Show Resources:

Sales Navigator

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

Contact us at with ideas for what you’d like AJ to cover.

Show Transcript:

Your LinkedIn Ads used to perform great, but performance has been dragging lately. Yeah, we’re talking about saturation today.

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

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. Have you experienced the horror of your LinkedIn Ads that were performing great a few weeks ago, and all of a sudden performance is dreadful? You’re not alone. We’re going to dive deep into audience saturation and what you can do about it to keep your audience’s engaging. In the news, as a reminder, we’re going to be doing our first of hopefully many Q&A episodes, get your questions into podcasts at and I would love to field them there. In platform news, there’s something really cool that LinkedIn just released for conversation ads, and it’s called flow chart view. It’s essentially a waterfall chart that shows you all of the different questions and different calls to action that you provide in a conversation ad, it will show you what percentage of people chose which option. And this is so cool because now we get to see very visually what people like and what they don’t. And now you can tell if you’ve got a call to action that is, let’s say two or three steps down in your tree, and it has a really high conversion rate. That could be a great reason to promote it to the very first call to action that you provide, and maybe swap your first down into the third. I checked it out. It looks beautiful. And it should have released to everyone on August 4, 2020. So if you’re running conversation ads, definitely check that little goodie out. LinkedIn doesn’t share with us benchmarks all too often. Usually we have to come up with them ourselves so we can see whether or not we’re doing things. Well. We got a rare benchmark confirmation this week from LinkedIn. They said that on sponsored messaging ads, the average open rate is 55%. And then the average click through rate once someone has opened is 3.2%. This was great for me to figure out, because I’ve been telling people that average was about a 50% open, and a click through rate was anywhere between 3% to 4%. So I’m certainly glad that I wasn’t that far off and that I wasn’t misleading people. So check your sponsored messaging campaigns and see how your performance is doing. And certainly, if you are below or even at those benchmarks, then that could be a good clue that you need to go in and switch something up. I shared in Episode 13 about how sponsored messaging ads are the most expensive ad format on LinkedIn if you are only performing at the average. So that’s why I say if you’re anywhere near the average, go change something up. These ads are only interesting to me when I can far exceed the averages. We’ll probably end up doing a whole roadmap update episode, but for right now here are just a few cool things that are happening. really soon. The first is that any sort of sponsored messaging ad has a really tight frequency cap of each member can only receive one every 45 days. Well, in September of 2020 this all change. It’s going to be reduced from every 45 days down to 30. And I’m actually really excited about this, because I’ve never heard someone complain that they were getting too much sponsored inmail. And anytime I’ve heard someone complaining about it, they were actually talking about Sales Navigator outreach, and weren’t actually talking about a sponsored message ad. So anyone who’s using sponsored messaging at large scale, you’re about to get a nice performance bump, a ton of extra impressions. The next road map update is we’re going to get stories ads, like I mentioned in the last episode, stories have actually already been live in the Netherlands. And it’s certainly not long until we get them as an ad format. I’m not a huge user of Instagram or Snapchat or actually I’m not even a user of them at all. So I’m not super familiar with the stories type of format. But I’m really excited to see what people end up doing with that on LinkedIn, I definitely think there’s a place for it. Another that I’m really excited about, we’re soon going to get the ability to retarget event attendees. So if you’re running a LinkedIn event for something like a webinar, or let’s say, a live stream in the future, you’ll be able to retarget those audiences. And I’m just crossing my fingers that we’ll be able to retarget audiences smaller than 300 people, because I’ve seen a lot of lives and events who have less than 300 people, and I’d sure hate it if we couldn’t retarget unless we had that many attendees. As part of that event update. We’re going to get the ability to use lead gen forms to get people to register for a LinkedIn event. That’s pretty cool too. And of course, with the recent update where we can retarget form openers and form submitters, it makes it even more powerful. If you listen to Episode 23, with Sam Fonoimoana, he shared with us how he uses his tools and the LinkedIn API to show in great detail exactly which companies are engaging with your ads and what sorts of actions they’re taking. Now LinkedIn is going to be releasing their own version of this. I assume it’s going to be called company engagement reporting, or maybe something like an ABM dashboard. But whatever it is, I’m excited to see it. And I’m still pretty sure that Stoke Analytics, and Sam over there are going to have a more in depth report. But of course, I’m excited for anything that LinkedIn gives us that’s powerful in campaign manager.


Let’s highlight a couple of reviews from listeners who’ve been listening and reviewing Darryl Oberg, who’s the owner of a wide internet marketing. He is a total rock star when it comes to paid media in British Columbia, Canada, he says “been listening to AJ Wilcox in his LinkedIn ads podcast. It covers the changes clearly and coming from Google at Facebook ads, I’m looking to promote more LinkedIn ads. Great podcast, and I highly recommend listening to it if you’re considering LinkedIn ads.” Darryl, you’re a total stud. Thanks so much for leaving that. And then Amy McGlinn, who is a copywriting extrordiaire in New York shared “I love this show!” “For everyone using LinkedIn ads for leads. This is the show.” Amy, thanks so much for the kind words I’m so glad you’re getting value out of it. And you. Yes, I’m talking to you right now you with the headphones on possibly on the elliptical machine right now? Yes, you! I want to feature you so make sure you review us somewhere somewhere on the internet. Make sure that we can find it and I’d love to shout you out. Thanks in advance for that support. Okay, with that being said, let’s hit it.

My friend Luca Brinkhues, I hope I pronounced that right, who is a total digital marketing rockstar in Germany. He reached out and said I’m running into an issue repeatedly. These audiences run well for four to five weeks. I’m getting a cost per lead of like $15 to $20, which is fantastic, by the way, and then the cost per lead starts to rise to $50, $60 $70 plus. As you probably know, it’s the same with Facebook. But due to LinkedIn’s high ad costs, I feel like the cost per lead rises much higher, much faster. How do you deal with this? Are you simply creating new ads pretty regularly? Or is this a sign that the offer is just not good enough for scale? Luca, this was a fantastic question, and one that prompted me to want to come out with this episode. So this is definitely an issue of saturation. But there are three different kinds of ad saturation. So let’s go through each one. There’s ad saturation, there’s offer saturation, and then there’s audience saturation.

Ad Saturation

Now the most common is definitely ad saturation. And what this is, is people have seen your ads before, and they’re kind of sick of them, in essence, because they’ve seen that same image, their brand tells them oh, I’ve seen this before, it’s not new, move on. And they become banner blind to it. So as you’re running ads for a while, more and more people who’ve seen your ad previously, are now ignoring it and scrolling past. So how do you know that this ad saturation is occurring? Well, here are the signs. If you go into chart your performance of your ads, if you see your click through rate dropping steadily over time, or if you look at your cost per click, and they are climbing steadily, those are pretty solid signs that you’re experiencing ad saturation. It could even be more extreme, you could see rapid drops. This can happen if your click through rate drops below a certain threshold that makes your relevancy score drop significantly. And now even with your same level of bidding, you’re not winning as many impressions in the auction, and you see your traffic just drops off or even your impressions drop off. From our analysis, we found that ad saturation tends to occur on average between 27 to 33 days, but it certainly could be longer or shorter based on the activity level and size of your audience. So for your audience, I would highly recommend, go ahead and let your ad saturate and watch your click through rate fall over time, and build your own model about how long it took for that audience to get sick of that ad so you can catch it before it happens again, next time. When you see your ad start to saturate, pay attention to your frequency metric. If you go right above your campaigns, you’ll see an option there called columns. It usually defaults to columns performance, but change that to columns delivery, and then you’ll get to see your frequency metric. This is the average number of times that your audience has seen your ad. We’ve noticed saturation occurring anywhere between a frequency of 2.3 to 2.9 and so it totally depends. Okay, so you’ve gone and built your model and let’s say that you figured out that your audience is saturating about every 27 days. What that means is you want to set something on the calendar every 27 days, and maybe ideally even earlier to give you some time to prep. And this is when you’re going to change things up, you’re going to refresh that ad copy, and or imagery. Now I’m a big fan of changing your ad copy quite regularly, so that you can test the motivations that are inspiring your prospects to click. But in the case of ad saturation, the most important thing you can do is actually change your image, change it to something completely different. Because our human brains are so good at looking at an image and very quickly deciding whether or not that image is interesting to us whether the person is threatening or attractive or exciting. And because our brains react so quickly, if you want to fight this banner blindness, a lot of times you could even keep the same ad copy, but just change the image and then people will end up giving your ad a second Look. And of course, you can notice things like your click through rate starting to drop, or your cost per click starting to climb. And it might not actually be saturation. It could also be something like a major competitor entering into the auction and starting to crowd you out, but there really isn’t much that you can actually do about that. Or if you know any way to actually do something about that, please let me know privately. But because you can’t really act on that, we’ll just assume that it’s always saturation. Funny story, I once got in trouble with LinkedIn for talking about ad saturation. This was several years ago and it was because they felt like it put them in a bad light. The funny part about it is I’m admittedly very critical of LinkedIn on many things. But ad saturation is actually one of the things that I absolutely praised LinkedIn for because it’s so much easier to manage your ad saturation on LinkedIn than it is on Facebook. This is because people on Facebook tend to spend 30 plus minutes per day, but they’re only lost into LinkedIn like once per week. So there’s much less of an opportunity to saturate your audience when they’re only seeing your ad, even if you’re bidding aggressively, about once per week on average, whereas on Facebook, they could be seeing it multiple times per day. And you can burn an audience out really quickly. I mentioned that on LinkedIn, it’s about every 27 to 33 days when saturation occurs on Facebook, it’s oftentimes between seven and 10 days if your audience is quite large. So because of that, I am so grateful that LinkedIn is not the platform that people go and spend all day long on because it makes it really easy to control and predict.

Offer Saturation

The next type of saturation and this one is the next most common is offer saturation. And if you remember from Episode 10, your offer is really your lead magnet, your call to action, whatever you want to call it, it’s what you’re offering your customer in exchange for their attention. Now this happens because people have been seeing the same offer repeatedly and they no longer either perceive it as new, or perceive it as interesting or valuable. It’s essentially old news. And of course, you as a marketer who worked really hard putting this asset together. You don’t want to feel like it’s old news. Don’t worry, if it performed well at one point it’s likely going to perform well again in the future, you just need to give people a break, because they’re sick of it right now. In order to tell that we’re experiencing offer saturation, what we’re usually watching for is if we’ve tried refreshing either ad creative or copy three times, and no matter what we try, we can’t get click through rates back up to around where they were when the offer was new or when the last round of successful ad copy was new. That tells us people are probably tired of the offer. There’s only so much that we can do to the actual ad copy to try to get their attention when they’ve seen this same webinar, the same ebook several times and they’re no longer feeling compelled to go towards it. This type of saturation is tough, because we know that creating a whole new offer, a whole new call to action takes significant time and a lot of cases, so plan ahead. If you know that your average offer is going to last, let’s say, one to three months, make sure that you’re always working on your next offer so that you can swap it in as soon as you see saturation occur. Saturation of the offer can look like a drop in click through rate because people aren’t as interested. But you’ll also see the people who do click, maybe some of them are the same ones who’ve already clicked before. And they remember they’ve already seen this or converted or decided not to convert, and you’ll notice your conversion rates can actually drop as well.

Hey, here’s a quick sponsor break, and then we’ll dive into the least common and the most dangerous kind of saturation.

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

If the performance of your LinkedIn Ads is important to you, B2Linked is the agency you’ll want to work with. We’ve spent over $130 million on LinkedIn Ads, and getting you the lowest costs and the highest quality leads is our focus. And we’re the only media buying agency to become official LinkedIn partners. So you know we’re doing something right. Fill out the contact form on any page of to chat about your campaigns. Or heck, send a carrier pigeon. No matter how you get in touch, we’ll make sure we make you look like the hero.

Audience Saturation

Alright, let’s jump back into the most dangerous kind of saturation. And this is the least common and this is audience saturation. Now, I hope you are not experiencing audience saturation because this one is not nearly as easy to fix. What this is, is people now recognize your brand. And no matter what ad copy or imagery or video or offers you throw at them, they’re looking at your brand and saying, oh, I’ve heard of them before. I’ve seen them everywhere. This isn’t worth my attention. When we see audience saturation. occur, it’s usually because a company has been advertising heavily to an audience for 2, 3, 4 years. If you are experiencing audience saturation, the best thing you can do is actually take a break from advertising. I would advise you to take advantage of something like a COVID outbreak, where people’s minds really aren’t on the platform or advertising or business in general. But if you can’t predict the future, like I certainly can’t, November and December are really good times from my experience to withdraw yourself from the auction. They’re the most expensive times of the year and by far the least performance for my experience. But let’s say that you are held to a strict lead goal and you can’t just pull out of the auction and stop spending for a month or two. In this case, you will want to do anything you can think of to shake things up in a big way. Make a stir or make the news. Either one will will potentially work really well here. Now we’re talking about saturation like it’s a really bad thing because, of course, it’s the harbinger of kind of some poor performance. But you can actually harness this and control saturation for your own good. The way that this works is your target audience, let’s say it’s 50,000 people. Of that 50,000 people, you might have 20,000 who are near daily users of LinkedIn. And let’s say 10,000, who log in once every couple weeks, and then the other 20,000 is somewhere in between. If you’re using sponsored content ads, you can make sure you only have two ads active in each campaign. And what that’s going to do is put you on a really strict frequency cap, where your ads can only be shown to any individual member a max of once per day. So what that means is, the more active people in your audience will likely not saturate very quickly because they’re not seeing your ads very often. And the least active ones obviously won’t anyway, and so the effect you get is this very even saturation. The other ad formats are significantly harder to saturate with because first of all text ads and dynamic ads are on desktop only so it’s only what 20% to 30% of your audience are even going to be eligible to see them. But text ads and dynamic ads also borrow inventory from each other. So they’ll switch up pretty regularly. And of course, like we talked about earlier, sponsored messaging can only be sent to someone once every 45 days, or once every 30 days after September of 2020. So if you’re going after an evergreen audience with sponsored content, I highly recommend two creative PR campaign so that you, at least as evenly as possible, saturate this audience slowly and regularly. But I hear some of you asking, but AJ, what if you want to saturate your audience? Let’s say you’ve got a webinar coming up, or an online summit or something that is seven days away, and you really want to make sure that you get in front of your audience as often as possible to remind them of this event that’s going to be over soon. So this is a great strategy to get in front of your most active users often to remind them of what you’re doing. If you want to actively saturate this audience as much as possible, what you’ll want to do is put five ads in that campaign. The reason why this works is LinkedIn has a rule that one unique creative can only be seen by one person every 12 hours. So if you have five unique creatives that can technically qualify you to have five impressions from a single audience member within a 48 hour period. So this is the most you can saturate an audience. And I think that’s pretty cool. Although truthfully, it’s not something I do super often that’s really only in the high urgency cases, like we talked about in Episode 21. We also see quite regularly that when we launch a new offer or a new campaign, sometimes we’ll see conversions go crazy for the first few days, and then all of a sudden conversion rates drop. For a long time, I wondered if this was some sort of saturation occurring, but it was happening so quickly over a matter of days and I couldn’t imagine that audience being so active that they were tired of this offer after just three or four days. What we’ve discovered is this is usually a sign that there was latent demand in the marketplace, and you’ve reached all those who were actively waiting for your product or service or information. And this is usually a very good thing. You just captured the most excited people in your audience who’ve been just waiting on pins and needles to see what you’re offering. Alright, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up, so stick around.

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


Okay, here’s some great resources for you. If you are new to LinkedIn advertising or have a colleague who is right in the show notes below, you’ll see a link to the course that I did with LinkedIn Learning all about LinkedIn ads. And this is fantastic. It’s only an hour long, and it’s altra inexpensive. If you’ve got LinkedIn premium, it’s free. Or if you don’t, it’s only $25. And it covers all the information that I would present to you one on one, if you hired me for $500 an hour to come and train your team. So I highly recommend it. It’s a great one. Something else that’s interesting, we don’t talk about the organic side of LinkedIn very often here, but many of you may be familiar with the Sales Navigator tool. This is what sales teams use to do outreach. I actually secured a link that most of the time they offer a 30 day free trial if you just go right to LinkedIn, but I actually got offered a special 60 day free trial link. And so that’s below too if you and your sales team happened to leverage Sales Navigator or want to start, check out that link to get an extra month for free. On whatever podcast player you’re listening to. Please hit that subscribe button if you want to hear more deep LinkedIn Ads info. And also look for the stars where you can hit rate or and or review. I’d love to shout you out for leaving a review. So definitely hit us up there. And then if you have any episodes, suggestions or questions that you want answered on our Q&A episode coming up, reach out to us at and we’d love to give you exactly what you’re looking for. All right, I’ll see you back here next week, cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.