Show resources:

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

UTM parameters

Bidding Budgeting Episode

Account Organization Episode

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The top five worst mistakes you can make on your LinkedIn Ads. Are you making any of them?

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

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics, I frequently get to audit LinkedIn Ads accounts. And I’ve got a checklist of things I’m looking for specifically, I wanted to share these account mistakes with you in case there were any of them that you were making, so that you can get them fixed. Or if you’re evaluating an agency, you’ll know which questions to ask to ensure they know what they’re doing. In LinkedIn Ads News, we noticed last week that you no longer have to hover over a campaign and click manage to get to the settings. You now just hit the three dots next to the campaign name and click manage from there. So I’m still not a huge fan of the the user interface here and how it’s complex about whether you click on the campaign name or you click on manage. But hey, I’ll take this over having to hover any day. In other news COVID-19 is still a thing. So LinkedIn is experiencing some really interesting platform growth specifically because of all that time that people are spending at home while they’re working. And I’ve got some cool stats to share with you. So first of them is that there has been a 55% increase in interaction in the newsfeed so that means responding, reacting, commenting, I don’t think this includes reading, but either way, this is really cool to see 55% more activity in the newsfeed because of course, that opens up inventory for us to use for sponsored content. There’s been a 60% increase in people posting in the newsfeed so that 60% more content there. And 40% more time has been spent reading in the news section. So these all point to the fact that people are spending more time on LinkedIn. And I think that that’s a great thing for all of us who are using the ads platform. The LinkedIn learning platform has reported that consumption is up 3x from February and 2x for March. And so what that tells me is, as people are getting more and more used to staying at home working from home, they’re investing their time, probably less in Netflix, binge eating, and more in LinkedIn learning, consumption, and probably all kinds of different learning to this is just the one place that we have data from. So good job to all of you out there who are using this time to better yourselves and make yourself a better professional. I wanted to highlight a few reviews that had come in over iTunes here. MaggusK from Germany says “Great stuff. Thanks, AJ. It’s really good to hear some tips, hacks, and hints from a LinkedIn campaign professional. Looking forward to the next episodes.” Thank you, MaggusK. John from Sweden says great podcast for marketing professionals. This podcast gives you great insights on how to master LinkedIn Ads like a pro. Thanks, John, appreciate that. And finally, just.zee from Spain says “this one is a must. I’m truly enjoying listening to this show. Each episode is packed with tips, no BS, pure gold.” Oh man, that just warms my heart. Thank you so much, just.zee. And of course, I want to feature your review too. So any of you out there listening, please leave me a review. We’d love to highlight it on the show and give you a little bit of a shout out. Okay, with all that being said, let’s hit it. Here are the top five mistakes that we find people making in their LinkedIn Ads accounts. And again, I want to make sure that you’re not making them in your account. Or if you have an agency managing your account, check that they’re not making them either.

Mistake #1 is naming campaigns after the asset or after some arbitrary date range. Anytime I’m going through an account and I see campaigns called 2020 webinar or water guide, I die a little bit inside. And the reason why is because this signals to me that the account isn’t producing the learnings that it should be. When you name your campaigns after the audience, what you get is this ability to break down all of the performance in your account by who. Who you’re targeting, who is responding to your ads, and how. I’ve mentioned before that it’s kind of like a silent focus group happening in your account all the time. By breaking up your audience into these micro segments of how people are grouped. All of the performance, the click through rate differences, the cost per click differences, the conversion rate differences, all of these things tell you who your ideal audience is and who they are not. And so when you name your campaign after the asset, the only thing you can actually learn about is which asset is performing and you’d be able to find that out quickly anyway, if campaigns are named after the asset that’s being advertised, it also signals to me that targeting is likely all over the board. And it’s unsystematic, meaning that you’re probably missing out on all kinds of opportunities. You might not realize that if you targeted by, let’s say, job function and seniority, that you could actually get your cost per lead significantly lower. Or if you were targeting by groups, plus seniority, maybe you could get a much lower cost per conversion. These are all insights that you won’t get if you just spray and pray with your targeting.

It’s also really hard to report on an account when everything is named after the asset because there are so many things under the surface that aren’t visible at a quick glance, and it would require a really deep level audit to surface all of these findings. You’ll know if you’re running one of these accounts, When your boss asks you for a quick report, a chill goes down your spine, and you get really worried that this is going to take you hours. When an account is structured properly, reporting takes minutes, it’s so easy to break down performance by your ad type, by your individual audience, by your objective, by the content by each ad, all of these things are just a click away. Also, if your account organization is off, you’re probably paying too much for clicks, especially at the start of a campaign. And the reason why is every new campaign that you create, LinkedIn has to wonder how it’s going to perform. And so it’s going to award it a relevancy score of some sort, which probably isn’t going to be very favorable. That means if your ads are amazing, because you’re listening to this podcast so of course they’re going to be, it’s going to take a little while of LinkedIn charging you more per click than it should before you get the relevancy score you deserve and LinkedIn starts charging you what it should. If you create a new campaign every single time, you have a new asset that comes out, that means you’re throwing out the old one. It’s now garbage. LinkedIn can’t rely on the strength of its past history to award you a strong relevancy score. That means all of the money that you’ve invested into these campaigns, it’s just going to waste and you’re also likely cannibalizing some of that same audience for multiple campaigns. Because if you’re not being explicit about who your audience is in the campaign name, then it’s very likely that you have other campaigns that are targeting the same audience. And when you have other campaigns, also targeting your same audience, you’re not bidding yourself up in terms of competition. It’s not costing you more, but you are competing against yourself. Each of those campaigns are for inventory, and it makes it really difficult to pace your spend and control your spend to these different assets. So what does it look like if someone is making this mistake? Well, first, the account is going to be really hard to look at, to understand and to manage, every little thing you have to do in the account is going to take too long. You’re also not able to learn as much about your audiences. You’re paying LinkedIn, the same dollars, but you’re not getting the audience insights. You might as well get those along with the leads. And finally, you’re probably paying too much for your clicks. So if costs look high, or efficiency looks low, this might be a clue that this is something that’s happening. So go ahead and make your life easier and name your campaigns properly. So how should you name your campaigns? Well check out Episode 7 about account organization where we walk really deep into that. Your campaign names should include a systematic description of the audience, that you’re targeting. And it’s also great to include here your the ad format that you’re using and the objective. It makes it so easy to segment and organize your account, especially if you’re running different ad formats and objectives.

Okay, on to mistake #2. Mistake #2 is using audience expansion. Anytime I see the option of audience expansion turned on in a campaign, I know immediately someone didn’t know what they were doing. It’s a default value, but it provides no value. In fact, it’s the opposite. it detracts from the value of advertising. Most of the options in the platform that I don’t think are very useful, have occasional times where they can be valuable or used as a workaround or hack, but not this one, it’s literally carte blanche for LinkedIn to muddy up your audience. And I can’t think of a single situation where it would be smart to use audience expansion I’ve had a couple conversations with the product manager at LinkedIn who’s over this feature. And they say that it’s so valuable that it should be used on 95% of accounts. And that’s why it set as the default value. I say it should be used on zero percent of accounts. And so because of that, we’re pretty far apart on where we stand. So I don’t know if we’re going to find any common ground anytime soon. So what is audience expansion? Well, it’s an option that when ticked, LinkedIn looks at your target audience and applies a look alike model to them, and then targets other people let other people into your target audience who they think are close to who it is that you’re targeting. Here’s the thing though, if you can spend all of your budget on your explicit ideal target audience, then why wouldn’t you? Why would you ever want to leave anything to chance and let LinkedIn take a guess at Who else would be good to include in this audience? It’s just not good practice. Now this isn’t to say that the algorithm that it uses isn’t good, it’s actually pretty great. It’s the same algorithm that you’ve used if you’ve ever created a look alike audience on LinkedIn, which I love to do. The problem with using audience expansion on your campaigns is that it’s all intermixed with your existing audience, and you can’t separate out the performance. So if I had a separate row in reporting of how performance was in my expanded audience, versus my original explicit audience, I would probably make a case for it. I’d go even further, if we could customize the URL tracking parameters that were clicked when someone was served an expanded audience add versus the original, then I could track all of that performance all the way down the sales process. And if I could do that, if I had visibility, I’d probably use it 95% of the time. Unfortunately, we don’t have that level of visibility. Though, and so this option just muddies your results on who you’re targeting. And from past testing with that I did when it was new, it ended up being a drag on performance. Even without the extra visibility, I would probably just cut it. Now, if you have audience expansion turned on, what you’re likely seeing are poor lead quality. So maybe sales is letting you know, hey, we’re having to throw out a lot of these leads. That might be a clue to look at this. Also, if you’re running any account based marketing or ABM campaigns where you’re targeting specific companies by name, if you’re producing leads from companies that are not on your ABM list, that could be a clue that your audience expansion is turned on. And if you were paying close attention to the performance of your account, and audience expansion was turned on, it’s likely you’ve cut budget from LinkedIn because the leads you were getting were not the quality that you would expect them to be worth for paying $8 to $11 per click. Here’s a quick sponsor break. And then we’ll dive into the last three LinkedIn Ads mistakes that you should be looking out for.

The LinkedIn Ads Show is proudly brought to you by The LinkedIn Ads experts.

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Mistake #3 is using automated bidding. Okay, this is a big deal. So let me explain what I mean here. There is definitely a time and a place for running automated bidding and it should be part of your bidding strategy. But realize that because it’s the default type of bidding, and 90% of the time, it’s the most expensive way to pay for your traffic on LinkedIn, there’s a reason why I’m on the lookout for this while I’m auditing accounts. To break it down. Automated bidding is just a fancy name for CPM bidding, where LinkedIn controls your bid. It’s a little bit like handing LinkedIn, your wallet and saying please be gentle spend what you think you need. Now I am admittedly a very performance based marketer, which means I’m always looking for the lowest cost per lead the lowest cost per opt in possible for whatever budget I’m working with. And I know that all things held equal, let’s say no matter what traffic you send to a landing page, it’s always going to convert at the same rate. What that means is to get the lowest cost per lead, I have to pay the least amount per click possible. So if you’re looking at just your effective cost per click. If you are bidding by CPM, this leads to a higher effective cost per click anytime your click through rate is less than two and a half times the average. Now I know this is complex, so I’ll break it down for you. What this means is if you are bidding any kind of CPM model, whether it’s automated or explicitly CPM bidding, it means you are paying more per click than if you were bidding cost per click. If your click through rates are not two and a half times the LinkedIn benchmark average, which is a lot. That means that your ads literally have to perform two and a half times better than the average before CPM bidding becomes a good deal before it even breaks even with CPC bidding. This is easiest to measure with sponsored content with sponsored content, the average is about .4%. And so anytime that I see a click through rate Over 1% I know that it’s cheaper to bid CPM for my traffic than it is CPC. So you could imagine the 10% of the time that someone launches an ad that is significantly above the average, then yeah, automated bidding is going to look great to them. And I talked to plenty of advertisers who’ve gotten great success, just taking the default options in their campaign launching, and they just happen to land in the top 10% of advertisers. The rest of the time, though, CPM bidding is going to cost significantly more than the equivalent click if you are bidding by cost per click. So just because your account is using automated bidding, does not mean that you’re bad, doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible marketer. But if you’ve tested into automated bidding, and you know that you’re getting the cost efficiency that you’re looking for, then you’ve got no judgement for me. If you just selected automated bidding, because that’s what LinkedIn told you to do, that’s where I’ve got a problem with it and you should probably rethink those priorities. If your account is running automated bidding across all campaigns, that’s likely a sign that either #1 your account manager doesn’t know what they’re doing or #2 the account managers focus is to simply spend the budget and it’s not to efficiency of your performance. Or heck, you might have this option 3, maybe every campaign is performing over two and a half times the benchmark average and automated bidding is the cheapest way to get traffic. And if this is the case, good on you, I’m cheering you on. For more understanding about how bidding and budgeting work, check out episode 6 where we dive in and dissect all of the different options there.

Okay, Mistake #4, and it’s related and this is your bidding too high. If you’re using CPC bidding, like you know you’re supposed to be doing, but you are swayed by the siren song of LinkedIn’s recommended bid ranges, you are likely paying way too much for your time traffic. You see LinkedIn’s suggested bid ranges are quite frankly ridiculous. I don’t have a better way to describe this. They’ll say something like your competition is bidding between $14 and $38 per click. No, they are not. I can count on one hand, the number of advertisers I know who can be profitable on clicks in that price range. And that’s generally because when they sell something, they make a million dollars. So if you have an enterprise sized budget, and you’re spending six figures per month, yes, you will have to bid aggressively to get the traffic you need in a lot of cases. But if you’re not spending enterprise size budgets, let’s say you’re spending less than $15,000 a month on ads, you likely don’t need nearly that aggressive of bidding. What ends up happening is when you are bidding too high, you end up blowing all of your budget in the middle of the night because remember in North America, our budgets start fresh for the day between 5pm and 9pm, the day before. So if you ever hit your budget, your budgets become active between 5p and 9pm at night, the next day, and then you’re bidding super aggressively to the insomniacs, the people who are not able to sleep, they’re scrolling through their phone. And of course, they’re probably not going to convert. And if they do, they may not remember that they converted in the morning. Now, let’s imagine that you actually do make it through the night and your budget is still spending during the day. Oftentimes here you will end up blowing the whole rest of your budget at the very first part of the day, and then your ads will shut off, and you’ll stop getting traffic the whole last half of the day. If you talk to your LinkedIn rep if you have one, they will tell you know you want to bid aggressively so that you get the best quality of your audience. Well, here’s the thing, if you’re worried about getting the best quality of your audience, then tighten your targeting. Make sure that everyone within your targeting is a good fit for you. And then you don’t have to worry about this. Although in all of the testing I’ve done, I’ve never found lead quality to decrease when my bidding decreased as well. Now, not only did you not get to run your ads for the whole rest of the day, or maybe you spent way too quickly, you also paid two to six times more per click than you should have, which we’ve know that CPC really isn’t everything, but it probably means that your costs per lead are two to six times higher than they could be or should be. Remember this rhyme. If you hit your budget during the day, it means you pay too much for your clicks along the way. Again, go listen to Episode 6 of this podcast on bidding and budgeting to go more in depth there on how the bidding and auction system works.

Okay, last one, Mistake #5. If you are not tracking properly now I came to advertising from the Google Ads world far, long, long, long ago. And Google advertisers have been spoiled for so many years, because Google owns both Google Ads and Google Analytics. So they have this option called auto tagging, where inside of your Google Ads, you can just tick the box that says, yes, do auto tagging. And then every ad automatically sticks on all of these tracking parameters for Google Analytics to pick up and recognize. This means that you have perfect attribution of the ad was clicked at x time, it came from y keyword, and it was in z ad group. This is fantastic for people who are just advertising on Google. But for every other platform, you need to put tracking codes in each of your links so that your analytics and CRM package can recognize where that traffic is coming from. This allows you to associate the leads that come from your advertising efforts. With how much you spent to acquire them. So this gives you the ability to figure out what is my cost per qualified lead? What is my cost per sale? What is my ROI look like? These are all things you can do if you’re tracking. If you’re not tracking, you’re totally blind past the initial form fill. A lot of times you’ll hear this tracking, referred to as UTM parameters, because that was the system that Google Analytics came up with that most started to adopt. If you use a different analytics package than Google, you’ll have different names for these tracking parameters. Now, if all you care about is your cost per form fill, yeah, you don’t need to track because LinkedIn can track the conversion the same way it knows which ad was clicked, by whom and whether or not someone converted. And certainly conversion tracking is super, super important. So you can get a get at least your finger on on the pulse of performance. Are you doing amazing? Or are you totally up the creek without a paddle, or somewhere in between? But if all you are tracking is just the presence of a conversion how much you paid for that, you’re really gonna miss the point of LinkedIn Ads, which is the lead quality. We know that LinkedIn costs per click are oftentimes two to five times higher than Facebook’s. So if you were running both LinkedIn and Facebook side by side, if you were only comparing your cost per conversion, you’d have no other conclusion to come to except LinkedIn ads is way too expensive and you should push all of your budget away from there and into Facebook. You’ll miss the fact that the lead quality on LinkedIn is often much higher than two to five times better than that of Facebook. Now, if all you’re using is just LinkedIn’s lead gen form ads, you really don’t have to worry about this too much because this traffic is not hitting your website. So you’re not going to be tracking it with UTM parameters or some other kind of tracking parameter. LinkedIn is going to be passing this information into your CRM, which campaign, which ad it was. So you’re probably pretty well taken care of here. So if you’re not using tracking parameters like UTM parameters in all of your advertising, this is a great time to stop and start adding them in now, in the show notes, I included a great article from HubSpot, about how to use UTM parameters, how they work, how they look how to fix them to your tracking links. Okay, so that’s really it the top five mistakes that I see advertisers making on LinkedIn ads, and if you’re making them, it’s a great time to get them fixed. And if your agency is making them well, there’s not much of an excuse for that. So reach out! rocks at running your LinkedIn Ads. Okay, I’ve got the 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.

Okay, here are the great resources that we talked about in this podcast episode. First is the HubSpot link that I just mentioned about UTM parameters. Check that one out, it’s a great read. Also, our episode on bidding and budgeting was episode 6. Make sure you listen to that. And then also Episode 7 about account organization. Super, super valuable. And again, they touch on many of these same topics and even go deeper. If you are brand new to LinkedIn Ads or trying to get to learn them. The best way you can do this is by taking the LinkedIn Learning course taught by me, and it’s called Advertising on LinkedIn. Search for LinkedIn Advertising or LinkedIn Ads. You won’t be able to miss it. The picture of On the cover is really silly. It’s me pointing at the camera and I’m, I’m a chubby ginger dude. In just over an hour, this course covers what I usually take about an hour and a half in person in my one on one trainings to cover. And if you have LinkedIn premium, this is free. If not, I think it’s only 25 bucks, whereas I charge $500 an hour. So this is by far the most economical way to learn about LinkedIn Ads. Definitely whatever podcast player you’re listening on, please hit that subscribe button if you want to hear more episodes like this where we dive deep into LinkedIn Ads. I would also encourage you to rate the podcast. Of course we love five stars. But of course, I’m big on honesty and transparency here. And please do review it the more people who review the higher this ranks in the podcast listings, and I would love it if more LinkedIn advertisers got to hear about this. And of course, I’d love to shout out your review as well if you leave that. With any ideas for the show or questions, feel free to reach out to and I’d love to entertain your ideas. I’ll see you back here next week! Cheering you on and your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.