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Lead Gen Forms: A B2B marketer's guide on when to use them

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 17, 2022

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms have been around for years now. They are great way to capture leads from within the LinkedIn platform. They negate the need for a landing page, and they de-risk user drop off when switching from LinkedIn to another tab.

But we get asked all the time, when should you use a Lead Gen Form vs Sponsored Content (or another ad format)?

To help with that decision, we’ve developed a handy decision tree. It’s deceptively simple and, although a little tongue-in-cheek, the principles are genuine.

Ready to start your campaign?

A couple of more things to keep in mind:

Lead Gen Forms are prepopulated with the users details (yay!)

But many LinkedIn users have their personal email addresses as their primary email address and don’t always have up to date information (boo!).

And if you don’t spend time on creating properly targeted audiences and useful content, there isn’t a decision tree in the world that will make those campaigns successful.

Need help from an expert? Get in touch for a free 30-minute consultation.

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Are LinkedIn text ads the best kept secret in B2B brand advertising?

By Emma Grimshaw  |  May 20, 2020

The LinkedIn advertising platform has evolved quickly in recent years. What started out as a clunky interface with limited audience options and just a single advert format (the humble Text Ad), has matured into a more refined user experience with sophisticated targeting options that are a treasure-trove for B2B marketers. 

Their newer Sponsored Content ad format is – on paper – better than it’s predecessor in almost every way. Benefiting from a large image or graphic, a generous character limit, a clear call-to-action button, and prominent news feed placement, you can expect a well-performing ad to generate a click-through-rate of 0.35-0.45%, according to LinkedIn.

Side-by-side the original Text Ad format looks somewhat meagre, tucked away to the right of the screen with just 50×50 pixel thumbnail image, 25-character headline, and 75-character description. And with a CTR of 0.12% being considered by LinkedIn as a ‘good’, it might leave you wondering: why even bother with Text Ads at all?

1 – LinkedIn Text Ads are excellent value

On the face of it a Text Ad with 10,000 impressions and 1 click might not feel like value added. But if your campaign is set to bid for clicks rather than impressions, then this should be considered a success. Where else would you be able to get your brand in front of a well targeted audience of B2B decision-makers 10,000 times for less than the price of a cup of coffee?

2 – LinkedIn Text Ads are highly targeted

If you have already created a sleek Sponsored Content campaign, then you’re only a few clicks away from setting up some complementary Text Ads. Your audience has already been defined and refined, so why not utilise this and reinforce your sales-focused messages with brand-building creative? 

3 – LinkedIn Text ads are perfect for brand building

With specialist B2B products and services, there is a good chance that your audience isn’t big enough to run remarketing ads on LinkedIn. Text Ads are a great alternative, enabling you to keep your brand front-of-mind with the same prospects that have likely seen your Sponsored Content ads.

So whilst they might not boast impressive enough CTRs to hinge an entire lead generation campaign on, their power to generate brand awareness for pennies is the reason we think LinkedIn Text Ads are one of the best kept secrets in B2B brand advertising.

Advertising LinkedIn
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New Advertising Features for LinkedIn – Matched Audiences

By John Woods  |  May 3, 2017

LinkedIn has just announced general availability of “Matched Audiences”, a set of new features for the LinkedIn Ads platform. This is a game-changer for LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn ads – love them or hate them

As a B2B digital marketer I have a classic love-hate relationship with the LinkedIn Ads platform. We use it as part of the marketing mix for most of our B2B clients and the ads can give good results, but there are some real frustrations that constrain our use of the platform.

Why I love LinkedIn ads

LinkedIn is one of the most natural places to reach business people in their professional lives, so B2B campaigns on LinkedIn are brand-appropriate for most advertisers and can be very effective. The ability to target ads to custom-designed segments based on seniority, company size, job title, and so on is very powerful in cases where this aligns well with the target audience for a particular campaign. We’ve had great success with well-designed LinkedIn campaigns.

Why I hate LinkedIn ads

LinkedIn ads can only be targeted using combinations of certain fixed segments that LinkedIn provides. When you first see these segmentation options they seem very powerful, but as you start to work with them in anger they can be really frustrating.

For example the industry categories are very coarse-grained and may not align well with campaign goals – a niche category like “Fishery” or “Forestry” might be workable, but a category like “Information Technology and Services” is too broad to be much help. And geographic options are limited – for instance in the UK I can target Reading or Swindon, but not a broad region like the Thames Valley.

A further limitation is that these targeting options don’t align at all with buyer intent or with a person’s degree of engagement with my brand: I can’t target a tailored message based on a prospect’s funnel stage.

Add to this that LinkedIn ads are quite expensive – CPCs can easily be double those of an equivalent paid search campaign – and you have a difficult choice: either “spray and pray” by targeting your LinkedIn campaign very coarsely to a broad audience that may not align well with your campaign goals (and risk wasting a large part of your budget), or target very narrowly (and risk missing a large fraction of your potential audience and have your campaign achieve little or nothing).

It’s possible to work around these limitations with skill and creativity, but they still form a barrier to effective use of LinkedIn Ads.

Why Matched Audiences makes all the difference

LinkedIn’s new Matched Audiences features provide three new ways to improve targeting of LinkedIn ads:

  1. Account Targeting: upload a list of company names to define a new audience
  2. Contact Targeting: upload a list of individual email addresses, or link to a CRM system with an equivalent list of contacts, to define a new audience
  3. Website Remarketing: create an audience from some or all of your previous website visitors.

By themselves these options are already pretty useful, but the best news is that they COMBINE with the old-style segmentation choices.

So I can now run a LinkedIn campaign that targets, for example:

People in the “Information Technology and Services” industry…

  • …of at least “director” level seniority…
  • …who work for companies with at least 5,000 employees…
  • …and who have visited my product’s main landing page within the past 14 days.

Now THAT’S an interesting target audience!

This makes it feasible to use LinkedIn campaigns which use the old-style segmentation options to define a broad audience and the new Matched Audiences to focus on people who are already engaged with my brand in some way.

What to do next

If you already use LinkedIn Ads, you should definitely look into Matched Audiences right away. They will almost certainly provide ways to make your campaigns more effective.

If you have previously used LinkedIn Ads and given up because of poor results or poor ROI, Matched Audiences might allow you to revisit LinkedIn as a viable part of your marketing mix.

In either case there are some steps you should take as soon as you can:

  1. Read the details about the new options.
  2. Evaluate the new options in the context of your marketing goals. For instance, if you have a large database of leads that would benefit from a lead nurturing campaign, Contact Targeting could be ideal. If you are building an Account Based Marketing strategy you should look at Account Targeting.
  3. If you find a fit between the new options and your marketing goals, adjust your plans accordingly. In particular, to make best use of the new options you are likely to need to develop new creative for different funnel stages.
  4. If you plan to use Website Remarketing in the future, make sure you have the LinkedIn conversion tag deployed on your website and set up some remarketing lists in LinkedIn. As with most remarketing technologies, the lists take a while to build up and are not retrospective, so set them up early so they are in place when you are ready to launch a campaign. (LinkedIn uses its own tagging technology for its remarketing features, so you need a new tag. You are using Google Tag Manager aren’t you?)
  5. If you are planning to use any of the new options, make sure you are aware of the privacy and data protection implications.

It’s gonna cost you

I’m very excited about these new options and I’m sure we will be increasing our clients’ use of LinkedIn Ads as a result. I expect the same to happen across the industry. But there’s no new inventory available as a result of these changes – they purely allow existing inventory to be bought more effectively.

So I expect CPCs and CPMs to rise across the LinkedIn network. LinkedIn ads are already relatively expensive compared to other forms of display advertising, so this will make it even more important to have efficiently designed and well-managed campaigns.

Want help making the best of LinkedIn Ads for your business?

Talk to us.