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The absolute lowest cost way to generate leads using LinkedIn Ads. This is it. Stay tuned.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics, because of LinkedIn’s higher costs, most of our clients are interested in any performance increases we can find. And one of the most common ways of getting cost per lead down is by using LinkedIn lead generation form ads. About 60% of our clients use these exclusively so there’s definitely something to them. So we’re going to go into a lot of detail about them. Let’s hit it.
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Okay, so let’s jump into what is the lead gen form ad to start out with? Well, the way I describe it, this is like when someone interacts with your ad, rather than sending them to a landing page on your website or just off of LinkedIn, a drawer will slide down from the ad itself containing a form, a native form from LinkedIn. And it gives someone the opportunity to convert without even leaving the LinkedIn experience, which is fantastic for a lot of ways. The chief have, which is that it’s the highest converting way of getting someone because it takes away so much of the friction. When we implement these, we see an average increase of conversion rates of 10 to 50%. So this is literally like you could take whatever you’re doing now and get 10 to 50% more leads for exactly the same money. That’s really how it works. And quite often, actually, we’ll see double or sometimes even tripling of conversion rates. In pretty much every type of offer every situation, using lead gen form ads is going to be the cheapest way to capture someone’s information/ Prospects who are interacting with these forms have a much higher level of trust because they don’t have to leave the LinkedIn experience. It’s familiar to them. And plus any information that LinkedIn knows about this individual is going to be prefilled. So if you ask for information, like their job title, or their industry or company size, LinkedIn will just automatically fill that out. So all the prospect has to do especially on mobile device where entering extra information is extra cumbersome, LinkedIn is going to make that super easy so all someone has to do is just hit the send button. You can use these for most of the ad formats. So any sort of sponsored content, whether that single image, carousel, video, maybe even if there’s going to be future versions of sponsored content, surely, the lead gen form ad is going to be supported by it. Also, any sort of sponsored messaging, so that includes message ads, plus the new conversation ads. Now are these a silver bullet for advertisers? Well, they can be, but not always. There are some limitations and there are some potential warnings to keep in mind about them. So first complaint that you may hear about them is that they lead to poor lead quality. Your sales team may reach out to someone and they might say something like, ah, I don’t remember filling out a form. I don’t think I contacted you guys. Now, don’t be worried this isn’t fake form fills that are happening. This is just that LinkedIn made it so easy for someone to convert that if they waited long enough, they’re going to forget that they actually filled out the form, it didn’t make a strong enough impression on them because it was so easy and so quick. It required less effort. And traditionally, the more effort you require from someone, the more of their attention you’re going to get. It’s also less of a special experience for the user visually, because they’re used to seeing things on LinkedIn and they’re used to seeing things move quickly like scrolling through a feed, whereas if they land on a landing page, they will see your brand front and center. They’ll have the opportunity to click around and read more about your team and see what you are offer. So that’s a lot of freedom that you’re not going to get if you’re just going to stay within the LinkedIn experience. And you’ll hear exactly the same complaints about this from advertisers who’ve used Facebook’s version, what they call lead ads. And it’s exactly the same reason. It’s just making it so easy that people may not remember doing it. So make sure you are following up on these quickly so that you get fewer people who forgot that you exist. The next is you actually do need some additional systems in place to make use of them. So once the lead is submitted, it goes into the LinkedIn ads platform. And it’s really cumbersome to go in. You go into account assets. And lead generation forms. And then you click on the lead generation form that you’re using. And then you can download a CSV. I guarantee everyone listening to this right now is paid way too much to make this your job to go in and download a CSV every single day. So you’ll definitely want to get these leads out with I’m sort of partner integration. So we’ll go into that here soon. But you also need to reach out to them with email software, whether that’s marketing automation, or CRM, to actually fulfill on what you gave them. Because if someone fills out one of these forms, and then you follow up 24 hours later and say, “Hey, here’s that piece of content you requested”, chances are, so many more of them are going to forget that they ever did that or change their mind. So you want this to be fast, you’ll want to use an email software system to immediately follow up with them. Another complaint that you’ll hear from other advertisers is “Ah, my sales team only likes emails that are professional, but all the G mails and the Yahoo’s those personal emails are worth less to us”. And quite honestly, I like the personal emails, because if I get a list of personal emails, that’s going to match at a really high rate on both LinkedIn and Facebook and Google and Twitter if I’m doing these custom audience retargeting, so from a nurture perspective, I really like, but I realize a lot of sales teams will kind of frown on personal emails, and you absolutely will get more of these. You can’t track lead gen form ads nearly as well as you can track a landing page visit. So I’ll illustrate this by showing both pathways. If you send to a landing page, you can have a form on that landing page that captures all of their UTM and tracking parameters from the URL and passes it right into your CRM. And then you can run reports later on, grab those parameters, and you can marry them up with your LinkedIn reporting to get a cost per every stage of the funnel. It’s beautiful. You can tie every piece of performance all the way back to the exact ad, the exact audience that sent it. Now consider if you’re using lead gen form ads, someone’s going to fill out the form on LinkedIn. There’s no sort of dynamic tracking available here. LinkedIn will tell you very accurately all the way down to the time where someone fills out the form, but they won’t pass anything further. So if you wanted to go really, really specific and track every ad all the way down to the ad level, you would need a separate lead gen form on LinkedIn for every single ad that you publish. And smaller accounts, you can make this work, but larger accounts, oh, this is cumbersome to do, and we’ve done it. The other big challenge here is you can’t retarget the traffic. So if you send traffic to your landing page, you can then pick that traffic up with your Google retargeting, your Facebook retargeting, and stay in front of these people to stay top of mind. And it creates an awesome audience for nurture. But because this traffic never hit your landing page and never hit your website, LinkedIn has all of the data about them and they’re not sharing it with you. And then LinkedIn won’t let you retarget this that’s as of the time of recording yet, but they are working on engagement retargeting that I’m told should be out somewhere between July and October of 2020. At that point we’ll be able to retarget users. So something like if someone opened the lead form but didn’t actually fill it out or didn’t submit it, then we can retarget them and show them a different offer or show them the same offer until they do convert. So I’ll be excited for engagement retargeting to come out, so we can start retargeting these lead gen form ads traffic.
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Alright, let’s jump into what you do with your leads once they come in, and what options you’ll get to include. I mentioned earlier that you’ll want to make sure that you’re using an integration partner to get your leads out. There are three different ways of doing that. The first is the manual download. Booooo, don’t do it. It’s not worth anyone’s time. I mean, seriously, don’t even hire a VA for this. The next though is you use one of their partner services. So some of these partner services are things like HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce, there are quite a few, but they also tend to be pretty enterprise level software. So if you happen to be running a small account where maybe you don’t own any of these enterprise level softwares, then you’ll want third option here which is Zapier.com. And on their $20 a month plan, you can get all of these leads exported to pretty much whatever you want. So if you want these leads sent to your email and sent to a sales rep’s Google sheet that they keep actively updated and then sent right into like a MailChimp or something, you can do that kind of logic with the Zapier $20 per month plan. There are some very cool strategic ways that you can use these lead gen formats. So I want to talk about two of those first. One of my favorite ways to use these is to actually test your landing pages. So in this case, you’re not using lead gen form ads at all. You’re sending a right to a form on your website somewhere and you know what your conversion rate is. So let’s say you’re seeing a low conversion rate, maybe you’re only converting at 8%. What you can do is go and take that exact same ad the exact same offer and Create that as a lead gen form ad. And then you start measuring the cost per conversion and your conversion rate, especially conversion rate. And what you’ll find is, on average, you’ll see a 10 to a 50% increase in conversion rate, so expect that. But if it’s larger than that, then this might be a good way for you to go, “oh, this makes sense, my landing page is hindering conversion somehow”. And that can be the start of you saying, “hey, I’m going to start testing things on my landing page”. Or “I’m going to go and make a case to my boss that we need to bring someone in to create a better landing page experience”. So this can be good data for you. If you can find out that the same offer the same ad converts better as a lead gen form, then that signals there’s probably something wrong with the website or at least something that can be improved. The next cool strategic use of these lead gen formats is to test the difference in your lead quality between your lead generation ads and your landing pages. If you are running these in parallel long enough, what you’ll find is, yeah, sure these lead gen form ads will increase conversion rates, but your lead quality will also on average decrease. So if you can balance these out, if you’ve gotten, let’s say 50% more leads, and your lead quality only decreased by about 30%, you still have a net increase of 20%. And it totally makes sense to use these lead gen formats. However, if that’s reversed, if your conversion rate increases by 30%, but your lead quality decreases by 50%, you are still much better to send to a landing page. Now my bias is if it’s even close, I mean, if I’m getting a similar cost per qualified lead, let’s say from lead gen formats as I am from my own landing page, I want to use my own landing page 100% of the time, because then I can track it with Google analytics or whatever tracking I’m doing down to a very granular level. And I can also retarget that traffic with every network out there, LinkedIn included. So there’s so much more freedom you get by having traffic that you own on your own website. But certainly, if it’s better in your favor, you’re getting a cheaper cost per lead, or cheaper cost per sales qualified lead from your lead gen form ads, then absolutely pursue that 100%. Okay, option wise, the prefilled fields that LinkedIn has, they have most that are prefilled, but some that someone will actually have to fill in themselves. And the way it works is if LinkedIn has it, they will pre-fill it. And if they don’t have it, then they’ll leave it blank and the prospect will have to go in and write it themselves. The standard fields that I generally recommend are first name, last name, and email. And if you take all three of those fields, it should convert at the highest rate. You’re asking for very little and the email address that it fills out is going to be most likely. I mean, it’s their profile email, which is most likely a Gmail or a personal email of some kind. If you want to ask more for that, or if you need to ask more from them, then you can ask for their city, their country, their phone number, their zip code, or postal code, their state province. And you can ask them for their work email, but there’s no validation to make sure that it actually is a work email so they can just, it’s a blank field so they could just write their profile email in, you’ll probably still get quite a few of these personal emails as well. You can ask for work phone number. Obviously, anytime you ask for a phone number, people are expecting a phone call and it’s going to scare them away. You will see a lower conversion rate if you’re using those. You can ask for their job title, their job function, which is their department, their level of seniority, their company name, their industry company size, and on the education side, you can also ask for their degree, their field of study, their graduation date, their start date And the school that they went to or graduated from. You can also ask for their gender, which will not be prefilled. Because if you remember from our targeting episode, gender is an inferred characteristic based off of their first name. And so it’s not always accurate. LinkedIn doesn’t want to assume here where the user will actually see what LinkedIn considers them to be. There’s a new addition here, though, which is one of my favorite, you can insert their LinkedIn profile URL. The reason I love this is it’s so low friction, of course, someone filling it out is going to say, “oh, well, my LinkedIn profile is public anyway so I don’t care”. That’s not a high friction kind of field. But if you have a link to someone’s LinkedIn profile, you also know immediately what company they work at. And you can follow that to see what size of company and what industry and you can look at. You can find out so much that you don’t have to actually ask for this information in the field. Because if you’re asking for five, seven, eight pieces of information, you’re going to scare a lot of people away because you’re asking so very much. So if I have my way with it, I’m going to ask for first name, last name, email, and LinkedIn profile URL. You can also include some custom questions. These can be a single line or a multiple choice. And you can also attach a checkbox, a custom checkbox. You can decide whether or not that is required. Everything else is required. But this custom checkbox can be not required. And then you do have hidden fields you can insert if you need UTM parameters in the traffic as it comes from the lead generation form to the thank you page or whatever experience you’re sending them to after. You can have those come through. But like we talked about earlier, this is at the form level. And so if LinkedIn is listening, I would absolutely love in the future if we could put dynamic parameters in here. So if we could maybe dynamically insert the campaign Id or the ad ID or both, or maybe some other parameter from the campaign, the campaign name, something. This would be super helpful. And then we wouldn’t have to create an individual form for every single ad if we wanted to track much deeper into our CRM. Okay, stepping off my soapbox there.
Tracking these can be an issue. So let’s talk through that one. Tracking down to the cost per lead is totally flawless. You don’t have to worry about tracking pixels. You don’t have to worry about them clearing or making sure that they are associated to the campaign. There’s none of that. You just launch a lead gen form ad and immediately you’re getting conversion information. But if you need to go deeper than cost per lead, or lead conversion rate, now that’s going to be a problem. The most sophisticated advertisers are using this solution right now where they create one whole form for every single ad. And that may be worth it for tracking, but boy is that cumbersome to actually administer. And again, I think everyone listening to this is probably, it’s way below your paygrade to do that kind of work. But it is possible if you want to get your tracking on point. Depending on the partner you’re using, it can actually pass your campaign ID and your ad ID. So you might be able to capture those and pass those somehow into your CRM so that you can match the individual ad back with like a V lookup from a LinkedIn report. So you may be able to do something like this. I haven’t fully explored it yet. I think it’s possible. But you may be stuck with the one form per ad if you don’t want to do all of that technical juggling. And then for retargeting, since the traffic doesn’t actually hit your website, you can’t retarget them. So LinkedIn, like we mentioned, is going to have engagement retargeting sometime in Q3, but it also means if you’re using these, you can’t do your retargeting with Google and Facebook, which is such a valuable thing right now. As a quick recap, LinkedIn lead gen formats are they cheapest way to get your ideal prospects into your database for nurturing. They are fantastic if you just need to show results fast, or show the value of the channel to prove it out, you should start seeing leads come in very quickly. And pretty much no matter what your offer is, these will convert higher than if you sent them to your landing page. However, if you want meaningful interactions with a very, very important VIP kind of audience, I would still suggest sending to a landing page. Or if you require that you have the retargeting or tracking abilities that you would only get from sending to a landing page, then absolutely, same deal. When you’re thinking lead gen form ads think that this is quantity over quality. So if your goal is quality, time, and attention from a very important prospect, definitely send to landing page. But if your goal is to get the cheapest cost per on your ideal audience, get them into your database for nurturing and so you can start doing some outreach Yeah, lead gen formats are going to be by far and away the best way to do that. Okay, I’ve got some 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.
If this is the first one you’re listening to make sure you hit that subscribe button in your podcast player. And definitely do a rate and review I would love to shout you out and feature you in the review section. So whatever podcast player you’re on, go and review there. I would love to hear, especially any feedback. But of course, I’d love to know that this is making a difference in your own professional careers and lives. If you’re new to LinkedIn advertising, definitely check out the LinkedIn advertising course on LinkedIn learning, that I partnered with LinkedIn to do. It’s incredibly inexpensive and it’s a great from beginning to maybe slightly intermediate type of course, so check that out. And if you’re a LinkedIn pro subscriber, then you should have LinkedIn Learning for free. So it should be a just totally free course. If not, I think it’s only $25, so definitely worth checking them out. If you have any feedback for the show, or any topics you’d like to have us cover, reach out at [email protected] I’ll see you back here next week cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.