As LinkedIn has grown to over half a billion users, so too has its ad platform’s capability to slice and dice audiences based on troves of self-reported user data. With plenty of targeting options to choose from, you can get your message in front of decision makers and C-level execs when they catch up on news, connect, and network.
But an ad done wrong can actually reduce the sales of a product. (Or so says Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising.) How do you write a compelling LinkedIn ad?
At AdStage we’ve plowed through tons of ads on the platform and analyzed several examples of different LinkedIn ad types to inspire your creative process.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the basics of writing effective B2B LinkedIn text ads. Read on to learn how to write a LinkedIn ad headline, increase form field conversion rate, and choose images to support your ad on the landing page.
5 LinkedIn Ad Types: From Text Ads to Programmatic Display
You can buy Sponsored Content, Text Ads, and InMail ads through LinkedIn’s self-service platform and programmatically purchase LinkedIn Display through your preferred ad partner. For Dynamic Ads, you’ll need to go through a LinkedIn sales rep.
It bears saying from the outset that a strong organic presence – a company page – is a must for any brand. But to scale your customer acquisition, you must invest in paid ads. On LinkedIn, you can serve up paid ads in the following five formats:
LinkedIn Dynamic Ads
Some ad types work better than others depending on your marketing budget and goals. Below, we’ll look at several text ads served by B2B companies in July 2017.
Match Landing Pages to Ads and Reduce Form Fill Friction
The beauty of text ads is that they are super easy to create and work for budgets of all sizes. Text ads appear in the right rail of LinkedIn pages or at the top, as seen in the example below:
Let’s zoom in on this one. As I click on the ad, I’m redirected to a URL with custom campaign variables, featuring content gated by a contact form.
Scribble’s ad is well-targeted and features relevant keywords in the headline, as well as an actionable CTA. Unfortunately, the text ad is missing the company’s name, and its content is poorly-timed.
What’s good about this ad? Obviously, the job title targeting is on point: a guide on content marketing strategy optimization is a logical offering for a content marketing manager. Scribble Live is not hard-selling me software, but offering a free pdf download instead. And the call-to-action is clear — the ad ends with a straightforward “Get the Guide.”
What’s missing? For starters, this text ad doesn’t mention the company’s name in the headline — a missed opportunity for raising brand awareness among those who don’t click but count as “impressions.” And for those who do click, the brand could have provided better, smoother user experience through frictionless form capture.
Too bad I have to manually enter my name, company’s name and email — Scribble could have easily pre-filled the form with data from my LinkedIn profile through LinkedIn AutoFill Plugin Generator. But plugging in the company’s name and streamlining form capture is only part of the equation. I’m here for the content, but Scribble’s timing seems a bit off. Content strategy for 2017? We’re more than halfway through the year; that ship has sailed.
After I leave Scribble’s website and re-load my LinkedIn page, another version of the same ad pops up — this time, with a marketers’ favorite odd-numbered-list headline. The cool thing about text ads is that you can very quickly come up with a multitude of options for testing, a big positive for copywriters on lean marketing teams.
Here’s another B2B ad example, courtesy of Cloud Coach:
A click on the ad brings us to the registration page on Eventbrite.
Cloud Couch uses smart geo-targeting to promote an event offline and times it well to create urgency while allowing at least week for planning. Unfortunately, the image on the landing page doesn’t entice me to register.
What’s good here? This ad is an excellent example of relevant geo-targeting. LinkedIn uses a mix of user-provided data and IP information, a compelling offering if you’re promoting offline events. The ad is also timely; served a week ahead of the promoted event, it creates a sense of urgency while allowing some time for planning. I also like the no-nonsense approach to copy: it has the When, the Where, and the Why.
What’s missing? The landing page creatives clearly fell flat. Cloud Coach advertises a seminar, an event to network and learn about custom applications of the Salesforce platform. Yet the image doesn’t feature people I want to meet or the experts who’ll speak at the training. Even a company’s logo and screenshots of the software tool itself would have been more helpful. Instead, I see a picture of a saving glass jar half-full of quarters. Unless a glass jar full of “Profit,” as the ad suggests, is exactly what a company is selling, it’s better to play it straight — at least on the landing page.
Mind The Where, What, and Why-Should-I-Care
With LinkedIn text ads, a short line of text is all you’ve got, so it’s critical to use the limited number of characters (25 for a headline and 75 for description, including spaces) wisely. Leverage this space to showcase a benefit, announce a product update, promote a discount on a service, recognize your customers’ problems and offer a solution, or quote a happy client.
As a target buyer, I should be able to quickly figure out the value proposition. As Steve Krug put it, “don’t make me think.” For example, both LinkedIn text ads below promote events. Which one does it with more clarity?
Both ads promote an event, but the first one is confusing and doesn’t tell me the “where, what, and why-should-I-care” part of the piece. AWS, on the other hand, uses relevant keywords, mentions all the cross-promo partners’ names, and tells the full story in one line.
Putting It All Together
LinkedIn text ads allow marketers to quickly test multiple variations and reach highly-targeted audiences at a reasonable cost. How do you maximize the impact of the few characters you have?
Play it straight and speak the language of your buyer. Use relevant keywords your target audience can relate to (e.g., job title, skill, software tools they use)
Offer value, don’t hard-sell
Time content well — this is especially important for events and seasonal content promotions
Optimize your conversion page to reduce friction through LinkedIn AutoFill
Test multiple variations of headline and image
Go for clarity over cleverness to minimize irrelevant clicks
Do you have any tips for writing great LinkedIn text ads? Tell me in comments.
Anya manages content marketing at AdStage. With half a decade of experience in digital marketing, she has worked for global ad tech companies and marketed award-winning mobile apps. A European transplant in California, Anya enjoys traveling, good weather, and lifting weights in the gym. Connect with her on Twitter at @pratsaa