LinkedIn Sponsored Updates are a great way to drive engagement, traffic, and leads. We’ve found they perform much better than LinkedIn Ads (the, 75-character right-rail ads with thumbnail images). If you’re not quite prepared for the hefty investment required for LinkedIn’s display ads program, use these tips to get your first Sponsored Updates campaigns running.
The first thing to think about is how you want to break up your targeting. Set up 3-5 different targeting campaigns so you can differentiate how each performs in terms of impressions, engagement, clicks, conversions and so on. For example, we recently set up 4 campaigns that target four variations of a specific segment:
- Specific job titles
- Job titles AND related LinkedIn Groups
- Related LinkedIn Groups with job titles not HR or Sales
- Specific social media related job titles.
Breaking up your targeting campaigns also allows you to promote different content to different audiences. For example, we might promote tactical social media guides to Community and Social Media Managers, and promote social media ROI content to Marketing Directors and VPs. More about content a bit later.
Additionally, if you know the location of your target audience, you can include that in your targeting campaigns. Take a look at where your most engaged users are located, and it might be a good idea to set up a separate campaign based on job titles and/or groups AND location, which will amplify your organic reach.
Budget & bidding
Next you’ll want to determine how much you want to spend over the course of your campaign. You have the option of paying CPC or CPM; I’m a fan of CPC because that way you’re paying for actual engagement on your updates, versus paying only for impressions. If your campaigns are lead gen- or conversion-focused, CPC is likely the route you’ll want to go. If your goal is brand visibility and recognition, CPM may be more fitting for your campaign.
You’ll find that LinkedIn Sponsored Updates cost more per click than their Twitter and Facebook counterparts, but the targeting capabilities are much richer, which makes up for the added cost when leveraged properly.
Regardless of if you choose, CPM or CPC, impressions and clicks are not guaranteed – instead, you set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay (bid) per click or per 1,000 impressions, and you’ll never pay more than that. Based on the targeting you’ve set up, LinkedIn will suggest a bid range, and this will vary from advertiser to advertiser. However, I try to keep my max bids somewhere between $4-6. LinkedIn also says you’ll usually pay less than your max bid (but don’t over-bid more than you’re willing to pay, just to be safe).
What’s a click?
If you go the CPC route, you may be wondering what counts as a click on your ad. LinkedIn says you pay for clicks on your Company Page link, logo or any links in your post, but social engagements are free.
Next you’ll want to think about what content you want to promote. Keep in mind that you don’t really want to have the “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to content. You should be adding new Sponsored Updates 2-5x per week and keeping a close eye on them so you can weed out the ones that aren’t performing well.
You can either post a new Update straight from the Campaign Manager or you can first post the update on your Page and then go into the Campaign Manager and add the Update to your campaign(s). I prefer to do it on the Page first so you can see what the post will look like both on your Page and in users’ feeds.
Best practice is to keep content “snackable” – short but captivating, with a clear call-to-action.
Make sure you include a compelling visual, which could be the preview image from the page you’re linking to or you can post the update as an image and include the link in the post text.
As I mentioned previously, choosing different content for your different targeting campaigns can be much more effective than simply promoting the same content in every campaign, thinking this will help you achieve maximum results.
You can also look at which of your Updates performs the best organically and choose to use those in your Sponsored Updates campaigns. As a general rule of thumb, the content that performs the best organically will perform the best once you put some ad spend behind it.
When choosing the date range during which your campaigns will run, be sure to give enough time to actually see results. Campaigns tend to take a day or two to pick up speed, and you’ll likely see that the longer your campaign runs, the more efficient the bidding becomes. As you win more and more bids, your CPC should drop. I recommend running campaigns for at least two weeks to a month in order to really gauge results.
LinkedIn offers native reporting for ad campaigns, which is great for showing you impressions, engagements, clicks, spend, etc. on your ads. You’ll also want to make sure you’re tracking your campaigns once users click through on your ads to your site so you can accurately measure website traffic and conversions. Probably the easiest way to do this is with Google Analytics.
There is one downside: since all of your Sponsored Updates also have to be posted organically to your Page, you can’t 100% differentiate between paid and organic visits to your site and conversions (especially if you’re tracking campaigns closely with UTM parameters on your links). I imagine this will change, but in the meantime, there are a few ways you can roughly figure how much of your traffic/conversions are coming from organic and from paid. Look at your average traffic and conversions on organic posts over a period of time, then sponsor and update and see what the lift is compared to your organic average.
You can also look at how your Sponsored Updates affect your organic activity like post likes, comments and Page follows.
See all of your LinkedIn Company Page data in beautiful reports so you can analyze and optimize campaigns. Check out our powerful LinkedIn Analytics.