LinkedIn Sponsored Updates: The Holy Grail for Lead Generation

A Brief History Of LinkedIn

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Oh how LinkedIn has grown up. It started from humble beginnings in Mountain View California back in 2003. Since then this social network has exploded in popularity, and now boasts over 300 million members worldwide, with ambitions to reach over 3 billion.

LinkedIn was set-up as a place where professionals could network and job seekers could connect with their dream employers. In the process, this social platform has accumulated a wealth of data about individuals’ personal details, employment history and education.

And like most other social networks, it has learned how monetize personal information into a mound of cash. Rightly so – they offer an extremely valuable service, allowing B2B Marketers to hyper-target prospects in a way never seen before. Some go as far as to call LinkedIn the holy grail of lead generation.

But don’t just take my word for it, let’s let the statistics do the talking. Newscred, a New York based B2B content marketing company, found that every dollar invested in LinkedIn Sponsored Updates yielded about $17 in revenue, which was almost 6x the ROI they realized on Google AdWords. That’s right, 6x more than Google AdWords. Stats like this are bound to get every B2B Marketer’s heart racing.

Having piqued your interest, let’s dive straight into answering 5 questions you might have about LinkedIn Sponsored Updates.

1. What are LinkedIn Sponsored Updates?

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates are paid ads that appear in the news feeds of LinkedIn members you choose to target.

The ads are considered “native ads” because they are identical in appearance to a regular LinkedIn post, with the exception that the word “sponsored” appears in the top left hand corner of the posting.

An example of a LinkedIn Sponsored Update from (marketing automation experts HubSpot) can be seen below:

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2. When should a B2B company use a LinkedIn Sponsored Update?

Let’s say you’ve recently published a really slick e-book or informative whitepaper, and you’re itching to get it in front of the right eyeballs. For my company, The Mezzanine Group, the “right eyeballs” consist of small b2b business owners in the Greater Toronto region.

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We could try and hunt down the e-mail addresses of people who fit the profile, subsequently spamming their inbox with a promotional message. But this is extremely time-consuming and might tarnish my organization’s reputation.

The better option would be to target a much larger audience of business owners on LinkedIn, and offer an eye-opening whitepaper about “10 reasons to outsource your marketing”.

In other words, B2B companies should use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates as a means to distribute their content to a targeted audience which consists of key of decision-makers.

3. What are the benefits of LinkedIn Sponsored Updates?

Raise awareness about your brand

Sponsored Updates often lead to an increase in the number of people who follow your company on LinkedIn. In turn, this increases viewership when you distribute ungated content (e.g. blogs, articles, etc.) from your LinkedIn company page. It also increases your click-through-rate after launching a sponsored update campaign.

Build relationships

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Do you find it difficult to identify your prospects? Are you constantly flying across the continent to attend conferences and tradeshows, just so you can engage in small talk, in exchange for a business card?

In today’s digital age, you can “hack” your way to building relationships. Say you’re holding an upcoming webinar, but are worried your audience might be meagre. Simply create a sponsored update, target the right demographic, and before you know it, your webinar will be fully booked.

In other words, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates allow you to spark meaningful conversations with the right prospects.

Drive leads

Sponsored updates empower you to effectively market your content in the “world’s professional feed”, allowing you to capture the attention of highly engaged people and drive qualified traffic right to your website.

4. What criteria can I use to create a targeted audience?

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Think about your resume for a second. What information would you normally provide on your Resume when applying for a job? You’d likely have your current address, your educational background, your employer and your job title.

LinkedIn allows you to target an audience based on all of this information and more. You can choose your audience based on age, location, skills, company name, industry or even seniority. In addition to targeting based on information you traditionally would find on a resume, you can alternatively only target people that belong to specific LinkedIn groups.

A comprehensive list of LinkedIn Sponsored Update targeting options is nicely laid out in LinkedIn’s help centre.

5. How much does a LinkedIn Sponsored Update cost?

When setting a budget for a LinkedIn Sponsored Update campaign, it’s best to first ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the maximum I am prepared to pay for someone to click on my sponsored update? In my experience, this usually costs about $5-$12 depending on who you’re targeting.
  1. How many leads do I want to generate (which is equal to the number of provide their contact details)?
  1. What percentage of people that click on your sponsored update will provide their contact details (if you have no previous data, you’ll have to make an assumption here).

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The answers to these questions provide the inputs to a simple formula. You can use this formula to estimate how much you’ll need to budget for your sponsored update campaigns. An example of how to use the formula can be seen below:

Assumptions: 10 people’s contact details wanted, willing to pay a maximum of $10 per ad click, and an assumed 25% conversion rate*

*Conversion rate equals the number of people that fill out a “contact us” form divided by the number of clicks on the ad

With this information, you can estimate your budget as follows:

Budget = (# conversions wanted) x (max cost per click / conversion rate)

Budget = (10) x ($10/0.25)

Budget = $400

Have you had any success with LinkedIn Sponsored Updates? Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below.

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