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Are you ultra limited on budget and not sure if LinkedIn Ads will be a good channel for your company? Then this strategy is for you.

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

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics! People reach out to us all the time asking, saying things like, “hey, I’ve heard your recommendation for making sure that we have at least $5,000 a month for budget, but I just don’t have that much money or my boss, I just can’t convince him or her to do it”. Well, you’re in luck. Today, we’re going through exactly the lowest budget strategy is to test out LinkedIn Ads as a platform that we’ve found.

Let’s hit it. So as for the news, LinkedIn has reported that they’ve seen an 8% weekly increase in posting on pages, which is pretty exciting. I’ve been asked by several people during the COVID crisis, “what’s happening to organic usage of LinkedIn? Is it going up? Is it going down?” And there are a couple stats here that LinkedIn has released to us partners letting us know that yeah, it sure seems like usage is increasing. The first stat here is that weekly posting of pages is up 8%, which is fantastic. That means more people posting for whatever reasons, maybe they’re trying to get additional business or they’re trying to just connect with people, either way, and 8% increase in posting on pages is awesome. And at a partnership conference last year with LinkedIn, one of the senior executives at LinkedIn told us that creating in the newsfeed was up 40% year over year, and that was fantastic knowing that people are just spending more time in the newsfeed and they’re posting. We just found that the statistic now is that year over year increase in creation of posts in the newsfeed is up 60% this year, so wow, I thought 40% was huge last year now at 60. It gives me a lot of hope for the future for where I see organic usage of the platform going. And what’s so exciting to me about the organic increase is the more people who are using the platform organically, the more ad inventory is created for us to use. So I think they really go hand in hand. I wanted to highlight a few reviews that we’ve gotten just on the podcast. Thank you guys so much for reviewing the podcast. Like I’ve been asking for the last few episodes. Thank you so much for reviewing the podcast in your individual podcast players. I wanted to just say thank you and shout out to a few people who’ve reviewed so far. “There’s this one excellent podcast packed with value. AJ is the go to resource for all things LinkedIn ads. Thank you for this great podcast.” That one’s by Greg Tosi. Greg, thanks so much for leaving that. The next one “Ain’t nobody no LinkedIn ads like AJ. Not only does AJ know his stuff, when it comes to LinkedIn, but he’s entertaining and does a great job making things easy to understand to boot. If you are considering running LinkedIn Ads or scaling existing campaigns, then this is the podcast you need to be listening to”. That one’s by Tucker Stoffers. Tucker, thank you. I know you. I know how great you are at Facebook ads, at Google ads, and even LinkedIn. So thank you, that means a ton to me. The next one, “the OG of LinkedIn Ads, AJ pulls back the curtain on LinkedIn Ads and doesn’t hold anything back. He speaks from real world experience, not repeated secondhand information. AJ is the authority on LinkedIn’s advertising platform”. That’s by George Krahn. George, thank you so much for the kind words. Seriously, these mean the world to me. I put in hundreds of hours into this podcast so far, and I want to make sure that it doesn’t join the graveyard of podcasts out there. So we’re gonna keep going. Thank! Every kind word, every review that you leave, helps me keep going. Alright, so let’s jump into it strategies here. We know that LinkedIn as a platform is expensive. And we know that the traffic really reacts and acts like more of a top of funnel type of traffic. And on top of that, the user interface really isn’t all that kind. And there’s a pretty steep learning curve to all of it. So of course, testing out LinkedIn Ads can feel really daunting to someone, because I think you’re wary of screwing something up on the platform. And of course, any mistake you make on an expensive platform becomes an expensive mistake. So follow these steps to ensure that you’re properly evaluating the channel at its very best. And I read a bumper sticker one time that said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”. So my recommendation here is and this is what you’ll feel from all of these recommendations, test out the channel at its very best so that you can see if it’s worth expanding and increasing your volume to see not that you’re going for the worst. But,see if it’s even worth it at its best to consider it and expanding the program.

For any sort of test on social media, I use the acronym AMO. And it stands for your audience, your message, and your offer. Now, these are the three things that you need in order to have any sort of an ad happening on social media. And so what you’re looking for at very first of any campaign is you want AMO alignment. You want to know whether you’re reaching the right audience with the right message in the right way. And without testing, you won’t actually know any of this for sure. But give this a shot with your best gut guesses and then you can start testing from there. On the audience side, don’t worry about not fitting every potential prospect in your I’m giving you permission to be ultra picky about who your audience is, in your targeting. Then your message, you want to take your best shot at what you think motivates your audience to click and then convert. You may not have this fully dialed in yet, but give it a shot. And then your offer, you’ve got a couple different directions you can go here. You can either try what we call a bottom of the funnel offer, where you’re saying something “like, click on this ad, this is what we do, click here to talk to our sales department or click here for a demo”. And you can try that out about 95% of the time, that type of offer fails. But maybe you’re in the 5% that this can work. So if that’s what you’re trying, I would say your risks are pretty low. Because if you’re only paying when someone clicks, if you have an offer, that’s not interesting, the worst thing that can happen is that no one clicks and LinkedIn just kind of shuts it off. And it didn’t cost you very much except for your time. Of course, those who do click it will be a pretty expensive cost per click. But all in all, it’s a pretty low cost kind of test. So sure, go ahead and try that first.

If you are going the content route though, which I recommend the vast majority of the time, go take a look at your analytics and find what is your best performing content offer. Look specifically at the conversion rates that you see on your various offers, or come up with something that you think is going to be far and away the most valuable thing that your audience could have. Diving into more detail to your audience here. You want to keep your audience to the very most core. Of course, you could get business from a lot of different industries or roles, but just keep it to the ones that you know are a perfect hit. And then of course, once you’ve tested the very most core, the people who very most feel the pain of what you solve. Sure, you can always expand to their colleagues, their bosses, other decision makers, but start with just the ones that you know are feeling the pain. Then with your offers, if you’re using a content offer, look for conversion rates that are over 15%. That will tell you that this is a rockstar offer that people want and really appreciate. And if you’re using a bottom of funnel type of offer, realize that you’re probably going to see in the long term, conversion rates between 1.5 to 4%. So this is very low, which means if you’re using a bottom of the funnel offer, look for any conversions. Any conversions within the first few days is going to tell you that yes, it really seems like there’s something of value here for them. Early on, the signs that you’re watching for, you’re very first looking for high or low click through rates. Because your click through rate is in effect going to tell you whether your audience is interested at all in what you’re offering. If no one clicks on the ads, you’re obviously not presenting them with a value that they care about. If it’s a sponsored content newsfeed ad, watch for click through rates in excess of .4% because .4% is about the average. And so you know, if you’re performing above that, you’re doing something right. And if you’re doing something right, that tells you that you have some alignment in your ammo, your audience, your message, and your offer are doing something here. And of course, at low budget with very few clicks, you may or may not get conversions along the way, you probably won’t. So the first little bit, you’re looking just for click through rates, and then as soon as you get enough clicks, that you start to see conversions. That’s when you can really start to make a determination about whether or not your offer is converting. Okay, as for ad formats, I would recommend using sponsored content first, because these show up in the newsfeed. Now I would recommend there are lots of different variants of sponsored content. I would recommend the single image version first, because it’s the easiest to troubleshoot. So realize that sponsored content is the most versatile ad format out there and will probably give you the most traffic. But bids, if you take them all the way to the floor, you’ll probably still spend between $4 to $6. At least in North America. So if you’re working with budgets between let’s say $2,000 to $5,000 per month, then sponsored content is a probably a great way to go. However, if you are working with ultra low budgets, I had someone reach out this morning and say that they were trying to spend $300 a month on ads, then you really only have one option. And that’s using text ads. Because text ads, you can take them all the way down to the bid floor of $2. So think of this as just dipping your toe in the water. You just want some traffic from LinkedIn to see how it works. Because text ads only have a click through rate of about .025%. Again, that’s two and a half clicks out of every 10,000 times they’re shown. You really need to have a pretty large audience for this to really spend any money at all. However, if you’re just trying to spend $300 for the month, you can definitely do that off of pretty much any audience size that you want. Text ads are also very, very easy to troubleshoot. Because there’s only two things you have, well, I guess technically three, you have a little 50 x 50 pixel image. Sometimes it’s 100 x 100. You have a 25 character headline, and a 75 character ad line. So if it’s not working, you know you get to adjust one of those three things to make it work. Whatever you do, no matter how sexy they look, avoid sponsored messaging ads at all costs here, because sponsored messaging ads are LinkedIn’s highest risk and oftentimes most expensive ad format.

Okay, what about bidding strategy? We’ve talked a little bit about how we’re bidding by cost per click. We’ve talked about how we’re going to be at the floor, but let’s go into a little bit more detail here. When you very first create your first campaign on LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s defaults will set a whole bunch of different things. They will set you to automated bidding, which is what you don’t want. You want to change automated bidding, to cost per click or CPC, whatever you’re doing, go and find the CPC version of that. And that’s because it takes away your risk as an advertiser, you’re now only going to pay when someone clicks, as opposed to paying every time your ad gets shown, and really removing that whole issue where you’re going to pay even if people aren’t actually interested in your ad. The next thing you want to do is LinkedIn will tell you a price range that they suggest you bid at. But just ignore that entirely. You’re not interested in the bottom of the range, you’re interested in the floor price, that means the very minimum that LinkedIn will let you pay. Because on low budgets, it does not make sense to set high bids. You will blow your entire month’s budget In just a few clicks, and you don’t want that. You won’t learn anything and then you’ll feel robbed. So what you do is you go to that bid, that maximum CPC field, and you go and enter in $1, and then click away. LinkedIn will then pop up in red lettering saying, oh, the minimum bid for this audience is actually and then they’ll tell you a number like $4.75 or $6.26. Now, you know, the absolute floor, the very minimum that LinkedIn will let you bid for traffic. And if you can fill your entire budget, at that level of bid, then you just won, you just spent your entire budget at the very cheapest cost per click for your ideal audience. Now there is a chance depending on your ad, if it’s if it’s not interesting or it’s not providing a whole lot of value, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to increase your bids to start spending enough but at least this gets you started out on the right foot. And only increase your bids if you aren’t getting enough traffic to actually spend what you want to spend. And then of course, only increase your daily budget, if you’re hitting the budget. If your budget is $10 a day, which is the minimum, and you’re only spending on average $3 a day, then it’s okay, you can leave your daily budgets at $10 because you’re not hitting them. But if you look and see that you’re spending on average $10 every single day, you know that that audience is hungry for what it is you’re doing. And you could spend more if you want, and of course, make any changes you want later. You don’t have to cement yourself into a bidding or a budgeting strategy yet, you can always change those things in the future.

Okay, here’s a quick sponsor break and then we will dive into the targeting

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

B2Linked is the LinkedIn Ads focused agency. We manage many of Lincoln’s largest spending accounts worldwide, and are official LinkedIn partners. Contact us on to get in touch, and our team can help you enact these and other strategies to help get you the very best performance on your ads.

All right, now let’s jump into the targeting aspect. As you’re trying out LinkedIn’s targeting, I would recommend you use job title targeting along with your ideal company size, and or industry here. And job title I recommend because it’s so tight, you can get so specific around who someone is. And if you’re only going to be spending a limited amount of money here. You might as well spend it on exactly the right people. There’s not leaving anything to chance. If your product or service is expensive, where you know, only certain sizes of companies would be able to purchase it, then make sure you segment to exactly the right company size. And don’t be afraid to segment down to individual industry as well. Because you may say I’m going after, let’s say, HR reps, maybe decision makers, director and above. But you may decide, oh, if I had someone come in from the arts industry, or if it was an ad agency, it wouldn’t make sense. So go ahead and use industry to make sure you’re hitting the exact right people. Because on low budget, you don’t want to waste a dime. You might also consider doing what we call account based marketing here, and that is targeting only specific companies. If you have a list, like this list is the most qualified buyers are the most likely to purchase from us. Yeah, go ahead and target just the companies that you know would be a good thing. for you. If you do target by exact account, though, I would recommend get away from the job title targeting that I recommended before, and instead use something broader, like skill or job function, and probably attach onto it a seniority layer as well because job title targeting is really tight. So if you have a list of just companies, and then you add job titles on top of that, you’re probably going to have an audience that is too small even to advertise. Or if it’s not, you might just not be able to spend your budget even if it is small. Remember that we’re hoping to test our very most likely to be valuable here. So don’t worry that there is someone who could purchase your product or might be interested who fits outside of your targeting. That’s okay. Right now you’re going for just the core just the people who are feeling the most pain. And of course, you can always expand later as it’s successful. We had a client who sold only to IT decision makers, in companies with 50 or more employees. But they told me in the course of advertising, that their ideal audience was actually those in the 500 to 1000 range. So because we were just testing and starting, we went ahead and changed our targeting to just 500 to 1000. So they were bringing in the highest grade prospects. And as soon as we saw success, we went ahead and lowered all the way down to the 50 person and above companies. But we started out with the most core.

So let’s talk about timing, because I get asked all the time when I mentioned that I suggest budgets of over $5,000 a month for LinkedIn Ads, and people go, “ah, but what time period do I have to spend that $5,000 over? Is that a month? Is that a day is that six months?” And what I want to remind you here, we’re generating this data for data and now analysis. So it doesn’t necessarily matter that it’s over a particular period of time, it just has to be enough data to actually analyze. So whether this is spent over the course of two days, or over six months, the data will be relatively the same with one caveat that if you’re running ads over some serious seasonality, like over Q4 in December, when people are checked out and getting ready for for Christmas and New Year’s and the holidays, or if you’re advertising over a crisis like COVID that we’re going through right now, then, yeah, I think user behavior will change over time. But for right now, I would say if it takes you six months to spend that much money, great, go ahead and do it because this is a long term play. You’re in this for the long haul. Make sure that you just get enough data to make sure you know whether or not it’s working. Okay, so I mentioned about budgets that I see suggests budgets of $5,000 a month or more. But of course, it’s possible to advertise at lower budgets. So let’s talk about what you need to keep in mind as you’re doing this. So here’s the amount of data that you need for each type of analysis, we find that we usually have to spend about $1,000 advertising before we can get statistical significance around our click through rates. So that means if our goal is to find out what sort of message is most engaging, we can do that after about $1,000 in spend. And if we have a content type offer something like download this free ebook or guide or checklist, we usually have to spend about $5,000 before we get statistical significance around the cost per conversion, and around conversion rates. That means if you’re spending less than those amounts, it means you just have to spend for more months. And until you spend that much money, you will likely not know whether or not it’s working. Of course, if it is totally hitting it out of the park, like you have the lowest cost per conversion you’ve ever seen. Yeah, even if you haven’t spent that much money, maybe the programs working great. And you may spend that much money and have zero conversions. So you might tell yourself, okay, maybe this isn’t working for me. But if you’re really anywhere in between, you probably need to spend more money to have confidence that this is working. Remember, this is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, and you need to be in this for the long haul. So don’t call the test early if you’re spending $300 a month, because it’s going to take lots of months to get a large enough data sample size, to have any sort of significance. And of course, you might be really lucky and close a massive deal after $300 in ad spend. Or you might be equally as unlucky and not see anything come from that. So side with statistical significance here and make sure you have a large enough sample size that when you analyze it, it’s enough to actually be meaningful. It usually takes 100 clicks before we’re starting to look at conversions at all. And it usually takes 20, 30 conversions before we’re looking at that to try to assess lead quality as well. So adjust your expectations for how fast this is going to happen. There are some default options that LinkedIn will select for you when you’re building a campaign. The first is audience expansion. And what this is, is you tell LinkedIn who your audience is, and then you check a box. And then LinkedIn will go and find more people that they think are closely associated. Now it sounds like a good idea. But remember, what we said here is that you’re going after the exact audience who’s feeling the pain, and you don’t want to leave anything up to interpretation by LinkedIn, either algorithmically or of course, they’re not going to be putting things in manually. So make sure you uncheck that box. You don’t want any traffic outside of the exact audience that you’re selecting here, Then if it’s sponsored content as an ad, one option you have is called LinkedIn Audience Metwork or LAN. And this is actually pretty cool. But what it is, is the ability for your ads to show up to the right people, even when they’re not on LinkedIn. So maybe they’re flipping through the Flipboard app, while they’re checking out their news, they could see one of your ads there, or maybe they’re on the homepage of Wall Street Journal, and maybe they see your ad there as well. What’s nice about LAN is your cost per click overall will come down, because those placements cost less. But in this test that I’m recommending to you, I would say you want to make sure that all of your traffic is in exactly the right and same mindset so that you can analyze it properly. And if someone comes from a site that is not LinkedIn, you don’t know what mindset they’re in. So I would uncheck that box and make sure that if you get 30 clicks, you know, all 30 of those came from people who are on LinkedIn, which means they were thinking about their job or their career and making them better. Another big problem for small budgets is they are oftentimes spent during the middle of the night. So let me explain to you how this works. LinkedIn bases all of their timing off of the Greenwich Mean Time, or Universal Time, that’s in the UK. So that means here in North America, I’m in the Mountain Time Zone, and I’m six hours behind that.

So that means that when I have an account that hits its full budget for the day, it then becomes eligible to show again, at like 6pm for me. So that means a small budget where you’re going to fill the entire budget if you get, you know, two, three clicks, is starting at 6pm the night before and it’s likely going to be spent by the time that someone comes comes into the office at like 7am and starts actually being ready to convert. So you’re getting traffic during the worst time of the night, when people are not going to convert, you’re just getting the night owls and insomniacs. It’s not the traffic you want. Now, there are services that will do this for you. But chances are, you’re probably not going to invest $500 per month or more for a tool when your ad budget is small anyway. So I would recommend go ahead and plan on manually turning your campaign group on and off during business hours and after business hours, just to make sure that your budget is spent during the most valuable part of the day. And we are going to have a whole episode about day parting in the next couple months. So watch for that topic, because this whole thing will go a lot deeper and B2Linked is actually coming out with a tool to help people do this that will have a freemium version. So watch for that. Make sure you are actually you know, turning things on, turning things off manually right now. So you can take advantage of the best part of the day, and then realize that at some point we’ll have a tool and we can bail you out. Okay to recap, I want you to focus in on your most core audience with the offer that you expect to be the most successful to them. Clean your audience targeting out of anything that could muddy the waters like audience expansion, or audience network. Make sure you’re bidding by cost per click to start out with to take away the risk and bid the very minimum, not what LinkedIn says is the minimum, but the actual floor minimum and only raise your bids if you’re not getting the traffic that you need or enough of it. And finally, run your ads only during the most successful parts of the day to make sure that you’re not wasting all of your budget to just the night owls who aren’t going to convert and make good leads for you. Okay with that I’ve got great 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.

All right, as for resources, make sure you sign up for the B2Linked newsletter so that you can know when we come out with our day parting or ad scheduling tool. I’m sure this will be super helpful so that you don’t have to manually turn things off and on again. Believe me, I did it for years. If you’re just dipping your toe into the water, you are going to love our LinkedIn ads course that we launched on LinkedIn Learning. There’s a link right in the show notes down below. So check that out. Also look at your podcast player right now and make sure you hit the subscribe button so you can continue hearing episodes like this. If LinkedIn Ads are important to you, you are going to love this content. And please rate and review the podcast on whatever player you listen. I would love to highlight your reviews and give you a shout out. So make sure you do it and watch for your name being shouted out on a future podcast. If you’ve got any ideas for shows, or any questions, feel free to reach out, We’d love to hear your feedback on how to improve the whole show. We’ll see you back here next week. And we’re cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.