Why most sponsored updates on LinkedIn are awful

Here are some classic sponsored headlines from my LinkedIn feed today:

  • “The 2014 E-Class sets a new standard for excellence in its segment”
  • “We are very proud to present you with our freshly launched sales portal”
  • “When we look for inspiration, the sky’s the limit.”
Updates of this ilk struggle to draw the eye as they compete with the genuine news stories in your LinkedIn feed.

We have a very smart client who insists on adding a ‘Why should I care’ line to all of the customer messaging and creative we develop for him. The point being, customers won’t give a monkey’s about how long you’ve developed the product or how shiny it is. Fix their most pressing issues however (even if they aren’t aware of them yet) and they will buy.

As with all advertising, the actual text and imagery that forms the update is incredibly important to get right. As an agency, we work these hard to design compelling content to attract the coveted ‘click’. 

The more clicks, the more cost-effective the lead to the client. In true LinkedIn update fashion, here are our “top five” tips on this:

Play to a career aspiration: “Chartered Marketers are earning on average 23% more than their peers. Free introductory course here”

Urgency works: “Few tickets left,” “Earlybird/discount ends in XX hours.”

Keep it fresh: Don’t just write one update, write a series. Keep updating them regularly and tweak the sponsorship audience according to the performance of previous ads.
Don’t bother with brand imagery unless it’s iconic. If it’s a regional product, use an image that fits the location. 

If possible, try to show the problem the product fixes, not the product itself (unless it looks awesome!).

Finally, don’t treat the above as afterthoughts once you have excitedly planned the target audience – these are as important as getting the audience right.

There can also be a tendency to “over-target” campaigns. Whilst many a happy evening can be spent building your ‘ultimate buyer’ using the LinkedIn lead targeting tools (see below) you need a decent audience size in order to get the sponsored update out there in front of enough people. We usually suggest targeting an audience of at least 500,000 in order to get a meaningful number of clicks per day.

LinkedIn updates are a powerful tool for lead generation but as is perhaps inevitable for such a new medium, there are a lot of people misusing them to their cost. Focus on what your audience is looking for (not what you’re selling) and you’re in with a good chance of generating some great leads. Good luck.

Tom Wood is a director at demand generation and marketing agency onebite.

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