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With the rise of online advertising options, B2B marketers must take a strategic and targeted approach on deciding where to invest their online marketing budget. When comparing the various social media advertising platforms available, 92% of B2B marketers leverage LinkedIn above all other platforms. This speaks to the inherent value that comes from LinkedIn and should be strongly considered as a powerful option for your organization.

If you’re considering developing a LinkedIn B2B marketing strategy, continue reading to learn everything you need to know about LinkedIn Advertising:

How to Know if LinkedIn Ads Are Right for You

Before you begin investing time and money into LinkedIn advertising, you’ll need to determine if the products/services your organization offers is a good fit for the social platform.

First, if your organization operates in the business-to-business (B2B) space, LinkedIn may be a good option for you. However, if your business primarily markets directly to consumers, you may want to consider alternative options such as Facebook, Twitter or other online adverting platforms.

Another key consideration to determine if LinkedIn Ads are right for you, is the vertical or industry your business operates in. At the recent Content Marketing Conference in Boston, B2Linked Founder and LinkedIn Ads Expert AJ Wilcox shared that businesses who operate in software-as-a-service (SaaS), education or technology sectors are great fits for LinkedIn Ads.

AJ went on to share that another key consideration for businesses interested in LinkedIn Ads is their customers’ lifetime value. If the average lifetime value of your customer is above $15K, then advertising through LinkedIn is a no-brainer! However, if it is significantly less than $15K, you may want to consider other advertising options.

Key Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn Ads can be a powerful social media advertising tool for B2B marketers with several benefits, including:

Robust Targeting Options

While Facebook and Twitter each offer their own set of targeting features, LinkedIn sets itself apart by offering precise targeting options that focus on various demographic and firmographic elements. Examples of their targeting options include, but are not limited to:

  • Professional: Job Title, Job Function, Seniority, Skills, Group
  • Company: Category/Industry, Company Size, Company Name
  • Education: School Name, Degree/Field of Study
  • Demographics: Gender, Age, Geography
  • Combinations & Exclusions

For an in-depth view of LinkedIn’s targeting features, check out this helpful article which includes best practices.

Users with a Business Mentality

Users who are on LinkedIn are generally business-minded and therefore more receptive to relevant ads. Text ads and sponsored content may not come off as intrusive as they might on other channels, such as Google or Facebook.

Directly Reach Key Decision Makers

With LinkedIn’s sophisticated targeting features, your ads can be served directly to decision-makers, such as CEOs, VPs or other executive-level positions. Rather than wasting your ad-spend on “gatekeepers” who don’t have purchasing power, LinkedIn allows you to directly reach the folks that fit your buyer persona.

Matched Audiences

LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences is a relatively new feature released this year that has garnered plenty of excitement among B2B marketers.

With Matched Audiences, advertisers can run website retargeting campaigns to re-engage your web visitors; account-based marketing to reach decision makers at your target accounts, and contact targeting to engage prospects on LinkedIn via an email list upload.

Lead Gen Forms [NEW]

Another LinkedIn Advertising feature that was recently announced, Lead Gen Forms make it easy to collect contact information directly from the LinkedIn platform.

When a user clicks on your ads, they will be prompted with a Lead Gen Form instead of your landing page. You’ll receive comprehensive reports of everyone who submits a Lead Gen Form, allowing you to transfer that data directly into your marketing automation tool or CRM.

Using Lead Gen Forms is advantageous because the lead data comes directly from the member’s LinkedIn profile. Therefore, it is likely that the information will be more accurate and complete compared to what you’d get from your own landing pages — where people can enter false or partial information.

Differences Between the Ad Units

Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits of LinkedIn Ads, you may be wondering what type you should run. Currently, LinkedIn offers three types of ad units in their marketing solutions platform:

  • Text Ads
  • Sponsored Content
  • Sponsored InMail

Text Ads

Text Ads appear on the right-hand side of LinkedIn and are text-based ads that include a headline, short description and a small thumbnail image. Generally, a good clickthrough rate (CTR) for Text Ads is .03% and above. Consider offering a guide, eBook, or trial/demo offer in your Text Ads.

These ads are only served on desktop, so if you are looking to have your ads served on mobile and tablets as well, you’ll want to consider other ad types.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content appears in LinkedIn members’ news feeds and mixes in natively with organic traffic. In other words, this ad unit maintains the same look and feel as unpaid content on LinkedIn, but will have small grey text identifying the content as “Promoted”.

With LinkedIn Sponsored Content, you can reach members that are outside of your company page’s follower network allowing your content to be seen by more users based on your targeting criteria.

Sponsored Content is a good option for marketers looking to encourage sign-ups for an upcoming webinar or register for an event. You can also leverage this ad unit to promote strategic content pieces such an industry report, white paper or other gated assets. A good CTR benchmark to aim for is 0.4%; make sure your content is optimized for mobile devices, as Sponsored Content has resulted in 65%+ ad engagement from mobile users.

Sponsored InMail

LinkedIn’s Sponsored InMail lets marketers send direct messages to LinkedIn members. This ad unit allows you to send tailored messages that will appear directly in the email inboxes of key decision makers or influencers you want to reach.

Because Sponsored InMail comes from personal LinkedIn profiles, messages look more personalized and authentic instead of coming from a brand logo without a face or name. Consider tailoring your message to a very specific audience and specific segments. By targeting smaller audiences, you’ll have the flexibility to experiment with your Sponsored InMail campaigns using specific job titles, skills or locations.

The key to developing a successful LinkedIn campaign is identifying who your ideal buyer is, providing valuable content offerings that do not push a hard sell and leveraging the right type of ad unit to reach your desired audience.

Special thanks to LinkedIn Ads Expert, AJ Wilcox, who provided key LinkedIn Advertising insights and takeaways during his session at this year’s Content Marketing Conference in Boston.

This blog post originally appeared in Launch Marketing’s B2B Marketing Blog.