5 Ways to Optimize LinkedIn Sponsored Updates & Drive High Quality Leads

Brenda Ton
September 26, 2014

We all know it can be challenging to distribute content to the right audience, which is where LinkedIn's Sponsored Updates come to play. Sponsored Updates is a marketing solution that allows you to create targeted native ads, published directly into the LinkedIn feed. With over 313 million members in over 200 countries, it makes them the largest professional network in the world.

LinkedIn has become a great hub for discovering insightful content and many brands have seen great success through marketing on Sponsored Updates. In this quick read, you will learn 5 best practices, from how to properly setup your campaigns to understanding the performance per audience segment, and some tips that will help you increase engagement and gain higher quality leads.

1.Split Your Audience Targets & Create Relevant Ad Copy.

LinkedIn offers many targeting options from location, companies, job title, school, skills, groups, etc. It's important to target people who you think will be interested in your content by narrowing down your targeting options. You can improve conversions, engagement, and click-through rate by creating messages that are relevant to your target audience.

For example, if you wanted to promote a small business guide for marketing on Pinterest, it may be wise to create two campaigns targeting for job titles containing "marketing" and "social media", separately, and then layer on company size of less than 50. You can also create a third campaign to target social media related groups. At the very high level, your setup on LinkedIn should look something like this:

2. Track Performance with Analytics.

You cannot optimize on LinkedIn for conversions, so it is extremely crucial to add tracking parameters that will work with your analytics platform to the landing pages you want to use with your ads. This will help evaluate whether or not your ad is effective for that audience. Here's an example of how I would setup tracking for the scenario given in the last example, using Salesforce and Google Analytics tags:

Guide to Pinterest Marketing - Groups
Guide to Pinterest Marketing - Marketing Title
Guide to Pinterest Marketing - Social Media Title

When you click on these URLS, you can see that utm_source=linkedin-sponsoredupdates, utm_mediun=cpc (the advertising model used), utm_campaign=PinterestGuide (the content I'm using), and utm_content is populated with my target group.

From here, I can run a report on Salesforce (trackid) to determine how many leads I've generated, in addition to the quality of those leads based on an internal algorithm. I'll also use Google Analytics to understand the different levels of engagement (time on page, bounce rate, etc) to see the relationship between my target audience with my actual offer.

3. CPC vs CPM: What's Your Advertising Model?

You can select to pay by a cost-per-click model or cost-per-thousand-impressions. Typically, brands looking to increase brand awareness go with the CPM model to gain a lot of exposure. If you're looking to spend your money efficiently, CPC is the way to go because you only pay when a user clicks on your update. Because it's different for everyone, if you do end up getting a lot of clicks on your ad and it performs well, it may be worth testing the CPM model to see if you gain more efficiency.

4. Test Multiple Ad Variations with Direct Sponsored Content.

This exciting new ad solution from LinkedIn launched in late July, allowing marketers to sponsor content without publishing the content first on company pages. This puts marketers in more direct control, being able test out multiple variations of ads and deliver personalized messages to their target audience. While there are many ways to use this, I'd recommend aiming for the low-hanging fruit first: copy, call-to-action, and image.

5. Optimize for Devices.

Unfortunately, there's no way to target for specific devices, or exclude mobile devices. When you create a sponsored update, it will be delivered on any device they are using. This means that your ad copy may be truncated. The first 300 characters are displayed on desktop, 160 on tablet, and 35 on mobile unless the member clicks “more” to see the additional text. The best practice is to make sure the first 100 characters of your update is eye-catching and to use images that will render well at any size, avoiding dark images that contain small text.

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