• Adam Yaeger

Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn Sponsored Content And InMail

Create winning Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail campaigns on LinkedIn using these tips from an ex-LinkedIn employee.

Sponsored Content is the best way to capture your audience’s attention on LinkedIn. Why? Your promoted content will flow organically (“native” in marketing speak) within the LinkedIn feed. Why does this matter? Instead of seeing those pesky, traditional banner ads, people will instead see what you are promoting directly within their feed. If done correctly, what you are promoting won’t even feel like an ad. Read on to learn how.

Creating Sponsored Content on LinkedIn

Every social media platform has its form of Sponsored Content (Facebook ads calls it ‘Sponsored Posts’ for instance). What is Sponsored Content? Native ads in the LinkedIn feed that allow you to target professionals with images, videos, and carousels fitting seamlessly into the LinkedIn feed. While crafting your LinkedIn advertising campaign in campaign manager, focus on the value it will bring your end-users to achieve a high click-through rate, increase brand awareness, and generate leads to maximize your ROI. Whatever your goal is you’ll want to follow these steps in order to set up your Sponsored Content posts. Each post needs a subject, ad copy (body), creative (image or video), and a link out to your landing page or a lead gen form for each ad you want to create. We’ve created a free ad copy template to help organize your thoughts and get you started.

A sampling of some of the ads we've created for our clients.

Sponsored Content best practices

  • Concise: Keep your headlines (subject) under 70 characters and ad copy (body) under 250 characters to avoid truncation (the 'see more…').

  • Eye-catching images: Use high-quality and high-resolution images with a size of 1200x627 pixels.

  • Videos: Keep them short! The shorter the better. We have limited attention spans. Drive home your unique value proposition within the first 5 seconds and then elaborate. Videos should be :15 or :30; at most :60.

  • CTA: Include a Call to Action so the professionals you’re targeting know how to pursue your business (i.e. Schedule a demo, free case study download).

  • Ad Copy: Share information that your audience will care about. What are their main pain points and goals? Too often advertisers share about their product or service. Although helpful for awareness, your target audience likely has not heard of you yet, or even if they have, you are not Apple coming out with the new iPhone. Your messaging should reflect your audience’s challenges and how your product/service offering can assist them in achieving their goals.

  • Repurpose: If you have existing blogs, case studies, eBooks, how-to guides, or social content that can enhance your sponsored content, use that rather than creating new content every time. Quality over quantity.

  • Optimize for mobile: 57% of LinkedIn use is on mobile. Make sure your headlines (subjects) and ad copy (body) are short enough that people can view them on their phone without tapping 'see more'.

What is Sponsored InMail on LinkedIn?

Rather than sending to email addresses, like in email marketing campaigns, you’ll be sending your messages directly to LinkedIn members in their LinkedIn inbox. Sponsored InMail is different from normal InMail that you send to members using your monthly allotted InMail credit. By putting ad dollars behind your InMail (which makes it 'sponsored') it allows you to reach more of your audience with personalized messaging. If you’re looking to market an event, webinar, or just looking to get a little more personal with your LinkedIn marketing, look no further than Sponsored InMail. This allows you to deliver a targeted message to your prospects with no character limit and in a less distracting environment. While the lack of character limit gives you the freedom to provide as much information as you want, short messages generally perform better. Focus on personalization and customization rather than length. InMail is a fantastic way to promote an event, on-demand webinar, and/or podcast. It’s a more personalized approach than a sponsored content post and can offer extensive ‘value-add’ if you are targeting a specific set of prospects. InMail also has a 300% higher response rate than email, according to Hootsuite.

Adam’s tip: Most marketers will run an InMail campaign in conjunction with Sponsored Content for an omnipresent marketing approach. Ensure you’re touching all your bases and hitting prospects at the right time and place. Some prospects respond better to a personalized message and outreach.

A LinkedIn Sponsored InMail we created to promote the attendance for a cyber-security event on behalf of our client.

Framing your message

Before sending InMails, you’ll want to ask yourself: How can my target audience (the person you are reaching out to) benefit from this conversation? What are the pain points of my audience? What problems can I solve for them? While no character limit might tempt you to tell the grassroots story of your business, keep it short and sweet (under 500 characters).

Personalizing your message can dramatically improve your odds of receiving a response, so go ahead and check out the users’ LinkedIn profile and mention their love of musical theater and the New York Yankees (if appropriate).

InMail bidding options

CPS (cost-per-send) is unique to LinkedIn and a very cost-efficient way to bid. Generally, CPS for InMail campaigns are $1 and we often get them to under $0.50 per send. It's a great way to target a highly customized and personalized message to your intended target prospect without breaking the bank.

Subject line personalization

The subject line is your opportunity to draw in potential leads, but you’ll have limited space. These 200 characters can make or break you, so choose wisely. Focus on creating an emotional response with your subject line.

Adam’s tip: You only get 1 InMail per each unique recipient every 60 days, so make it count! While this feature might seem restrictive, it’s actually a blessing because it limits the amount of spam that surrounds traditional email marketing campaigns.

LinkedIn advertising costs

Most LinkedIn ad costs are based on a cost per click CPC model. This is generally the standard when it comes to any PPC advertising campaign across social media channels. You do have the option to charge by impressions (CPM - cost per thousand impressions) however this is disadvantageous when targeting on LinkedIn because of the high costs associated. Let’s break down LinkedIn ads costs for both Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail. For an in-depth analysis, check out our guide on How To Budget For Your Digital Advertising Campaigns.

Cost of Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail on LinkedIn

Before you think about the bidding options you’ll want to set a daily budget (and sometimes a total budget) for your ad campaigns. Having a daily and total budget allows LinkedIn to serve your ads consistently throughout your campaign flight (your campaign start and end date). The daily budget will depend on what you are willing to spend on your total budget. We usually like to break it down as such: if your total budget is $1,000 and we want to run the campaign for 1 month we would simply divide your total budget by the number of days in the month to get the daily budget. In this case, our daily budget should be $33.33 ($1,000/30 days). A great way to target on LinkedIn is by utilizing the matched audiences feature. Matched audiences allow you to re-market to an audience that has already seen your advertisements and/or have visited your website. A common misnomer surrounding matched audiences is that this targeting feature costs more -- it does not. Which brings up a great point; what facets would make a particular ad campaign cost more? There are a variety of factors that go into this but among the main ones are: seasonality, who you are targeting (engineers are always going to cost more than teachers), and what other competitors are bidding in the auction. Which brings us to bidding… We often get asked, “What is the maximum amount I should be bidding?”. This is a flawed question because the amount you bid will be highly dependent on what other advertisers are bidding. For Sponsored Content bids are wide-ranging. We’ve seen anywhere from $6 to $27. This is mostly dependent on who you are trying to target. Sponsored InMail is much more affordable because it works on a CPS (cost per send) model. With InMail campaigns, you can expect to bid anywhere between $0.30 and $0.60 per InMail send.

Sponsored Content is the most widely-used ad format and generates the highest performing metrics based on your marketing goals. Sponsored InMail is just as useful, and gives you the opportunity to cater your message to each potential lead. When utilized correctly, both Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail can take your LinkedIn marketing campaign to where it needs to be in order to generate the leads your business has been missing out on.

Was this post helpful? Share it with your colleagues. Looking for expert help with your LinkedIn Sponsored Content and InMail marketing campaigns? Let’s chat about your marketing goals.

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