By Bret Piatt
Oct 14, 2016
With our new software release coming out earlier this month, we began testing a number of different ways to get the message out to the market. One of those methods was LinkedIn Marketing and it was a complete failure. This post below is what went wrong. We’re still not sure why as we have run other successful campaigns on LinkedIn in the past. It still doesn’t make it any better to burn $1,000+ dollars and get nothing for it. It also shows why you can’t set it and forget it on digital marketing.
As diagram 1 shows below we can put our ads only on the timelines of our exact audience. We went with a Text Ad campaign with a cost per click (CPC) bid of $12.01 (Other advertisers are bidding between $8.78 - $13.09). With our audience filter, it says we’ll put our ads in front of 1,450,000+ members.
Here we go on a daily budget of $160.00 to start the test…
For $1,040.58, we put our ad out for 1,278,974 impressions to get 107 clicks at an average CPC of $9.73 and average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) of $0.81 (Diagram 2). For business owner’s looking for a data backup or network security solution AdWords CPCs are in that range (or higher) so the CPC is reasonable if the quality is there. We found out we can get impressions, clicks and put money to work through the platform for the audience we selected (at least at the $160.00 per day rate).
We use Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to track traffic with goals. By tying together traffic sources, this is our way to gauge traffic quality and with this specific LinkedIn campaign the numbers aren’t good. They were so bad I dug through and looked at the data three different ways.
Numbers between Google and the number of clicks from your CPC sources won’t always match exactly as some folks click an ad twice to reopen a new tab, so the ‘off by 1’ doesn’t concern me. For the first couple days of the campaign, the traffic looked okay, still not great, but okay. If you stopped looking at it after the first couple of days you could end up with the wrong assumption that the traffic would stay the same quality for the duration of the campaign. This was not the case. For the second week our average time on page was down to 2 seconds. Even for the whole campaign we effectively paid $1.22 per second of website traffic. OUCH!
Being concerned and also a data nerd, I went to look and find out, “Is our landing page just terrible?” so I compared the LinkedIn Campaign vs. Overall Traffic (Diagram 4) and the rest of our traffic looked just fine.
Even organic LinkedIn traffic looks terrible (Diagram 5). Engagement on LinkedIn vs. the other social networks is not high. As Facebook has become more accepted as a professional social network and LinkedIn has blurred to contain non-work related content the differentiation between the two is gone. Facebook is clearly in a whole different quality league.
The traffic from this campaign is abysmal quality, to the point I feel robbed. For some perspective a sub-$0.50 CPC display campaign (even with high mobile user percentage) has session durations 300+ percent higher than this campaign on LinkedIn. To look at this versus a $9.73 CPC search campaign, I can’t even get started on a comparison without needing a support group to talk about how bad this traffic was.
We’ll try things on LinkedIn again in the future. Perhaps after Microsoft closes the transaction and hopefully rolls out a combined Bing/LinkedIn ad platform with the Bing platform quality. I could be convinced to try again sooner if anyone has examples that really work for them in a SaaS to SMB marketing scenario.