Recently, I was reading the 2017 PPC Benchmark Report on AdStage. It contains some average stats for LinkedIn ads for 2017. These two caught my eye:

  • The average CPC (cost per click) on LinkedIn is $6.50
  • The average CTR (click-through rate) on LinkedIn is 0.13%

Ads I run on LinkedIn routinely receive quadruple that click-through rate, at nearly half the cost. Not only that, while the average cost per click has been on the rise for LinkedIn ads in the past year, my average CPC has been going down over time.

My big question is, “Why?” There’s no magic to what I’m doing to achieve better results. I’m just following best practices. This suggests that most people are NOT following simple best practices.

So I wanted to share a list of steps I take when I create ads on LinkedIn. You’ve probably heard most of these before, but the results above speak for themselves; best practices work. The points below apply to Sponsored Content sending traffic to a website. I always create new ads vs. just clicking the box on a pre-existing post and using it as Sponsored Content, because what makes a great post is not the same as what makes a great ad.

Start with a well-defined audience

For obvious reasons, LinkedIn is the best social platform when it comes to targeting based on job title. So start by knowing who your ad should be targeting, and take the time to include all relevant job titles. Yes, this can be tedious given the drop-down box style of this part, but it’s worth it. And once you have a solid audience created, you can save it as a template, saving yourself time down the road.

There are a lot of options for how you target, but my results so far are based primarily on targeting by job title. Experiment with campaigns that use the LinkedIn Audience Network and Audience Expansion features, so that you can see for yourself if these improve your stats or not. They will be turned on by default, and I usually leave them on.

Use the right images, at the right size

Recommended image size is 1200×627. I suppose this is where being a marketer with Photoshop skills comes in handy, but even free image editing software will usually let you crop and resize to specific pixel dimensions. It’s worth learning how, so you aren’t constantly waiting on a designer to crop images for you.

Get creative with options. If you’re promoting a webinar about change management, a funny picture with a frazzled wide-eyed office worker is a great option to try. Humanity and humor are powerful allies, and no matter how many people rail against LinkedIn “becoming Facebook”, pictures with puppies, kittens, kids in business suits… these are worth trying. Stock images of people at their laptop just don’t stand out as much. So take some risks. If you’re promoting a webinar, try including an image that says, “webinar”. It’ll convey the offer at a glance.

As for where to source images, there are free image websites like pexels.com, and very affordable sites like Storyblocks if your company doesn’t have an existing subscription to a big player like iStock, or if you’re doing this on your own.

LinkedIn provides recommended ad specs. Use them.

Always Be Testing

It’s a pain to set up ad variants on LinkedIn, much more so than it is on Facebook. But it’s critical. In so many cases, one tiny tweak to the headline will yield significantly different click-through rates. I am assuming that taking the time to set these up has a lot to do with why my results are good. Who would have thought that a simple representation of a classroom chalkboard representation would beat a bloodhound depicted as a student, at a desk, surrounded by books? Sadly, it did. It’s a proven FACT that humor works, and yet in that case, it wasn’t as effective as a more straightforward image. But sometimes the reverse is true. You just don’t know until you try.

I mainly tweak image options and header options, since those are the two primary things people are going to see. I try to do at least 6 variations, but 12 is better. Especially since you shouldn’t change more than one variable at a time. Even knowing this, I don’t usually do that many.

Pay attention to mobile

Once you’ve created your ad, use the preview (eye symbol) to see how it will look on desktop, mobile, and tablet.

LinkedIn also offers this word of caution: Please note that description text from sponsored articles or link shares will not display to members on the latest version of LinkedIn.

You can’t count on your description copy to carry your ad for you, because you have to assume it’s not even going to show up.

Postmortem Infinitum

As a campaign is running and after it has finished, pay attention to which variants worked the best, and use that information to improve over time.

So those are my not-so-secret secrets. Maybe you have results that put mine to shame. If so, congrats! Feel free to share your own in the comments, and what you think is working for you.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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