We’re all well aware that the tides have shifted in SEO. Building links for the sake of building links is no longer the best strategy.
We’ve all heard the gospel of great content being preached: “Just create great content, and the links will naturally come.” While this may be true for brands with existing followings, it’s often a very different story for most SMBs.
The fact of the matter is that if a brand lacks social presence and followers, it may get more eyeballs on its great content by printing a copy, and stapling it to a tree.
For that reason, you need to pay to get that great content in front of the eyes that are most likely to share/blog/mention it. I’m going to show you how to do this using LinkedIn Ads.
LinkedIn, the resume site?
“LinkedIn?”, you say? “Why would I share content on LinkedIn?”, you ask? Very good question!
Everyone’s favorite professional social network is very well known for its ability to host your resume, as well as its usefulness in finding your next job. What you may not have noticed is that LinkedIn has been making great strides towards becoming a content hub, and it began back in 2012.
In 2012, LinkedIn released their Influencer program. It allowed business celebrities like Bill Gates and Richard Branson to publish long-form articles, and it allowed the likes of us peasants to follow that content without requiring said celebrities to accept our connections.
In 2013, the network announced its acquisition of Pulse, a news and content engine, which can push you content based on your industry, seniority, etc. It then released a new ad unit called “Sponsored Updates,” which allows advertisers to put content in front of the right eyes.
In 2014, long-form posting (such as the likes of Arianna Huffington and Barack Obama enjoyed) was then released to all LinkedIn members.
You can see how, gradually, the professional network positioned itself to become the place you go for your business news.
By now you may realize how helpful LinkedIn advertising can be for your content marketing efforts, but you don’t know how to get started. No problem! Here’s what you need:
1. Company page admin access
Sponsored Updates (the native ad unit that was built for sharing content effectively) require a connection to the company page. First and foremost, you’ll need to have an existing administrator of your LinkedIn company page add you to that as well.
Here’s that process:
If your company has not yet created a company page, that’s no problem either — they’re quick and easy. You can create your company page for free.
2. LinkedIn Ads account access
If you have an existing LinkedIn Ads account, here’s how to get access:
If you don’t already have an existing account, here’s how you do it:
Why use LinkedIn Ads?
Although the ads platform may not be pretty, or have the feature set we in PPC have come to expect, its granular control over B2B targeting can’t be beat. I’m certain you can see the value in being able to reach someone by:
- Job title
- Seniority level
Who should I target?
That depends. Who would you get the most value out of seeing your content? Here are a couple angles that I’ve used:
1. Venture capital hack
Is your company getting ready to raise a round of funding? You could target those within the “Venture Capital & Private Equity” industry. The fact that potential investors have heard of you could mean precious increase to your valuation.
Here are the targeting settings where I did just that for a client:
2. Publisher hack
Do you want to get your content linked to? How about targeting those that buy ink by the barrel? Here’s what I’ve used for just such an occasion:
By reaching those with seniorities of manager and above in the publishing industries, you’re able to get your content in front of those who could cite, publish about, or otherwise authoritatively share your content.
Attitudes toward native ads
How do we feel about advertising? Savvy consumers are suspicious and skeptical of advertisers. The fantastic part about sponsoring content is the vast majority of consumers don’t view it as an ad. When you ask customers how they found you after arriving through sponsored content, you’ll get answers like “A friend shared…” or “I came across…”
Of course, if your sponsored update feels like an ad, you’ve shot all of your blissful goodwill in the foot.
What does it cost?
Depending on the audience, I’ve found LinkedIn clicks to cost between about $4–8. That being said, sharing content carries with it a huge advantage.
For those familiar with the AdWords auction system, it will come as no surprise that you can get significant discounts on your cost-per-click (CPC) if your click-through rate (CTR) is high.
For the uninitiated, each time a LinkedIn user loads a page on the site, there is an opportunity cost associated with showing an ad. Advertiser A may be willing to bid $20 per click, but if their CTR is .1% the platform would make, at most, $20 from showing the ad to 1k visitors. Contrast that with Advertiser B who is only bidding $3, but has a CTR of 1%, which results in a maximum of $30 to the platform for showing ads to those same 1k visitors.
This means that LinkedIn maximizes its revenue when advertisers have great CTRs, so it lowers costs of high CTR performers in order to reward them for their profitability.
The advantage, then, of sharing content that’s low in friction and high in interest is that it garners high CTRs, and therefore lower CPCs than content that presents more friction.
Remember that you’re targeting your ideal audience here, and getting as many of them as possible to your content/offers will likely pay significant dividends in the future.
Remember in the section above when I mentioned getting your ideal audience in front of your content pays significant dividends? This is where I get more specific.
You’ve got your ideal audience to your site now, and you paid between $3–7 per click to do it, which is costly in many verticals. Do you keep relying on $3–7 clicks to continue to bring them back until they’re raving fans and ready to talk to your sales team? You could, but then your cost per engagement will look sky-high.
Contrast this with the possibility of placing your LinkedIn traffic into AdWords, Twitter, and Facebook retargeting audiences (tutorial here). You can even name those audiences after the persona you drove there (i.e. Media, or Venture Capital) to make interpretation of the accounts easy.
For instance, if your LinkedIn campaign is targeting media, then call your retargeting audience “Online Media Professionals” or something to that effect.
How much do you normally pay for retargeting traffic? $.60? $1? Less? Whatever it is, it’s bound to be a huge discount compared to your original source of the traffic, and the big advantage to you is that everyone in that audience, you got to qualify through the most effective B2B targeting.
Staying on top of your ideal audiences’ minds with banner ads is great and all, but what gets even more exciting is then using those retargeting audiences as persona development.
From following the retargeting strategy above, you know that you’ll end up with a retargeting audience that contains your ideal audience. This allows you to serve a lot of impressions very inexpensively. Use this to your advantage to test content titles, etc.
Are you interested in finding out whether the phrase “data-driven” is more engaging than “big data?” How about testing colloquial messages as opposed to more formal? Try running different versions of the content in image A/B tests to test what resonates most with your persona!
As you test against this audience, you’ll start to find out how best to talk to them, and what types garner the greatest results. After all, you’re paying for the traffic, so you might as well get all the use out of it you can.
To sum it all up, start by gathering a significant announcement, and decide the influencer who would have the greatest sway over publishing/funding it. Target those folks using LinkedIn’s powerful ad targeting. Then retarget those visitors using your favorite retargeting channels to further invest in the influencers. Then watch business results happen, in a truly scalable fashion!
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