Kieley Taylor: How LinkedIn became a B2B powerhouse

Kieley Taylor is the global head of social for [m]PLATFORM (part of GroupM). Her focus is in streamlining operations, disseminating thought leadership, training, best practices, and advocating on behalf of client interests with key publishing partners. She is the lead subject matter expert within social for GroupM clients.

In her current role she evangelizes an audience first approach to integrated planning and buying.

How your brand can benefit from LinkedIn's growing marketing muscle

The ascent of Microsoft-owned LinkedIn as a potent platform for B2B marketers has been head-spinning.

With an expanding array of features like video broadcast service, LinkedIn Live, which was launched in beta earlier this year, the business-oriented social media powerhouse (a reported $2bn in 2018 advertising-related business) may have never been better positioned to give Google and Facebook a run for their money attracting B2B marketing budgets. LinkedIn stands to benefit as marketers continue seeking scale and value beyond the duopoly.

At WPP, we’re partnering with LinkedIn to use their unique dataset to target audiences more effectively, creating engaging content and staying ahead of competitors with industry benchmarking. Read on for a few tips we’ve gained from our partnership with LinkedIn that can help your brand market on the platform.

It’s no wonder LinkedIn is dubbed “the boss of B2B in 2019.”

The basic user stats explain why advertisers looking to reach a global, highly desirable audience of business decision makers are turning to the site. LinkedIn boasts around 600m users, with 40% of active users reportedly visiting the site daily. Significantly, for brands looking to reach those users, a Hubspot study found that LinkedIn was nearly three times more effective at generating leads than either Facebook or Twitter. According to LinkedIn’s own research, 71% of people use information from LinkedIn to inform their business decisions.

Meanwhile, the company’s suite of ad products continues to grow. Among the areas where LinkedIn says it plans to make significant investment and updates are: continuing to innovate its member environment so marketers can deliver brand-safe, engaging experiences for their audiences via the platform’s professional context and quality ad placements; rolling out more targeting features and insight capabilities to enable brands to build relationships with the right audiences; and making improvements to its campaign manager experience, including updates in in-platform workflows and reporting for scale that delivers results.

Here is a summary of recent innovations LinkedIn has made in its marketing toolbox and how your own company’s ad strategy could benefit.

Video ads

The conversation in digital advertising remains laser focused on video — and the story is no different at LinkedIn.

Since launching its sponsored video product in March of last year, LinkedIn continues to improve the video ad experience — recently offering “square” videos with a 1:1 image ratio, maximizing the presentation of video content in today’s feed environment, and also recently introducing a Moat integration, which enables the tracking of video ad performance via third-party viewability.

As seen on other mobile-skewing feeds, 1:1 image ratios give advertisers more bang for their buck. It is recommended to split test 1:1 ratio versus your historical top performing units to see if you can generate an even greater lift in performance.

However, perhaps the most significant development on this front lately was the launch of LinkedIn Live.

Acknowledging that users and communities are most active and engaged when they gather in real time, LinkedIn Live gives users new ways to meet up, express themselves and take action.

Live-streaming video experiences enable LinkedIn users and advertisers to gather an audience quickly or in the moment; help users find common ground on content being shared; and make it valuable to participate as engagement is happening real time. Initially offered free of charge and available to LinkedIn registered users, and on LinkedIn Pages (see below), the company said it will explore making it a paid ad format.

LinkedIn Live was initially launched among a small whitelist of LinkedIn members and Pages (5,000 in total) with the goal of identifying influencers and organizations already leveraging video in a compelling way to enhance their storytelling via live video.

Among other recent innovations in video, LinkedIn enabled advertisers to duplicate video ads in Campaign Manager; edit video ads, letting brands modify and optimize their creative based on evolving needs; and upload video captions using the .SRT format and enabling users to engage with marketing content in a mute feed environment.

LinkedIn pages

For brands as well as individuals, experiencing and delivering engaging experiences on LinkedIn starts with their own pages on the site.

In fact, in its own list of the top 10 tips for marketing via the platform, LinkedIn puts “Start with your own LinkedIn profile” at the very top.

The LinkedIn Pages feature makes it easier for brands, institutions and organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises, to foster constructive conversations with the platform’s global community of users.

Highlights include content insights and suggestions; content notifications for employees; mobile admin functionality; and the ability to post PDFs and PowerPoint presentations to a page.

Employee advocacy can also find a home within your company’s LinkedIn page. Many brands underutilize the powerful and influential voices of their own employees as thought leaders and advocates on a site like LinkedIn.

Dynamic ads

An engagement opportunity that’s unique to advertisers on LinkedIn is dynamic ads, which enable marketers to take advantage of the platform’s professional context and promote personalized display ads among users.

The ad format gets two times the click-through rate of traditional display ads, according to the company.

Today, there are three dynamic ad formats available through Campaign Manager: follower ads, designed to help brands acquire followers or increase engagement via LinkedIn Pages; spotlight ads, which aim to drive traffic to various brand-owned web pages; and Jobs Ads, which promote relevant job openings among the right candidates.

Dynamic ads support CPM pricing and CPC pricing.

Interest targeting

Recognizing that common interests are a way for brands to expand relationships with the right audiences, the recently released interest targeting feature enables brands to reach targets based on the topic categories they engage with on LinkedIn.

Interests on LinkedIn are based on: the content that’s read, liked, commented on or shared; topics, companies or influencers a member follows; and a model designed to determine interest topics a member is likely to be interested in because that user shares a similarity in profile with other members who have expressed interest in the same topic.

Interest targeting is now available for LinkedIn member-generated and inferred data, while an enhancement will be to include Bing data. Given the strong connection between a user on LinkedIn and their professional persona, the amassed interests are expected to be timely and relevant for ad targeting.

Lookalike audiences

Expanding relationships with the right users can be as simple as targeting those who resemble existing customers.

That’s the idea behind the new LinkedIn feature lookalike audiences.

LinkedIn had already offered the targeting feature audience expansion, designed to help advertisers increase the reach of their campaigns by delivering ads to audiences with similar attributes of a target audience. Now, lookalike audience lets advertisers find new audiences that resemble audiences they already know (for example, a website audience or list of email addresses).

Lookalike algorithms are powered by LinkedIn’s own member-generated data and generated by Matched Audience segments.

Lookalike audiences tend to scale more than first party data targeting and to deliver better conversion rates than demo or interest targeting alone. Try for yourself in an upcoming effort.

Audience templates

With speed for creating a marketing campaign top of mind, LinkedIn earlier this year introduced Audience Templates, which features combinations of targeting elements that are designed to help brands define audiences faster by reducing or removing manual targeting setup; leverage best practices audience templates; reduce friction caused by unintentional hypertargeting; and discover new targeting capabilities the advertiser may not have otherwise considered. If you are new to LinkedIn advertising Audience Templates are a speedy way to start.

Objective-based ads

Another new feature for campaign creation, this tool includes a live preview for ads and forecasting capabilities, enabling advertisers to see a projection of important metrics such as impressions, clicks and click-through rates as campaign targeting selections are made and updated.

Looking ahead

Expect LinkedIn to continue to innovate around the themes of differentiated targeting capabilities, increased synergy with Microsoft and Bing, and more reasons for users to visit more often.

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