Digital Advertising

Digital Marketing Experiment 2: Marketing on LinkedIn

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.

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Initial Experience

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.

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Adjusting

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.

Key Takeaways

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

Better late than never: the first BC Tech Club Ad Experiment Results

So we completed our first BC Tech Club online ad campaign last month. It’s a bit late, but I’d like to share with you the results of our little experiment.  As I detailed in my blog post of one month ago (link) we dipped our collective techy toe in to the digital waters with a series of Facebook ads with a goal of driving traffic to the Hire An Eagle page of the BC Tech Club website. To recap, below are the three ads we ran from October 8th, to November 8th. In total, between all three ads, we received 50 click-throughs to the Hire An Eagle page, and generated 2,144 impressions, as well as a paltry 9 likes to the BC Grad Club FB page as a result of seeing the ad. In other words, while only a handful of people may have visited the website, 2,144 unique pairs of eyeballs saw one of the three ads. Facebook counts impressions not just from our target audience segment, but also from target audience members’ extended web of connections. So when someone in our target segment likes our ad, that like makes the ad visible to all of that person’s friend via the news feed, dependant of course on varying news feed settings.

We thought it would be fun to experiment with Facebook’s A/B testing feature by offering all three ads with the same copy, same target audiences, and testing three different ad images. It was our postulation that the ad with the photo of Gasson Hall would be the most successful of the three. Since we were targeting specifically Boston College alums, it stands to reason that (hopefully) positive memories and associations of would draw them like a magnet to click on that picture.

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We discovered however, that we’re terrible at prediction.

The most popular ad by far was the group photo ad, with 22 clicks and 1,734 impressions. It’s impossible to say for sure why this picture piqued the most interest among our target. My best guess is that the photo shows individuals clearly working in a business setting which best matches the subject matter of the ad. The Gasson photo on the other hand, while it might make alumni swell with Eagle pride, does not in any way reference recruitment or business. So the Gasson photo might not stand out amongst the other BC-related FB ads that our alumni audience is probably seeing.

And Now Onto January…

And with these lessons being learned, we’re ready to launch another Digital Marketing Experiment. For the month of January we are going to turn our ordinary ol’ BC Tech Club Twitter account into a PROMOTED Twitter account! The way it works is simple, we set the parameters for the segment of Twitter users that we want to target. These individuals then will see “BC Grad Tech Club” appear under the “Who To Follow” section on their homepage, and our account will show up higher in related searches. The targeting options for promoted accounts are relatively limited, presumably to ensure clients maintain a broad reach. We can segment by targeting twitter-users similar to a specific account’s followers, for example we might want users similar to those who follow @TechCrunch. We can also segment by interest category, and within the Technology & Computing category there are plenty of interests to choose from. And that’s basically it. It’s a very straightforward service to use, and clients are only charged per new follower so we are paying explicitly for desired outcomes, rather than for less meaningful interactions.

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The goal here is audience building; we want to enhance discovery of the BC Grad Tech club among those individuals who would be interested in learning about our activities at Boston College, and who might want to hear what we have to say. We want to increase overall engagement with our Twitter account and increase our followers. Every new twitter follower is a new touchpoint for the BC Grad Tech Club, and a new potential networking contact for all our members.

– Alaina Tucker is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the VP of Marketing for the Grad Tech Club