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Show Transcript

Alright, here’s a good one. Why did the marketer break up with the low quality lead? Because it was just too unresponsive for a meaningful relationship. Stick around as we guide you to romance as you fall in love with lead quality on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.

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

Hey there, LinkedIn Ads fanatics! I’s so great getting to connect with so many of you over LinkedIn DMS, and of course email as well. But most of you we are talking to in DMS. I’m in this privileged position where I get to see so many of you testing different scenarios. And we get to talk about performance anomalies. It’s really cool. I encourage you to keep sending me those things. I love to hear about them. And I do tend to use the topics that you bring up as ideas for the themes of these episodes. And one of the recurring themes that so many of you are touching on is lead quality. In this episode, we’re going to delve into exactly what lead quality is, and several ways that you can assess it and measure it. Then we can give you ideas on how to improve it no matter where the quality issue is stemming from. First off in the news, we talked about it in the last couple episodes, but campaign group budget optimization is what I’m calling it. This is where you can have LinkedIn dynamically move budget around your different campaigns in a single campaign group, as long as they’re all the same objective. So this one’s rolling out more. We’re seeing it in many more accounts right now. And I’ve already expressed my opinion on this. It’s an interesting step forward, but nothing that I’m going to go out of my way to go test right now. But I do hope that LinkedIn continues to develop this and other technologies like this, because I like dynamic moving of budget, but it has to be smarter and less constrictive than having to have all of your campaigns share the same objective. I wanted to highlight a quick review here. barriebabs from the Netherlands, says, “AJ Wilcox is your go to person for LinkedIn.” Why thank you, Barry. Barry gave it five stars and said, “Great show about LinkedIn ads. I learned so much from AJ. He’s your go to person about LinkedIn Ads.” I’m very grateful for the kind comment. I also want to give a shout out to everyone here at the B2linked team who helps make this show possible. Now, barriebabs, I don’t know who you are, but if you message me on LinkedIn, and let me know, I’d love to shout you out publicly by name. Now I want to try something new. I’d like to ask you to message me on LinkedIn. Or you can email and attach a link to a voice message recording from you. Rather than reading your reviews or questions that you want covered. I want to play them here on the show. I want to actually have you here on the show with me. So record yourself asking a question, commenting on something from a past episode, suggesting a topic or telling me that gingers have no soul, no matter what you want to say, I’d love to hear it. So message me on LinkedIn, or shoot us a note at Either way, I want to see how this goes. Sounds good? Alright, without further ado, we’re on to the topic at hand about improving lead quality. Let’s hit it.

We need to discuss what is lead quality, first of all. Down to the basics, it’s looking at a lead and making some sort of a determination if this is a lead that is likely to turn into business. Or maybe it’s totally off base and won’t turn into business. And we don’t want leads like that. We call those low quality. So who makes that determination of whether lead quality is good or bad? Well, oftentimes, both marketing and sales have their own distinct definitions for what makes good lead quality. Lead Quality can be scored manually if a human is looking at this and determining Oh, they meet certain criteria, I’m gonna call this good. Or it also can be programmatic, a lot of CRMs, or marketing automation systems, you can programmatically tell them what makes a good quality lead, and they can then score that for you on the back end, feeding it right to the sales team giving a percentage maybe this is a 10% qualified, maybe this is a 99% qualified lead.

Alright, let’s start on the sales side. One of my very favorite lead qualifiers is the BANT acronym. And it stands for budget, authority, need, and timing. And the way this works is when sales is talking to someone they’re trying to assess, does this person have the budget to afford what it is I’m selling? Is this person the authority? Are they going to be able to say yes, I want to purchase this and move forward? Or no, I don’t want it. Because if you’re not talking to the person with authority, maybe your deal gets shut down with things that are out of your control. The N is need. Does the prospect actually have a need for what it is you do and is it a strong need? Is it a bleeding neck? Or is it a, oh that would be nice to solve but If I can keep putting up with it. And then finally T is timing. Is the timing right? Is this something that they need right now? Or is this something that they’re going to need next quarter or three quarters down the road when some contract is up. So this is very manual, but it does touch on the different qualities of a lead that I really like to concentrate on. For instance, when we’re advertising on LinkedIn Ads, we get great control over the B and the A, the budget and the authority, because we’re targeting company sizes that are going to be large enough to afford the product we’re selling. So that gets us the budget. And then the authority, we’re targeting the right titles, or the right securities that we know should have control over this. What we don’t have control over on LinkedIn is the need and the timing. And that comes really well from Google search or Microsoft search. Because when someone has a need, they’re searching for a solution. If the timing is right, it’s because they’re searching for it right now. So when leads come in from paid search, they tend to be scoring really high in the need and timing, when they come in from paid social, at least LinkedIn, they tend to score really high in both budget and authority. So that’s one model that a sales team can actually use manually. But when we talk about programmatically, there are like we talked about CRMs, marketing automation systems that will score your leads for you, based off of different criteria. Maybe the CRM is tracking someone, and they understand how many different pages of content they visited on the website. So you might be able to say, hey, if they’ve looked at four pages of the website, we think that they’re showing some higher intent. And maybe we focus more on them. Maybe it’s just tracking, what are the content pieces they’ve interacted with, maybe interacting with a blog post gets them 10 points, maybe downloading an ebook or a guide, gets them 30 points, maybe visiting the contact us page or the demo page, maybe that gets them an extra 20 points. So you can start to tally these things up. You may also be able to score by if this lead is net new because if it’s a net new and you haven’t heard of them before, then this is great as a new relationship you’re starting. Whereas if they’re not net new, this person is already in your database, then maybe your marketing team isn’t getting credit for this, because maybe it was driven originally from a different source. So you and your marketing ops or your sales ops teams will all get to figure this out together. As things get to you, the marketer, you get to start looking at things like, hey, when the person comes through, I’m going to look them up on LinkedIn. And I’m going to see what job title do they have? What company do they represent? What about that company, which of my audiences could this have come from? And you get to make a designation about this. Of course, you are probably spending enough that you probably can’t look through every lead. But if you can, and you can research them all, you’ll probably start to get a really clear picture about who are the people who are coming in, that you wouldn’t want to have paid for. And we’ll call them those who are outside of your desired audience. I also forgot to mention that there are enrichment services that will take a look at who your lead is, it’ll go out, find them on different social media platforms, find more information about them, and give the sales team more data that they could then use to determine if this is a good quality lead or a bad one. Okay, so talking about those who are outside of our desired audience, if you’re researching these people manually, you can diagnose this pretty quickly. I like to look this person up on LinkedIn, and I want to look at their job title, I want to look at skills that they have listed on their profile, I want to look at the groups that their members of. And usually I can tell how we’ve targeted this person by one of those three things. Every so often that we find someone who is just way out in left field, we have no idea how we captured them. So we’ll get to that here in a minute. You may start to notice things like certain skills have a very wide variety. A skill will bring in a really high quality lead, and then maybe it’ll bring in two low quality leads. So maybe you don’t want to get rid of that skill entirely because it is bringing in good leads. But put that on your radar and think about ways that you could actually cut the poor quality versions of that skill out. If you’re targeting by job function, and seniority, those things are determined by their job title. So by analyzing their job title, that will get you information on your title targeting as well as your job function and seniority targeting.

So let’s say that none of our targeting approximates this person. You have no idea how they saw the ad. There could be a couple of good reasons for this. Number one, did you leave audience expansion on? That is by far the worst offender for lead quality. What this does is it allows LinkedIn to start showing your ads to people who are outside of your targeting criteria. There is no reason I can think of that you’d actually want to check that box. That is if you actually care about your performance. The second option here is the possibility of a viral lead. So what happens on LinkedIn and we’ve talked about this before, in talking about organic LinkedIn, especially episode with Mark Williams, it was episode 67. So go back and listen to that, if you haven’t already. We talked about the viral mechanism on LinkedIn, and how LinkedIn will start to show your posts to people outside of your target audience. That is when there’s engagement, so especially comments, so let’s say you put an ad out there to your ideal target audience, and one of the people in that target audience commented on it or liked it. Now LinkedIn will take that ad, and put it in the newsfeed of people who follow that person, the person who commented or liked. So now your ad has just gone viral. And if someone goes and converts on that, you might look at it and say, Wwhoa, this campaign has a problem, it’s reaching people I didn’t want it to. But on the other hand, viral traffic on LinkedIn is free. That initial comment or like might have cost you money if you were bidding by the engagement, or maybe it was free if you were bidding by website visit. Either way, the charge is finished at that point, and anyone who clicks it as a result of it being viral in their feed, that’s all free traffic to you. Now, obviously, people don’t comment and interact with ads a whole lot. So we don’t tend to see a ton of viral interactions here with ads. But especially with the new thought leader, ad format, where I think likes and comments are a lot more likely, maybe these viral impressions, viral clicks, viral conversions will tend to become a much bigger part of our advertising. Something else you can do is you can go in and look at the demographics tab inside of campaign manager. As you’re looking through, you can look at your target audience and start to see certain segments of it that are performing better or worse. For instance, you might find that certain locations like countries have higher click through rates or lower, you might conclude something like if we’re serving an ad in English to a non English speaking country, maybe that’s why it has a smaller click through rate, maybe fewer people actually understand what it is we’re saying. That’s a logical conclusion. You might also see certain job titles or certain job functions, or sonorities who aren’t interacting with your ads, or you might find some who are interacting at a great rate, get a feel for those that are seeing and clicking on your ads. And you can start to narrow down your targeting from there. Similarly, before you launch your campaign, over in the right hand rail, you’ll see the segment called segment breakdown. Now, this is a way that you can actually see what the demographics of that segment are before you launch the campaign. So demographics are things that we see after the fact we’re getting results from actual performance. But segment breakdown is looking at the percentage of people who fit that criteria from our targeting. And that’s episode 54, if you want to go back and listen to that one, all about demographics. What I love about this segment breakdown that we’re talking about is before you even spend a dime you can get a gut check for is this audience actually hitting the right people. Really cool that way. Alright, here’s a quick sponsor break. And then we’ll dive into how you actually tighten up this audience and start excluding the people who are bringing down your lead scores.

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Alright, let’s jump into tightening up our audiences. There are a few ways that we can start to get rid of these lower quality individuals who are making it through our lead forms. First, we can go through and start adding exclusions to our targeting for the folks that aren’t great. Maybe sales is giving you feedback, they might come back to you and say, hey, people with this job title, we’re talking to them, and they’re just is not a fit, then you could go in and actually exclude something like that job title. Like we talked about, if you’re checking out your ad demographics, and you see that there are certain titles or certain areas of the world or whatever, that aren’t interacting the way that you want, you can go in and add exclusions for those things as well. I will say for exclusions, broader tends to be better. What I mean by that is rather than excluding a certain job title, it might be better to exclude a whole job function, because while one job title is usually linked to many others through what LinkedIn calls on their back end, a super title, if you go to exclude one job title, you might not get all the variations that you actually want or you might get too many variations and cut a huge chunk out of your audience. But if you exclude something broad, like a job function, or a skill, or a seniority, these things tend to be great at getting rid of what you want to get rid of while keeping what is. But of course, if you’re generally happy with your lead quality, don’t do a big sweeping exclusion, that’s going to take a huge chunk out of your audience. This is one of those things that you have to really consider. There are also some nuances. For instance, if you exclude by company size, it doesn’t do what you think it’s going to do. It does exclude those audience sizes, but it also includes the ones that are unknown. And there’s a lot of people on LinkedIn who are not tied to a company. Therefore LinkedIn doesn’t know what size their company is. So excluding by other things other than company size tends to be a good bet. Rather than using exclusions, you could actually use inclusions and just be more specific about who that targeted audience is that you’re trying to hit. We love targeting by job title, job function with seniority, skills with seniority, and groups with seniority. And once you know who the person is that you’re trying to reach, it’s the decision maker. Now you want to layer on your ICP, the company details. This would be things like layering on company size industry, you could narrow down by more specific geographies. You can even narrow down by interest. Which tends to be really broad, but if you have an audience of let’s say, 500,000 people, but you only have the budget for maybe 200,000 of them, consider adding on an interest as a way to to filter that audience down and get more of maybe the most active people on LinkedIn. And remember that certain skills can bring in people that don’t actually have those skills or their skill adjacent. For instance, as we’re talking about marketing related skills, they could bring in someone who’s not a marketer. Sales leaders will oftentimes list skills that they share with marketing, and vice versa, marketers will list some skills that sales has. Leaders will oftentimes claim a skill that they’re responsible for on their team, but maybe they don’t personally have. And then we have these ultra broad skills, like leadership or public speaking, Microsoft Excel. I would not target by these ultra broad skills, because you’re gonna get people who just listed to list it. Instead, I like to narrow down by skills that in the world of paid search, we might call longtail terms, these might be two and three word keywords. They’re more specific to your industry than someone in sales or someone in leadership would claim and not know what they were. In marketing, that might be something like landing page optimization, or lead scoring models, paid search optimization, I mean, I don’t even know if that exists as a skill, but check it out and see. Another way that you can qualify your leads better is actually by adding friction to the process. If they’re filling out a form, you could add additional criteria to that form, that is going to take them a little bit more time to fill out. That adds friction and means that the people who are maybe on the fence or didn’t feel like this is a perfect idea for them, they’re going to drop out. But the people who are dead serious, they’re probably going to keep going. You could add a field like requiring their business email, that’s a really common one, especially with LinkedIn lead gen forms where personal email is auto filled, and everyone has that. But a business email not everyone has. Asking for a phone number, that adds a lot of friction, because as soon as you asked for that people know you’re gonna use it. We’ve also had luck with adding custom fields, additional fields that LinkedIn doesn’t provide by default, but we can add into a lead gen form. Or we can just put right into a landing page form. We’ve asked for things like what’s your net worth? And then list ranges as a drop down that they can select a category? We’ve had one that’s like, are you at a registered accredited investor? Yes or no, that’s pretty easy. On our own form, we asked for budget, we want to know how much are you currently spending on LinkedIn. If you’re spending one to $2,000 a month, it probably isn’t going to make sense to hire an agency like us where all of your money is going to go to the management fee, and then you’ve got nothing left over for ad spend. And you can really add any other drop down you can think of it adds a little bit more friction and ensures that anyone who fills it out is going to tend to be higher quality. Now this one’s hard for me to mention. It’s being able to add friction by the copy in your ad because we’re explicitly not doing the thing that marketers are told to do. And that’s instead of trying to make something sound amazing and sexy and wonderful. We’re going to try to disqualify people through our ad copy. We’re going to add in details that might be divisive and if someone reads it, it might force them to leave, rather than fill out the form, which is what they may have been intending to do. For instance, because we talk about LinkedIn Ads, we might have something in our ad copy that says, only good for high lifetime values. And that means if someone has a low lifetime value, we probably don’t even think it would be worth their time to talk to them and tell them oh, with a low LTV, you may not be able to see a return on your investment on LinkedIn. We can save everyone some time. So think about dropping something divisive, or including something that’s one of the hardest to swallow in your frequently asked questions.

More sources of friction here, we talked about using LinkedIn lead gen forms, and they tend to have really high conversion rates, which is wonderful. But it also means that you’re probably going to see a higher percentage of lower quality leads coming in from them. So one of the obvious ways that you can add some more friction here is don’t use LinkedIn lead gen forms, send them to a form on your website. on a landing page. This takes them out of their element and makes them think a little bit more. And that’s a way that you can get higher lead quality out of them. Remember, from Episode 106 about landing pages, the biggest thing that you need to make sure of is that you’re not sending people to a slow loading page. A slow loading page is absolute poison to everything, you’re going to not only add friction for the people who you don’t want to fill out the form, you’re also putting friction on the people you do want. It’s an absolute losing proposition. You can also add more form fields on that form. Making them spend more time shows that they’re a little bit more serious. You could ask free form questions where they actually have to type rather than hitting something like a drop down or a radio button.

Switching gears, another way that you can actually get better quality leads is by nurturing those leads better before you ask for them to fill out a form. And there is so much to this. It definitely merits its own episode, which I promise at one point we’ll come out with it. But as a brief overview, if you want your leads to come on more qualified, when they’re ready to talk and ready to buy, they’re going to need more education and more handholding along the way. If we get a lead from something like paid search, where someone typed a keyword, they came to us they fill out the form and they hop on the call with Parker. They’re gonna ask cold lead questions like, Who are you guys? Why are you different than your competitors? Why should I go with you? Versus if we get a lead from someone who, like you, they’re a listener of the podcast, they’ve been following me on LinkedIn for years. They know who we are. By the time Parker talks to them, they’re answering basic questions about the contract, and then saying, okay, where do I sign. I can guarantee which type of those lead your sales team is going to like getting more. They’re probably going to want to talk to the people who love you already and are ready to buy. So the question then is, how do you nurture them? And the simple answer is through retargeting. The very first time that someone interacts with your ad, you’re going to retarget that user and put them in an audience that you can continue showing more ads to in a really thoughtful cadence. As part of those retargeting ads, you want to be helpful, you want to make an emotional connection through those ads, you want to be in front of them regularly stay top of mind, make a positive impression. I like to think about it in the know, like, and trust process. Someone has to get to know your brand first, then, with enough touches and enough positive touches, they’re going to come to like you. And then once they learn to like you enough, they start to trust you. And trust is where business happens, that’s when you’re gonna get a customer. And people tend to like companies that help them out. So produce them promote more content that helps people that gives them that positive impression of you. Things like case studies and testimonials tend to prop up that trust factor. Communicate your unique value proposition very succinctly so that they learn to like you and understand how you’re different. The getting to know you part is really done through any ad like just running an ad means someone’s gonna get to know you. But of course, if your ad that’s trying to get to introduce them to you, is also being helpful it hits two birds with one stone. You’re getting some no and some like and maybe even some trust along the way. And of course, it’s important to note that if LinkedIn is your only channel, the only time that they ever see you is when they log on to LinkedIn once a week or once a month, it’s going to be hard to stay top of mind. So being present on all the other channels so that they are just surrounded by you and they they come to your sales team saying things like man, you guys are everywhere. I just had to check you out. If you have that set up, they’re gonna take you a lot more seriously. I know this is silly coming from someone who is such an advocate for LinkedIn Ads. But it’s so important to be ever present on all the other channels as well. At least as many as you can handle effectively. You want to educate these people, educate them, who you are, who you serve, why you’re the best fit for them. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and draw a line in the sand. If you’re the best fit for everyone, you’re probably the best fit for no one. And as a reminder, we like companies that share our values that help us out when we need it. Companies that make us feel special. So share your values and shape those values according to what your customers love. And I’m not saying don’t be authentic, that’s not it at all. But find those shared values between both of you. On the point of making people feel special, when someone comments on one of your ads, always have someone respond back to them, make them feel special. If they’re commenting or interacting on an ad, and no one says anything. They just assume oh, I’m not important to them. Alright, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up. So stick around.

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

We have an awesome blog post that you’ll find in the show notes all about improving lead quality. So if you want to deep dive into that topic, go check out that blog post. Also check out episode 67 that was all about going viral on LinkedIn. I guarantee you’ll love that episode, Episode 54, about website demographics and add demographics is really going to help you in those exclusions. And if you want to join the premier LinkedIn Ads community, this is For a low monthly cost, you get access to all four of our courses taking you from absolute beginner to expert. Plus you get access to the entire community of some of the best and brightest LinkedIn Ads experts on the planet there to answer your questions, give feedback, bounce ideas, all of that. Plus, you can upgrade to the super fanatics group which gets you weekly access to a group coaching call with me. And I’d absolutely love the chance to get to check out what you’re working on and give you feedback. If this is the first time you’re listening, welcome! We’re excited to have you here. Make sure to hit that subscribe button. But if this is not your first time listening, please do go and rate and review the podcast. It’s the biggest favor that you can pay us for the hours and hours that it takes to put this content together for you for free. With any questions, suggestions, or corrections reach out to us at And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. I’m cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.