And who is it for?

By: Ricardo Pravia

Fourteen years since it launched as “the social network for professionals,” LinkedIn has grown to be the largest of its kind, bringing together 460 million professionals. This talent network includes over 40 million decision-makers, 61 million senior-level influencers, 10 million opinion leaders, 6 million C-level executives, 4 million IT decision-makers, 3 million MBA graduates, 22 million mass affluent individuals and dozens of other global segments that have high levels of purchasing power. Moreover, while the content, context, and mindset of most LinkedIn users tends to be professional in nature, over 150,000 business are using the network as yet another space to nourish their brands. There is a simple reason for this: LinkedIn’s 15 different demographics and various custom-data targeting options make it a safe bet for high marketing campaign ROI. It is no coincidence that 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content: LinkedIn has been rated the top social network for lead generation, mediating the creation of 80% of all B2B marketing leads.

Leaving lasting impressions and staying at the top of consumers’ minds rank high among any brand’s list of priorities. LinkedIn’s structure and communicational dynamics foster a wide range of content creation and sharing scenarios that are in perfect alignment with the successful fulfilment of these and other critical marketing goals. As LinkedIn members engage with the platform seeking to further their careers, this content needs to connect with people, brands, and opportunities in ways that address their desire to become more productive and successful. Needless to say, this goes above and beyond job postings. LinkedIn users know this very well; every week, the network’s feed gets 9 billion content impressions, which is 15 times the number of weekly job postings. Furthermore, 57% of the time, members engage with this content accessing LinkedIn from their mobile device. This preference gives marketers the opportunity to reach a coveted audience when its members are in their professional contexts. This is also the moment when they are likely to be most receptive to productivity- and success-related messages.

As in any marketing endeavor, successful LinkedIn campaigns start by defining clear, measurable objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Marketers who set their sights on creating brand awareness early in the purchase process, engaging audiences with substantial content, generating quality leads and precipitating new business opportunities can find LinkedIn to be an ideal environment not only to accomplish their goals, but also to verify and inform the extent of their achievements.

The platform’s authentic, first-party data offers marketers a level of precision that other social networks are in no position to guarantee. This is primarily due to the fact that the members of the latter approach their identity, contributions and interactions with greater degrees of informality. Highly-granular demographic data is one of the special targeting features LinkedIn offers, whereby marketers can configure job function, seniority, company name, geography and industry filters.

On the other hand, LinkedIn also allows marketers to target members based on their interests, LinkedIn group memberships, as well as their skills and fields of study. Moreover, LinkedIn’s platform has the capacity to identify members’ behavioral trends and hence derive classifications that advertisers can leverage as part of their targeting efforts. Thus, campaigns can reach key segments like groups that conduct specific job searchers, niche-topic opinion leaders, and people that go on business trips to particular places. Last but not least, advertisers can also import their own audience data and match their accounts’ targets against LinkedIn’s 8 million Company Pages, thus facilitating the creation of adequate conditions for account-based marketing (ABM).

Sponsored Content on Linkedin

Beyond the uniqueness of LinkedIn’s targeting mechanisms lie the platform’s content-format ads. “Sponsored content” posts and “sponsored InMail” messages are two of the network’s distinctive paid advertisement formats. The first format gives advertisers the chance to get in front of potential customers displaying useful insights on their feeds at the moment when this practical information may be most valuable to them. LinkedIn’s sponsored content is a format that allows marketers to deliver value early and periodically during the customer’s journey. This increases brands’ chances of earning mindshare, consideration and product or service purchase. In fact, 74% of B2B service consumers end up buying from companies that begin their relationships by “introducing” themselves as sources of advisory and facilitative content. On the other hand, sponsored InMail messages symbolize a step further in the customer acquisition process. This is because they enable marketers to approach prospects directly; a strategy that has a greater potential to yield high-quality leads and customers than broader advertising channels. Sponsored InMail is ideal for increasing conversions, event attendance and content downloads.

Ads on LinkedIn

For advertisers who love the most common forms of paid online advertising, LinkedIn also offers display, dynamic and text ads. However, these are not just “regular” PPC ads; they, too, inherit the special qualities that make LinkedIn a medium for high-precision targeting. For instance, LinkedIn’s display ads appear on a brand-safe, professional environment, reaching and engaging users who are likely to become buyers due to their contextual specificity at an early stage in the buying cycle. This is advantageous not only because it lets advertisers build their brands in a community where excellency, success and prosperity are naturally shared goals, but also because large-scale awareness efforts can still target highly specific audiences. Best of all, marketers can name their own fixed prices to get their messages in front of these audiences.

LinkedIn also lets brands take targeting to a more personal level. LinkedIn’s dynamic ads leverage the power of the networks’ AI to construct personalized experiences based on members’ activity patterns. This accurate, profile-based customization based on first-party data leads to increased response rates, quality interactions, more traffic, better leads and, most importantly, stronger relationships.

Furthermore, all of the advantages that LinkedIn has to offer are within reach for most budgets; LinkedIn text ads deliver on this guarantee. Using an intuitive, self-service interface, advertisers can create, manage, and optimize their own well-targeted, customized text ad campaigns, getting their businesses in front of the world’s largest professional network at affordable prices. Brands doing text ad campaigns get all of the benefits of advertising on LinkedIn: targeting precision, quality leads, brand safety and coveted audiences. It is easy to get up and running and there are no minimum spend commitments.

Organic Marketing within and without LinkedIn

However, not everything in LinkedIn land is paid advertising. LinkedIn’s content engine also performs functions typical of search engines such as Google and Bing. One of these is the crawling and organization of content according to relevance. This feature further increases marketers’ content visibility not only inside, but also outside LinkedIn, where content such as companies’ pages, showcase pages, long-form posts and SlideShare presentations are rendered searchable.

Tracking and Measuring LinkedIn Marketing Results

Whether they be the result of their paid or organic advertising initiatives, marketers can track the fruits of their efforts by analyzing their campaigns’ metrics using LinkedIn’s own analytics and optimization tools. These provide workflows and data visualizations to evaluate campaign performance based on targeted impressions, average click-through rates (CTRs), organic likes, shares, comments, follows, and the demographics of the LinkedIn members engaged.

Who is LinkedIn Marketing for?

In short, LinkedIn is the best option for B2B businesses that wish to increase their content marketing ROI and strengthen their brands by acquiring high-quality leads and building valuable relationships in a community of skilled professionals. Those ready to give their brands maximum exposure before this constellation of talent by creating and sharing content that is engaging, interesting and useful will certainly develop meaningful and valuable connections through engagement. Eventually, these connections can become loyal followers and evangelists. Are you up for the challenge?