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Episode from the podcastLinkedIn Ads Show

How to Create High-Performing LinkedIn Ads

Released Tuesday, 26th January 2021
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Congratulations to the LinkedIn Ads Show contest winners!

It's fortunate that this week's episode is all about creating the perfect ad, when we also get to reveal the 3 winning ads in our performance contest! We had so many incredible submissions, showing us examples on how to be rockstar marketers on LinkedIn. 
Here were the winners (in no particular order because they're all rockstars) along with their high-performing ads and landing pages:

Winner #1: Highest CTR and Lowest CPC

Zoltan Kozma from CBRE Hungary
CTR: 5.60% & CPC: €0.14

Zoltan Kozma - LinkedIn Ads Winning Ad
Why so Amazing?
LinkedIn's average Click Through Rate for Sponsored Content is ~.4% and Cost Per Click is in the $8-12 range. That's why getting a CTR that was 14 times higher than average is excellent. With a CTR that is 14X the average, paying by CPM, Zoltan found himself paying a tiny fraction of what competitors would be paying.
It's targeted to an audience who had already been really responsive on a past campaign, so he knew he was setting the company up for success. It's an organic company Page post that he boosted, so it had good social proof from the start, which helps. It also leads to an article on Forbes Hungary, which helps increase trust.
Not only did he find that the article was getting tons of cheap traffic, but he also noticed ~35 new followers from the effort over a short period of time. 
Well done Zoltan!

Winner #2: Highest Landing Page Conversion Rate

Alex Panchuk from Reply.io
Conversion Rate: 62.14%
alex panchuk linkedin ads contest winning ad
Why so Amazing?
We call any offer on LinkedIn that gets over a 15% conversion rate a "Rockstar Offer." Alex ran this video creative(traditionally harder to get good performance from) to a cold audience, with an external landing page (think of how much higher the conversion rate would have been if it were a Lead Gen Form Ad), and on top of that, they required a Business Email, and it still got a 62% conversion rate!
It pushed 65 unique downloads, plus a couple of view-through conversions for good measure. Obviously the high conversion rate has so much to do with the offer and the landing page, so check that out here: https://reply.io/cold-email-handbook/
Nice Work Alex!

WINNER #3: HIGHEST CONVERSION RATE
Eric Southwell from SupremeOpti
Conversion Rate: 65.40%
eric southwell linkedin ads contest winning ad
eric southwell linkedin ads contest winning ad lead gen form

Why so Amazing?
We would have guessed that the highest-converting winner would be through a LinkedIn Lead Gen Form ad (On average, they convert 10-50% better than landing pages) but this blew us away.
This is a 65% conversion rate, on an ad and offer that has been running for 7 MONTHS now to a cold audience! Most ads on LinkedIn wear out their audience after ~1 month, but this ad/offer is like a fine wine and performance has actually continued to improve over time. UNHEARD OF!
On top of the leads it generated, it also drove 9 CONVERSIONS, which is likely from viral signups that wouldn't have been served the Lead Gen Form.
Eric, you slayed it!

Honorable Mention: Highest Conversion Rate

Lindsay Beaulieu from Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Conversion Rate 325%!
When we saw Lindsay's submissions, we had to take a double-take. It's ultra-rare (I dare say, impossible) to get a conversion rate over 100%.
When we looked into it, we found it was a Text Ad, and the vast majority of the conversions were view-through conversions. Ok, so you might say "LinkedIn wasn't responsible for those conversions since they were view-through," but this is a testament to me that Lindsay's team is targeting the right audience across multiple channels. The huge amount of view-through conversions on Text Ads (which show a ton of impressions) is proof that her other channels are targeting excellently and we see those reflected in LinkedIn's metrics.
Thanks for teaching us Lindsay!

Show Resources

Here were the resources we covered in the episode:
DRIVE Sales: The 5 Secrets to Increase Your …

LinkedIn Learning course about LinkedIn Ads by AJ Wilcox: LinkedIn Advertising Course
Contact us at [email protected] with ideas for what you'd like AJ to cover.
Show Transcript:
We've created the formula for the perfect LinkedIn Ad. And of course, we're going to share it with you because we're not the type to hold back. This is the LinkedIn Ads Show.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here's your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. So writing ads is an incredibly involved task, it doesn't seem overly difficult because you have some characters that you have to stay within. And then you kind of get to write or put whatever you want. But then, of course, you have to keep in mind who your audience is. And then what's interesting to them. And of course, you have to communicate what you have to offer them. But without asking too much, so they get overwhelmed, and you have to stay within the character limits. That's a lot to keep balanced. So today, I'm going to walk you through our ad creation process, and let you in on a little bit of the B2Linked secret sauce for how we create high performing ads. First of all, I'm sure many of you notice that this is our first episode in a couple months. And thank you to so many of you who emailed and messaged asking if I'm doing okay. That means a ton to me. So what originally happened is around the holiday of Thanksgiving here in the US, I ended up getting knee surgery. Right near the beginning of COVID, I ended up having a lot of knee pain after some hiking. And I love hiking, I do a lot of it. But that pain didn't go away for a long time. So I finally went to go see a doctor. We did everything we could and eventually we decided it had to be surgery. Without getting too graphic here. My meniscus, which is like the padding in between my knees, what takes all the impact as I'm running downhill, it was torn into places, my cartilage was messed up and needed to be kind of burred down. And my knee cap was too far over to one side, so they released it so it would go more in track. I expected this to be something very simple and I would be just back at work the next day. But boy, it it really sidelined me. For like a week I was on medication and laying down in bed just trying to get work done. So podcast had to go on hold. Plus, around that time we had the holidays, which present their own little bits of complication, as we have family all around and you know, four kids and all that. Plus, I worked on two giant audits for Fortune 500 companies. And as a company, we just moved into bigger offices, we just hired six new people, and now we're training them. And then something I think you might find really exciting. I'm in the process of working with LinkedIn Learning to update our LinkedIn Learning course that I talked about every episode. So with all of that going on, basically this is the first episode in a little while. Where we left off, there was a contest running for a LinkedIn Ads performance contest. And I'm so excited to announce the winners and tell you what they did that was so amazing, and how you can replicate it to get better performance for your own ads. I wanted to give a quick shout out to any of you who are listening from the Instazone site. We were recently featured on there so thanks so much for those of you who are joining us potentially for the first time here. So getting here into the contest, thank you to everyone who submitted. There were so many entries. We had some amazing entries and it took a lot of work by me and my team, but we did go through and select three winners. For those of you who aren't up to speed, in November, I announced a LinkedIn Ads performance contest. And I promised that the prize would be awesome and super unique, but I couldn't share with you what it was. Well, the time has come, I finally get to share with you what the prize is. Because LinkedIn doesn't have hourly reporting, we know that there are certain times of the day where performance is going to be better than others, but we can't prove it because there's no hourly reporting. Well, what we've figured out is we can go into an account, and we can have our team go in and take all of the performance every hour, and then just subtract it from the total. So we're getting only the performance during that hour. This is of course a lot of work. But we've put together a really cool dashboard, where you can look at it in your own time zone, you can see what times of day, and which days of the week perform better than others. So for you three winners, congratulations! You're about to get something that we've been really excited about internally. And it will give you insights like what time of day your audience wakes up, and when they go to lunch, and all of that good stuff. Okay, so how we selected the winners. It was a contest to see who could show us what gets the best click through rates, the lowest costs per click, and then the highest conversion rates, which of course leads to the lowest cost per conversion. We selected the winners by analyzing all of the top submissions, and then we reached out and actually verified, we got account access, we verified that all the metrics were what they looked like. We took into account the competitiveness of the geographies that were targeted, and the strategy being used. And then more than anything, I wanted to just highlight these amazing marketers and what they're doing so that you can learn from them and improve your own strategies. So without further ado, here are the three winners in no particular order. We have Alex Panchuk from Reply.io, who he happens to live in the Ukraine and I lived in the Ukraine for a couple years. So it's very near and dear to my heart, Alex, congratulations. Then we have Zoltan Kozma, from CBRE Hungary in Hungary. And then finally, we have Eric Southwell is the Chief Marketing Officer of Supreme Optimization and he's a total globetrotter. I love following everything he's doing. And I do have one honorable mention, I couldn't make this a fourth winner, but Lindsay Beaulieu, who's the Digital Marketing Specialist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. She did something amazing that I think is really good for us to hear about. So we'll highlight a little bit of her strategy here, as well, all four of you, thank you for being loyal listeners. Thank you for just being rockstars and showing the rest of us marketers how to do what we do better.
Alex Panchuk
So starting with Alex Panchuk from Reply.io. His entry had a conversion rate of 62.14%, which is amazing. Candidly, the highest conversion rates that we've ever seen have been 59%. So he absolutely blew even my records away, which I'm ecstatic about. And of course, you'll be able to go down into the show notes and take a look at the ads themselves, like a screenshot, you can see the landing pages that were really high converting where applicable. So go and check these out and learn from them. Some things that Alex did really well, as well as some of the things that made this truly impressive. First, he required business emails, and we know that when you make it a little bit more difficult for people, then we see conversion rates come down. So this is an amazing conversion rate of 62%, when they're still requiring business email. Plus, there was an additional question in there. And this was right when square video on LinkedIn Ads came out and so very few did it. And I think that helped it stand out quite a bit. So Alex, congratulations, everyone, go check out his ad and his landing page, so you can learn more about it.
7:29
Zoltan Kozma
And next, Zoltan Kozma. And I'm so sorry for anyone that I'm butchering your name, he won for having both the highest click through rate and because of that the lowest cost per click is click through rate was 5.6%. And his cost per click came out to 14 cents. What was so amazing about this is that it was created to look native. It goes to an external site and so there's there's nothing gated. This was pure value to create awareness. And it was an interview article. And one that actually started out as an organic post from the company page and then it was boosted once it had 122 likes and some comments. What Zoltan did to get this is he went and found an audience that he'd already targeted earlier who happened to be really responsive. He released this content that was really easy to consume, there wasn't any jargon. And it sure doesn't hurt that the page that it's going to was actually Forbes. And then with click through rates that were so high, you know, over 5%, my recommendation would be to use either auto bidding, or bid CPM really high to make sure you're always showing up in the top position. But this blew me away. It was a manual CPM bid, but it was bidding below the recommendation. Which generally produces pretty poor results, but in this case, it rocked. So in addition to getting really good ad performance, they also got 30 to 40 new followers. So that was a happy byproduct of these ads. It was created in the engagement objective. So I wanted to look in and see okay, you know, which were actual clicks on the article, and then which ones were engaging with the ad like, likes, comments, visiting the company page, following the company page, etc. And 3% click through rate was actual clicking through to the article, so that's amazing. And then the rest were followers and likes and comments, therefore helping it go out viral. Zoltan, nice work. I'm super excited for you. It was really impressive. Even though it was outside the US where it's quite a bit less competitive, this was still amazing, and I had to give it to you.
9:43
Eric Southwell
Next is Eric Southwell from Supreme Optimization. Eric's team absolutely destroyed with a 65% conversion rate. So that's even higher than Reply.os', but what's even more impressive to me is that these ads have been running for six plus months, they still have a 65% conversion rate, even after six months of running the same offer. That was totally legit, I loved it. And as I looked over time, cost per lead has actually been going down over time. Now, this was 65% conversion rate on native lead gen forms, which makes sense. I totally thought the conversion rate winners would be using lead gen forms, but what I also liked is that not only did they have leads from the lead gen form, they also had conversions coming through so that was people who weren't even part of the target audience who were seeing the post and going and actually completing the form on the site. It averaged $5.18 cost per click. And they were not bidding the absolute minimum cost per click here. And the vast majority of that traffic, those conversions were coming from the US. Eric, super impressive. Congratulations, got to hand it to you.
10:58
Lindsay Beaulieu
And then we had Lindsay Beaulieu, who is our honorable mention. Now, when she submitted, it was an over 100% conversion rate. And so I got really excited, like, what in the world would cause an over 100% conversion rate. When I dug into the account, I saw that it was a text ad. And I know that text ads get shown to a lot of people, a lot of times at high frequency. So immediately, I went to go look at the conversions. And the vast majority of conversions were coming through as view through conversions. And so for purposes of this contest, I wasn't counting view through conversions as being like real conversions here. But I wanted to use this as an example, because all of us could and should be using text ads to just very expensively cover your audience, your ideal target audience. So they're seeing your ads, they're seeing your brand. And then of course, when they're converting on other channels, we can see that yes, LinkedIn is contributing here. So Lindsay, nice work. Thanks so much for sharing such an awesome example with us.
12:04
Reviews Highlights
A quick highlight on reviews that we've gotten on the podcast. Lea Pica shares, "Where deep passion, expertise, and value divinely connect. AJ is one of the digital marketing industry's best love speakers for good reason. His massive knowledge base in a platform that is otherwise to disdain allows him to deliver insane value in a truly actionable way. Don't walk away from getting started with LinkedIn Ads without giving him a good listen." Lea, thank you so much for leaving that you are awesome. For those of you who don't know, Lea Pica is the host of the Present Beyond Measure podcast and she is absolutely amazing. If you want to learn anything about data storytelling, or data visualization, you have to check out what she does, and her show, of course. And then Dan Marzullo, from Marzullo Associates, he shared, "Highly recommended. If you're getting started with LinkedIn Ads, AJ is your guy." Dan, thanks so much. Dan is the founder of Podcast Bloggers, so he knows a thing or two about podcasts. So a huge thanks to you for being a listener of ours. And of course, everyone who's listening, I want to feature you. So definitely, wherever you're able to review, and I totally want to feature you. Okay, with that being said, let's hit it.
13:15
LinkedIn Users Are In a Hurry
Some things that you definitely want to keep in mind about writing ad copy, and creating ads on LinkedIn is that in general, LinkedIn users are in a hurry. It means you've got to cut right to the chase, and front load everything with value. When I know that people are in a hurry, and I need to catch their attention in just a split second, I'm probably going to lead the ad was something like, Hey, did you know that x&y, or people like you are losing out. The really attention grabbing statements right at the beginning are the best thing to do. You don't want to lead with our brand name does such and such in the industry, that will just get ignored.
Imagery
And then of course, you have a visual component to your ads as well. Most of the time, we're using static ads. But of course, you can use video as well. The rules that you want to follow with imagery is realize that LinkedIn, when you look at the whole color palette, when someone's there, they see a lot of blues, grays and whites. And so if you ask a designer, what do you need in order to stand out from blues, grays and whites, they'll point you towards the color wheel, and they'll say, go and find whatever is opposite of blue on that color wheel. And of course, that takes us to orange. So one of the best tips I can give you is use lots of orange, reds, greens in your ads, because that will stand out from the rest of the fluff that's on LinkedIn. I also follow the billboard rule. Those of you who are Facebook, advertisers will probably know the 20% rule that I've heard isn't getting anyone punished anymore. But it used to be that on Facebook, you couldn't show an ad that had more than 20% I have the image as being text, and then for a long while, you could put it in the image, but then it would stunt the performance of your ads. LinkedIn has never had anything like the 20% rule, which is fantastic. We've always been able to put as much text in an image as we want. But we've also found that the more text in an image, the less likely people are to read it. It looks like a giant wall of text to them and so they're disincentivized, from even starting to read. So because of that, we follow the billboard rule. So don't try to sell with copy in your image. That's not the images job, the job of the image is just to be a thumb stopper, it's just to get them to stop scrolling, so that they'll read your ad copy. So the billboard rule for those of you who don't know, is use seven or fewer words, because that's all the time that you're going to get from someone as they pass by your billboard on the freeway is get a good six or seven words in.
Video
Video is a little bit different. So with video, depending on their connection speed, there's going to be just a split second, or maybe even several seconds while your video is starting to load. And that's really important time because that's time where people are scrolling past, and they may not get a chance to see what it is that you're showing. So with video, I like to make sure that within the first two seconds, there is some kind of action happening. So don't start with a black screen fading to your logo and waste several seconds, you'll lose your entire audience with that, you need to show them something that's exciting, interesting, and worth their time. And then also make sure that you put a thumbnail in there because the thumbnail is what's going to show up in the videos place while it's loading on their screen. So have a really cool visual, something that gets their attention. And then of course, LinkedIn video, it's the same as all the other social video, it's going to play autoplay, but muted. And so you need to make sure that you have subtitles on that video so that 80 plus percent of people who are going to watch it without sound can still get drawn in and follow along. I like to suggest keeping videos really short, like 15 to 25 seconds short. But of course, depending on your video creative, you could probably make a 10 minute long video work really well, just depending on how creative and how attention grabbing it is.
17:20
Alright, here's a quick sponsor break. And then we'll dive into some of the secret sauce, along with our formula on how you create the perfect ad.
The LinkedIn Ads Show is proudly brought to you by B2Linked.com, the LinkedIn Ads experts. If the performance of your LinkedIn Ads is important to you B2Linked is the agency you'll want to work with. We've spent over $135 million on LinkedIn Ads, and no one outperforms us on getting you the lowest cost per lead. We're official LinkedIn partners, and you deal only with LinkedIn experts from day one. So fill out the contact form on any page of B2Linked.com. to chat about your campaigns. We'd love to work with you.
18:03
DRIVE
All right, let's jump into creating the perfect ad. What we've learned over time is that your motivation to convert or engage is incredibly important. It's one of the most important things there is. And so one of our secret sauces as an agency is writing compelling ad copy. And the reason that we're so good at this is because of the book and teachings by someone by the name of Woody Woodward. And his book is called Drive Sales Secrets. I've put links to the book and links to his website down below in the show notes. But the gist is that the entire population breaks down into five different kinds of motivations. And the first letter actually spells out the word drive. DRIVE. The D stands for director. And this is someone who cares about freedom and creativity. Then the R in DRIVE is a relator. Someone who cares about relationships. The I is for intellectual. This is someone who cares about systems and processes and blueprints. The V stands for validator, this is someone who cares about recognition and appreciation. And then finally, the E is for executive. And this is someone who cares about proof and crushing the competition and winning. So the concept in the way that we use this is that people have a natural inclination towards a certain type of motivation. And there are some professions where people have similar drives tend to aggregate. For instance, the majority of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 are executives. They are win at all costs, crush the competition. Proof is what wins. And then when you look at the accounting industry, the majority of accountants are intellectuals. They love systems processes. That's what convinces them. So if you know what's likely to drive your ideal persona, you can start to write really compelling ad copy that caters to them. I know this is very high level. This is hard to follow on a podcast. But I'll share just a brief example of how I might customize ad copy to each of these drives.
20:09
So if I were writing ads to directors, and let's say we're trying to sell some kind of software, remember that directors are those who are really excited by freedom and creativity, I might say something like, "This will help free up time to give you freedom." With relators, who again, are super interested in their relationships, I might say something like, "It will strengthen your relationship with your CFO to have this software" or to be on top of this processs. With intellectuals, those who are really interested in systems and processes and blueprints. I might say, "This software contains the complete blueprint on how to drive your goals." With validators, those who are really interested in recognition and appreciation and praise, I might say, "This software will make you the hero." And with executives, again, those are those who care about proof and crushing the competition, I might say, "This software will get you out in front of your competition, you'll be on the bleeding edge, check out these ratings and testimonials." In so many of our tests around different drives. What we do is we come up with a hypothesis of which drive or drives are likely found in this target audience and then we run some ad copy tests to see what the lift in click through rate looks like. And that gives us how effective this drive ad copy is. And this has been fantastic for us, so I highly recommend, go get Woody's book, find out what drive you are, and find out what drives you're trying to cater to.
21:39
Anatomy of the Perfect Ad
So the next bit of secret sauce here, we have what we call the anatomy of the perfect ad. And we're going to use sponsored content as our example here, because it's the most common ad format. What we have in a sponsored content ad, we have an intro, it's the text that comes above the image or video. Then we have the headline, which is the text that goes below the image or the video. And then of course, we have the image or the video, we'll pretend this is a static image, and that you've already followed my rules from the previous section where the image has seven or fewer words, and relies a lot on the oranges, reds, greens, purples to help it stand out. So then we go to the most important part of this ad, which is the intro. In all of our testing, we have found that changes to the intro sway ad performance the most. More than image changes, more than headline changes. The intro is super valuable. We try to keep this under 135 characters because the shorter the better here. And we like to include two different pieces. The first thing that all of our sponsored content ads contain is why you should pay attention some kind of pain point or benefit. Remember, this is what we're using to get their attention. So if they're scrolling and you say, hey, do you have this pain point, they're likely to read on and say, ooh, does this person have a solution for me. That's going to make up the majority of that 135 characters. And then what comes after is the second piece that's required here is the call to action. So this is where we will include a succinct short call to action that strong. So it might be download our FREE eBook today, or join the webinar to learn how to do this yourself, something like that. So intros, keep them short. The two pieces you want are number one, why you should pay attention and number two, your call to action. Then we get down to the headlines and headlines we found to make the next most biggest difference. So if you're testing things, I would test intro first and then headline second. Try to keep your headline under about 55 characters if you can. And the two pieces that we like to include here are number one, and we do this in square brackets, which many of you may have already seen something like within square brackets. We tell them what to expect what the asset type is. So if I'm doing a webinar in square brackets at the beginning of the headline, I might say free webinar or free guide, something like that. And then the second piece you want to include here is actually the title of the asset. So I'm sure you and your marketing team worked really hard to come up with a great title for this asset. This is where you get to show it off. And as you're writing ad copy, and this applies to every network out there. But remember, you're not writing ad copy for yourself based off of the benefit that it brings you. You're writing to the benefit of someone else. So I keep in mind the acronym WIIFM, I call it everyone's favorite radio station. It stands for what's in it for me. As you're writing ad copy, make sure you are crystal clear about what's in it for the prospect. In order for them to want to see it, click on it, and then convert. All right here come the episode resources, so stick around.
25:08
Resources
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away. In the shownotes, you'll see the winners of the contest their ads, their landing pages, where applicable, definitely go and check those out and learn from them. I also have the links to Woody Woodward's book and the drivesalesbook.com website where you can learn more about the drive sales process. And if you're just getting started with LinkedIn Ads, or maybe you have a colleague who is let them know about the course, the LinkedIn Ads course on LinkedIn Learning. The link is right down below. And also, if you watch over the next couple months, you'll see that we're in the middle of updating that so there should be a new version of the course to get excited about so keep an eye on that. If you're not already subscribed, look at your podcast player right now and hit that subscribe button. We'd love to have you listening on future episodes. And please do rate and review the podcast. It really helps other LinkedIn Ads marketers find us and want to listen and share with us. If you have any tips, questions, or anything you'd love to see featured on the show, reach out to us at [email protected]. And with that being said, we'll see you back here next week, cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.