Meeting prospects where they spend their time is just as important as how you engage them. So in response to more than 2.5 billion people globally using messaging apps at least three hours per day — and a major shift to more one-on-one conversations — LinkedIn has introduced a new ad format: Conversation Ads.
What are LinkedIn Conversation Ads?
Conversation Ads are an extension of LinkedIn Message Ads (formerly Sponsored InMail), enabling advertisers to interact with prospects in more personal and engaging ways. What makes these ads unique is that they feature a “choose your own path” experience, allowing businesses to create full-funnel campaigns with multiple customized CTAs:
Why you need them
Compulsion of choice
The “choose your own path” experience prompts increased action. Reach out with a singular offer, and you might not connect with an individual user. By offering various optional responses — such as product education, webinar sign-ups, and ebook downloads — you expand the potential for engagement.
Higher purchase intent
These two-way conversation ads are designed for real-time engagement, so messages can only be sent when the prospect is active on LinkedIn. This means they’re more likely to be in the right mindset with higher purchase intent.
Conversation ad campaigns are a way to serve personalized content based on where prospects are in the customer journey. They’re designed to help customers instantly access the content and offers that are most interesting to them, driving both more engagement and higher-quality engagement.
According to Chase Gladden, Growth Marketing Manager at Hired:
By turning ad engagements on LinkedIn from one-sided messages to two-sided conversations, Hired saw a big uptick in quality candidates entering the system. The clickthrough rate was almost 5X higher than what we’d seen previously, which goes to show the level of engagement is pretty wild when you’re able to provide multiple opportunities to click.
Detailed click reporting and conversion tracking shows how people engaged with the conversation, giving you deeper insights and a better understanding of your audience’s intentions.
LinkedIn Conversation Ad objectives and specs
Conversation ads are available under two objectives in Campaign Manager:
- Website visits (must have at least two CTA buttons leading to a webpage)
- Lead generation (must have at least two CTA buttons with a Lead Gen Form)
Although these ads are essentially LinkedIn messages with added CTAs, they must still follow certain specifications.
- CTA buttons: 25 characters
- Message text: 500 characters
- Max CTA buttons per message: 5 buttons
- Banner image: Desktop only
- Banner image size: 300 x 250px
- Banner image file type: jpg or png
LinkedIn offers templates to use as a starting point when creating Conversation Ads:
However, they suggest being creative, experimenting with design, and not limiting yourself to only their suggestions.
How to set up Conversation Ads (with tips & best practices)
1. Focus on your target audience
Conversation ads are set up the same way as other LinkedIn Sponsored Content, including targeting. This means you can use top-performing targets from other LinkedIn advertising campaigns (but exclude previous converters), as well as retarget website visitors:
Different marketing goals require different types of conversations. That’s why you must customize your campaign to drive brand consideration, drive traffic to your landing pages, and generate high-quality leads. In other words, create targeted ads based on conversation.
2. Set up your budget & bid
During setup, you have the option of daily or total budget, which you’ll want to choose based on the following various factors:
With Daily Budget, set your bid somewhere within the bid range, and then monitor spending over a few days. If hitting the daily budget cap, consider lowering your bid. If not, increase your bid, as this means your competition may be winning out.
If using a Total Budget, set your bid at the top of the bid range to ensure you deliver your budget in full ASAP and remain competitive against other bidders.
3. Select your sender
The sender represents your brand and influences your audience’s experience, so it’s essential to consider who your audience would best recognize or connect with:
- To drive product demos, consider having your Conversation Ad come from a Director of Product
- For MBA applications, consider having the sender be Head of Admissions
- To encourage event registrations, the ad could come from the CEO
Regardless of the sender, make sure he/she has a high quality LinkedIn profile photo that’s visible to the public.
It’s also a good idea to send variations of your ad from different senders to test for the effectiveness of title, picture, name, etc.
Note: Currently, company senders are only available through your LinkedIn rep, and will be more widely available in late 2020. However, in most cases, ads sent from a member sender have better results than ads sent from a company page:
4. Create personalized content
With so much flexibility and many conversation paths to choose from, start by introducing yourself with your name, title, and company you represent, along with why you’re reaching out:
Note: Since there’s no subject line for Conversation Ads, the first sentence will appear as the subject (similar to any other LinkedIn message), so you must use this to convey your main objective.
Throughout your messaging, stick to a conversational tone. Prospective customers want to know that your brand is human and authentic, so aim for casual language as with a typical live conversation:
- Keep it short and friendly
- Speak simply, avoiding big words and concepts
- Ask questions to keep a two-way dialogue
- Eliminate formalities, but don’t be too informal (no slang)
- Converse like you’re talking to a friend
It’s also best practice to personalize content with LinkedIn’s macros — pull a member’s LinkedIn profile data into your ad for instant personalization:
- First name
- Last name
- Job title
- Company name
One case study showed that using the company name macro in a Conversation Ad campaign boosted click-through rate by 21%, while another showed that using a job title boosted open rates by 48%:
5. Choose CTA buttons & link to post-click pages
Conversation Ad campaigns should be 2-5 layers deep, with each layer consisting of message text and call-to-action buttons as responses to the question in your message:
Although you can select up to five CTA buttons per message, you should have at least two per message. For instance, to drive content downloads, share two pieces of content that your audience can choose from, each with their own CTA button.
Don’t include “Not Interested” or “No Thanks” CTAs, particularly in the first layer of your conversation. This allows prospects to just close the ad immediately. Instead, use CTAs they can learn and gain interest from.
Most importantly, link your CTA buttons to post-click landing pages. Especially for more complex types of use cases where people might need more information (competitor comparison, product overview, etc.), you need dedicated landing pages for true personalized experiences.
6. Add a banner image
Banner images are an easy way to ensure your brand is top-of-mind. Not only that, but if you don’t upload a banner image, another brand’s image can show up instead:
Note: Banner images are only visible to LinkedIn members on desktop.
Familiarize yourself with LinkedIn Conversation Ads
On March 17, 2020, LinkedIn announced Conversation Ads were expected to roll out globally as a public beta to all advertisers in all languages over the next few weeks. So while you can’t implement these ads into your social media marketing arsenal yet, you can use the information above to start strategizing.
To complete any campaign, focus beyond the ad, telling the same story narrative from Conversation Ad to the post-click page. Request an Instapage Enterprise Demo to see how Instapage can help you create these dedicated experiences at scale.
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