I speak with a lot of video professionals, and one of the biggest pain points that I hear about is how hard it is to attract new clients. Developing new leads is necessary to offset the pressures of tighter timelines, shrinking production budgets, and heavy competition.
While word of mouth, getting client testimonials, and networking are probably the most effective ways to attract new clients, I think that advertising through channels like LinkedIn and Google Adwords have a place in the promotional mix for production and post production companies of all sizes.
In particular, I think that the rich targeting offered by LinkedIn Ads offers a relatively untapped advertising opportunity for video professionals.
Why LinkedIn advertising?
First, there is a good chance that the people you want to reach are registered with LinkedIn. The rapidly growing network counts over 161 million registered users.
Second, the audience of business oriented professionals is there to get things done, whether it's looking for a job, recruiting job candidates, connecting with business contacts, or seeking new business. This is good news for advertisers, as a well targeted campaign can actually reach a person as they are trying to solve a problem.
Third, perhaps the biggest benefit of advertising on LinkedIn is the ability to precisely target who you want to reach. You know all that rich information you are asked about when you fill in your LinkedIn profile? Well your ads can be targeted against virtually any of it.
Finally, the self-serve advertising platform is relatively easy to use. You don't have to spend on creative, you pay with a credit card, and you can keep costs under control by setting your maximum daily budget as low as $10.
How LinkedIn advertising works
Ads are shown in a number of prominent places on the LinkedIn website and ad placement is determined by LinkedIn.
Ads consist of a headline of up to 25 characters of text, a description of up to 75 characters of text, your company name, a small image (50x50 pixels), and the URL that people will visit when they click on your ad.
The appearance of your ads will be slightly different depending on where they are shown. Ads that are shown at the top of the page appear as a single line of text with no images (1), while ads on the side of the page are accompanied by a small image (2).
Ad placement is determined through a sort of auction. The winnings bids are selected based on the amount that each advertiser has bid to reach the target audience, and the historical performance of each advertisers ad. An ad with a relatively high click-through rate (CTR) may win out over an ad that has a higher bid and a relatively low CTR.
With this in mind, it's clear that above all else, you are going to want to optimize your campaign to have the highest possible CTR. Now let's take a look at how to get started doing that.
8 tips on getting started with LinkedIn advertising
LinkedIn guides you through the process of setting up your ad campaign. You start by creating an ad, then you select your targeting, and you finish by setting your campaign options and budget. Since I think starting with your ad first is a bit out of step, I'll present the tips in a different order.
Make sure LinkedIn advertising is a fit for your business
As a starting point, LinkedIn is probably going to work best if you are selling your services to other businesses (B2B). If you are selling your service to a consumer audience, LinkedIn may not be the best advertising bet.
For example if you are selling a B2C service like wedding videography, you are trying to reach someone that is at a particular life stage, rather than a particular type of company. Since people from all walks of life hire wedding videographers, you would be better off using Google search advertising to target a common search term like wedding videos.
Target your ads narrowly and build a campaign for each segment
The first step to creating an effective campaign is to figure out exactly who you are going to target. Your ads will only be shown to people who meet your targeting criteria.
Some of the targeting options include city, job title, function, industry, type of company, company name, size of company, and a number of demographic criteria. You can also target members of specific LinkedIn groups.
If I was going to try selling my video production services to local real estate agents, then I would target by city, and either job function or job title. Job function presents broad categories like real estate. Job title lets you search for a specific job title. If you use this more narrow criteria, I would suggest starting with a broad search term (like real estate agent) and then accepting some of LinkedIn's related suggestions.
In my example, using job function resulted in a target audience of 16,000, whereas searching by title produced an audience of 7,906. Both of these are relatively small audiences, so I would probably pick the broader one.
If you want to target different groups like real estate agents, pharmaceutical companies, and advertising agencies, then you would want to create a campaign for each audience. Each campaign would have its own set of highly optimized ads and its own budget.
By narrowly targeting your campaign, you increase the chance that your ad will reach out and grab the viewers attention. This in turn will increase the click through rate of your advertisement. All else being equal, the higher the clickthrough rate of your ad, the more likely it is your ad will be shown and that you will generate leads.
Write copy that grabs your target audience's attention
LinkedIn pages have a lot going on, so you are going to have to work hard to draw people in with a title that's a maximum of 25 characters and a description that's a maximum of 75 characters. Much of your work will be devoted to creating dynamic ad copy and then optimizing it.
Write ad copy that is aimed at the needs of your target audience. In my example advertisement, I'm appealing to real estate agents and their desire to sell homes quickly and at the highest price possible. This is going to be much more effective than a generic ad that says something like "Toronto video production - we do marketing, sales, and training videos".
Draw your audience in with an image. According to LinkedIn, ads with images generate 20% more clicks. Rather than using your logo as an image, you may be better off with something that engages them. In this case, I've chosen the sold sign because it ties in with my copy and is immediately familiar to agents. Images that include people are also said to have higher clickthrough rates than logos.
End with a strong call to action. In the case of a production company, you can't do something like a 30-day trial as we do with ScreenLight, but you do want to make sure that people reach out and contact you. Continuing on in the real estate example, you could try a call to action that says download the white paper (and link to a white paper on using video in real estate), or get a free consultation.
Pick an ad destination that works
Advertisements can be directed towards your LinkedIn profile, your LinkedIn company page, or your website. Unless you have really built up a very solid company page, your best bet is to direct people to your website.
Instead of directing people to your homepage, a best practice is to send them to a landing page. What's a landing page? It's a purpose built webpage that continues the conversation that was begun with the ad. The tailored content moves people through the sales funnel and helps to increase conversion rates.
Rather than trying to close the sale on the landing page, you should try to capture lead generation information that will enable you to move the conversation forward at a later time. For example, calls to action like download our white paper or get a free quote should be linked to a lead generation form where people enter their name, email address and phone number. The most effective lead generation forms provide something of value in exchange for the contact information.
You can either make a landing page yourself, or you can use a service like unbounce that makes setting up landing pages for marketing campaigns really easy. They also have some great tips of how to use a landing page with LinkedIn.
Capture names with built in lead collection
One of the newer campaign options is lead collection. If you enable this, when someone clicks one of your ads, they will see a lead collection bar above their website asking if they would like you to follow up with them on LinkedIn.
This could be a good shortcut if you don't want to build a full lead generation landing page. That being said, it may not be as effective at capturing information from the person viewing the ad, as there is no reward for doing so (other than their interest in your service).
It's definitely worth experimenting with this option to see if it works for you.
Test different headlines and copy
LinkedIn allows up to 15 ad variations per campaign. Keeping track of this many ads and their relative performance would be a bit of a nightmare.
Rather than coming up with 15 ads at once, I would suggest starting with a couple of variations and watching them for awhile. Once you've seen the clickthrough rate of advertisements, remove the lowest performing advertisements and test another variation against your highest performing ones (no reason to take them out of the mix). Over time, you will want to experiment with different combinations of headlines, images, and ad copy.
I've read in several places that if your clickthrough rate for an advertisement or campaign dips below .025%, then LinkedIn will reduce the rate at which it is shown. My own personal experience has born this out, so you will want to optimize your ad to keep the clickthrough rate above this threshold.
Keep your budget under control
LinkedIn gives you a choice of Pay Per Click (CPC) or Pay Per 1000 Impressions (CPM). I would suggest that you chose the pay per click option since your objective is lead generation rather than brand advertising which is a better fit for CPM advertising.
With the CPC model, you set your maximum bid for a click. Depending on the average conversion rate of your ads and what other people have bid, you may pay less than your maximum for a click. You are only charged the amount you bid if someone clicks your ad.
LinkedIn will provide you a suggested bid range, and a minimum bid. I would suggest going somewhere in the suggested range to get started. You can always optimize up or down once you have had a chance to see what your conversion rate is like. I wouldn't bother going lower than the suggested minimum because there is little chance that your ad will be shown.
You should also set your maximum daily budget to somewhere in the $10-20 / day range while you are getting started. No need to spend much more until you have a sense of whether the ads are actually bringing in leads.
Track performance of your campaign
Unless you are watching your campaign, you can quickly throw away money.
The first thing that you should focus on is the clickthrough rate of your ads. One thing that helps with this is setting your ad rotation to "optimize click through rate". Selecting this will ensure that your highest performing ads will be shown more frequently than your other ads. Keep experimenting with different ads to increase the conversion rate and keep your campaign from getting too stale (the smaller the target audience, the faster this can happen).
Measuring clicks is the easy part of the battle. You will also want to measure the number of leads that you get from your ads. This is where the lead collection landing page comes in handy. You can calculate your cost per lead by dividing your monthly ad spending for a campaign by the number of qualified leads you get.
As some of these leads turn into sales you can evaluate the cost of acquisition (COA) by dividing your total ad spending over the period by the number of jobs that you have gotten from your ads. Ultimately what you can afford to spend on a new customer for your production business is a function of the COA, how much revenue you get from the new jobs, and the margin you earn from completing the jobs. We will get into more detail on tracking performance of your online marketing campaigns in a future post.
If you have any experience adverting on LinkedIn, share your experience and any tips that you have in the comments.