I originally posted this on LinkedIn, here

Oftentimes, I hear my fellow B2B marketers complain about LinkedIn, both as an ads platform, and more generally as a social platform for B2B. There’s a lot to those complaints, and LinkedIn Microsoft certainly has its work cut out for it.

But if you’re doing any sort of B2B marketing, from awareness to lead-gen, marketing to SMBs to Enterprise, event marketing to content distribution, LinkedIn can almost certainly deliver results – that is if you’re willing to put in the time effort and money to bring it to a place where it performs for you.

I’ve been seriously interested in LinkedIn ads for a few years now, and had enough experience with the platform to know its faults and issues. But I’ve also seen it deliver phenomenal results.

Points for Improvement:

  1. Okay, most glaringly, LinkedIn lacks a conversion pixel. This is 2003 technology – shouldn’t be so hard to provide – and really messes up most data-driven marketers ability to accurately gauge the effectiveness of campaigns.
  2. Reach is a big problem. People are simply not as engaged in this platform as they are on say, Facebook or Twitter, and they’re certainly not using it as often as Google search. This matters a lot when you’re building your campaigns, you need to consider if a) how often the people you’re targeting are using LinkedIn and b) if you’re targeting people that disproportionately use LinkedIn (think HR, sales, BD) are you segmenting the campaigns in a way that will serve ads proportionally to the people you want to target.
  3. Cost. Yeah, cost is an issue. CPCs can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re targeting an especially sought after audience. If you’re only looking at CPCs, or even CPLs – and not accurately measuring down-funnel data – you will almost certainly be disappointed with your results. It’s only when you compare MQLs and SQLs to other platforms that you begin to see the value – the relevancy rate – if targeting is done right – is much higher than say, Google or Facebook.
  4. Targeting is limited. The nice folks at LinkedIn will tell you this is a feature, not a bug, but I’m not sure. Basically, there are certain titles and areas of expertise that are impossible to target directly. The list of available titles is limited, in a business climate when roles and industries are evolving all the time.

Why I still love LinkedIn

Once you’ve had time and budget to experiment – the targeting possibilities become are really interesting. Combining skills with industries, titles with groups, etc., you can find some really good sweet spots. Sometimes, a broader audience works better with a particular brand, and sometimes you want to go narrow. The creative collateral really matters here since not all messages will fit for all audiences.

I’m increasingly seeing an Account-Based-Marketing future, and LinkedIn has a big role to play in that future.

Any questions? Talk to me.

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