Having had some success driving traffic to our site using Facebook Ads, we decided to target LinkedIn for our next experiment. As a professional social network, LinkedIn has significant information about education, work history, and industry that could help us target BC Alumni in the Technology Space. Our goal with this campaign, therefore, was to find decision makers in this space, and bring them to the Alumni Central landing page of our site. From this page, they can learn more about how to help the club including checking out the Hire an Eagle profiles, following us on social media, and even signing up to be a resource. All in all, we expected that LinkedIn would provide a great opportunity for us to learn a new channel and gain some significant alumni exposure in the process.
In beginning the process, the first thing I noticed was that the flows to set up an ad do not make for a great user experience. It was not immediately apparent to me how to get started, and when I did get on the right track I ran into issues uploading images and making edits that required backtracking. Despite this, however, I eventually got the ad set up how I wanted it proclaiming “Help out an MBA at BC!” and directing them to our Alumni Central page to find out how. Once the content was written, I moved on to setting up the parameters. LinkedIn requires you to set a minimum budget of $10 per day. The lowest I could set my max bid for impressions was $5.73 should anyone click the ad. This was not particularly well explained, so it took some time to figure out the settings. With a total budget of just $50, I was worried that we would exhaust our funds very quicky and with only a few folks clicking through to our site. While some clicks were better than none, my expectations were that we would only get a few visits to our site and even fewer responses to our contact form.
The Ad in Action
As it turns out, my fears about burning through our whole budget immediately were misplaced. Despite a target audience of more than 6000 individuals, we only got 3 impressions over the course of a month, none of which resulted in any clicks. As a result, the campaign was costless for us, but it was also resultsless.
My first indication that something was wrong came in email form from LinkedIn, where the Ads Optimization email showed a whole lot of zeroes. Despite the name of the email, however, the only guidance given was a suggestion to widen the audience. This begged the questions of how much and who to include? Widening the audience would mean making tradeoffs regarding target industries or the level of decision-making power. At the end of the day, the tradeoffs simply didn’t seem worth it and the user experience was not pleasant enough to continue. Instead, I shifted my strategy to personally post in a number of BC related alumni groups. Theoretically, the exposure would be less as alumni would only see the post when in the group as opposed to it appearing whenever they browsed, but in practice, BC’s active alumni presence actually led to wider exposure, and organic visits to our site. Four alums even signed up to help out the club.
While we had high hopes for LinkedIn ads, it turns out they were not a great choice for our purposes. With a small budget, and less experience in the realm of social marketing, the constraints and user experience made it difficult for us to launch a useful campaign. Likewise, the reporting and optimization insights are far from prescriptive. Overall, it seems that LinkedIn advertising might be useful for companies with experienced digital marketers and high budgets, but that smaller bootstrapped organizations such as our own are better off using the organic channels that LinkedIn provides such as groups and stories.
Up Next: Targeted Tweets!
–David LoVerme is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the President of the Grad Tech Club
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