LinkedIn advertising uses a unique algorithm. Because of this, the odds of a given ad of appearing on LinkedIn can be different than with Facebook or Google advertising.
The most crucial difference is that, with LinkedIn ads, ranking is determined by only two factors: an ad’s click through rate (CTR) and the bid. Other factors that are important in Facebook and Google ads, like keyword relevance, landing page quality, and historical brand performance, count for nothing on LinkedIn.
If you can’t improve X, improve Y
Bid what you can afford. But don’t try to just ram ads through LinkedIn with ridiculous bids. It won’t be worth it.
Once you’ve hit as high a bid as you’re comfortable with, work on improving your other variable, the click through rate.
The absolute minimum CTR should be 0.025%. Anything less and you’ll be lucky if it shows up on any browsers, let alone your target demographics’. Above that mark, you get diminishing returns. The difference in exposure between two ads with CTRs of 0.025% and 0.05% is much more significant than the difference in exposure between two ads with CTRs of 0.05% and 0.075%.
Tips for increasing your CTR
First find your target, then shoot. Have many different ad campaigns tailored to many different demographics and interest groups. LinkedIn gives you a lot of choice in who actually sees your ads. Take advantage of it. Using one broad ad campaign for all target customers might save you some time and money, but it’s almost guaranteed to result in low CTR. It doesn’t matter how many people you’re bidding on, if your CTR is low, nobody will see the ad.
Advertise specific actions. Even when targeted to narrow demographics, brand-building and general ads are not specific enough. The general rule for successful internet ads is to advertise a particular action, i.e. “Sign up today,” and link to a landing page where the customers can take that action.
Make sure your ad works both with and without a photo. LinkedIn ads most often appear in the sidebar, with text and a small photo. This photo should ideally stand out so that people actually read the text beside it instead of just skimming over. However, if your ad does particularly well, the text will also appear by itself on the top of the page. Make sure your text makes sense and still sells the product even without the photo.
Trim the fat. LinkedIn lets you run 15 different ads per campaign, but you don’t have to use all of them. If any of your ads get less than 0.025% CTR, stop them immediately. They’re just not worth the money.
Keep a presence on LinkedIn. Work to build a network of Followers. Followers will drive up your CTR. Respond to user messages to your company. Listen to what people are telling you. Often customers will have good ideas on how to advertise to them.
LinkedIn’s ad ranking system is simple, easy, and transparent. In the end, the best way to get a better ranking is to make ads that your customers want to click. Which, really, you should already be doing.
Steve is a Social Media Manager and Google AdWords Certified Individual at TechWyse, an internet marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada. TechWyse specializes in SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing. You can read more of Steve’s writing at TechWyse.com/blog.