Why Use LinkedIn Ads for Small Business Marketing?

Targeting a group on LinkedIn

Targeting a group on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Ads have a number of distinct advantages for small business marketing, particularly for businesses in the professional sector.   We decided to use LinkedIn Ads to raise awareness of, and participation in, one of our new training workshops.   This approach was designed to complement our normal email marketing campaign for our human resource consulting business.

Linkedin Ads is much the same as most click-based advertising programs, and just like Facebook Ads, you can segment your target audience.  What makes this targeting more valuable and relevant is that you can target your audience based on their current professional status or career interests.  In contrast, Facebook Ads tend to focus more on lifestyle interests, while Google Adwords enables targeting geographically by search terms/keywords.

LinkedIn Ads: The Advantages

The advantages of LinkedIn Ads revolve around targeting/segmenting features and cost structure.   The key advantages for us were:

1.  Ability to target professionals and business people

We could select a target audience based on Location (capital city, state, country), Gender and Age and then segment them further by selecting Companies they work for, Job Titles or even a Group they had joined.

target marketing on LinkedIn


2,  Option to run your campaign for different target audiences

We focused on three different target audiences in this campaign – (1) people in Senior positions (as our workshop focuses mostly on managers and team leaders),  (2) those that worked at specific Companies and (3) those who belonged to certain Linkedin Groups (usually professionally based).

3.  Ability to create up to 15 variations of an ad

Initially we had two variations – each had the same copy but with different images. Eventually we added more variations to include Call to Actions. We ended up with 12 variations in total.

4.  Relatively cheap for a highly targeted service

As with most click-based advertising, you have the power to set your daily budget and how much you are willing to pay for each click. While Linkedin Ads do have minimum amounts that you could set ($2.00 per click and $10.00 daily budget), these were relatively inexpensive considering how targeted you could make your audience, ensuring that only the most relevant people are viewing your ads.

Related to this last advantage is the capacity to view in advance the numbers that make up any specific targeted audience – so you can very quickly see whether the target audience is too large or too small.  The following illustration shows that one of our earlier choices of audience resulted in an estimated target audience of 281,994.

estimated target audience for LinkedIn Ads

Linkedin Ads: The Disadvantages

Two distinct disadvantages from our first experience of LinkedIn Ads were:

1.Actual reach

 With the option to target your audience as broad or as narrow as you wish – we found that the more we wanted to tailor our campaign, the less people we could reach.  While this sounds like common sense, it still felt restricting – we were not able to fine tune our targeting as much as we would have preferred to because the estimated target audience was in the low hundreds.   This disadvantage could be a function of the location and population mix.  The same audience choices in aUSenvironment would have resulted in much larger numbers.

2.  Relatively low click through rate (CTR)

There were tens of thousands of impressions of our ads in the 2 weeks that we ran this campaign but we only received a .022 CTR (22 clicks per 1,000 impressions).  This could be influenced by the nature of LinkedIn and the regular behaviour of the audience (high resistance to online ads?).  Another influencing factor would be the quality of our ads – title, description and the image.

What we learned from this experience of LinkedIn Ads

Our key learning related to the nature of the image, the click behaviour of specific audience types and the impact of ad changes mid-stream in a campaign.  Here are the key findings:

1. The image used makes a difference

In choosing an image, the audience clicked on the company logo image more often than a content-related image.  This stat could be influenced by the fact that our logo is recognised in the marketplace after 15 years in operation.

Images for LinkedIn Ads

2. The more senior group (higher organizational ranking) generated the most clicks.

 By contrast, the campaign that targeted “Groups” was the least successful.   What would influence this latter result is the nature of group membership (focused on discussion, not ads) and the perceived relevance of the ad to the focus of the group discussion.

 3.  Creating different variations in the middle of the campaign did not help at all and may have possibly harmed our campaign. Clicks almost immediately halted after releasing variations and very few clicks in total were gained from the new ads then from the original ads.

Why use LinkedIn Ads?

LinkedIn Ads provide a particular form of targeting because of the professional/vocational focus of the membership.  We were able to learn a few things in our first campaign on LinkedIn.   There’s a lot of trial and error with any form of click-based advertising.   Patience is required along with a good analysis of your campaigns.   Constant review and matching of all elements – heading, description, image and audience – are essential for success with LinkedIn Ads.

10 Top Tips for Small Business Marketing on LinkedIn

 Here are 10 top  tips for building your LinkedIn presence together with tactics and strategies for marketing your small business.  LinkedIn is growing in status and size, so a presence on this site is becoming increasingly important for small business owners.

#1. Make the most of your LinkedIn Profile

Your profile is the core of your presence on LinkedIn – it is what people will visit to connect with you or to view what you have to offer.  LinkedIn understandably provides a comprehensive profile area – covering aspects such as current and past positions, education, specializations, experience and websites.  Make good use of the summary area which allows you to personalize the information by adding applications (”add sections”) that enrich your profile presentation.  The additional information area is where you add your websites, interest, groups/associations and awards.

The website descriptors are “my website”, “my blog” , etc.  – choose “other” instead and add a keyword rich title for your website(s).  Here are some other suggestions for your profile:

  • hyperlink wherever possible using anchor text
  • use keywords in description areas such as summary, specialties and experience
  • add an image for your profile (critical for this professional network)
  • create a personalized URL for your LinkedIn public profile (option provided), e.g. http://au.linkedin.com/in/ronpassfield
  • consciously determine your public profile settings to ensure you display the aspects you want to be visible to the public.

#2. Create your small business profile

LinkedIn, like Facebook, provides the opportunity to create a Company Page.  You can build your small business profile on this page and add your blog feed and other content.  As discussed in a previous post, a key aspect of your small business page should be your Company Status Updates.  This operates like Twitter but enables you to include a website image and description.

#3. Build your network

A key strategy for LinkedIn marketing is building your network.  Your connections are a reflection of who you are and your small business brand.  You can connect with customers who know you, business associates, employees/contractors, professional colleagues, potential joint venture partners and contacts from other social networks such as Squidoo, Facebook and Twitter.  You can really get to know your “friends” through their work experience, background and current business pursuits. 

You can grow your network by direct invitation to individuals, active participation in relevant LinkedIn groups or through people finding you via the LinkedIn search option (reinforces the importance of your keywords!).  LinkedIn, like Facebook, suggests connections based on your key interests, business associations and existing connections.  Your role is to consciously develop and shape your network.

#4. Create a group and participate

Another key LinkedIn marketing strategy, once you have developed your LinkedIn network, is to create a group.   You can build a group around your brand, particular product/services or professional affiliation.  However, you need to be active in your group to stimulate participation by others.  This could involve starting discussions, sharing news, creating sub-groups and posting relevant valuable information and resources.  When people join your group, this will be visible to their own network via the news feed.

#5. Use Slideshare to upload content such as presentations and videos

SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. You can:

  • share presentations & documents with your LinkedIn network
  • upload portfolios, resume, conference talks, PDFs, marketing/sales presentations and display them on your LinkedIn profile
  • use a range of formats such as ppt, pps, pptx, odp, pdf, doc, docx, odt, Keynote, iWork pages
  • embed YouTube videos in presentations or add audio to make a webinar
  • upload your videos.

If you have a SlideShare.net account, you can import your existing presentations into LinkedIn.  If you don’t have one, you can signup from LinkedIn to share your presentations worldwide and get more views/traffic.  You can add the SlideShare presentations to either your profile or your home page.  Your SlideShare uploads show up on the LinkedIn pages of your connections (if they have added the SlideShare application).

You can use SlideShare on both Linkedin and Facebook.  You can synchronize these with SlideShare so you have a three-way leverage.  If you upload anything to any one of the networks — SlideShare, Facebook or LinkedIn – it shows up instantly on all three.

#6. Promote your LinkedIn profile

You can promote your LinkedIn profile on your website, blog or Squidoo lenses by adding the LinkedIn button or text link.  Alternatively, you can use one of the many social media icon sets to encourage readers to connect to you and your small business on LinkedIn.

#7. Use LinkedIn applications

LinkedIn has a range of applications that you can use to brighten up your profile.  These include Portfolio Display, Blog Link (sync with your blog posts from Blogger, etc), WordPress (sync your WordPress posts), Reading List by Amazon (share the books you are reading), Company Buzz (Twitter activity about your company), Polls (create a poll for market research) and Tweets (display your tweets and view and comment on your connections’ tweets).

#8. Provide and seek recommendations

Recommendations are central to the purpose of LinkedIn as they contribute to your credibility and can reinforce your brand in the eyes of potential consumers/customers.  They strengthen your personal profile and give you increased visibility.  An integral principle of social media marketing is reciprocation, so you should both give and seek recommendations to build your profile on LinkedIn.    Your recommendations will appear on your profile page and can often say as much about you as they do about the recipient – as they disclose what you see, and value, in other people.  As with any social networking site that you are trying to build a presence on, it is important to maintain your contribution with regular sharing.

#9. Ask questions and and respond to others

When you join a group it is very useful to ask, and respond to, questions and to be active in discussions.  In this way, you can display your expertise, engage others and connect with potential customers who share your interests and/or perspectives.

#10. Create LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn has ad placements that you can purchase, either by way of cost per click (CPC) or cost per impressions (CPI or CPM).  You can target your audience by:

  • Geography
  • Job function or seniority
  • Industry and company size
  • Gender and age

You should keep in mind the demographics of LinkedIn when using the site for paid advertising.  It pays to read the FAQ’s to learn about ad placement, advertising conditions and recommendations for writing ads.

LinkedIn is a valuable way to build your small business brand, make new connections, increase the online visibility of your small business and develop relationships with customers

Company Status Updates on LinkedIn: A Boost for Small Business Marketing

Merit Solutions Australia


On the 6th October 2011, LinkedIn introduced Company Status Updates for Company Pages that were launched about a year ago.  LinkedIn Status Updates provide a new, powerful avenue for small business marketing online as LinkedIn is the largest online professional network in the world with over 120 Million members. 

This new status feature gives further access by small businesses to a professional network of people who are affluent, highly educated and influential in terms of purchasing decisions.  LinkedIn is ranked 12th by Alexa.com in terms of global traffic to the site and has a Google Page Rank of 9 (out of 10).

As illustrated in the image above, Company Status Updates provide the facility to attach a URL (web page address) which automatically displays a related image and “page description” drawn from the target website.   Readers can easily “Like” the update, comment on it or share it with their social networks (thus making the status entry viral).

Company Status Updates on LinkedIn enable small business owners to develop their brand by sharing news, videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, available jobs and product launches.

LinkedIn is a rapidly growing network and this new feature will provide a real boost for marketing small businesses online.