought of as a cost center,” said NewsCred VP of Marketing Alicianne Rand in a recent webinar with LinkedIn. At NewsCred, the marketing team makes a point to connect all the work they do to “the overall growth of the company.”

To ensure they’re meeting that goal, Rand explains their objective: “We really try to provide value every single day…That means that we can’t just push our products and services out, but we need to use marketing and content as a way to really better peoples’ lives.”

Three things Rand said marketing should provide its brand with are customer growth, cost savings, and revenue. So, how do you know if your Sponsored Updates are delivering? She recommends asking the following four questions to make sure you’re on track:

  1. Is your content reaching the right audience? Measure this by social followers, traffic, and social engagement.
  1. Are the right people engaging with our content? Find out which influencers are important to your sales team, and entice them to engage more.
  1. Is our content converting? Measure this by blog subscribers, subscribers that convert to leads, and the conversion percentage of people from the blog to the company website.
  1. Is our content driving the business forward? Find out how conversions are trending over time, and which pieces of content are most influential in the customer journey.

Rand also stresses the importance of two best practices as you look to measure the success of your Sponsored Updates:

  1. Document your content strategy. Have a holistic view of your goals, and work backward from the end goal to create your content calendar.
  2. Invest in effective content marketing software. “This enables us to track the entire funnel,” she said. Strategically choosing an effective technological platform for tracking and storing information gives companies the ability to share seamlessly and move data around without losing meaning.

Did you know? NewsCred found that 60% of leads generated by LinkedIn Sponsored Updates are considered marketing qualified, where that’s only true for 20% of those generated by Google AdWords. And LinkedIn Sponsored Updates has a 20% lower cost per name generated than other native ads.

3. BlackRock Exceeds Marketing Goals With A Proven Formula

BlackRock knows a thing or two about Sponsored Updates, too. As Vice President Ann Hynek and Social Media Marketing Strategist Lorin Suslow discussed in a recent LinkedIn webinar interview, planning well from the start is one of the best things you can do to meet your marketing goals.

To make sure you’re headed in the right direction, they recommend becoming familiar with quarterly business objectives and themes so the content you use in your Sponsored Updates is always relevant:

  1. Determine what evergreen content is available for repurposing and keep it ready to go for whenever you need it.
  2. Categorize the content coming down the pipeline so you can strategically plan how and when to use it.
  3. Do a gap analysis often so you know how the evergreen and pipeline pieces can fit together to meet your overall content needs.

As important as looking at business goals, though, is thinking for your audience. “If you’re just solely pushing the business objectives you might see a lower engagement rate, because you’re trying to force it upon a certain target audience,” Suslow said.

Of their content in general, Hynek said, “We really want it to be a conversation between our experts and our thought leaders and our readers.”

Sponsored Updates have been drastically driving followership for BlackRock. Making sure content resonates with their audience is the first step in Blackrock's proven formula that you too can apply to Sponsored Updates for your company:

  1. Think about your audience first; ask whether the reader would be interested in this content.
  2. Include teaser text; follow the best practice and keep it under 150 characters.
  3. Make sure your headlines clearly communicate what content your reader is about to consume.
  4. Leverage numbered lists in your content’s introduction to imply a digestible format.

Across all three of these brands, listening to your audience has proven to be a key ingredient to success. Check out the webinars mentioned above to learn more about delivering the content your audience is asking for.

You too can kill it with LinkedIn Sponsored Updates. Why not get started today?

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