B2B Lead Generation: How To Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn Advertising is either one of the last channels you think about or the first depending on your industry and target audience. Within the marketing world it can be a polarizing platform. It has the potential for high intent audiences but also very high CPMs and variance in usage when compared to other social platforms. Deciding just what to do with LinkedIn for B2B lead generation can be a challenge.

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LinkedIn has over 630M users worldwide. Most B2B marketers agree it is a great place to share organic content and build brand credibility. Currently 97% of B2B marketers are using LinkedIn for content distribution. But what about lead generation? According to their own data LinkedIn is responsible for roughly 80% of all B2B leads driven by social media. Based on that alone it seems like a no-brainer, but is crafting a LinkedIn strategy for lead gen the right move for you? What should you do to get started if it is? In this article we’ll do a brief overview of the LinkedIn ad platform, the primary ad types you can use & how to add LinkedIn to your B2B sales funnel.

LinkedIn Advertising Overview

The user base, content, and the context of interactions on LinkedIn are very different from every other social platform. What does this mean for your marketing plan? Here are some pros and cons of using LinkedIn for advertising:

Pro: Larger Leads/Sales

Our clients have shown an increased value in sales driven by LinkedIn advertising when compared to other advertising mediums that have wider variances in lead quality.

Pro: Users Have A Business Mindset

We mentioned this earlier. The context in which users are accessing the platform is different – they have a business mindset on LinkedIn. They’re open to connections, content, job opportunities and more. This is miles apart from how your target audience is using Snapchat to scroll through stories about celebrities and cat videos.

Pro: Robust Targeting – Title, Education, Skill, etc.

LinkedIn Ads allow for targeting potential B2B leads in an altogether different way than a platform like Facebook. Trying to get leads in product development positions for your prototyping business? LinkedIn is the way to target these people based on their position. LinkedIn allows for targeting by:

  • Experience: Job Function, Job Seniority, Job Title, Member Skill & Years of Experience
  • Education: Degrees, Fields of Study, Member Schools
  • Demographics: Age/Gender
  • Company: Company Connections, Company Followers, Company Industry, Company Name/Size
  • Interests: Member Interests & Groups

This is the B2B marketers’ ultimate weapon (and the primary reason LinkedIn should even be considered). The ability to reach professionals reliably in your target industry with more certainty than pure interest targeting is a big deal.

Con: High CPCs

LinkedIn is not an engagement channel in the same way that Facebook and Instagram are where people log on to comment on pictures, browse videos and generally get lost in content. LinkedIn is usually more purposeful. What does this mean in terms of media KPIs? A recent study by falcon.io found these average CPCs for the Top 3 social platforms:

  • Facebook: $0.51
  • Instagram: $1.28
  • LinkedIn: $5.61

That’s not an insignificant difference. Is LinkedIn overpriced? That is a complicated question. We can determine that the value of a lead from LinkedIn tends to be higher, and the cost of acquiring traffic and leads from LinkedIn is substantially higher than other social platforms as well.

Con: Missing Metrics & Tactics

Beyond judging campaigns based on sales, we use media metrics such as click-through rate or CPC to tell us how they are performing. Additionally Facebook gives you relevance scores and Google Ads reports on Quality. LinkedIn does neither of these things. In terms of tactics LinkedIn can also fall short depending on the audience you need to reach. With Facebook you can develop the perfect campaign targeted at iPhone users off Wi-Fi to buy your product. In contrast LinkedIn doesn’t allow for device targeting, day parting, or other capabilities long enabled by other platforms.

Available Ad Types

There are actually a lot of different ad types available on LinkedIn, let’s look at these popular options as they relate to lead generation:

  • Sponsored Content
  • Sponsored InMail
  • Lead Form Ads

If you don’t use LinkedIn that frequently, you might be asking what the difference between Sponsored Content & Sponsored InMail. Sponsored content ads are the equivalent of a Newsfeed ad on Facebook. Sponsored InMail Ads are targeted messages that go directly to your target audiences LinkedIn message inbox. Both can be highly effective ways of advertising on LinkedIn. However Sponsored InMail has the biggest potential downside if not executed well. Do not use Sponsored InMail unless you have a personalized, relevant offer for the audience. This is an expensive ad format and you’ll be wasting your money without the perfect message behind it.

Lead Form Ads are most effective if you are servicing an industry where you have name recognition and can skip the awareness step OR if you have a content offer that people can opt in for. Both can be very effective uses of LinkedIn. Now, how does this fit into your current marketing?

When To Add LinkedIn To Your Funnel

While LinkedIn is absolutely worth considering as part of your advertising strategy, here is how we would recommend you pursue it. The first dollars you put into advertising should go into search, period. This will be your most effective use of ad dollars and be as low funnel as you can efficiently get. If search begins to be maxed out in terms of spend and traffic (you will either be unable to spend your full daily budget or find that performance plateaus) then the conversation about social platforms should come in to play.

For most businesses Facebook is often your next logical step (especially for retargeting), but this is the point where a discussion of adding LinkedIn should happen for B2B marketers. Once you’ve maximized return in search and are ready to expand your top of funnel marketing efforts, here are a couple approaches to consider on LinkedIn.

Account Based Marketing

Does your sales team have a list of leads that have gone cold? Maybe you service an industry where you can easily pull business name lists from an association, trade group, or other source and target people at those companies. Your audience doesn’t have to be in the millions. By defining a specific audience of accounts you want to attract you not only are being efficient, but are able to tailor the ad more closely to the audience. This is a win-win.

Personalized Sponsored In-Mail Offer

To be effective this message must speak directly to the needs of the individuals you’re reaching. It’s as much a 1-to-1 communication as a phone call or direct email. Work with your sales team to develop a targeted list and offer that makes sense, this is an opportunity to really show something of real value you can deliver for their business.

If you have any questions about how to better utilize LinkedIn, or want to find a partner with expertise in LinkedIn, reach out to us!