Building and Measuring Brand Awareness on LinkedIn
Greetings, marketers! We’re here to give you the most succinct and straightforward primer for success with branding on LinkedIn.
To help you along your learning journey, we’ll include plenty of links to guides and content with additional information. Ready? Let’s get started.
What is Brand Awareness?
LinkedIn hosts an ever-expanding member base of more than 590 million professionals who use the platform to network, research, and grow their careers. This mindset and intent makes LinkedIn a uniquely powerful social media channel for B2B marketers.
Offering a full suite of products to help companies gain relevant visibility and recognition with their most valuable audiences, LinkedIn has proven a sound branding investment, which is why 97% of B2B marketers utilize it for their content marketing efforts.
Identifying Brand Awareness Objectives
Before you get started with branding on LinkedIn, it’s important to establish specific desired outcomes. These three objectives are commonly tied to a brand awareness campaign:
Growing the exposure of your content is a primary goal of brand awareness campaigns.
Increasing your follower count helps build a foundation for sustained, organic reach.
Getting members to interact with your content will help increase the stickiness of your messages.
LinkedIn helps marketers achieve these objectives through organic and paid content with sophisticated targeting to ensure you’re gaining awareness with the right people. In-depth analytics tools allow you to meaningfully report on results and prove the impact of your digital branding campaigns.
How Branding Complements and Contributes to Lead Generation Marketing
Without awareness, there can be no lead. There is a very real interplay between these two tactics, with one feeding into the next.
Research from IPA shows that, while direct response and short-term activations can cause sales spikes, a persistent focus on brand-building yields greater return over the long haul. This relationship is presented visually in the following chart from IPA’s report:
Generating familiarity with your target audience is critical. Well executed brand awareness campaigns help foster consistent growth for lead generation initiatives.
Why Being First to Mind Matters for B2B Companies
Today’s buying committees are larger and more distributed than ever. In the ideal scenario, an influential decision maker will encounter the exact piece of content they need from your company at the perfect moment, but a more realistic and sustainable model involves cultivating a positive and memorable impression so your brand comes to mind when purchase discussions take place.
The True Value of Thought Leadership
Thought leadership represents the intersection between B2B brand awareness and lead generation, helping to frame your company and its leaders as trustworthy, authoritative sources.
Consider these thought leadership statistics:
75% of would-be buyers say thought leadership helps them determine which vendor to put on their short list.
79% of would-be buyers point to thought leadership as critical for determining which providers they want to learn more about.
Nine out of 10 B2B decision makers find thought leadership important, and nearly half of all C-suite executives spend at least an hour engaging with this content weekly.
Branding Campaigns on LinkedIn: Finding Your Audience
Targeting Buyer Personas for Branding on LinkedIn
So we know it’s important to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership. But with whom? Understanding your target audience and how they operate is essential to effective marketing. One of the biggest strengths of leveraging LinkedIn lies in the ability to access rich member profile data and utilize precise targeting filters.
As you begin to strategize campaigns and build a content roadmap, you’ll want to answer these important questions:
What is our current position in the market, relative to competitors?
How do our customers view us, and how do we want to be viewed?
What is our desired audience generally interested in? How can we align with it?
If you aren’t sure, don’t worry: there are tools that can help surface these insights.
Understanding Your Audience with LinkedIn Website Demographics
Oftentimes, marketers rely on guesswork and assumptions when analyzing audience traits. At least, they used to. Today you can become more sophisticated and purposeful in this process.
At LinkedIn, we offer a tool called Website Demographics, which enables you to learn about the people who visit your site, helpfully informing future campaigns. By adding an Insight Tag to your website, you can collect aggregate data around professional attributes of your visitors — job title, seniority, function, company, industry, location, etc. You can then use this information to set targeting parameters for future campaigns.
Targeting Strategies: General Awareness vs. ABM
At a high level, there are two targeting approaches marketers tend to deploy for brand awareness campaigns on LinkedIn.
The first is a broader and more general scope (though still refined by the practices we just covered). The second is an account-based marketing (ABM) model, which involves identifying and zeroing in on high-value prospective accounts, then placing them at the center of your brand awareness efforts.
Why Target an Account List for Branding?
One reason ABM is fast gaining popularity is because it’s more conducive to the current B2B environment, where buying committees are growing larger and more distributed; this model emphasizes building deeper awareness throughout an organization rather than only at the surface level. ABM also, vitally, brings together marketing and sales with a shared focus and shared knowledge.
When it comes to understanding and engaging your audience, partnering with sales is critical. Sellers on the frontlines know better than anyone what kind of messaging resonates and converts with your best customers.
Compiling Your Account List
The most crucial step in launching an ABM approach is putting together the right list of target accounts. This is where a partnership with sales becomes extremely valuable. Reps know who the buyers are and how their functions connect to the decision process. With this information, you can build lookalikes and start developing a collection of accounts that profile similarly and offer serious potential.
Once you’ve created your contact list, you can upload it into Campaign Manager using the Account Targeting feature, which cross-references against 8 million Company Pages on LinkedIn and automatically generates a targeted segment.
Influencing the Buying Committee
As mentioned earlier, one of the key benefits of account-based marketing is the way it’s designed to establish deeper influence in buying committees. By studying target accounts and the content they share, you can learn what resonates with them and tailor your own marketing content accordingly. Take advantage of mutual connections to create new links to expand your brand’s presence within the organization.
ABM challenges marketers to think differently about their messaging because it must reach both far and wide within a single account. You’ll want to first create broader awareness across the company, because you probably don’t initially know exactly who will influence a deal. Then, as you gain more visibility and insight, you can put more resources behind tactics to specifically zero in on key people with later-stage messaging.
When one member of a committee reaches out to another and says, “Hey, should we take a look at this solution from Company X?” and the other responds, “Oh yeah, I know them, they share a lot of great content on LinkedIn,” that’s a sign you’re getting it right with brand awareness.
Targeting Parameters for General Brand Awareness
Even if you’re not adopting an ABM model, you’ll still want to set up strategic targeting for any brand awareness campaign.
It’s not about getting in front of professionals, it’s about getting in front of the right professionals. Within Campaign Manager, you’ll be able to tweak a multitude of different filters to refine your scope.
All the different ways you can reach your target audience with LinkedIn data
If your aim is to raise brand awareness at scale, then define your relevant audience in the broadest terms possible. LinkedIn targeting parameters like industry, job function or broad-ranging skills are ideal for this. When you use LinkedIn Campaign Manager to set the targeting parameters for your campaign, you’ll be given an estimate of your likely audience size. For building brand awareness, you should define an audience of at least 300,000 LinkedIn members, to enable you to reach your objectives cost-effectively. This will usually involve using a maximum of two targeting parameters, and the broad scope will often lead to lower competing bids.
As a marketer, these engagement rates and a low CPM provide you with valuable metrics to feed back to the business to show how your brand awareness campaign is performing. They may not track the impact of your activity all the way through to leads and conversions – but they give a useful indication of how efficiently you are filling the top of the demand generation funnel.
Retargeting on LinkedIn
One powerful and easy way to qualify your audience for brand awareness campaigns is by taking advantage of LinkedIn’s Website Retargeting function. With the same Insight Tag used to set up Website Demographics, you can track visitors to your site and then later serve them ads on LinkedIn. Statistics show that the average click-through rate on retargeted ads is 10 times higher than a standard display ad. This intuitively makes sense; familiarity matters, and past engagements with your company’s site signal some level of interest or intent.
Layered Targeting on LinkedIn
For optimal branding results on LinkedIn, it’s best to layer different targeting facets. To maximize content impact, divvy up different audiences and personas for different campaigns to further personalization. Also, make sure not to over-target. It’s great to get specific, but when the scale becomes too limited, the campaign can suffer. As general guidelines, we recommend the following audience sizes for various LinkedIn ads:
Keep your targeted audience size within the suggested parameters for each product
Leverage Existing Creative for LinkedIn Brand Awareness Campaigns
What kind of content should you create and share for branding campaigns on LinkedIn? Obviously the answer will vary depending on your company, industry, and audience. But one efficiency we generally advise is repurposing existing assets. Audit your content mix to determine what’s connecting, and then adapt it for LinkedIn’s professional audience.
Here are some tips for making this happen with various channels and formats:
Which of your posts are performing best? You could promote one via LinkedIn to give it more juice, or flip it into a self-published post on the platform with a byline from a company leader. Additionally, you might pull compelling excerpts from blog content and build Sponsored Content with it.
Social Media Content
If you have a series of Instagram ads that are doing well, turn them into a Carousel Ad. Turn copy from AdWords campaigns into LinkedIn Text Ads. Or quickly rework Facebook Ads into Sponsored Content (no need to even change the image size).
Use video assets created for YouTube or other channels and run them as Sponsored Content on LinkedIn. If they have longer runtimes, it’s wise to create a condensed version for improved engagement on busy feeds. The most effective videos on LinkedIn tend to be 15 seconds or shorter. Find more LinkedIn video tips.
Best Practices for Branding Content on LinkedIn
As we said earlier, there is no singular “right approach” for branding content on LinkedIn. Plenty of companies have found their strides with wildly different methods. But here are some high-level best practices worth adhering to as you find yours:
Make sure you have at least four pieces of content running at any time, so you can assess and compare results
A/B test different types of creative to determine what’s working best
Include your logo and other branding elements in visual assets
Don’t use boring stock images — they simply won’t stand out
Feature clear and compelling calls to action in your ads
Need specifications for the various ad types on LinkedIn? Find them all covered in our Ad Specs & Guidelines.
Distribution of Branding Content on LinkedIn
As we’ve seen, if you already have a solid content strategy in place, it won’t necessarily take too much extra work to produce a sizable slate of usable assets for LinkedIn. Once you’ve got your content lined up, it’s time to get it out there. Let’s dig into the fundamentals.
Organic Content: LinkedIn Pages vs. Showcase Pages
Your LinkedIn Page (and related Showcase Pages) are your most important destinations for branding on LinkedIn. When someone is struck by an ad or piece of content you share on the platform, they’re likely to click on your business name and take a closer look. Additionally, LinkedIn Pages are easily discovered through search.
Your LinkedIn Page is basically your brand hub on LinkedIn. This will include a wealth of information about your core business. Showcase Pages are distinct offshoots that can be used to highlight key sub-brands or business initiatives. You can share company updates and Sponsored Content directly from these pages.
You can best leverage LinkedIn Pages and Showcase Pages for branding by maintaining an active posting cadence, delivering useful content for your audience, activating employee advocates, and mixing in the right amount of paid amplification. With this approach you can seek to drive engagement metrics such as clicks and comments, and even more importantly, you can increase the follower counts for these pages, building up your future audience.
Campaigns are time-bound marketing programs with limited durations. These are core staples of the discipline. But these days, an always-on approach is becoming more prevalent. This is a customer-centric mindset that involves making your brand discoverable and reachable at all times, throughout a buyer’s journey.
Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing frames the value of always-on: “We don’t control when we have access to the buyer; we don’t get to control when they have access to us. We need to be ready when they are ready, and ideally it’s not just when they want to learn about your product.”
B2B Decision Makers Are "Always On" For Business
Research business products during their workday
Are researching during the evenings
Spend time researching on the weekends
We find that the most effective approach for branding is a combination of the campaign and always-on methodologies. Fill your marketing funnel by running ad campaigns to promote webinars, ebooks, and infographics. Meanwhile, keep a steady flow of organic thought leadership content and make sure your company is interacting with members who engage with anything you publish.
Choosing the Right Product Type for Your Branding Goals
LinkedIn offers a number of products that can support your always-on content marketing strategy. The options you choose depend on your goals, but these three tend to be mainstays for such purposes:
Sponsored Content and Video
Create visibility for your brand while inspiring trust and confidence through targeted top-of-funnel content.
A structured program for activating your employees to authentically advocate and spread the word.
Programmatic Display Ads
Control your spend and targeting while building your brand in a premium context.
Bidding for Branding Campaigns
Your budgeting approach will depend to some extent on your distribution approach. For campaigns, we recommend using a total budget to be spent within a defined time period. (You might also consider front-loading the campaign budget to gather insights and make adjustments.)
For always-on marketing, a consistent daily allotment might be best. Make a small proportion of your budget available for brand-building each month. You can spread this budget over a range of different brand assets, picking your top-performing organic posts to use as Sponsored Content, for example. Bidding on a cost per impressions (CPM) basis, where your competing bids will be lower, will help extend the reach of your budget as well.
Always keep a close eye on analytics. If the results aren’t where you want them, you may want to recalibrate your bidding, targeting or content.
Measuring Thought Leadership on LinkedIn: Why and How?
By now we’ve established the importance of thought leadership as a B2B brand-building tool. But how do we assess the efficacy of our thought leadership content?
Before you launch thought leadership campaigns, it is important to determine what you hope to get out of them. Marketers typically gauge thought leadership impact across three categories: reputation, relationships, and revenue.
Much of what passes for so-called Thought Leadership isn't Thought Leadership. It's Thought Followership.
The key to being a Thought Leader is to... well, lead. What does that mean for you? Have an undiluted point of view - don't just tell me what's going on, tell me how you feel about it, and why I should care.
Thought Leaders sift through content mess to give context and perspective; because we don't need more content, but we do need more true insight.
Demonstrating the True Value of Brand Awareness Campaigns
Numbers of any kind don’t mean much on their own. You’ll need to establish who or what you are benchmarking against to provide context for your analytics.
Which metrics will you be measuring specifically? Where thought leadership is concerned, you’ll likely want to track things like total impressions, clicks, and other engagements.
Track and Analyze KPIs
The extensive reporting tools in LinkedIn will make it easy to see who’s interacting with specific content. Make sure to set up distinct thought leadership campaigns so you can measure these types of posts and ads on their own.
Regularly Survey Influencers
This ties back to the qualitative elements. Numbers can only tell us so much about the intangible impact of thought leadership content. Check in with key figures in your niche to learn how much your brand’s voice is penetrating and gaining traction.
What to Measure for Brand Awareness
The best metrics for brand awareness depend on which product or tactic you’re looking at. Here’s a high level view of associated metrics for various brand-building tools on LinkedIn.
Publishing on LinkedIn: Views, comments and shares
With longform posts from company leaders, or content shared by employee advocates, it’s all about reach and engagement. Dig into analytics to see what kinds of professionals are interacting.
LinkedIn Pages: Followers (prospects & thought leaders)
Naturally, you want to increase the followings for these pages, but quality definitely matters. Keep a close eye on the types of followers you’re attracting to gauge whether your content is speaking to the right people.
Sponsored Content: Reach, engagement, and new followers gained
Again, it’s not just about quantity but quality. A close look at reporting will determine whether your ads are hitting home with the right audience. If not, you’ll want to consider tweaking your creative or targeting.
Next Level: Analyzing the Deeper Impact of Thought Leadership
How do we go beyond these surface-level metrics to get a clearer look at bottom-line impact from branding efforts centered on thought leadership?
Keep a tally on these strategic outcomes:
Quality Leads Generated
Executive-level Meetings Scheduled
Analyst Meetings Secured
Invitations to Participate in Advisory Boards
Branding on LinkedIn: Key Takeaways
From audience targeting to creative direction to distribution and measurement, we’ve covered the ins and outs of branding on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in learning more, we encourage you to explore some of the links shared above.
Finally, we’ll leave you with these bite-sized recaps of the most important points to take with you:
B2B marketers invest in brand awareness on LinkedIn to reach targeted professional segments in a business mindset.
Thought leadership is proven to be one of the best branding tactics for B2B companies, improving buyer trust and confidence.
You can use LinkedIn Website Demographics as well as platform analytics to learn about your audience and tailor your branding content accordingly.
Account-based marketing, which involves the focused pursuit of select accounts, is rapidly gaining traction as a B2B strategy, and is well suited for LinkedIn.
You can efficiently produce branding content for LinkedIn by repurposing other assets and optimizing them for the network’s professional context.
Always run multiple pieces of content simultaneously and use A/B testing to gauge what’s working.
Measure thought leadership content based on quality more than quantity (i.e., who is seeing and engaging with this content, not just how many).