We thought we’d give the PPC ads in LinkedIn a go to promote our B2B Marketing Manifesto. Here are our experiences…

LinkedIn DirectAds are the online community’s approach to pay-per-click. At Velocity, we’ve done plenty of Google PPC ads for our clients and we’ve experimented a bit for our own agency promotion. So we thought we’d give the LinkedIn program a try and see how it works.

In most ways, the LinkedIn system is similar to the Google AdWords system that it’s modeled on. The big difference is the ability to target by demographics instead of by keywords.

For B2B marketing, this is a huge difference. With Google, you have the advantage that the prospect is actively searching on a term that’s relevant to your business. That’s hard to beat. But demographic targeting gives it a run for its money.

In our test, we decided to promote the B2B Marketing Manifesto (our most recent eBook on the new challenges and opportunities in B2B). The demographics we selected looked like this:

LinkedIn DirectAd target

As you can see, we went pretty narrow. Senior marketers in large tech companies. LinkedIn tells you exactly how many of its members match this demographic. In this case, there were a little over 13,000, quite a tight group. That’s good. We’re getting lots of Manifesto downloads through unpaid media (search and social) so didn’t need to throw the net too wide here.

We started with a maximum cost per click of $2.25 but upped it to $4.00 after prompting by the LinkedIn revenue robot.

We set the daily limit to $25. You can’t set a total campaign spend limit but can cap each day and put a time stop on the campaign.

Then we created five ad variations to test:

LinkedIn DirectAd variations

After a week or so, we could see which ads were doing best, so we killed four, kept the winner (the top one: I know, it surprised me, too) and added a new contender.

We ran the new mix for another week or so and stopped to see how we got on:

LinkedIn Ad Results

As you can see, we spent $105 on 37 clicks, an average cost-per-click of $2.86. Since we tagged the URL used in the ad, we were able to trace these 37 clicks through Google Analytics. We discovered that the 37 hits to our Manifesto landing page resulted in 8 downloads (maybe the web form chased the other 29 away, but we ran an A/B test as part of our Project Open Kimono blog series and didn’t see that much of a download inhibitor).

The web form data showed that these eight people were indeed from large companies, so the targeting seemed to work.

So, $105 for 8 downloads. That’s $13.12 per download or £8.31 in old money. We won’t continue the campaign unless we want to test more things but that’s just because our need to generate new business through marketing is quite low. For many of our clients, this targeted cost per download would be attractive. If one piece of business resulted from a few hundred downloads, the campaign ROI would be quite good.

Next, we’re going to run the same ads in Google AdWords just to compare the two campaigns.

Anyone else out there willing to share their experience with LinkedIn DirectAds?