linkedin ads

How to Master LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Written by in Campaign Optimization on April 20, 2016

Thought social was just for status updates? Think again.

Whether you want to create awareness, demonstrate thought leadership—or drive new prospects, nurture leads, AND create pipeline—social media continues to be a formidable player in the game of digital marketing.

Some platforms are better than others for particular stages of engagement, and it’s important to do what’s right for your company. Focusing on one or two channels, rather than trying to be everywhere at once, is a wise move. The same goes if you’re getting into paid media.

social media ads

At the request of our clients, a while back we talked about how to leverage social media for lead generation, and focused on Facebook and Twitter ads. Today is all about the social media darling of the business world…LinkedIn.

It’s no secret that LinkedIn is the most versatile for carrying a dialogue all the way through the engagement pipeline.

social media for lead gen


But before you get too excited about these sterling lead gen stats, and dive headfirst into social ads, understand how you might integrate paid media into your overall strategy.

Here’s a very quick and dirty plan of how you might use a mix of paid social/retargeting programs to drive intent for a particular offer.

1. Create effective ads

  • Use pain/aspiration words for emotional pull
  • Include strong CTAs
  • Always include an image

2. Create multiple ads for each campaign

  • A/B test different copy, design, and offers

3. Target the right audience

  • Geography, industry, and job title

4. Set an appropriate expected budget

  • Reporting should include cost per lead

As always, the right content in front of the right audience is key. Even though pipeline marketing appears to be linear, it’s not when it comes to engagement.

We must be prepared with content at any stage to have a conversation and carry it all the way through. Our social efforts should be aligned to ensure that we have a good mix of content to engage the stages along the way.

How to Use LinkedIn for Lead Gen

The uncontended champion for B2B social activity, LinkedIn has over 350 million active users, and some of the best targeting options and data available to support demand initiatives. In a nutshell, LinkedIn has become a powerful engine for driving relevant conversations and affording marketers quality, targeted pipeline.

When using sponsored posts, coupled with their lead accelerator (retargeting) program, this is a powerful tool for engaging highly targeted audiences at appropriate pipeline (intent) stages.

Cost Breakdown

With LinkedIn premium services, there are heavier commitments.

For Display and InMail, it’s $25k per account, per quarter. CPM (cost per impressions) and CPC (cost per clicks) costs vary, but expect at least $2.00 per. Cost per InMail is also pulled from this quarterly spend. Average cost per mail is $1-$2.

linkedin ad cost

For Lead Accelerator it’s an annual contract and the minimum is $35k…so break this down into monthly costs and attribute return on a monthly basis.

Self-serve ads are straightforward and you set both the daily budget and the bid price. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, you can have LinkedIn optimize the bid price based on your targeting, type of ad, and how many are competing in a similar space.

LinkedIn Display Network (Banner Ads)

LinkedIn acquired Bizo a couple of years ago, which gave them an extensible display ad network that blew the doors open beyond the platform. Their online display programs are similar in function to other display ad networks, but their targeting is so much more sophisticated.

linkedin display

When you take all of the profile information of each user, and couple that with targeting functions, suddenly you can serve display ads with precise audience focus.

Even though the targeting is much better than traditional display networks, the engagement is just about the same. But, when you combine display with Linkedin’s Lead Accelerator, the solution becomes even more powerful.

Lead Accelerator

All major social platforms have a retargeting solution, and Lead Accelerator is your best friend on LinkedIn. Well, if it’s not your best friend yet…it will be.

What’s great about this retargeting platform is the ability to retarget based on information extracted from each individual’s LinkedIn profile—everything from industry to role and job function, geo and more. As a B2B solutions provider, it doesn’t get much better for the retargeting capability.

lead accelerator

To get started with Lead Accelerator, you’ll need to install the tracking pixel on your site or landing pages, and LinkedIn will build insights about who is visiting your pages based on the information in LinkedIn.

From there, you can serve targeted social and display ads inspired by the key targeted demographic information, and combine that with tracking site behaviors or intent.

Basically, LinkedIn allows lead nurturing through retargeting because you can serve different messages at different times, or behavioral actions from the audience engaging on your site.

linkedin retargeting

In this example scenario of ROI provided directly from LinkedIn’s marketing solutions group, these numbers are fairly conservative. B2B companies that are doubling down on pipeline marketing with authentic content should expect a much higher performance.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

Sponsored InMail is a great feature, but it is especially great for industry events or new product launches. When you have an exclusive offer or invitation, this works like a champ.

The platform itself only delivers InMails to recipients when they login, and when they accept the InMail. So you pay for what you get.

Here’s an example ROI calculator for InMail success provided directly from LinkedIn…

sponsored inmail

Though these leads may trickle in at a slower pace compared to other channels, those that do are highly targeted.

LinkedIn Self-Serve Ads

Looking at LinkedIn’s Self-serve ads, these include: sponsored updates, text and image ads, and video ads. These are really easy to setup and get going on your own.

LinkedIn offers the same great targeting for self-serve ads and gives marketers the ability to run fast for building targeted programs to deliver their content to their audience.

At the end of the day, sponsored updates are the way to go. These are delivered in the LinkedIn news feed and are designed to be highly relevant, because they’re directly tied to presenting informative content.

Here’s a simple calculator that helps build further projections using sponsored updates. This is directly from LinkedIn, with some of the averages they have been seeing with their customers.

sponsored updates

Developing these paid ad channels and incorporating them into your overall marketing strategy will lead to more customers, more traffic, and more conversions.

If you’re not sure which channel to go for or which type of ad to try, that’s okay. Test. You’ll never know until you try, right?

If you missed our Facebook and Twitter for lead gen blog, be sure to catch the lowdown on these channels. And tell us how you’ve mastered LinkedIn for your lead generation efforts.


Britt Skrabanek About the author: Britt Skrabanek

As a Freelance Writer and Content Strategist, Britt strives to help businesses reimagine their content strategy and revive their brand awareness. Through education, engagement, and energy, she believes content marketing can make a genuine impact. A wordsmith with a passion for marketing, Britt is currently working on her fourth novel. Connect with Britt on LinkedIn.


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