For advertisers on the world’s premier business to business social network, campaign ROI potential just grew exponentially.
In a blog post published earlier this week, LinkedIn announced the release of new targeting capabilities that, according to one Marketing Land columnist, are about to blow the all-powerful Facebook Custom Audiences out of the water.
What is the LinkedIn Matched Audiences program?
The LinkedIn Matched Audiences program gives advertisers a set of targeting tools that allow them to better reach members of the platform using their own data. According to the announcement from Eva Chau:
With Matched Audiences you can use LinkedIn to retarget your website visitors, market to your contacts from your customer databases and marketing automation platforms, and reach decision makers at target companies for your account-based marketing programs. Matched Audiences helps increase ROI by enabling you to focus your efforts on the audiences and accounts that are most likely to drive revenue.
Facebook and Twitter have allowed similar targeting capabilities for years. With this offering, LinkedIn not only joins them but surpasses the other two platforms in at least one way (more on that in a bit).
Here are the three ways advertisers can use Matched Audiences to target segments on LinkedIn.
According to Marketo, 96% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy. To take them from unsure prospect to confident buyer, you’ll need to nurture them to sale. And that’s where retargeting comes in.
With snippets of code placed on the back-end of web pages, retargeting technology tracks visitors and serves them ads on their favorite sites and platforms, with the goal of luring them to the next step in the marketing funnel.
According to AdRoll’s 2017 State of Performance Marketing report, 42% of marketers say they spend the majority of their budget on retargeting. That shouldn’t come as much of a shock, considering the technique can boost ROI by 13x, according to Marketo.
Now, LinkedIn members can use the technique to offer personalized ads at scale. According to LinkedIn, with Website Retargeting you’re able to:
- Segment website visitors. Create target audiences based on the pages they visit on your website.
- Tailor your ad content. When you can segment based on pages visited, it allows you to create hyper-specific, personalized ads.
- Convert more prospects. The more relevant your ads are, the more likely they are to convert and deliver ROI.
Getting started with Website Retargeting
To get started with LinkedIn’s Website Retargeting feature, take the following steps:
1. Add the LinkedIn Insight Tag to your website.
Follow these steps from LinkedIn to install the tag. Then, sign in to your Campaign Manager, click your account name, and access “Insight Tag” from the “Tools” drop-down. If you’ve added the tag correctly, your website will be listed as “Verified.”
2. Create an audience to retarget
Navigate to the audience creation page in Campaign Manager, then click “Create an audience to retarget,” and creating rules for tracking with three options:
- Starts with: Matches identical characters starting from the beginning of the string up to and including the last character in the string you specify. If we wanted to target all visitors to the Instapage blog, we’d use “https://instapage.com/blog”
- Exact: Matches every single character in your URL from beginning to end. This is for when you want to retarget to visitors of a very specific web page. For example, if we wanted to target readers of only this blog post, we’d enter “https://instapage.com/blog/linkedin-matched-audiences” into the “Exact” field.
- Contains: Matches to characters appearing anywhere in your URL. If we wanted to target visitors to the Instapage blog (https://instapage.com/blog), and the Instapage help center (https://help.instapage.com/hc/en-us), we’d enter “instapage.com” into the “Contains” field.
Once your URLs are defined, LinkedIn will serve ads to anyone who has visited them in the past 90 days.
3. Let your audience build
After installing the Insight Tag and defining URLs, you’ll have to wait for your audience to build. The more LinkedIn members you attract, the bigger your audience will get. Keep in mind, before you can start tracking visitors, your audience size needs to reach 300. This, according to LinkedIn, can take up to 48 hours.
Some other things you should know:
To ensure you don’t miss anything during setup, check out this advertiser checklist.
The Account Targeting feature, according to Chau, will allow LinkedIn advertisers to reach influencers and decision-makers at one of the social network’s nearly 12 million company pages.
AJ Wilcox, a Certified LinkedIn Ads Partner and account-based marketer, is particularly excited about this feature. After a marketing meeting revealed his sales team was ignoring an influx of low-quality leads that weren’t converting, he used Account Targeting to take a different approach. Here’s what he told them:
Everyone give me a list of the 50 companies you would give ANYTHING to work with.” The sales teams obliged and provided 1,050 companies. I created account-based advertising campaigns around them, which means 100 percent of the leads generated from them were leads that the sales team would gladly and dutifully service.
With the feature, you can target a list of up to 300,000 companies. And even more specifically, you can target professional demographics at those businesses. If chief marketing officers at Fortune 1,000 companies are who you need to reach, now you can reach them.
According to LinkedIn, with Account Targeting you’re able to:
- Run account-based marketing campaigns. Serve ads to only the companies you want to work with.
- Target by professional demographics. Serve ads to the decision-makers at the companies of your choice.
- Drive more conversions. With more focused targeting comes a higher chance of conversion. If you know the professional demographics of your target customer, now you can reach them on LinkedIn.
Getting started with account targeting
To get started with LinkedIn’s Account Targeting feature, take the following steps:
1. Prepare your account list
Use a one-column, one-row spreadsheet to list your target accounts. In the first row, write “companyname.” Import up to 300,000 names, then save as a .CSV file.
2. Set up your ads for Account Targeting
Set up your ads for Account Targeting by signing in to Campaign Manager and selecting “Matched Audiences” from the “Tools” drop-down. Then, via the “Uploaded Audiences” tab, select “Upload list.” Lastly, enter the name for that list, click “Upload file,” and then hit “Next.”
According to LinkedIn, the suggested account list is 1,000 records long, and the maximum file size is 20MB. A few more things you should know:
Make sure you don’t miss anything during setup with this checklist.
The Contact Targeting feature lets visitors upload email addresses to target on LinkedIn, similar to the way Custom Audiences work on Facebook. But this offer, Wilcox says in Marketing Land, “just blew Facebook Custom Audiences out of the water for B2B.”
The reason, he says, is that match rates are much lower on other social platforms. How low?
When advertisers use B2B email lists to target Facebook and Twitter user segments, only about 15% of those audiences ever see an ad. Why? Because people rarely register accounts with their work email address. Wilcox elaborates:
For B2B advertisers, a low match rate means ad volume from this targeting is doomed to be low. Advanced advertisers consider their Return on Effort (ROE) for taking the time to test a new feature. Many of these B2B advertisers explain to me that they never even bothered to set up email match on Facebook Ads because it would drive so little volume that it wasn’t worth their time to set up.
But LinkedIn, he shares, is most likely to have both your personal and professional email addresses. Here’s why they had his:
“Whenever a work colleague sent an invitation to my work address, and I clicked through and authenticated to my LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn automatically made that association between our accounts.”
As the social network most likely to know both your email accounts, LinkedIn match rates could soar compared to on other networks. Wilcox estimates that instead of 15%, Matched Audience users could see average rates closer to 75%.
According to LinkedIn, here’s what you can do with Contact Targeting:
- Build a customized audience: Securely upload a list of email contacts to target.
- Deliver relevant content: Reach potential prospects, current customers, and users you’ve lost to churn.
- Drive more conversions: As with any ad, the higher relevance leads to a higher conversion rate.
Getting started with Contact Targeting
To start using LinkedIn’s Contact Targeting, use one of two methods:
1. Upload your email list
To prepare and upload your email list, you’ll take almost the exact same steps as you did to set up Account Targeting. Create a one-column spreadsheet with email addresses listed downward, one per row. In the top row, write “email.”
Next, navigate to Campaign Manager. From there, click “Create an audience,” followed by “Match based on a list of email contacts.” Then, upload your file and click “Next.”
2. Set up an integration
With Contact Targeting, you can import email data from Eloqua, Marketo, or LiveRamp too. Do it by navigating to “Matched Audiences” from the “Tools” drop-down. Then, click the “Upload list audiences” tab and select “Connect to data integration.”
After that, all you’ll need to do is link API keys to your marketing automation software; then your list will automatically populate within 24 hours.
LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Early results
For the last six months, LinkedIn has been running a Matched Audiences pilot program with more than 370 advertisers. In that time, they’ve created over 2,000 high-performing campaigns. Here are the results, based on targeting:
- Website retargeting: Advertisers enjoyed A 30% increase in click-through rate and a 14% dip in post-click cost-per-conversion.
- Account targeting: Post-click conversion rates rose by 32%, while post-click cost per conversion dropped by 4.7%.
- Contact targeting: Click-through rate increased by 37%
Results like these should have B2B advertisers eager to optimize their social ad spend with the new offering. Here’s why, in one word: relevance.
In the reported statistics from the social network’s pilot program, you’ll notice LinkedIn didn’t stop at measuring the CTR of advertisements on their platform. Instead, they went the extra step to discover how Matched Audiences behaved once they left LinkedIn.
And while we don’t know if they were downloading, buying, or subscribing, we do know they were more likely to convert once they reached an ad’s landing page.
Higher post-click conversion rates and lower post-click costs per conversion convey that Matched Audiences — directed via Sponsored InMail, Sponsored Content, and Text Ads — found the content on the page they were directed to more appealing because it was more relevant. As a result, they were more likely to claim it at a lower cost to advertisers.
Using LinkedIn Matched Audiences with landing pages
The ROI boost you’ll get from the new Matched Audiences feature will grow even more when you combine LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities with a LinkedIn landing page.
What is a LinkedIn landing page?
A LinkedIn landing page is a standalone web page designed for one goal: converting visitors. With persuasive elements like social proof, trust indicators, and more, it compels prospects to act (download, buy, etc.).
This type of landing page is used specifically to convert traffic from Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, and Text Ads on the LinkedIn network.
What makes a LinkedIn landing page so valuable to advertisers on the platform?
All the targeting capabilities of Matched Audiences are designed to do one thing: boost relevance with greater focus.
The more relevant and personalized a marketing message is, the more likely it is to convert a prospect to a lead, or a lead to buyer. We can infer that from the above-average results of LinkedIn’s pilot program, or we can just consult any of these sources:
- Econsultancy: 74% of marketers say personalization increases engagement.
- Position2: 80% of marketers indicated the personalized strategies boosted revenue.
- Kibo: Personalized homepage promotions compel 85% of consumers to make a purchase, and personalized shopping cart recommendations influence 92% of shoppers to complete a purchase.
- Evergage: With personalization, 63% of marketers have seen higher conversion rates; 61% have improved customer experience; and 57% have boosted visitor engagement.
We could go on, but you get the point.
Now, landing pages allow you to boost relevance and personalization similarly to the way that Matched Audiences do.
When you direct paid social media traffic to your homepage with an ad that promises a particular offer, you’re not leveraging relevance. You’re overwhelming prospects who click through.
For example, if you saw this LinkedIn ad, with the headline that reads “Drive Your Business Forward Faster With WP Engine,” you might wonder, “How can WP Engine drive my business forward?”
You’ll click through, and land on this page:
On it, you see a full navigation menu, numerous CTAs, and bright colors that draw your eye to different corners of the page. Then you wonder, “What can they do for me, and where do I go to find it?”
But instead of clicking around and exploring, you’ll probably abandon the page. You don’t have time to hunt around for the answer to your problem. You need it delivered to you. And that’s what landing pages do.
They optimize ad spend by meeting the expectation of the visitor with persuasive elements designed to convert. Landing pages present the answer to the question that their ad raises. In this case, it was “How can WP Engine drive my business forward?” But the answer was nowhere in plain sight on the homepage.
And that’s why every promotion needs its own page. The more campaigns you run, the more landing pages you’ll need to provide relevance and personalization. Research shows that companies with 40 or more landing pages generate 12 times more leads than those with 5 or less.
Will you try LinkedIn Matched Audiences?
The new LinkedIn Matched Audiences will be rolling out in the next week to all advertisers. Will you take advantage of it? Which targeting capability do you find most exciting?
Let us know in the comments, then start building personalized LinkedIn landing pages with fully-customizable templates from Instapage.