Remember Mad Libs? Those pads of paper where you had to fill in the blanks with the correct word type to finish a story were how my brother and I spent five hours in the back seat of my parents’ car driving to Chicago twice a year to visit family. We’d purposely choose the most ridiculous verbs, nouns, and adjectives we could think of – the sillier the better (perhaps that’s how I discovered my love for writing?)!
(M)Ad Libs is our Marketer’s take on the original. And yes, there are plenty of templates online for content marketing: blog posts, emails, social posts, ad formats, and the like. But most of them are simply outlines to get you started. If you’re feeling stuck with your LinkedIn Sponsored Content ads, find inspiration in our Marketer Ad Libs (download them for free – no gate! – at the bottom of this post).
When it comes to paid social media marketing, many companies take a set-it-and-forget-it approach, simply checking the box on their campaign prep list: Two LinkedIn Sponsored Content Ads, coming right up! But if there’s one thing I know to be true about B2B marketing campaigns, it’s that your results determine the budget for the next campaign. Prove the ROI and you’re golden, but if you simply meet benchmarks, you’re not winning any awards or driving qualified leads for your sales team.
The success of your brand awareness ad campaigns relies on impressions, but we both know that for B2B marketers, leads are where it’s at, so if your objective is lead generation, you’ll need to be crystal clear with your messaging and your targeting. Here are the 4 components to pay close attention to when creating your LinkedIn ads.
B2B LinkedIn Ad Component #1: The Ad Copy
Fill in the blank: Your LinkedIn ad copy should lead [_______] your brand.
Your ad copy can either lead to your brand or lead with your brand – not both. That means if your message leads with your brand, it does not lead your target audience to your brand. I’m betting what you really want is to lead that target audience to your brand. If that’s the case, you need to pull your brand out of your messaging. Here’s an example:
Leading with your brand: [Company name] can help you optimize social media marketing. Our latest guide provides an in-depth analysis of best-in-class strategies to improve ROI.
Leading to your brand: Want to optimize your social media marketing and improve ROI? Dive into the [asset name] guide now to uncover top strategies that best-in-class brands are implementing to drive measurable results.
In the first example, the brand mentions their name first and then begins the next sentence talking about itself again.
In the second example, the focus is on the reader, and the first sentence poses a relatable question that addresses a challenge. The next sentence invites them to dive in and discover answers to that challenge. The name of the guide is used rather than announcing the brand name.
Which LinkedIn ad would you be more likely to click on?
B2B LinkedIn Ad Component #2: The Visual
Visuals increase a viewer’s desire to engage by 80%. Eighty percent! It’s no wonder that visuals have become an incredibly important component of brands’ social media content.
The most impactful social media visuals have the ability to stop the scroll and grab your target audience’s attention. And remember, attention is currency. There are thousands of messages being thrown at your audience on the daily. Visuals break up the feed and give your audience a chance to pause and take in something different. So, if your image is covered with messaging, you’re defeating the purpose.
Most of us are visual learners. We need the visual reinforcement to help us understand the message. If the visual itself is stuffed with words, there’s nothing to look at, no visual aid for understanding. And when a relevant image is paired with the same information, people retain 65% of that information. Without a relevant image? Just 10% is retained.
Let your image speak for itself by using as few words as possible. Choose one message to represent visually: it could be a thumbnail of the asset, a photo of the author, or a compelling tip or quote from the guide. Using all three of these crowds the visual and clouds the message. If you’re not sure which one will be more impactful to your audience, test all three! But be sure to keep all other components of the ads the same so that the test is clean and you can easily determine which version works best.
This is not where you want to try to get all those messages across to your audience. A text-heavy image will be ignored in favor of simpler, stronger visuals.
B2B LinkedIn Ad Component #3: The Call to Action
In a LinkedIn ad, you have several opportunities to call your audience to action. The post copy, the title, on-image copy, and the CTA. Consistency is important, so if you are going to put a CTA in more than one place, make sure they are the same. Asking your audience to register for an event in the post copy and then inviting them to “learn more” in the title can negatively impact your results.
Likewise, if your lead generation ads push your CTA too much, it could back-fire on you, like it did for our client (see the case study below). The title invited the audience to “download…” the asset. Because we were using a LinkedIn Lead Form, the bottom of the ad also included a CTA (again, “download”). Adding another CTA“Download” button to the image was overkill. Your audience doesn’t want to feel pressured. They want you to give them the info they need to make their own informed decision and then tell them how to do it if they choose to do so.
B2B LinkedIn Ad Component #4: The Target Audience
Brand awareness ads that drive to top of funnel, thought leadership content can target a broad audience. You’re casting a wide net with your Sponsored Content ads so that you can start to narrow in on your target audience. (Pro tip: Create an audience in Campaign Manager of anyone who engages with your awareness ads so that you can use retargeting later.)
As you move down the funnel and your ads are focused on consideration, you’ll need to get more targeted on the right audience of decision-makers.
Ads promoting a webinar or other event or offering a consultation or similar should include demographic and geographic information including locations, industries, job titles, and company size (by revenue and/or number of employees).
And remember to exclude competitor companies and industries so that you don’t waste your advertising budget on curious competitor clicks.
One of our B2B tech clients ran two LinkedIn Sponsored Content ads. Their primary goal was lead generationvia a LinkedIn Lead Form. They retargeted a well-nurtured audience of decision makers in addition to a look-alike audience and core job titles. But, after 30 days, the ads only brought in one lead, at a CPL of $319.92.
After an in-depth review of their ads, we redesigned the creative, edited the copy, and restructured the a/b test. The client saw an immediate improvement. After running the revised ads for 45 days, their Cost Per Lead was down by an incredible 85% and their CTR was up 3X that of the original.
Here are the rest of the metrics:
Version A: No CTA Button On Image
Lead Form Completion Rate: 33%
Version B: CTA Button On Image
Lead Form Completion Rate: 18.75%
Speaking of customer stories, there is a formula for success.
Seeking outside expertise doesn’t mean you or your team aren’t skilled enough or that you can’t handle it on your own. As an agency, we see dozens of LinkedIn ads every month, and we have a front row-seat to the marketing strategies, messaging, creative, and content that work and what needs fixing. We’ve done the a/b testing, we understand the B2B audience, and we can use that knowledge and experience to optimizeLinkedIn advertising results for your brand.
A $49 CPL is the lowest this client has ever seen, not just on LinkedIn, but across every B2B marketing channel, including Google. The results are impressive, but it’s not rocket science – it’s know-how. Bringing in a social media consultant or digital marketing agency that understands your industry and has ample experience can be the difference between a mediocre campaign and one that crushes your benchmarks, impresses stakeholders, and locks in budget for future campaigns.
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