What is on top of my wish list for LinkedIn functionalities?
No doubt that LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing and, if you want, reputable social network. And for HR and other professionals, I guess unrivalled. Even New York Times had a positive article on LinkedIn, something quite extraordinary if you follow their coverage of social media technologies, specifically Google and Facebook.
In this line of thinking, it is surprising that I have met business and marketing managers, especially in Ireland, who are focused exclusively in LinkedIn for B2B marketing, thought leadership and lead generation. Even more, there is this view among managers that LinkedIn is the most important social network for B2B communications and even I have the feeling that Facebook is kind of bad reputation brand among some of them.
LinkedIn is getting quite popular among companies and marketing professionals beyond B2B lead generation. High level consumer brands like autos, finance and professional services have big budgets allocated for LinkedIn marketing. I have also regularly used it for marketing campaign for both clients and our agency.
All of this the result of quite the improvement in functionalities and Microsoft integration LinkedIn has undergone under the ownership of the global tech behemoth. LinkedIn is constantly adding new functionalities and capabilities which bring to closer to the user friendliness of Facebook and Google.
Yet, I see some very important things for LinkedIn to work on. Compared to the two leading internet platforms Google and Facebook, they still lack some major and important functionalities and recent experience of mine led me to write this blog post.
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Campaign objectives with LinkedIn Campaign Manager
LinkedIn have greatly improved advertising options and targeting capabilities; they add features all the time and now we can set goals for brand awareness, consideration and conversion.
All of which you can see in this video:
Now, here is my problem with LinkedIn Campaign Manager. Applying strategy for Consideration, Web Sites visits, LinkedIn Campaign Manager allows straightforward like in Facebook to see estimate of the reach in number of users and related costs to predefined period with maximum of one month.
All of this is great until we setup the campaign budget in automatic bid but where in this small note we see with that costs are calculated on impressions. Now, this is strange and quite unorthodox for strategy related to clicks.
The LinkedIn platform should account for greater number of clicks and adapt the level of impressions accordingly. Therefore, like in Facebook or Google, in this strategy we should not pay according to the number of impressions but the number of clicks. And this is very important because we all know that there is not the same linear correlation between impressions and clicks for every campaign.
Performance Analytics in LinkedIn Campaign Manager
The other big issue, for me really troublesome and uncomfortable when managing campaigns, is again related to the reach and number of users in LinkedIn campaigns.
Again, in a Consideration/Web Site Visits objective, the campaign manager analytics tools for performance in LinkedIn do not account for number of users reached and related indicators like impressions per user, clicks per user, costs per user, etc.
Why this is a big thing for me. Well, whatever we are planning in B2B marketing, we are marketing and buying media time according to number of users. In B2B marketing we are communicating to people, not legal entities, companies, organizations, brands or whatever entity we are making our business and strategic marketing plans against. And not having campaign data on the for me most critical marketing metric is not good.
Now, LinkedIn allows you to see estimated number of users to be reached, the approximate budget for this reach but in the end does not give us the data for the real reach.
I have had campaigns which were unique for particular geographic market. For example, certain software for a particular industry with limited marketing so far. The platforms, both Facebook and LinkedIn probably have not had experience and data on similar campaigns and one can see in the analytics data in Facebook how the “machine learns” and becomes more and more accurate in its predictions and targeting.
And in both reach and web sites visits goals, in similar campaigns I look very carefully in the number of users and related KPIs. If, for example, I have setup brand awareness objective and I notice that number of uses and therefore reach stops growing, or growth rate slows significantly, but the impressions per user are growing and this happens when I have budget and time in the period left, I could decide that we have made our optimum reach and level of frequency and I can save money by stopping the campaign.
Similar with web sites clicks objective. Usually, then the platforms increase impressions per user in order to stimulate clicks. But when I notice that impressions per user are increasing significantly but clicks do not grow with expected rate, I manage campaign trying to improve its results.
Now, in both cases impressions and clicks only by themselves do not help for campaign management. Even worse if we are paying for impressions but we are aiming for clicks.
Now, I tried to raise this with LinkedIn campaign management support but I received “interesting” response, one that kind of made me feel that either they are not sure what they are talking about or they are made to circumvent the question. I was told that I can see users in the planning stage and then impressions and click in analytics. Basically, they avoided direct answer to my question.
I am not sure what is the reason behind this LinkedIn policy but the bottom line is that LinkedIn still has some work to do to catch up to Facebook and Google in user-friendly advertising management.
With more than 645 million users, LinkedIn is critical for B2B marketing professionals
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