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LinkedIn Sponsored Updates: Something Actually Worth Paying For

  |  February 21, 2014   |  Comments

If you've ever tried regular ads on LinkedIn, even with detailed audience targeting, then you've felt that black hole feeling of advertising on LinkedIn. So a warm welcome to sponsored updates!

I know, ouch. But if you've ever tried regular ads on LinkedIn, even with detailed audience targeting, then you've felt that black hole feeling of advertising on LinkedIn. (Personally, I was always more interested in their third-party partner network, like SlideShare.)

So a warm welcome to sponsored updates!

What Are LinkedIn Sponsored Updates?

Sponsored Updates are a way to give your company updates a "push" to get them to linger further and longer in the newsfeeds of your desired target audience and into the newsfeeds of new audiences. Ideally, with more exposure, you'll see higher levels of engagement, maybe even some sign-ups or lead capture, depending on what you're up to.

For the purposes of this post, I'm going to do a Sponsored Update for a free webinar that Portent is giving on Thursday, February 27 on segmentation in analytics with our senior analytics strategist, Michael Wiegand.

How to Set Up

One thing is for sure, they make it VERY easy to set up.

  1. Write or post an update that's shareable fun. Check out this best practice SlideShare for image, video, headline, and text update suggestions.
  2. Click the "Sponsor update" button on any post, ideally the one you want to sponsor, then "get started."linked-in-sponsor-button 
  3. Select "Sponsor an update," name the campaign, and choose which update you want to sponsor. Check out the preview and click "next."
  4. Determine location, like the USA, companies and/or job titles that you want to define your audience by. Or, go nuts and expand to schools, skills, groups, gender, or age. Check out your estimated audience size and click "next."linked-in-audience-targeting
  5. Next up, payment. Cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand (CPM). Social actions are free...woo-hoo! In this case, I'm going to go with CPC. The minimum bid is $4 to which, yes, I swooned a little. I did go back and forth with the targeting, trying larger and smaller audiences, but I was not able to "beat" a minimum bid of $3.50 with 11 million targeted members. You can go back and forth on this, but it's best just to pick what you need. If you're able to narrow it in any way around geography, great, do it.linked-in-payment
  6. Choose your daily or total budget for the campaign, as well as an end date. Since this update is around a specific date, I chose a definitive end date.
  7. Last, but not least, click that "Launch Campaign" button.

Defining "Success" With LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

So I mentioned that this was worth trying, but not how I knew that. In our case it comes from two points of view - one was content engagement (downloading and keeping top of mind for a particular subject) and the other was sign-ups and traffic generation. In both cases, success was defined through site behavior and quality of engagement first, not in a last-click, direct return on investment (ROI) attribution model. I am finding that having two goals, one around awareness and engagement and a secondary around a call to action (download, sign-up), is best to leading the user into your spiderweb. If you're planning on relying on Sponsored Updates as the immediate answer to your pipeline drought, you're going to be sad.

So, how did my sample LinkedIn Sponsored Update do?

Not bad. Not great.
linked-in-sponsored-results

Here's one that did a lot better and was run with the intent of lead gen and more carefully targeted:
linked-in-better
linked-in-acquisition
Last Tip

If you've done other LinkedIn advertising before, you can access under the LinkedIn Campaign Manager under the Sponsored Ads area, which even then, didn't pull in my most recent Sponsored Update campaign, but did pull this new one in immediately. Reason being, someone else, who is also a page admin for the company, did the Sponsored Update on their profile. So if you're not set up as a business account, watch out for crisscrossing sponsored updates there.

I recommend clicking on the Analytics tab from your company's page and then scrolling through updates to the Sponsored Update you're looking for, click it, and see the stats for that particular update and to see if anyone else has also been monkeying around.

That does it for my LinkedIn Sponsored Update crash course. If you've got results of your own to brag about, post them in the comments here!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Marsten

Elizabeth Marsten is the vice president of search marketing at Portent, Inc., a digital marketing agency, in Seattle, Washington. She oversees the PPC, SEO, analytics, and social media departments and is the is the co-author of All in One Web Marketing Reference for Dummies (Wiley Publishing) with Ian Lurie, Marty Dickenson, Michael Becker, and John Arnold, as well as PPC courses on Lynda.com.

See her SlideShare presentations from speaking at MozCon, SMX Advanced, East and West, PPC Hero Con, Searchfest, and State of Search or find her on Twitter at @ebkendo.

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