LinkedIn Conversation Ads: Your Marketing Superpower For Business Lead Generation
We’ve all had those moments – you’re at a networking or social event, you meet someone new, and a casual conversation suddenly lights up a business opportunity.
Now imagine you could could scale up that process and have those types of conversations with hundreds, if not thousands of potential clients?
Unless you’re deeply introverted, that might sound pretty cool, right?
Well, as luck would have it, LinkedIn’s Conversation Ads allow you to do just that.
And if you’re a B2B industry, or a business targeting professionals, this can be a powerful tool to help generate leads, book meetings and close deals.
So today I’m going to unpack how to use it smartly, and get it to supercharge your marketing efforts.
Let’s dive in.
What Are LinkedIn Conversation Ads?
Imagine you’re at that event mentioned above, and you’ve got a little robot assistant.
As you meet people, the assistant steps in, strikes up a conversation tailored to the individual, learns about their interests, and then provides information about your business exactly where it’s relevant.
That’s pretty much what LinkedIn Conversation Ads are, except they do this digitally.
LinkedIn Conversation Ads are a specific type of ‘Sponsored Content’ ad that enables businesses to create personalised, interactive pathways for their audience.
It’s like an interactive choose-your-own-adventure that keeps users engaged and opens the door to deeper, more meaningful interactions.
So, why should you care?
Here’s the kicker: with LinkedIn’s incredible targeting abilities, you can put your Conversation Ad in front of decision-makers in specific industries, companies, job roles, and even individual LinkedIn groups.
And given LinkedIn has literally hundreds of million of members, that’s a lot of networking events you don’t have to attend.
The Nuts and Bolts of LinkedIn Conversation Ads
Creating Conversation Ads requires some components.
Here’s a quick overview of the essentials:
Banner File Type (optional): JPG or PNG
Banner Image Size (optional): 300 x 250 pixels
Banner Image File Size (optional): 2MB
Sender Image: This is the LinkedIn profile pic automatically pulled from the Sender that you choose (ie: the Sender is the person who will be sending the Conversation Ad to a user)
Ad Name (optional): 255 characters
Message Text: 500 characters
Custom Footer: 2500 characters
Call-to-Action: 25 characters (you can have up 5 Call-to-Action buttons per message – although I wouldn’t recommend as that’s overkill)
Landing page URL: Required
URL prefix: http:// or https://
URL characters: 1024 characters for destination field URL
Remember, it’s not about bombarding your audience with messages and options.
Quality over quantity rings true here.
Craft each message and CTA carefully, ensuring relevance and value to the audience.
Setting Your Objectives
With LinkedIn Conversation Ads, you can focus on two main objectives:
Website Visits: This is if you want to drive traffic to a specific page on your website. This could be a landing page, a product page, or even a blog post.
Lead Generation: This is if you want to capture leads and collect user information directly within LinkedIn using Lead Gen Forms. This is great for growing your email list or collecting inquiries.
Your objective will guide your campaign’s set-up, your conversation’s structure, and your ad’s success measurement.
Measuring Success: KPIs to Monitor
The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Conversation Ads generally align with your objectives. If you aim for website visits, you’re looking at click-through-rates (CTR) and website conversion rates.
If it’s lead generation, then form completion rate and cost-per-lead are your main focus.
But don’t limit yourself to these.
Engagement metrics within the ad itself, such as open rate, drop-off points within the conversation, and most selected CTAs can give you valuable insights to refine your approach.
Setting Up LinkedIn Conversation Ads: A Step-By-Step Guide
I won’t lie to you – setting up Conversation Ads on LinkedIn does require a bit more work than a standard text ad.
But don’t sweat it, I’m here to walk you through the entire process.
1) Start a New Campaign
First off, you’ll need to go to the LinkedIn Campaign Manager and start a new campaign.
Select the account you’d like to work on, click the ‘Create Campaign’ button, and you’re off to the races.
2) Choose Your Objective
Here’s where you decide whether you’re driving users to a website or collecting leads directly on LinkedIn.
Again, choose the objective that aligns with your goal.
3) Set Your Audience
Audience targeting is the crux of any advertising campaign, and on LinkedIn, it’s particularly potent because of the wealth of professional data you can leverage.
Here’s a more detailed look:
3.1. Types of Targeting Capabilities:
LinkedIn offers multiple ways to define your audience, including:
Demographics: Job titles, job functions, industries, and seniority.
Company: Current company, company size, and industry.
Education: Degrees, fields of study, and schools.
Interests: Member groups, followed pages, and skills.
Exclusions: Excluding certain parameters to narrow your audience further.
3.2. Understanding Exclusions:
Sometimes, it’s not about who you want to target, but who you want to exclude from your audience.
For instance, if you want to target finance professionals but exclude those in entry-level positions, you can do so by setting exclusions.
This can be incredibly effective in refining your audience and making your ads more relevant.
3.3. To Narrow or Expand?
While LinkedIn recommends starting with a larger audience – around 50,000 – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
The scope of your audience should be dictated by your campaign objectives, budget, and the specificity of your offering.
If your offering is niche and specific to certain job titles or functions, a narrower, more targeted approach could yield better results.
On the flip side, if your offering has wide appeal across an industry, a larger audience could be beneficial.
3.4. Job Title vs. Job Function:
Targeting by ‘Job Title’ is precise and can reach specific decision-makers.
(eg: Have your Conversation Ad sent to anyone who has the specific job title of “Chief Financial Officer”)
However, it could miss potential leads if their job title doesn’t exactly match your parameters.
On the other hand, ‘Job Function’ allows for a broader reach within specific departments or roles within an industry.
For example, targeting the ‘Finance’ job function will encompass a variety of job titles within the finance department, from a Financial Analyst to a Finance Director.
3.5. Utilising Groups and Interests:
LinkedIn groups and followed pages are an often overlooked, yet potentially fruitful, targeting parameter.
They indicate a user’s active interests and engagement on the platform. As an example, targeting users who are part of ‘Fintech Innovators’ group might yield highly engaged leads for a fintech software company.
Remember, the power of LinkedIn targeting lies in its flexibility.
Continuous testing, refinement, and a deep understanding of your target audience are keys to unlocking its potential.
It’s a blend of art and science, so don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust your targeting as you learn more about what works best for your campaign.
4) Select Your Ad Format
Now it’s time to choose the ‘Conversation Ad’ format.
This is the moment when you leave the world of standard LinkedIn ads and venture into the land of interactive, dynamic conversation-based advertising.
5) Budgeting and Scheduling: The Art of Winning the Inbox Game
Now, here comes a crucial part: setting your budget and schedule.
But before you input any figures, you need to know how LinkedIn Conversation Ads differ from other ad formats.
5.1) Pay Per Send, Not Per Click or Impression
Unlike standard ads, Conversation Ads work on a ‘pay per send’ model.
This means you’re charged each time your ad is delivered to a user’s LinkedIn inbox, not when it’s clicked or viewed. Think of it as sending a personalised letter—you pay for the postage, regardless of when it’s opened.
5.2) The Waiting Game
The unique delivery of Conversation Ads – and the way people use LinkedIn, with some people only logging in every couple of days or sometimes even once a week – means that this can result in delayed engagement.
Your ad sits in a recipient’s inbox until they open it, and you might not see a response until days or even weeks later when they check their LinkedIn messages.
5.3) Limited Inventory
LinkedIn caps the delivery of Conversation Ads to one ad per advertiser to an individual’s inbox within a 30-day period.
This limits inventory, making the competition stiff, and it means you need to bid high to win the spot.
5.4) Setting Your Budget: Go Big or Go Incremental
There are two main strategies for budgeting Conversation Ads:
Go Big: Set high daily budgets and bid amounts well above LinkedIn’s maximum suggestion. This helps you win most of the bids quickly. Don’t worry, it’s unlikely to cost you as much as you’re bidding. LinkedIn only bids as much as needed to beat the next highest bidder.
Compromise with a High Daily Budget: If you have a smaller budget, start with a modest bid per send but keep your daily budget high. As you start seeing results, gradually increase your bid to consistently outperform competitors.
5.5) Schedule Your Ads
Next, decide when you want your ads to run.
I would suggest starting with a test phase, closely monitoring performance, and adjusting accordingly.
Remember, the key to budgeting and scheduling is flexibility.
Keep a close eye on your campaign, be prepared to make changes, and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works best for your business.
And remember, while it might feel a bit nerve-wracking to bid higher than LinkedIn’s suggestion, the pay-per-send model combined with the high level of personalisation of Conversation Ads can result in a robust return on investment.
Ultimately, it’s about winning the valuable real estate in your audience’s inbox and sparking meaningful conversations.
6) Crafting Your Conversation: The Art and Science of Ad Design
Designing your Conversation Ad is like cooking a gourmet meal – it’s all about choosing the right ingredients and adding them in the right order.
In this case, your ingredients are the sender, introduction message, conversation tree, and call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
6.1) Choosing the Sender: The Face of Your Brand
The sender is the first thing the recipient sees, so think about this carefully.
It should ideally be someone known and recognisable, like your company CEO or a senior executive.
Keep your target audience in mind when making this decision, as the sender should resonate with them.
6.2) Writing the Introduction: Your Ice Breaker
Your introduction message is your ice breaker, so make it count.
This is your chance to grab your audience’s attention and entice them into the conversation.
The key here is personalisation—use the recipient’s first name if possible, and make the message relevant to them.
For instance, if you’re an enterprise software company, you might say:
“Hi [Recipient’s Name], I noticed you’re in the finance sector. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data you handle daily?”
This approach not only addresses the recipient personally but also touches on a problem they likely experience, making it more likely they’ll want to continue the conversation.
6.3) Building Your Conversation Tree: The Heart of Your Ad
The conversation tree is where the magic happens.
Here, you guide your audience through different pathways based on their responses.
Each pathway is dictated by a CTA button, and you can have up to five in each message.
Think of your conversation tree as a branching narrative, like a “choose your own adventure” book.
Each CTA leads to a different follow-up message, allowing you to tailor the conversation to the recipient’s interest and engagement.
For example, following the introductory message above, your CTAs might be “Tell me more about data management” or “I’m interested in financial software solutions.”
Each of these would lead to a different message further explaining your product offerings, addressing common pain points, or sharing customer testimonials.
6.4) Crafting Your CTAs: Guiding the Journey
Your CTAs are your steering wheel, guiding your audience down the path you want them to take.
They should be direct, actionable, and enticing.
Use clear, concise language and action verbs.
“Download our data management guide” as an example, is more compelling than “Our guide is available here.”
Remember, each CTA should lead the recipient further into the conversation and ultimately closer to conversion.
But they should also provide value—the recipient should feel they’re gaining insights or solutions by engaging with your ad.
Designing an effective Conversation Ad is both an art and a science.
It requires a clear understanding of your audience, a dash of creativity, and a solid grasp of your business’s unique selling points.
With these ingredients in place, you can craft an engaging, personalised ad that not only captures attention but drives meaningful engagement and results.
7) Test, Test, Test
Before you launch your ad, make sure you test it thoroughly.
LinkedIn provides a ‘Preview’ function, which allows you to interact with your ad just like your audience will.
Use this feature to ensure every message, CTA, and link works as intended.
8) Launch and Monitor
Hit ‘Launch Campaign’ and your ad is live (well, it needs to be reviewed by LinkedIn first, but you know what I mean).
Remember to monitor its performance closely. Look at the KPIs, but also dig into the engagement metrics within the conversation.
Which pathways are most popular?
Where do users drop off?
These insights will help you continuously refine and improve your Conversation Ads.
Fine-Tuning Your Approach to LinkedIn Conversation Ads
Now, having gone through all the steps to setting up your Conversation Ads, you might feel you’re all set.
But the beauty of digital advertising, especially a format as dynamic and interactive as Conversation Ads, is in the fine-tuning and optimisation.
Here are some areas you should keep an eye on:
Keep Your Messaging Clear and Engaging
The power of Conversation Ads lies in their interactive nature.
The messages should feel like a conversation, not a sales pitch.
So keep your language casual and relatable. Make sure each message and CTA adds value to the conversation.
Consider our enterprise software company example.
An opening message could be “Hi there! Are you looking for ways to streamline your finance processes?” with CTAs like “Yes, show me how” and “Not right now.”
This feels much more engaging than a simple “Check out our finance software.”
Use Rich Media
LinkedIn Conversation Ads allow for rich media, including images and videos.
Use this feature to make your ad more engaging and visually appealing.
So let’s say you’re trying to explain a complex feature of your software, you could include a short explainer video vs a long drawn out message explaining everything.
Keep Testing and Refining
The interactive nature of Conversation Ads offers a wealth of data.
Use this data to continuously test and refine your approach.
Experiment with different messaging, CTAs, rich media, and conversation structures.
Over time, you’ll discover what works best for your audience.
Frequently Asked Questions About LinkedIn Conversation Ads
What is the main advantage of LinkedIn Conversation Ads over traditional ad formats?
Conversation Ads allow for a more personalised, engaging experience for the user. Instead of presenting a static message, they guide the user through an interactive conversation, providing more value and relevance.
How specific can I get with the audience targeting?
Extremely specific. LinkedIn’s audience targeting includes industry, job role, job seniority, company size, geographical location, LinkedIn group membership, and much more.
What kind of businesses can benefit from Conversation Ads?
Any business can benefit, but B2B companies, in particular, can leverage Conversation Ads’ personalised approach and LinkedIn’s professional audience.
Can I use Conversation Ads for objectives other than website visits and lead generation?
Currently, LinkedIn only supports these two objectives for Conversation Ads. However, how you define ‘lead generation’ can vary, e.g., newsletter sign-ups, content downloads, or inquiry form submissions.
Can I use rich media in my Conversation Ads?
Absolutely. You can enhance your Conversation Ads with images and videos to make them more engaging and informative.
And that wraps up our deep dive into LinkedIn Conversation Ads.
Remember, like any good conversation, it’s about providing value, being relevant, and engaging the other party.
Keep that in mind, and you’re well on your way to harnessing the power of Conversation Ads for your business.
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