LinkedIn Message Ads have been around for a while, but it is fair to say that they are often underutilised and frequently deployed ineffectively. The biggest challenge is giving someone a reason to pay attention to the ‘sponsored’ message in their inbox.
To build on this offering, in the next year LinkedIn is now rolling out three new features and ad types; Focused Inbox, Conversation Starter and Click To Message, with an aim of heightening engagement between audience and brands. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits and look at why many B2B marketers are just scratching the surface when it comes to LinkedIn advertising.
For the user
The ‘Focused Inbox’ is being brought in to increase the relevance of messages, creating a two tabbed inbox ‘focused’ and ‘other.’
Benefit to advertisers
This feature looks to increase reply rates and highlight active conversations, with the overall aim of increasing usage of LinkedIn messaging.
Whilst it is promising to see LinkedIn use more machine learning, the platform has not confirmed how it will categorise a ‘focused message’ meaning, as advertisers, we must ensure that we are answering our audience’s questions and needs by providing genuine, valuable content.
Conversation Starter ads
For the user
Appearing in a fixed placement in the inbox, there will be a revolving rotation of conversation ads, encouraging users to click to initiate the conversation, placed in the new ‘focused’ tab. This allows the user to choose the content that is most relevant to them, as well as the specific product or service which answers their needs the most.
Benefit to the advertiser
The Conversation Starter is a new way to engage with your audience and eliminates the 30-day frequency previously in place for sponsored messaging. In prime inbox position, these ads create a dialogue between the advertiser and user with ease and urgency.
This puts advertisers in a stronger position to create relevant and engaging experiences for their prospects, distributing content to an exact audience, with the correct intent.
Click to Message ads
For the user
A Click to Message ad looks to create engagement before it lands in the inbox. They are a hybrid ad which will first appear in the LinkedIn feed, encouraging the user to ‘Start Chat’. Upon being clicked on, the ad will then go into the inbox of the user.
Benefit to the advertiser
Users have more control over how they prioritise the messaging that they receive from advertisers.
Combining the feed ad with a conversation ad takes a user’s intent to convert from little to high, before they have even engaged in a conversation, due to the choice to click and interact with the feed ad. This voluntary two-way dialogue between brand and user heightens the propensity to convert, respects user preferences with what enters their inbox and gives the user complete control with how they engage with a brand.
The feed ad will increase brand visibility, becoming a touch-point along the customer journey, helping to pre-qualify the user and sending the conversation ad directly to users who want to engage in a conversation.
Why are these changes happening?
These less invasive formats highlight the trust we need to give users on platforms where data privacy is now a focal point of how we interact with our user base.
The changes see LinkedIn giving more transparency on user intent and investing in enhanced accountability on who they show ads to, placing greater focus on user privacy.
B2B Marketing through LinkedIn
In any sector, it is essential to communicate to audiences at different stages in the buying journey, with the appropriate formats, messaging and creative treatments. It is especially important in B2B where potential buyers – who are not currently ‘in-market’, but could be at any moment – make up 95% of an advertiser’s target audience.
It is common for B2B investment to be heavily skewed towards the pointy end of a B2B buyer’s journey. Targeting audiences deemed by the algorithm to be the most likely to ‘convert’ isn’t a bad tactic. However, without an investment in some longer-term plays to build awareness and nudge consideration, the cost of doing short-term business is unsustainable. Practically this means bloated cost-per-leads, higher acquisition costs and disgruntled marketers.
In comparison to B2C, the stakes are generally higher in B2B decision-making. Whilst buying the wrong pair of shoes can be an inconvenience in the short-term, it doesn’t have the same ramifications as investing six figures of the company profits in a SAAS platform that ends up under-delivering against the business’ expectations.
LinkedIn is unparalleled in its ability to reach valuable B2B decision-makers. We can layer targeting attributes such as company size, job title and even company growth rate to address a very specific brief. As with all media, the more granular you get with your targeting, the more you’re going to pay on a CPM (cost-per-thousand reached) basis.
You will generally see better performance when you run a mix of placements and formats so, to increase your media maturity, it is important to test all available advertising objectives and formats, across several platforms.
We’ll be report back once these new LinkedIn ad formats are available with findings from our initial testing. Stay tuned (or get in touch if you have any questions in the meantime!).