Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show.

Couple of great resources:
1. Quick video of the pros/cons of Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads for B2B: Google Ads vs LinkedIn Ads for B2B

2. LinkedIn Learning course about LinkedIn Ads by AJ Wilcox: LinkedIn Advertising Course

Contact us at Podcast@B2Linked.com with ideas for what you’d like AJ to cover.


Google Ads is the OG of ad platforms. How does it stack up currently to LinkedIn ads?

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there LinkedIn ads fanatics. Google Ads was the original ad platform and was synonymous with digital advertising for years and years. Now, though, as competition has increased, since all of your competitors use it and use it, well, are there bigger opportunities for you there or in LinkedIn ads? We’ll dive deep into that today. Let’s hit it. My favorite lead qualification methodology is called BANT, B A N T and it stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. And the way it works is that when you’re qualifying a lead let’s say it’s a SDR, sales development representative, who’s qualifying a lead? They’re trying to score it in four separate buckets. The budget, does this person have enough budget to afford us? The authority? Does this person have the signing authority to actually make the purchase? Or do we need to reach their boss or their boss’s boss? The need, does the person actually need what it is we’re selling? And timing, is the timing right for them? Or is this a deal that’s gonna have to go down months, or even years from now? So the way that this works is, if you’re looking at search channels like Google, whether it’s SEO or paid search on Google Ads, or even Bing Ads, these channels tend to score really high on both need and timing. And the reason why is because if someone is searching for something actively, which is where they would find you, if they were searching, and you were putting yourselves out there with search, you know that there’s at least some sort of a need, something drove them to complete that search. So they’re probably going to score high in need. Of course, timing is likely pretty good, because they probably wouldn’t have been searching unless there was some kind of timing matching up for them, they at least know they have some budget in the future, or at least are looking into an initiative. So search channels like Google are going to score really high in the N and the T in BANT for need and timing, but they’re probably going to score really poorly on the budget and the authority portion, because native to what someone types, it doesn’t tell you whether they are qualified to make that purchase decision. Sometimes it’s an administrative assistant doing the searching. Sometimes it’s the person themselves. Sometimes it’s an employee, you never really know. LinkedIn is a little bit opposite. It scores really high in the budget and authority categories, but really low in the need and the timing. And it scores high in budget and authority. Because if you’re putting together an ad targeting someone who needs something that you have, that means You’re probably going to target the people who are in company sizes and industries, large enough that can actually afford what it is you do. And you’re going to be targeting the people who have the authority to make that decision. Because that is one of the things that’s so great about LinkedIn ads platform. But of course, you’re targeting people, whether or not you know that they are in need of something currently. So that’s why they’re going to score really poorly in the need and the timing aspect. That means these leads on LinkedIn are going to take longer to close, Google ones are going to close a lot quicker. So let’s jump in then to the individual pros and cons of Google, as we’ve covered already, intent is the big pro with Google. And this is the reason why we like Google so much, is because you can catch people right at the bottom of the funnel, who are already signaling that they are looking for what it is you’re offering. That means you don’t have to do too much nurturing, and you can send them right to a demo or a purchase. If they’re already down there looking for one of those services. You don’t have to hit him with a white paper or something to try to brand yourself first. We’ve done quite a few different channel studies. Every time we have a client who has a great insight into data deeper in their funnel, we’re always understanding and we’re always excited to understand which channels produced what. And the common behavior we’ve always found in our studies is that Google always closes deals the fastest because they have a fast buying cycle because they were already at the end of the buying decision when they got to you. And LinkedIn always closes the largest deals, because you’re able to target the exact right people at the exact right size companies giving you really high quality leads, but again, they may not close super quickly. So outside of intent, there’s a lot of really great things about Google’s ads platform that used to be called Google AdWords. Now we call it Google Ads.

Next is retargeting. Google’s retargeting platform is incredible. It’s ultra inexpensive, and ultra powerful. It’s great tech, and you get access to pretty much the whole Google Display Network, or GDN, as the geeks call it. That gives you pretty much 90% of the web that runs on the GDN. Pretty much anyone who’s using AdSense installed on their website, because it’s the easiest way to start having your website generate advertising revenue. Google is also very versatile, because it has this search capability that we’ve already talked about that so good at being at the bottom of the funnel. But, it also has this whole display network, which is contextual advertising based off of keywords, and they also own YouTube. So all of these very different personalities in between these networks, makes them very powerful and versatile. Pretty much any marketer can find a way to use at least one, maybe even all three. It’s also helpful to understand that Google’s platform is super well baked out. Google early on made all of its money from Adwords back early, early. And because of that, they continued to innovate and move to make advertisers lives easier with the platform. They kept adding more and more features, really thoughtfully adding new algorithms and “better things”. And it’s now very full featured. And I would say it’s almost maybe to a fault, because now you have this platform that is so so featured that you really have to be an expert at pay per click advertising to really understand all of the ins and outs. And so to someone just getting started, it probably is really daunting. But all of this leads to them having a really, really solid platform with about every option you can think of. Google started out really early on by setting a floor price that was really reasonable. They started at five cents per click early early on, and then based off of competition, other people bidding five and 10 and 15 cents for a click. We started to see competition. aggregate around certain combinations of words. Now, of course, we have tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of words in every language. And competition is driven on Google by certain combinations of these words. And so you have keywords that are like buy CRM software, that could be really, really expensive. And you might see a keyword like, which are the better options in SUVs that maybe is not very competitive, because it’s not showing a whole lot of intent. It’s still signaling that someone’s in the research phase. So what this means is you have a way for competition to really be spread out. There are so many millions of combinations of words, maybe even billions or trillions, that competition could aggregate around. And so it keeps costs relatively low for everyone until you start having real competition. Then you have this ability to really protect your brand with something that we refer to in the industry as branded search. The idea here is you are bidding on your own brands keywords. So I might bid on b2b links calm or be too linked, or p3 link in case someone makes an error. And I can make sure that even if I’m not doing well organically for that keyword, that my ad is still gonna put me at the top of the page. And it also means that any competitor who was trying to snake on my brand that I can try to beat them out. And this is really both it’s definitely a double edged sword. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Because it also means that if someone comes and clicks on your ad when you’re bidding on your branded term, there’s a really good chance they would have scrolled a little bit further down and found you organically anyway and and it wouldn’t have cost you anything. But certainly you don’t know if a competitor were bidding on your keyword and maybe they would have grabbed that traffic. Before they made it down to you. So this is both a brand protection and trying to capture keyword traffic that your competitors might be trying to steal. It also gives you something really powerful, which is something I wish we had some way of measuring on LinkedIn. It’s this ability to measure real interest in your company. If you are bidding highly for your own brand’s, keyword, your own brand’s name, then you can look at the impressions that that ad delivers and have a really accurate view of, hey, how many people are searching for my company? What is the real interest around my company? If we were to do this on LinkedIn, it would probably look like “how often is my company showing up in in searches?” and “how many people are actually viewing my my brands company page or organizational page?”. Which of course that would be somewhat powerful information, but definitely not nearly as powerful as seeing how many people are searching Google, rather than the few percent who might be actually coming to LinkedIn specifically to look at it. Google also has some really fun stuff for power users. My favorite above those is called scripts. And it’s essentially the ability for Google to say, “hey, we’re not going to build every tool that you want, but we will give you this interface where you can enter your own JavaScript code”. And you can make the platform Do whatever you want without really having API access. So certainly, if you are going to build a platform, like an ads management platform, on top of Google ads, yeah, he would definitely want to have API access. But if you’re looking to just add a little bit of expert functionality to your account, you can find someone who knows JavaScript well, and build you a cool tool that can help you manage any of your accounts really quickly and easily internally. I would love to see LinkedIn ads script basics, so we could add a little bit of our own functionality as well.

Something else that they have is called observation audiences. And I would kill for this on LinkedIn. Essentially, you have an audience that you’re already bidding on. But you can add a filter to it, that becomes an observational audience. And you can actually even change your bids on it. So you could bid up your observational audience, but we’ll get to that. So the way that it works is if you don’t change anything you just have this filter on on a campaign or an ad group level. What you’re doing is breaking out that audience by filter to see how it functions with or without, and so it’s kind of like running a private focus group. One of the big no brainers to add here for an observational audience is adding your remarketing list or your retargeting list to an existing campaign, because then you can see they’re still kept separate. You can tell exactly what is coming from those who are part of your remarketing list and those who are not. But you can also bit up a little bit. So you can say if you’re part of my remarketing list, you can maybe bid up by 30% or up by double. on Google, you can also break out your observation audiences by things like business services, parental status, marital status, education, whether they’re a college student or not, their educational background, home ownership, they have these things called affinity audiences, which is like, what do I know that they’re they like or are currently interested in. And these are all things you wouldn’t have to build out entire new campaigns or ad sets, or sorry, ad groups on Google. In order to take advantage of these you can just layer them on as observation audiences to your existing campaign and get a readout of “Hey, it looks like people who are marital status single tend to like this better. So I’m going to decide to break off a new ad set or a new ad group, just for that.” I would love this for LinkedIn. And the way I would use it is if we were running, let’s say, a job function campaign, I could add an observation audience of just certain job titles to understand how many of those job titles are being picked up by that job function. That would be really interesting to understand. I’d love the idea of layering on a retargeting audience to see how differently it performs. I’d love to throw on traits, like some of the new custom segments that that we’re getting things like, how do job seekers or how do people who are open to education, how are they interacting with my my ads and content? That could be really cool. I also would like to layer on things like interests. I don’t know how good LinkedIn interests are. I don’t know how well they play in to someone being of high quality. So I would love to add an observation audience onto my LinkedIn campaigns. Just saying, “hey, show me what people who are in Interested in B2B marketing or interested in CRMs will do”. My next absolute favorite thing about Google right now is they have access to all of YouTube inventory, and all of YouTube Ads, obviously. So YouTube is kind of a combination of search and display. Its search because it’s keyword based. But it’s display because it’s a little bit social. And you can bid by audiences and behaviors. So with Google, now you have access to all of the Google Display Network, all of Google Search. You have YouTube and you also have Gmail. And all of these things are really high market usage, meaning that if you use them, you can get access to a lot of scale very quickly and very easily. And then they do have one really awesome thing that I kind of alluded to that is YouTube only. I wish we had this for the rest of Google, but they have something called custom intent audiences and the way it works is you can say, “hey, Google, I know that I can’t see the words that people are searching. But hey, if someone searches for any of these keywords here, I want to add them to a retargeting audience for me to show just YouTube videos”. And you can imagine how powerful this gets, because you’re essentially saying, if someone’s search query contains, let’s say, my competitors’ brand name, or keywords by competitor, I’m really doing YouTube retargeting around someone else’s retargeting list. And that is so so cool and powerful to me.

Okay, obviously, Google is not all sunshine and rainbows, we spent a good bit of time talking about the great stuff. But there’s also a lot of cons here that you should be aware of as well. The first is that your sales team will likely tell you that a lot of the leads coming from Google are of poor quality, even though they’re they’re telling you right now, this is what I want and I’m ready to buy. A lot of times people are not actually qualified to buy from you. And so the sales team will tell you things like, hey, these are we’re getting a lot of mom and pops or small potatoes kinds of companies who can’t afford us if you’re, let’s say mid market or even enterprise. And because we can’t filter out the small fish, the people who can’t afford us, or we even can’t filter out our competitors, which is big, we’ll get into that here in a minute. We have to start filtering people out by ad copy. So if you could imagine you now have to write into your ad copy something like the platform for enterprise, if you’re trying to signal that your product costs too much for maybe the small to medium sized business. And that hurts your click through rate, hurting your relevancy score, as Google calls it, quality score. And it just gets the whole situation a little bit stickier, a little bit tougher. Also with Google, it’s very competitive because like we mentioned at the beginning of the episode, your competitors are all on there. And they’ve been optimizing their efforts for years. And so if you are a brand new startup who hasn’t really figured out what your lifetime value looks like, you haven’t calculated what your cost per acquisition looks like. You’ve got a lot of testing. You’re up against a big wall of all of these competitors who have all optimized into their positions and really left you in a bad spot to try to fight for your position in that market. Because it’s more competitive, it’s not uncommon to see clicks costing $40 or more, especially for enterprise software. It’s not uncommon in legal keywords to see $100, $200, $400 per click, it’s crazy. So certain keywords can get very expensive, especially because they are likely very high value keywords that have been bid up over time. The nice thing is it really is very market appropriate how these keywords are priced. You know people are willing to pay them. That much for a keyword because it’s worth that much. Google is also very bottom of the funnel. So if you don’t have a list of keywords that are already searched for, that people might try to find your product or service with, you’re really stuck with whatever you can get. That means, let’s say you’re bidding on all of the right keywords, and your boss comes to you and says, “Hey, this is working really well, let’s double our budget for next month”, you don’t have a quick, easy way to turn that dial up to double and can’t spend it because if you’ve already gotten 100% of the impressions of that keyword, then you’re really stuck. You can’t just generate more without scaling broader and watching your quality fall. So if you have a disruptive product or service that people don’t know about already, so they don’t know to search it, they don’t know it exists. It’s gonna be really hard on search to drum that up. You could use Google’s Display Network and try to spray a little bit broader to try to build that awareness so that people will then come and search for you. And that’s what people have done for years and years. But certainly, it’s not nearly as good as if you already have people in your market who know to look for you already. Also really hard for business to business startups for a lot of reasons. Also, a lot of these B2B startups are doing something that is disruptive, so people don’t know to look for them. But then they have the same challenges of like, how do I muscle my way into this industry, you know, against all these people who’ve already optimized their way here and made things work, I’m going to be really inefficient while I try to find where I can fit. Competitive transparency is so so tough on Google, because everyone Google’s their own keywords to see how they rank and to see their own ads. And then of course, when they do this, they see their competitors what their ads say, and a lot of times they will click on their ads to punish them. Brands really like to do this click fraud to charge the other guy money. Well, of course your competitor is doing this to you as well. And so everyone loses here, the fact that you can’t exclude your competition from seeing your ads is a big deal. It’s a constant struggle to not have to pay for competitor click fraud. And really my final con about Google is that Google is so large, they just don’t care about you anymore. They’re so massive, they only really have to listen to their top, let’s say, hundred or 500 customers, and so they don’t care about you unless you’re throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars a quarter. And what’s even worse, in B2B, Google has a track record of just not caring about business to business. They do so much great around business to consumer advertising, that they really leave us B2B advertisers out in the cold. They don’t give us new features. They’re not actively thinking about ways to help us out. Okay, here’s a quick sponsor break and then we’ll dive into LinkedIn pros and cons.

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All right, with that being said, let’s jump into LinkedIn pros and cons. One of the top reasons you want to use LinkedIn is this ability to capture new audiences to get in front of people who didn’t know that you or your product or your service existed before, and so they wouldn’t have been reachable with search. You can grow the whole funnel by filling up the top with people who are brand new audiences who didn’t know who you were. And this is especially amazing for those of you who have really maxed out your search channels. And now if you could add any more to that funnel, if you could add more awareness from social channels, it would just superpower your search results. Like we talked about early on in the episode, LinkedIn brings really high quality leads, because we can target the people by their budget, their authority. And this gives us the types of leads that when they get to your sales team, your sales team is saying thank you. These are exactly the right people. They may give you crap because they’re not sales ready yet. But that is just where this sits in the funnel. Any social channel will be really difficult to find that level of intent, the need and the timing aspect to BANT. But certainly with LinkedIn, you are getting the budget and the authority and you’re getting access to your very ideal audience. You can get very micro targeted or you can spread it broader and try to hit more of the right people. You’re also catching people when they’re in the right mindset. When they are on LinkedIn. You know, they’re either thinking about their job or their career broadly. And so you’re giving them some kind of offer that augments their job or their career, it’s a great place to be, you’re going to end up having really good positive associations with them, as well as having high conversion rates. Another pro is LinkedIn can be cheaper than Google Ads, depending on the keyword, depending on the industry. We have worked with some clients who will see a LinkedIn $12 per click, and they get excited because they’re paying double that on Google and they can definitely make that work. I absolutely love on LinkedIn, how we can layer on exclusions to help cut out unqualified people, because we’re paying really expensive clicks here, you know, eight to $11 for a click. And so we don’t want to waste that eight to $11 on someone like a competitor, a past customer, a current customer, and we can pretty much virtually eliminate click fraud if we’ve set up our exclusions properly. So that means us as an agent See, we would exclude ourselves from being able to see our clients ads, we would exclude the clients company, so employees aren’t clicking. And we can upload lists of customer lists, email address lists, and try to cut those errant clicks down to a minimum. If you want to spy on someone, because you’re a very sophisticated advertiser, you still have access to some transparency. If you navigate to your competitors page on LinkedIn, and click on the ads tab, you can see their last six months of advertising. And it won’t cost them for a click, which I think is really good, but you can spy a little bit, you can tell at least what their ads say, and what offers they go to. And finally, LinkedIn is constantly improving, now. Certainly it has a ways to go still before it’s really playing in Google and Facebook’s arena. But we do see LinkedIn putting a lot more effort into improving the platform. And of course, I am so grateful for those strides.

So now we get into LinkedIn cons, it really is not great for the bottom of the funnel like search, especially like Google is. Every advertiser we talked to wants to jump right to the demo and the purchase. They want to pay a certain amount of dollars to get a demo, hardcore lead, someone who wants to buy something. But because LinkedIn is very top to middle of funnel, the audience is not ready for an offer like that. They’re not ready, like search would be. So if you can’t go right for the kill, you need to start a little bit higher up in the funnel, and think about them more in the middle of the sales process. You also have to keep in mind that on LinkedIn, people are busy and you’re actively trying to distract someone from doing what they wanted to do otherwise. So you have to make it valuable for them to actually lure them in with your content or your thought leadership or something that actually solves a pain point or a problem for them. And this will Create a non-sales ready lead for the most part, but it’s getting you in touch with exactly the right kind of people that will want to be your best customers. Certainly the largest con that we hear from people all the time about LinkedIn is the cost. You can expect to pay between $8 to $11, a click, and some much more even than that. And that immediately prices much of the B2B market out of the market. So we’re constantly telling people, if your lifetime value isn’t over, you know, $10,000, $15,000, then LinkedIn is probably too expensive for you to have a return on your investment, even if the targeting is just perfect for what you do. The high cost really comes from a supply and demand problem where both supply and demand are really challenged. On the supply side, LinkedIn traffic is really low compared to Google or Facebook. It’s kind of the platform that you would come back to, you know, three or four times a month to comment on something, to connect with someone, to see who is viewing your profile. And so it’s going to have limited ad inventory, keeping the supply of ads relatively low. And then advertiser demand is pretty high, because advertiser demand on LinkedIn pools around a narrow set of professional facets. And so with Google, you’re looking at combinations of words. And there are millions, billions, trillions of combinations of words. Now we’re looking at certain individual sets that people tend to congregate around. Like for instance, there are only so many senorities out there. So something like managers, directors, VPS C level, there’s only so many buckets. And so it creates fewer combinations of things, meaning that the demand is going to be higher around these relatively few combinations of things. And advertisers who find really high value in certain audiences and they’re going to bid it up. So LinkedIn is at a little bit of a disadvantage. On the cost side, competition can rise faster on social, especially with so few options than it would on search. LinkedIn has these long sales cycles, usually, most likely for a few reasons. But I would say mostly it’s because the traffic is mid funnel. And we often times have these larger purchases we’re making we’re asking people to make, so a larger purchase is going to take more consideration more time, and it’s mid funnel, so they haven’t made the decision yet. They’re still working on that. So these long sales cycles. Most of the time, these sales require committees and specific budget allocation, further lengthening the sales cycle, and increasing involvement from people who are outside of just the one person you were targeting, who was feeling the pain that you can solve.

And finally, LinkedIn significantly lags behind the other platforms on just the table. stakes. For instance, we don’t have the ability to target by device yet. The retargeting platform, although is going to get a lot better in October of 2020. It’s still really weak right now. We don’t have anything like an ad set or an ad group level. And I could go on and on about improvements that are needed for the platform, in order for it to compete with the other world class platforms. So it has a long way to go still to catch up to Facebook and Google. But certainly, like I mentioned before, they’re in the process of improving. I think LinkedIn really catches the vision for what their, their platform can become. And I’m cheering them on. Your style as you’re an advertiser, Google’s style is going to be very search, meaning it’s going to be very high intent, getting people who are all ready to close. The types of other platforms that you might look into. If this is a great style of traffic for you would be things like G2 crowd and Capterra, who are already looking to make a decision about software and now they’re just trying to compare. Also Bing Ads does really well, Yahoo search will be in the same arena. And also kind of Cora advertising. I really am intrigued by Cora. I like that it’s very search focused because it’s around keywords of questions. But it’s probably more middle of funnel more learning kind of like a social channel would be. The search style is going to close deals quickly and really give your sales team sales ready leads. LinkedIn, on the other hand is going to be a very targeted display type of platform. So very highly targeted with low intent. It’s going to play a more in the middle to top of funnel and produce longer sales cycles. So I hope that that gives you a really good view as you’re trying to figure out pros and cons. How do I weight each of the different platforms in my marketing mix? So let’s talk about opportunities in each of these channels. First of all in Google, I think you have the awesome opportunity to capture the whole bottom of the funnel. You can send your amazing LinkedIn traffic who is highly highly qualified, send them to your website and then retarget them on Google to stay in front of them on the whole Google Display Network really inexpensively with really good technology. I think this is by far one of the things I would recommend. If you are running nothing else on Google except for just retargeting, do it in combination with your LinkedIn traffic, you will supercharge your LinkedIn traffic. Also do what we talked about earlier about targeting and protecting your brand terms. Don’t let a competitor come in and start stealing your bottom of funnel traffic away. Because these are people who are already looking for you and you don’t want to lose that. I know there is some disagreement out there in the digital marketing world about, you know, paying for your own brand terms when they would have come to you anyway. But ultimately, I think it’s worthwhile. You probably want to do it just for the pure brand protection. It’s like brand insurance. I talked about how amazing I think YouTube ads are. They’re amazing for video. It’s cheap, and it’s great technology to run video ads. And of course, we have those custom intent audiences that are like it feels like cheating to retarget the traffic that was probably going to your competitors. Amazing. Then on LinkedIn, I think there are some significant opportunities as well. I use LinkedIn to capture the most valuable top of funnel or middle of funnel approach and reaching the people who are in the right mindset who are the most qualified to do business with me. I love the idea if you’re not using lead gen forms to send traffic to pages that your Google remarketing and your Facebook retargeting can take over and try to stay top of mind with those people. As you know from previous episodes, LinkedIn is amazing at ABM, or account based marketing. Every company I talked to has at least a list of 20 to 50 brands that they would kill to work with. So it’s worth putting together a campaign targeting just those brands, even if it doesn’t spend very much just to make sure you’re staying in front of the most valuable people that you would kill to be in front of, you’d kill to have their logo on your website. All right, I’ve got some episode resources coming up for you. So stick around.

Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.

First resource for you here is a video that we created that really just breaks down the basics of Google Ads versus LinkedIn Ads. So check that one out. It’s like six, seven minutes long, not big. You can easily send this if you’re trying to make the case someone internally. Send it to them to help make up their mind. Also, I created the course on LinkedIn Learning around LinkedIn Ads. So if you’re looking to just get started on LinkedIn, check that course out super high quality. And of course, it’s endorsed by LinkedIn. So can’t be half bad, right? The standard ask here, please make sure whatever podcast player you’re listening to this on, make sure you hit the subscribe button. Make sure that all of these episodes as I go deeper and deeper down the LinkedIn ads rabbit hole are coming right into your ear holes. And as a favor, please do rate and review this podcast. There are relatively few listeners right now. I’m actually refusing to look at the analytics because I’m a little bit scared. I put a lot into this podcast and any sort of rating and review you can give that would help those metrics out will really make me feel a lot better as soon as I actually let myself look at them. If you have any questions or suggestions about what we should do on the show in the future, give us an email to Podcast@B2linked.com. We’d love to hear from you. And of course, we’ll see you back here next week, cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.