Demand generation is the talk of the town among the digital marketing community today.
Though it’s not a new concept, we as marketers are being challenged to depart from lead generation tactics that we’ve all grown accustomed to and dependent on for the last several years and shift our focus back to demand generation as a more reliable source of revenue.
LinkedIn Ads has proven to be a valuable resource for lead generation, given the platform has an entire ad objective revolving around it, but LinkedIn boasts more ad types and objectives in its arsenal than just Lead Gen Form Ads.
LinkedIn Ads can also be a great tool for demand generation.
Though we won’t walk through every example in this post of how this can be done, hopefully the things we cover here will help inspire you to create your own demand generation strategy on LinkedIn Ads.
Define Your Core Offering
In LinkedIn Ads, when we refer to your “offer”, we’re typically talking about the thing you’re promoting combined with your call-to-action. When we’re talking about your “core offering”, we’re referring to your business, its products and/or services.
Before you even start running LinkedIn Ads, you need to define two things about your core offering:
- How it meets the needs of your customers
- How it’s different from the competition
Defining your core offering around these two points will help determine how you should craft your LinkedIn Ad messaging when running a demand gen strategy.
Meet Customer Needs
What pain points does your core offering solve for customers? Note that these pain points need to be more than a “headache” problem–they need to be a “migraine” problem.
Your business needs to solve a problem so devastating to your target audience that the value they’d receive from working with you would outweigh any level of friction required to opt in.
To give an example, we once ran LinkedIn Ads for a client who’s core offering was helicopter flights in downtown Los Angeles. This service was a substitute for commuting to work in LA traffic.
If you’ve ever been in LA traffic, you can only imagine how well these ads performed. Demand was generated for this helicopter service because it solved a customer pain point so unbearable that the amount of friction it took to opt in was far lesser than the amount of value customers would be receiving.
A way to find out the pain points your prospects struggle with is by talking with your sales team. What pain points come up in conversations with new/existing customers or prospects? You can also interview current customers or prospects outside of sales calls in order to find out this information.
Create a Competitive Advantage
Demand for your core offering is more easily generated when consumers understand why your solution is the only reasonable solution.
What sets you apart? What makes you truly different from your competitors?
Note that this isn’t the same as saying what makes you better than the competition. Stating how your core offering is faster, cheaper, higher quality, or more cost-efficient than what’s available on the market will only create short-term competitive advantage (ever heard of a price war?).
Messaging that communicates how your core offering is different from what’s available on the market is what will help you stand out among the competition.
Maybe you’ve heard the expression “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
Though there’s some truth to this statement (we can’t force anyone to do anything in marketing), demand creation is about helping the horse recognize it’s thirsty so that it’ll want to drink.
At the core of demand creation is educating and informing your target audience. Tying back to the last section, this includes educating them on the pain points they struggle with, how your core offering is the solution to those problems, and how it’s the only reasonable solution on the market.
In your ad messaging, position yourself as the expert in your field. This is, in other words, thought leadership. Give your audience a reason to trust you as the authority in a particular business category.
Messaging aside, let’s get into how this relates to LinkedIn Ads specifically.
If you’ve been generating leads on LinkedIn already, you may have been showing ads to a cold audience for gated content and hoping that your content is good enough to encourage them to fill out the form, then pass that information to your sales team and hope they do a good enough job of getting prospects on a call.
Though this approach is trackable and can work, it’s becoming increasingly difficult/rare to generate a positive ROI from this method.
With a demand generation approach, you’ll likely be relying on ungated assets to warm up your audience.
Before going any further, we totally understand why you might be hesitant to ungate your content due to the difficulties in tracking metrics that we’re used to tracking when running a lead gen strategy. But not to worry, more on that later.
People are more hesitant than ever to fill out a lead form because they know they’ll immediately be put into a sales nurture funnel and blasted with emails and retargeting ads.
So rather than gating content behind a Lead Gen Form Ad with the purpose of collecting user information, promote ungated content that educates and adds value to your target audience. Again, the purpose of this content should be to educate your audience on the pain points they struggle with and the solution. This is how demand is created for your core offering.
Sponsored Content Ads and Boosted Posts are, by far, the best way to do this because they show up directly in the news feed, the most common place on LinkedIn where users are consuming content.
The best part about this is you don’t even necessarily need to link to an eBook, webinar, or other ungated piece of content because you can educate your audience right there in the ad. Simply format your messaging like you would an organic post.
Other offers that work well to promote are podcasts and newsletters, as these allow you to further educate and inform your audience–i.e. create demand.
This strategy works well in tandem with LinkedIn’s most recent retargeting feature–Single Image Ad retargeting. Anyone who reacts or comments on your ad can be retargeted.
Other retargeting options, such as Video retargeting, are also helpful, as you can retarget those who watch a certain percentage of your Video Ads.
Don’t just jump the gun, though, and retarget with a Demo Request. Try further educating and informing your target audience through retargeting ads, so they can make an informed decision without the added friction.
We did a whole post on why Single Image Ad retargeting is revolutionary for LinkedIn Ads, so if you’re interested, check it out.
We at B2Linked will be the first ones to admit that attribution has been a big part of the way we manage LinkedIn Ads. Being able to see down to the specific ad a lead came from has proven extremely valuable in making ad optimizations.
That said, metrics like Leads and Conversions on LinkedIn Ads can help us understand where demand was captured but aren’t well-suited for reporting where demand was created.
So to run a demand gen strategy on the platform requires thinking differently about demand capture vs demand creation data.
Where demand capture metrics generally revolve around quantitative data (you received X amount of calls booked from your website, for example), demand creation generally revolves around qualitative data.
To find out whether demand is being created from your LinkedIn Ads efforts, ask your prospects. Whether you do it through a required free-form field on your website or in person on a sales call, simply asking those who opt in for your services where they heard about you will help you better understand how your LinkedIn Ads contribute to creating demand for your core offering.
It’s worth noting here, however, that there are some limitations to this form of attribution when it comes to LinkedIn Ads. For example, it doesn’t provide much insight into which of your ads created the demand or which campaign a particular prospect came from.
In this case, though it’s not a perfect workaround, front-end metrics can act as signals for how interesting your content is to your target audience. CTR and CPC, for example, are metrics you can measure to determine the effectiveness of a given campaign or ad.
On-site metrics like pages per session and page dwell time (or time on site) can also be helpful quantitative data in the demand creation stage, if you’re leading your audience back to your website to consume content.
If you run a demand gen strategy on LinkedIn Ads, don’t expect to see revenue come pouring in overnight. The customer journey is complex and, especially in B2B, coming to the decision to buy takes time. It may take several months before you start to see the fruits of your labor.
That said, LinkedIn Ads could help accelerate your efforts.
The biggest benefit to using LinkedIn Ads as a demand gen channel is that you can specifically target the people you want to see your content. Just be sure to use LinkedIn Campaign Manager’s Demographics tool to ensure your ads are being seen and clicked on by your intended audience.
Check out this post for more information on LinkedIn’s free analytics and demographics tools.
Like mentioned before, this is not an exhaustive list of tactics you can execute on LinkedIn Ads to run a demand gen strategy, but these are the principles you want at the core if you want to run it well.
Did we miss anything? How does this jive with your demand gen strategy? What successes have you seen? What have you learned? We’d love to hear from you, so please comment below!
About B2Linked, Pioneers of LinkedIn Ads
The LinkedIn platform consists of a network of 310M monthly active professionals.
If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn Ads is a no-brainer but the platform isn’t easy to use and can be expensive without the right tools and know-how.
Success is most likely achieved by partnering with someone who understands the pitfalls of the platform and who encourages best practices.
If your LinkedIn Ads performance is important to you, then B2Linked is your agency. We’re a team of LinkedIn Ads experts dedicated to helping B2B companies achieve their goals on the platform.
We’ve spent $150M+ on the platform, are official LinkedIn Marketing Partners, and have managed some of the largest LinkedIn Ad accounts in the world.
If you want to ramp up your LinkedIn Ad efforts, apply to work with our team of experts.
Thanks for reading and happy advertising!
Written by Eric Jones