Marketing spend 4 min read

How to plan your Linkedin marketing budget to maximize results

Stefan Smulders

LinkedIn is still the best social network for B2B marketers wanting to generate leads and connect with meaningful industry figures. The stats show that a whopping 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and that 46% of social media traffic arrives on websites from here!

But of course, LinkedIn needs to be dealt with properly. And that means carefully crafting your budget to attack it.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • The dos and don’ts of the LinkedIn algorithm
  • Setting clear goals for LinkedIn ad campaigns
  • Picking the most appropriate KPIs
  • Budgeting process and budget allocation
  • How to bid for the LinkedIn audience

So let's begin!

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Keys to LinkedIn’s algorithm

You may have noticed that LinkedIn “doesn’t like” certain actions. Posting links that drive the people to another website, and hashtag- or tag-stuffing are just a couple.

But since there are things you shouldn't do, there are also reliable ways to make LinkedIn’s algorithm work in your favor:

  • Stay active. Engage with other people, share, react, and comment
  • Post consistently - at least once a week
  • Attach external in the comments, not in the post itself
  • Share relevant content to your audience, with appropriate hashtags

The best thing is LinkedIn has a pretty transparent algorithm policy, and you’ll instantly see results from the actions above. They should be a part of your daily LinkedIn activity.

And you can't just buy your way to success. If you don’t use these free options to back up your paid marketing strategies, you’ll pay more than you should and reach your goals slower.

Set clear goals for your ad campaign

The starting point for each successful marketing campaign is to precisely determine your final goals. What’s the exact thing you’re trying to achieve with your campaign? Do you want to improve brand image, raise awareness, or increase conversions? 

LinkedIn ads are useful for all of the above and should be part of your Linkedin lead generation strategy — especially for B2B. The goals you wish to reach will dictate the way everything else goes, so spend time to create a strong campaign foundation.

You can pick more than one objective, but don’t overdo it. Pick a priority, and then connect it with a few smaller accompanying targets that go well with the main one. 

For example — if your primary goal is to sell more tickets for the upcoming convention you’re organizing, a nice secondary goal to go along with it would be raising awareness about your company.

Or vice versa: if you have big plans for next year, dedicate the current one to making a bang with a campaign that will touch many hearts. Then, when more people follow your work, crafting the ad campaign and selling tickets the year after will be much easier.

Choose the right KPIs to measure success

How do you know your plan is working? By setting some good KPIs so you can instantly evaluate impact!

The important thing here is the difference between “decorative” vanity metrics and real success/failure indicators. They're attractive because they’re easy to access and having big numbers on paper = win, right? But when it comes to proving that they bring ROI, vanity metrics become hard to use and often don’t tell you if your campaign does what it’s supposed to.

People are quick to write these metrics off, but they provide precious data. According to CMI, vanity metrics are very good indicators for non-transactional marketing goals such as increasing brand recognition. 

Some of the proven, most important LinkedIn metrics and KPIs include:

  • Reach & impression — these will show you the number of people that have seen your ads and sponsored content
  • Engagement rate — this will tell you what kind of content has the biggest impact on the audience
  • Followers’ demographics and viewer information — by looking at data such as industry, company size, job titles, and more, you can see if your posts reach the people you want to speak to, and who’s interested enough to take a look at your profile
  • Number of followers — this metric is a logical choice when you want to see the success of your awareness campaign. Compare the numbers before, during, and after the campaign is done, and you’ll get the picture.

In short: don’t simply buy into the bad reputation of vanity metrics. Use them to tailor content to your audience. 

Good numbers show that your content resonates with the target audience (where your ICP is), and the engagement that content drives is a good warm-up for lead generation. And in the end, sales go up!

Budgeting and budget allocation

Heading back to some more tangible numbers; on LinkedIn, you have the following budgeting options at your disposal:

  • CPC (cost per click) — use for sponsored content and textual ads, to increase user engagement
  • CPM (cost per impression) — to increase brand exposure
  • CPS (cost per send) — these are used for sponsored InMail messages and boost lead generation

In addition to that, you get to decide how much to spend per day and in total for a certain marketing campaign. 

LinkedIn advises marketers to make a 70:30 split, where 70% of your total budget should be invested to increase conversion rates and leads, while the rest should go to an awareness or engagement campaign. 

Just as with your grandma’s cooking, there’s no such thing as a perfect recipe — it’s always “a little bit of this, just a dash of that”. Mix up ad formats, track the spending as days go by, and watch what happens with your marketing budget. 

When everything is set and the campaign goes live, monitor how fast the ads eat up your project budget:

  • When stats suggest that your reach and impression are low, increase your daily budget — you can always decrease spending later
  • If money goes missing too fast, reduce the daily campaign budget
  • If you have plenty of budget left, it’s a signal that you should set more ambitious, competitive bids

The whole point is to plan well and be reactive as your campaigns unfold. There are regular chances to increase or cut spending for opportunistic marketers.

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Bidding for the audience

Bidding looks like an auction for the target audience - how much you need to pay to reach it. LinkedIn picks the “winner” according to the highest bid + past ad performance.

As LinkedIn is a “members first” type of network, it will give an initial boost to people with higher click-through rates and interaction rates.

When you’re bidding for the LinkedIn audience, you have two options:

  • Automated bid — this brings the most return on your budget based on machine learning (charged per impression)
  • Maximum cost bid — this gives you better control over your budget as you get to select the maximum amount you want to pay per click/video view/1000 impressions. LinkedIn will show you the recommended bid amount, and the range of prices set by advertisers that target the similar audience.

"You improvise. You adapt. You overcome." — Clint Eastwood (Heartbreak Ridge)

LinkedIn marketing campaigns are not just “set it and forget it” — they’re more like caramelizing onions. Leave them unsupervised for too long, and you won’t like the results.

We saved our most important tip for the end: test various options, see what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust instantly.

In addition to refined goals and ever-expanding knowledge, this tactic is bound to bring you amazing results.

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Stefan Smulders

Stefan Smulders is a SaaS entrepreneur and a founder of the world's safest software for LinkedIn automation - Expandi.io. He’s enjoying his family life in the Netherlands being a proud father of a lovely 4-year old son Steef.