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Behind the Scenes at Jungle Disk - Robbed by LinkedIn, Digital Advertising Gone Wrong

By Bret Piatt
Oct 14, 2016

Digital Advertising on Social Platforms

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.

Hypothesis: Our software is designed for business owners and IT leaders of 2-250 employee businesses and LinkedIn should be an ideal way to reach them.

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.

Diagram 1 - LinkedIn provides granular control

Here we go on a daily budget of $160.00 to start the test…

Result: We paid search CPC costs and received garbage quality traffic.

Perspective 1: Results in LinkedIn Campaign Manager

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).

Diagram 2 - LinkedIn Campaign Manager shows detailed results

Perspective 2: Results in Google Analytics

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.

#1 Campaign URLs

Diagram 3 - LinkedIn campaign results on Google Analytics

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!

#2 LinkedIn Campaign vs. Overall Site Traffic

Diagram 4 - LinkedIn Campaign vs. Overall Traffic

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.

#3 A Control View of Organic LinkedIn vs. Organic Overall for a Blog Post About How to Backup OneDrive.

Diagram 5 - LinkedIn vs. Not-LinkedIn for a Blog Post

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.

Conclusion: I hope Microsoft brings some of their AdTech to LinkedIn with the acquisition.

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.