This is a tale of a small team with less than three years’ experience between them at the time, bidding at the minimum LinkedIn would allow, using data, insight and clever creatives to drive quality conversions and deliver a new high-performance marketing channel for our business.
Through innovative targeting, roping in creative brains from around the business and learning from losses, this is how we turned a heavy loss-making LinkedIn marketing campaign to generating over £1,000,000 of revenue annually. Proving that you don’t always need the biggest budgets to benefit from Linkedin’s high quality traffic.
Main Objective and Performance Targets
MVF’s Linkedin team were tasked with launching a US Telephone Systems (TS US) campaign on LinkedIn. Telephone Systems is one of the biggest product categories MVF runs. However, with client demand exceeding the volume we could generate on our other quality channels, we needed to find a new source of quality business leads and be able to scale it quickly.
Our target for LinkedIn was to generate 100 conversions a month and to hit our profit margin target, we couldn’t afford our cost per acquisition (CPA) to be too high. As well as this, we needed the proportion of our conversions from the lowest revenue audience tier (businesses who needed under 5 phones) to be under 50%.
However, our big challenge was that Linkedin cost per click is significantly higher than our other channels. So we had to find a way to get the most value from our Linkedin clicks. The key to this working would be exceptional targeting and high intent creatives to ensure we were paying for only relevant clicks from high quality leads.
Given our strict CPA target and the high costs of running LinkedIn Ads, the bid strategy remained the same throughout all of our testing, which was to bid at or close to the minimum bid floor (the lowest LinkedIn allows you to bid for your target audience) on cost per click bidding.
Knowing that LinkedIn bidding takes into account not just how much you’re paying but your quality score; how relevant your ads are and your click through rate (CTR), we knew we could win the bidding through clever targeting and really relevant creatives without blowing our budget early on. But first, we needed to find out what audience was going to work for Telephone Systems on this brand-new channel.
Phase 1 - Targeting Based on Research
The first audience we tested was one targeting key decision makers (using LinkedIn’s job title targeting option e.g. owners, presidents, directors etc.) of companies in select industries that we had identified from research that would be relevant for the product.
The results were not promising. Although we had high levels of engagement with our ads, we had poor conversion rates resulting in over double our target CPA (cost per sign up). Also, when digging into our impression and click data, job title targeting wasn’t as effective in targeting decision makers as we thought; 67% of our impression share was being served to entry and senior job levels, which generally provide less value for our clients. This meant we weren’t able to sell them at the higher prices we needed in order to compensate for higher click costs.. This led to the campaign operating at a -50% profit margin.
As a result, we had to re-strategise and find ways on improving both our targeting and creatives (ads).
Phase 2 - Honing our Audience and Creative
In response to Phase 1, we switched from job title targeting to job seniority targeting, including only Director level and above, and excluding job levels below this, addressing the issue we found with Job title targeting in Phase 1. We also removed company industries from our targeting to broaden our audience. Hypothesis here was that by going broad, we would be able to identify - based on actual tracked conversions, rather than research - which company industries and other targeting criteria had the highest conversion rates. We could do this using LinkedIn’s demographic breakdowns.
Lastly, we also included relevant company size targeting as a lever to improve our chances of generating business leads that needed 5 or more phone systems – our clients’ valuable customers and the biggest revenue tier for us.
In MVF, we hire brilliant minds, and we have spent millions in testing across all marketing channels and so we thought in order to address our creative issue, hosting a creative brainstorm meeting with other marketing teams who also run TS US was the right strategy to turn things around.
Through collaborative efforts and innovative creative thinking, we developed a finalised creative adapting wins from each marketing team. The outcome was using an SEM best performing headline, a Facebook best performing body copy, and an image used from our landing page for brand consistency.
The results of these changes were smashing: the new cross-channel creative dropped our cost per acquisition by 66% because it had a higher conversion rate, and increased our conversion volume by 2.7x. Our percentage of lowest revenue tier conversions also dropped by 40% leading to a huge increase in revenue per conversion.
Phase 3 - Scaling Audiences
Highest Conversion Rate Audience:
Now we knew that seniority and business size was a great way of finding the leads our clients loved, we then used LinkedIn demographic data to then target the highest converting industries too. Now we had the right people, with the right size of business also in the right industry for our products.
Client Feedback Audience:
We sought feedback from our clients through a tailored LinkedIn commercial feedback form which was sent out to our biggest Telephone Systems clients as they would have an idea of which sort of leads convert the best for them. Key questions included job title, age & gender, industry, their USPs and customer pain points. The information they provided allowed us to create a better and more effective targeted audience (as well as inspiration for new creatives) which translated to an even further increase in volume of high-quality leads.
Target 1. 100 conversions per month:
The campaign achieved on average over 200 conversions per month, double our conversion target. Given we operated at the minimum bid, it showed that it was possible for us to be competitive purely through high performing creatives and clever targeting.
Target 2. Affordable CPAs:
The CPA was on target, a huge achievement considering we were driving over double the volume target with no uplift in cost.
Target 3. Lowest revenue tier under 50%:
Despite the CPAs being on target, the campaign achieved a profit margin that was four percentage points higher than the target. This was due to the percentage of lowest revenue tiers being 15% lower than our target, meaning a higher revenue than expected.
Beyond Targets - Internationalisations:
All of the learnings gained from this campaign enabled us to roll out into new territories using the same marketing strategy, ads and audiences. Now we are live in 6 countries with incredible performance, bringing in over £1million of revenue in a year.
This campaign is evidence that you don’t need aggressive bidding, big brands and years of experience to nail LinkedIn, you just need smart marketing and to understand your platform, audience and margins.
By gathering all the performance, client and audience data they could, and pulling inspiration from the best creatives from other channels, MVF’s Linkedin marketers with just 3 years’ marketing experience between them, proved that being prepared to learn from your losses, researching your platform and getting feedback from clients on their customers gives you enough insight to turn an unprofitable -50% margin campaign into a million pound, high quality lead source for our clients that also delivers at a strong profit margin.