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Marketing and sales funnels with LinkedIn Ads, a match made in heaven or the devil’s playground. You’re about to find out.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. So the topic of funnels is really hot in digital marketing right now. What are they? How do you build one for LinkedIn Ads? And how do you think about LinkedIn ads in the different stages of the funnel? We’ll cover all that in more on this episode. This topic was suggested by Antii, one of our listeners. So please do take us up on the suggestion for emailing us at Podcast@B2Linked.com and suggesting topics you’d love to have us cover. In the news Brooke Osmundson, who’s the Director of Paid Media at NordicClick Interactive. She’s really active on the PPC chat community on Twitter. She brought to a bunch of us advertisers attention that starting around June 16 of 2020. If you’re listening to this later, that click through rates were dropping across the board across all of their clients. And we looked into it and notice that ctrs dropped about 10 to 20% across most of our accounts running especially sponsored content, and text ads. So we’re not immediately clear on what caused it and we’re still investigating, but if any of you are listening who have the same thing, please reach out to us at at Podcast@B2Linked.com. We’d love to help get to the bottom of what in the world could be causing this. Highlighting a few of the reviews that you as listeners have left on the podcast. TheOverwhelmedBrain, says “as a small business owner this show is one of my most important resources. I’ve been following AJ for a while on YouTube. So glad he’s got a podcast so I can listen anytime I want. love this show. So much free advice I’d have to pay for otherwise. Can’t Get. Enough already learned so much.” Thank you so much, TheOverwhelmedBrain, that warms my heart hearing that. Jacketkicker says “your go to source for LinkedIn ads. AJ’s podcast has helped me set up flawless ads for my clients. The advice he gives in this show is priceless. He’s also very responsive to questions and comments on LinkedIn. He’s been a huge help for my business. Jacketkicker, I am so glad that you’ve got that much value out of this. It’s exactly as intended. And Asmaa, who is a connection of mine on LinkedIn. She’s the Community Manager at Clickfunnels. And she says “great show!” “This show is a great choice for every marketer or media buyer who wants to start with or leverage the power of LinkedIn ads. AJ is the go to man for anything LinkedIn related and the show has been very informative, yet not intimidating so far. Great job.” Thank you so much Asmaa, I sure appreciate you leaving that and just a shout out as small as the only one who has reviewed us yet on Stitcher. So the majority of you have reviewed us on Apple podcasts. If you happen to look down and see that you’re using Stitcher, I would absolutely love it if you could reach out and give us a review. I want to feature you so definitely if you want a shout out, leave a review. Okay with that being said, let’s hit it jumping into funnels.
What Are Funnels?
Okay, so what are funnels? There are quite a few different definitions out there. In marketing, we talk about the funnel being something where we take someone from before they know we exist all the way to purchase. You may have heard of things like cold traffic and warm traffic, the know, like, and trust factor around your brand. And one of my favorites is the Aida model, A-I-D-A and it stands for awareness, interest, demand and action. And the concept here is that the majority of people have to learn about you and then trust you before they’re ready to buy. I’m sure many of you who came up in in marketing have heard the old adage that someone has to see something seven times before they consider purchasing from you. So that’s really the classic definition of a funnel. But in recent years, the concept of the sales funnel has really come into its own in digital marketing. And if I can make my own definition for it, this is a curated experience to get cold traffic as effectively as possible through your sales process. Usually, this happens through a series of content that helps kind of take someone’s hand and walk them through the buying and education process without needing to talk to a person. Some of these sales funnels can be completely executed without the person actually having to talk to a human, but a lot of them do mean you will have to talk to a human at the end, but at least by the time they get there, they have been so well educated and qualified that sales’ job really is pretty simple. Okay, so how do LinkedIn Ads then fit into funnels? Well, LinkedIn’s native targeting, that is the targeting that we’ve had access to for, you know, basically since 2008. It works amazingly well. Well, targeting cold traffic, these are people who haven’t heard of us before, is their first taste of the brand. It gets us in front of very important types of VIP prospects that we wouldn’t be able to get in front of otherwise. So every time I run a LinkedIn campaign, I picture this as being cold traffic. This is the first time all of these people have heard of me. And I need to make that kind of impression. If you haven’t listened to Episode 10, about offers and calls to action, definitely check that episode out, because it goes a lot deeper here. But on LinkedIn, because this is the first time they’ve heard of our brand, we need to lead with value first. But it doesn’t always make sense to lead with light content. Like here, go read some blog posts, and we’ll retarget you later, just because of LinkedIn’s high costs. So what we’ve found to be the most effective is getting someone right to kind of the middle of the funnel here and giving them some kind have content that they find really valuable and gated, turn it into a lead magnet. So these will be things like checklists, cheat sheets, guides, ebooks, webinars, and in person events. And it’s this concept of the value exchange. If you’re offering something to your prospects, that really does solve a perceived pain point, or satisfies a major curiosity of there’s something that they stay up all night thinking about or worrying about, then, of course, they’re going to be willing to put in their information and submit a form in order to get it. So your content really does have to be amazing. And then the rest of the funnel, what that looks like LinkedIn kind of brings them in, I like to use the metaphor, we can lead a horse to water, and we can get them to take the first drink, but after that, it’s really up to sales. That means we can get someone to fill out the form. But after that, it’s really a marketing and nurture approach by sales, to really get rapport and a relationship with that person. So that you can eventually have a sales conversation that turns into a closed deal. Now, this isn’t all to say that LinkedIn is only for the top of the funnel, it can be a really good channel for the middle and bottom of the funnel, too. If you are a massive fortune 500 brand who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars advertising to the general public? Yeah, all traffic is going to be pretty much warm traffic at that point. But for the majority of smaller advertisers, those who don’t have massive, massive budgets, assume that all of your native targeting is going to be cold traffic. And so if you want to get in front of warm traffic, you’re going to want to target things like account lists of companies, you know, you’ve already had some kind of touch point with, contact lists where you know, these are someone who’s a warm prospect to you, or even a retargeting less, where you can then get in front of people who at least they’ve already been to your website or certain pages of your website. And of course as a performance marketer, your goal is to get a cold prospect as quickly and as cheaply turned into revenue for your company. And so if you are the type of company or brand where you can push someone, you can push cold traffic right into a demo or purchase. That’s fantastic, good for you. We found about 5% of the time this works because a brand is either so disruptive, or there’s such latent demand in the marketplace for them. And you can get away with that, or they have such a strong brand. But the other 95% of the time, you’ll notice getting low click through rates because you’re not starting to lead with value. You might see really low conversion rates because you’re asking too much too soon. It can be really hard to scale. It’s hard to get LinkedIn to send you traffic even if you’re bidding high. And of course, as you’re bidding higher, you’ll notice really high costs per click, which lead to a really expensive cost per qualified prospect. So if this is the case if this is what you’re seeing, you know you’ve got to add at least one more step to the funnel here before you start asking right for a demo or a purchase. So then you start considering, let’s try a two step funnel. Remember, we want as few of steps here as possible, because every step we add, takes more time and additional cost in advertising. So now this two step funnel, maybe you’re leading with something like a content offer, and then you’re retargeting those people with a demo or a purchase. And the guide you’re going to use here is your conversion rate. on that first step of the funnel, we’re always looking for content that gets 15% or higher conversion rates. And so if you have this content, you know, you’re getting a low cost per opt in from your LinkedIn Ads. Now you’re going to start watching the second step. So as this traffic graduates from having downloaded a piece of content, so now they should at least know like and trust us to some degree. Now we want to start showing them ads that then push to that demo or purchase. And on those demo and purchase ads, take a look at your click through rates. Are your click through rates low? Or is conversion rate even low or cost per conversion high on this step, that probably means you need to add a third step in your funnel. So you’ll want to rinse and repeat through this cycle, adding stages until you find that yes, you have effectively moved cold traffic very efficiently, all the way to where they’re willing to talk to a sales rep. This is, make no mistake about it, the holy grail of B2B advertising.
Here’s a quick sponsor break and then we’ll dive into nurturing your funnel stages and actually building sequences.
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Nurturing Your Funnel Stages
Alright, let’s jump into nurturing your funnel stages and building these smart sequences. So here are the different tools that you have to actually build sequences. If someone has interacted with a lead gen form in any capacity, they’ve either clicked on an ad so a lead gen form opened, or they’ve submitted one, LinkedIn now lets you build retargeting audiences right on the platform for either including or excluding those people. It’s fantastic. Same thing goes with video. If they’ve watched at least two seconds of your video, you can put them into a retargeting audience, and you can segment them by if they’ve watched 25%, 50%, 75% or even completed your videos. Again, this is for both information And exclusion, which is super important. And we’ll get to why. Of course, if you get this traffic to your website or a landing page, you can then do web retargeting on LinkedIn, and start building that audience of at least 300 people who have visited your website. Then there’s the list retargeting where you can either get a list of prospects that haven’t closed yet, and upload that to LinkedIn and show specific ads just to that cohort. Or maybe you even have a cold list that you’ve purchased, you can upload that as well. Same thing with company names, if you know that there’s a list of companies who have converted, but they have not yet closed into deals for you, then yeah, you can upload a list of those companies and either include or exclude them from your targeting. And if you are in that segment, where you’re sending people to your website or a landing page, one of my favorite things is to then retarget that traffic through Facebook and Google’s website retargeting. And of course, all of the ads that we launched from LinkedIn have really detailed UTM parameters or tracking parameters in the URL. So you can then go to your Facebook and your Google retargeting campaigns and say, Hey, if UTM_campaign contains the word cmo, create an audience for them that we’re going to call chief marketing officers. That’s just one example. But you can go pretty ninja here. And of course, you’ll probably have email, maybe text, phone calls, all as potential second or third touches here to help you build a sequence.
Building a Sequence
So how do you build a sequence? It’s as simple as having some kind of audience that’s cold, and we’re going to call this our original audience. Then the people from that original audience who took the action that we wanted them to, let’s say they submitted the lead gen form. What we would do is create an audience of just those who actually submitted the form and we’re going to exclude that same Audience from the original audience. Then we set up a second campaign, one that is only targeting that list of people who took the desired action, our converters, then we can specify a specific message just for them. The same thing goes if you’re building more than two steps in your sequences, you can do the same thing by creating a new retargeting audience, and then excluding that from the previous step. So you are graduating people, anyone from the original audience who took the step that you wanted them to, they are now released from that audience, and you’re not going to pay for a second click from them from that cold audience. And they are going to be passed into your warm audience. And I think we’ve got to talk about attribution models here and attribution in general, because it’s really easy to think, oh, someone saw my LinkedIn ad, converted, and then came back through a retargeting ad, or a paid search branded ad and then became customer and it’s just two quick touch points, one top of the funnel, one bottom of the funnel, and now they’re a customer. Hooray, we have revenue. But in actuality, if you go and look at your channel contribution report in analytics, you will see that no one’s path to becoming a customer looks quite that easy. It’s all over the board. You’ll see touchpoints from every possible channel in about every order you can imagine.
So I get this question a lot. Okay, so how should you do attribution for LinkedIn ads, should you count first touch attribution or last touch attribution, or w shaped or anything else? For quick definitions here, first touch attribution means the very first time that prospect was introduced to a channel. So let’s say LinkedIn is the very first channel they saw, if they convert there, and then end up coming back two or three months through, let’s say, Google ads. LinkedIn would still get all of the credit because it was the one who originally found that prospect. They wouldn’t have learned about the company if not for them. And then you have last touch attribution, which is exactly the opposite. Whichever marketing channel touched them right before they became a customer, that’s the channel that gets the credit. And then you have w shaped because a W has like a peak in the middle, where you give equal credit, maybe to the very first touch, equal credits, the last touch, and then maybe there was a touch in the middle. If they were an inactive prospect that kind of reactivated them. So maybe LinkedIn introduced them to the brand, then they went inactive for a little while. clicked on a retargeting ad in the middle, that kind of brought them back in, and then maybe they ended up clicking on an email and going right to demo. So now LinkedIn, a retargeting, ad, and email all get credit for that customer. So which of these attribution models do I recommend? Well, my preferred method here is something I call any touch attribution. And what that means is because we are only working with the LinkedIn Ads channel, we know that our clients are also doing heavy work on Google, also doing heavy work on Facebook, and a whole host of other channels. Our clients for sure have to figure out what type of attribution model they want to use, they’ll decide if it’s first touch, last touch, multi touch, W shaped, H shape, I mean, just name a letter here. But what matters to us because we are optimizing this one channel, every single conversion matters to us. We don’t need to take into account that one of our conversions only accounted for 33% of a lead. We just need to know that this ad copy and this audience produced a conversion so that we can optimize account performance to get more of that. So we leave it to our client to roll things up to the multi channel level and decide how much credit to give each channel. But we want every possible conversion point from LinkedIn because it is concrete action that someone took so that we can help us optimize the account. And for any one channel, I recommend that everyone adopt this strategy. The way this works in a CRM is that when someone fills out a form, let’s say on your landing page, the content of those form fields, as well as the tracking parameters in the URL, get passed into that CRM to either create or update a prospect record. Now, depending on the way your CRM is set up, it might be one of three different ways. The least sophisticated way is, let’s say AJ Wilcox is already a lead in your system and AJ just clicked from a LinkedIn ad and filled it out. That existing record might have had a source of, let’s say, a Google ad. But now it’s going to be overwritten. And that means whoever was responsible for the conversions from Google just lost credit. And now LinkedIn got the credit. So you can tell why this is problematic. We don’t want channels overriding each other. But the way we sure like best is when the CRM can collect every different source and just make a list, . You can pattern the whole journey out of which channel each prospect touched. So that means you look at this prospect record for AJ Wilcox, you can see he clicked on a Google ad and then converted from a LinkedIn ad and then opened eight emails and converted on one and became a customer. So if your CRM isn’t already set up this way to take every sort of source, and not overwrite, but instead make a list and help you map the customer journey, then maybe you can work with your CRM admin and implement that because it really is amazing data. Great, 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.
And for your episode resources here, make sure if you haven’t already, go back and listen to Episode 10 of this podcast, all about calls to action and offers. You’ll be glad you did. Anyone who’s new to LinkedIn advertising, check out the course that I did with LinkedIn Learning the links right there in show notes. It’s just over an hour long. And it takes you from the very beginning of LinkedIn Ads all the way through intermediate on how the platform works and how to do things. The cost is the best part. It’s either zero dollars or $25, depending on your LinkedIn subscription. So definitely check that out. It’s the same thing that I would train your team on one on one if you hired me to come and train them, but at $500 an hour that comes in a little bit higher than the $0 or $25. Take a look at your podcast player right now of choice and hit that subscribe button. not already subscribed. And then please, if you like what you hear, definitely do rate the podcast. And I would especially love it if you would leave a review on whatever podcast player you’re using. And I do want to shout you out. So please leave that review. I’ll shout you out beginning of the show. With any ideas for episodes, anything you’d love to have us cover, reach out to us at Podcast@B2Linked.com. And with that, I’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.