The Many Layers of LinkedIn PPC

Note from Melissa: Robert Brady of Clix Marketing is here with another guest post on LinkedIn PPC!

Since LinkedIn launched in May of 2003 it has grown to become the de facto virtual resume for professionals. Want someone to know your job history and accomplishments with each position? Put it on LinkedIn. Want someone to know your education, skills, recommendations, awards and many other professional bullet points? Put it on LinkedIn.

This detailed information, provided by the users themselves, makes LinkedIn a gold mine for any marketer that can define their target customer (often called a persona) in work-related detail. For many B2B marketers this is easy.

LinkedIn Targeting 101

Many advertisers start with very rudimentary targeting. Here are the most popular options, which LinkedIn shows by default as someone creates a new campaign:

•    Location
•    Company Name
•    Company Size
•    Industry
•    Job Title
•    Job Function
•    Seniority

LinkedIn Targeting 101

By itself, this would be a powerful set of options to choose from. For example, let’s imagine that we’re putting on an education conference for California teachers.  Here are some ideas of how we could reach those people:

Location: California – 13.3 million LinkedIn users

Industry: Primary/Secondary Education – 58K LinkedIn users in California

•    California Department of Education – 1015 LinkedIn users in California
•    Los Angeles Unified School District – 29K LinkedIn users in California

Job Title: Teacher – 149K LinkedIn users in California

Job Function: Education – 623K LinkedIn users in California

Any of those would be a great place to start, but you could run into a couple problems. First, you might not get enough traffic. Second, you may want to be a little more specific with some of these. Let’s talk about how we can solve each problem.

Targeting For More Volume

To start off you’re going to want to click that blue “More targeting options” link you see in the image above. That will open a lot of new options for us to explore. It will look like this:

LinkedIn Targeting Volume

Now let’s look at some other ideas for this education conference:

•    Teaching – 347K LinkedIn users in California
•    Educational Technology – 42K LinkedIn users in California

•    National Education Association – 1091 LinkedIn users in California
•    Teacher’s Lounge – 9K LinkedIn users in California
•    Elementary group for teachers – 3K LinkedIn users in California

•    Bachelor of Education – 3K LinkedIn users in California
•    Master of Education – 18K LinkedIn users in California

As you can see, this allows you to target in even more ways to reach your potential audience because now you’re looking at them beyond just their job title and industry. Now you’re looking at groups they’ve identified with. You’re looking at skills that other people have endorsed them for. You’re looking at their actual degree (because LinkedIn is a digital resume, people put this information as well).

Targeting For Highly Qualified Traffic

Disclaimer: While “highly qualified traffic” sounds perfect you need to keep in mind that this is effectively display advertising. The placements are a little 3-pack of ads on the right side or a sponsored update that gets slipped into a user’s feed. These people didn’t go looking for you so the click-through rate (CTR) will be low and you need fairly large audiences. LinkedIn won’t let you advertise to an audience unless it has at least 1,000 people, but you’ll find that any audience under about 5K will struggle for clicks.

That said, how do you get this awesomely qualified traffic? Layering & exclusions.

•    Layering – This is quite simply combining 2 or more of the above targeting ideas. For example, “teaching” as a skill seems a little broad. Layer on top of that an Education job function and you’ve got someone with teaching skills that works in education. Much more qualified.
•    Exclusions – You’ll notice below each targeting option you can add targeting to exclude. Looking at our teaching skill target, you might use it but exclude “Biblical teaching” (it’s really in there). If the conference is for K-12 then you might exclude “College teaching” and “University teaching” as well.


As you can see LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to target your potential audience. You can stick to the basic location, company & job title areas, but I would recommend you also get into the additional “hidden” targeting options as well. Layer them together, exclude poor targets and you’ll find that you can reach highly qualified prospects with your advertising.

Robert Brady is Senior Manager: Software, SMB, Strategy for Clix Marketing. He has worked on PPC accounts of all sizes across many industries and has a soft spot for helping small businesses succeed with paid search. Robert  loves to share his expertise with others by blogging regularly on PPC topics on the Clix Marketing blog, Search Engine People & his personal blog, Righteous Marketing. You’ll also find his posts on, PPC Hero, and the Trafficado blog among others. He is also an active participant in #PPCchat on Twitter.

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Social PPC: A Guide To Getting Started

Thinking about dipping your toes into social PPC, but aren’t sure how to get started? You’re not alone. Social PPC is very different from keyword search. With keyword search, people tell you what they want by typing keywords into a search engine. With social PPC, the focus is on the audience rather than the keyword. It can be tough to get your head around.

Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources to help you out. Of course, you can and should read the Help files for each of the major social PPC platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. But it’s not unusual for help files to be, well, less than helpful.

Here are a few posts that will really help you get started in each platform, step by step. Disclaimer: I wrote a few of these. I wanted to make sure that all of my blog readers have a chance to take advantage of the power of social PPC, so I’ve pulled them all together in one post for you.

A Step by Step Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Advertising to Grow Your Community by Michelle Carville. Michelle provides an overview to launching Facebook PPC, complete with screen shots and explanations.

Getting Started with LinkedIn Ads by yours truly. This is a step by step guide, too. LinkedIn Ads are particularly useful for reaching business influencers.

Getting Started with Twitter Ads. Another of my posts on Web Marketing Today with an overview of the types of ads available on Twitter, and how to take advantage of them. We’ve had good success with Twitter ads, both for growing followers and driving leads.

YouTube Video Ads: Getting Started. Some people don’t think of YouTube ads as social, partly because they’re part of Google Adwords. But video ads are nothing like search ads, really. Learn how to harness the power of video and the reach of YouTube in this post.

Are you using social PPC? Have you had good results, or has it been less than successful? Got any good tips or resources? Share in the comments!

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Social Media is BS

That’s right, I said it. Social media is BS. You might be asking yourself, “Why would she say something like that when she’s active on Twitter and probably gets most of her blog traffic from social media?”

Good question. It’s true that I get most of my traffic from social media. But when it comes to ROI, social media is BS.

I’ve been ruminating on this topic for a while. Back in December, Social Times ran a piece titled The Future of Social Commerce. I saw the post on – you guessed it – Twitter, and I was intrigued. I thought, “Finally! Someone is measuring the ROI of social media!”


Take a look at that post. Take a really close look at this part of the ridiculously humongous infographic:

social commerce infographic
OK, so I’ve editorialized here. But look at the circled text: they’re equating “having a presence” with driving sales. Really?

Back in the day, in another life, I did outside sales for traditional media. I can tell you right now that “having a presence” in a client’s place of business sure as heck did not equate ROI for me. Walking into a store or office won’t guarantee sales, and neither does “having a presence” in social media. People do not buy from you just because you’re there.

As for the comment “Meteoric rise of Pinterest demonstrates that Curation is the future of Social Commerce” – that’s just crazy talk. I’ll admit – Pinterest is cool, and I’ve seen several companies using it effectively. A few might even be making money from it. But because a bunch of scrapbookers and people with time on their hands have adopted Pinterest means it’s the “future of Social Commerce”? Give me a break.

I could go on and on. But what sparked me to finally write this post was a great post over at Search Engine Watch by Nathan Safran titled Can We Please Stop Hyping Social as the Marketing Messiah? Indeed. As of this writing, the post has garnered 55 comments. I don’t know how many comments the average SEW post gets, but as a regular contributor I can tell you that in 5 years of writing for them, I don’t think I’ve gotten 55 comments TOTAL. It’s a hot topic for sure.

Social media is also a nice shiny object. People are attracted to it because it’s new and exciting. But new and exciting doesn’t equal sales, either.

What do you think? Is social a bunch of hooey, or is it the future of commerce? Or something in between?

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How Online Marketing Is Like Fine Dining

Online marketing has been all the rage for 15 years now, at least. From the beginning of public adoption of the internet, success measurements have varied. In the early days, it was all about “hits.” Then it was all about site visits (unique visitors). At some point, the more savvy online marketers started worrying about conversions.

And yet, in 2012, I’m often surprised to hear clients coming in saying “we need to do PPC” or “we have to get out there in social media.”

Why is this bad? Because they’ve chosen the tactic before they’ve set goals and mapped out a strategy.

Have you ever been to a really fancy dinner where each place setting has 3 forks, 2 spoons, a couple knives, and a seemingly endless number of plates? And have you sat there at the table wondering which water goblet you should drink from, and worrying about which fork or spoon you should use for the first course?

I’ve been there, too. But what I’ve noticed about these fancy meals is that 9 times out of 10, it becomes plainly obvious which utensil you should use once the first course actually arrives. If it’s soup, you use a soup spoon. If it’s a salad, you grab the outside fork. If it’s seafood in the shell, you’ll pick up the little seafood fork (I don’t eat seafood, so forgive me if I haven’t used the right analogy here!).

The point is, once you know what your goal is (eating soup vs. eating a salad), the right utensil becomes obvious.

Online marketing is the same way. Marketers spend an inordinate amount of time debating which tactic they should start with: PPC, SEO, social media, email, website optimization…. and often they can’t agree on what makes the most sense. In the meantime, their sales are struggling to get past the appetizer course.

A better approach is to think about your goals. Is increasing sales the first order of business? Are you looking for awareness for a new brand or product? Are you selling inexpensive products or services to consumers, or are you an enterprise solution provider selling to CEOs with a 12-month sales cycle? Is your website ready to capture sales or leads, or does it need work?

All of these factors will affect which tactic you choose. Many online marketing tactics work together, and it’s great to integrate as many tactics as you can within an overall strategy. But before you get to that step, it’s critical to establish your goals and determine how those goals will be measured. So even if your goal is clear from the beginning, if you don’t have tracking and analytics in place, how will you know if you’ve achieved it?

So the next time you’re debating a dip in the waters of PPC, SEO, or social media, put down your fork and think about your goals first.

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