The Evolution of LinkedIn Advertising for Manufacturers
How can LinkedIn advertising produce the best ROI?
Before you can look at the specific tactics for LinkedIn, you first need to take a step back and look at the historical advertising trends and tactics that companies have used for years. From an advertising stance, there are several different traditional advertising categories used by manufacturers:
PPC Campaigns – Google AdWords campaigns.
Trade Shows – If trade show advertising is done correctly and if your company is the right fit, then a trade show can produce decent ROI.
Print Advertising – Magazines that go out to a specific OEM database, something that engineers and purchasers at OEMs read.
Online Banner Ads – Ads on Google or associate companies and affiliate company websites, whether they’re associations, trade shows, etc.
Direct Mail Advertising – Easy and cost-effective.
What a lot of companies don’t do when looking at their advertising strategy is adapt to changes in the market and watch where the OEMs are focusing their attention. Manufacturing companies are using outdated tactics and outdated advertisements on platforms that are not producing the ROI. The market is not there to give them what they’re looking for, but they are used to this result. Manufacturing is a slow industry to adapt to marketing changes, and they tend to have a muscle memory and stick with what previously worked. They also tend to rely on agencies that don’t have specific experience in the manufacturing environment and can’t properly direct them to where they should spend their money. If you talk to a trade show company, they’re going to pitch on why you should advertise with them. If you talk to a general marketing agency, they’re going to pitch on why you need Google AdWords or Facebook advertising because that’s what they do for other companies. For manufacturing specifically, LinkedIn has made leaps and bounds with the general B2B marketing audience. All we’ve done is take that specific strategy and what they have available and applied it in the most effective way for manufacturing companies.
LinkedIn sponsored posts are the most effective form of advertising on LinkedIn. Originally, companies that ran a PPC campaign on LinkedIn had to pay $20,000 a quarter to qualify for LinkedIn’s advertising program with sponsored posts. This means they had to spend $20,000 on their cost per click on a quarterly basis.
A Strategic Change
Around January of 2016 LinkedIn made a very wise and strategic change to their advertising platform. They opened up their sponsored posts, advertising, and in-mail to what is called a “self-serve”. This meant that any company, regardless of what they are going to spend, whether it’s $5 or $50,000 a month, could now fully utilize LinkedIn advertising. Companies now have their own access to all advertising aspects and can set bit strategies for their target demographic, pause and stop campaigns, and pick their bid budgets.
When LinkedIn opened up their advertising roughly two years ago, we jumped right in to determine if it was effective. What we quickly discovered, and continue to find, is LinkedIn is the most effective way for manufacturing companies to advertise. LinkedIn is continuously evolving and making improvements to the campaign platform resulting in advertising that is more strategic and targeted than it was two years prior.
LinkedIn has proven benefits and has evolved to be the number one advertising spot for manufacturing companies. Approximately 75% of the companies manufacturers are trying to target are on LinkedIn in some fashion. Even if a company doesn’t have their own page their employees tend to have LinkedIn pages. Now what it comes down to is how frequently these companies are accessing LinkedIn. This number is increasing every year as they improve the platform, in fact, it’s estimated that there are 2 new LinkedIn users per second. Currently, there are about 500 million users and about 250 million monthly users. What we see is that people are no longer using the platform strictly as a better Monster.com for job searching. A lot of people who have profiles on LinkedIn also have profiles on Facebook, but the purpose for each is different. On LinkedIn, you’re going to get less personal stories and more focus on career and business, and you have total control over your privacy and settings.
If your target demographic is on LinkedIn, then using the platform for sponsored posts gives you 100% control over who sees your posts, how often they see your posts, and where they see your posts. Maybe you have a list of company names that you’re trying to prospect. These are people you’re reaching out to on a weekly or monthly basis trying to get RFQs from, or maybe you didn’t follow up enough with them or quoted them two years ago, and you’re wanting to get back in front of them. A proper sales strategy should be monitoring and tracking who you’re going after, and continuously following up with them using different sales tactics. If you have that in place, then you already know who to target with a LinkedIn campaign. LinkedIn allows you to have up to a 100 targeted companies per campaign. For instance, if you are a plastics company and you’re looking for people in biotechnology, medical devices, automotive, industrial electronics or consumer electronics, then you have a list of companies you can set your campaign to target only those companies.
To narrow your target demographic down further, you can get to the actual profiles of specific people within those companies. You can go after their job functions—operations, purchasing, engineering, sales, marketing, etc. Then you can type in the specific title for those positions. For example, if you want to target commodity managers, product development engineers, buyers, or VPs, then the platform tells you how many people come back on that search based on what you’re looking for. You can also narrow down your target demographic based on the geographic location.
The platform offers precise targeting and strategic focus around who sees your campaign, and this is how LinkedIn can justify the higher cost per click, which is going to range between $8-15 to get to the top of someone’s feed. If you’re only willing to pay $3 per click you’re not going to get to the top of your target’s feed and the target would have to scroll down their feed a decent amount before reaching your ad, and essentially that’s a waste of money. If you set up the strategies and the campaigns to target the most effective audience then you want to show up first, so spend the extra money. If your target has an interest or a need they will click your advertisement because you’ve been strategic and taken the guesswork out of their decision.
A lot of manufacturing companies use Google AdWords PPC, and with this advertising option you have no control over what we call “the intent of search”. Just because someone is searching a phrase that you’re running an ad against does not mean that they are a buyer. This wasted click could be a competitor, a researcher, someone trying to knock off your process or technology, or data scrapers that are trying to sell you a service. With LinkedIn sponsored posts, you get a 100% control. Of course, there are times when someone clicks your link in an ad and they go to your site, and it’s not a good fit. This goes back to the creative side of advertising and how your ad was created.