It is pretty well known LinkedIn Ads are a great way to create top-of-the-funnel B2B leads. Today, we’re going to be talking about using LinkedIn Ads for the bottom of the funnel B2B leads.
First, we’re going to review exactly what the bottom of the funnel is and then we’re going to talk about some targeting, how to set up your LinkedIn Ads campaigns for success.
First, it’s really important to understand what exactly the bottom of the funnel is. There can be a lot of different definitions that are thrown around there. But here, we’re going to clearly define what the bottom of the funnel marketing is as related to LinkedIn Ads for marketing.
Bottom of the funnel LinkedIn Ads campaigns are supposed to drive audiences to convert on the highest intent actions. These are audiences that are already aware of your brand. You shouldn’t be sending someone who was never heard of your brand before to a free trial or demo, because they’re very, very unlikely to convert.
We’re talking about the bottom funnel. This is the last step before acquisition where we get these people to the point where they’re ready to put their hand up and try your product or service. When you think “bottom of the funnel” on LinkedIn, think free trial, demo or sign-up category.
When you think “top of the funnel” think about infographics, blog posts, and influencer-related content. That’s what you want to start with at the very top to establish trust. You are creating a perception of your brand. As you get into best practice guides case studies product reviews that’s more about nurturing the prospects along and giving them a little bit more information.
But for today, we’re really going to be talking about trials, demos, and signups the last step to get someone before they reach out and contact a salesperson to eventually become closed won deal.
There are a lot of challenges that can come with bottom-funnel campaigns. Particularly, when it comes to free trials, and demos it can be very expensive. Bottom-of-funnel leads tend to cost about 60% more than the average lead in the tech space.
For bottom of the funnel, you want to reach people who are already nurtured, who have gone through initial torturing to get them to take that final step across the finish line by signing up for a demo or trial.
Creative can also be an issue where people aren’t necessarily sure of the experience, they’re going to have when they sign up for that trial or demo or what the value is really going to provide.
Closing the deal is a really really important issue that we want to tackle here today and how we can get these free trial and demo signups that we do convert, get them into those closed. One deal in revenue for your business.
Again demo and trial campaigns are shown to have about a 60% higher Cost Per Lead (CPL) than the tech average. This is when we’re comparing it against things, like ebooks and white papers, and webinar signups.
Demo and trial campaigns have a much higher intent level than these and that’s why they have that expensive cost.
The number one reason for the expensive cost is that the audience members have already shown that intent. They’ve already qualified through that funnel process. They are going to cost a little bit more to continue to reach them. But there are some ways that we can bring down that cost.
Campaigns set up with best practices using the correct ad types, objectives and optimizations are going to be able to decrease the LinkedIn Ads cost and make it a viable strategy for your business.
You should leverage LinkedIn lead gen forms to create a frictionless process. With lead gen form everything happens within the LinkedIn website as opposed to having the prospect reload, a page and go to your website to convert there.
Again you are going to want to target, pre-nurtured audiences, people who are aware of your brand. It happens over and over again, where people expect someone to sign up for a free trial when the prospect doesn’t know who the advertiser is. It is just going to be successful very often.
Next, you want to have creative that addresses where people are in the buying cycle. These are people who have done their research, they know the competition, but they want to see what exact value you can provide them and what is going to be like to use your product.
Now, we’re going to talk about targeting.
How to target users with that intent. Those nurtured users who have gone through the first few steps in the process and how LinkedIn can help you do it. The best demo and trial content is really, really dependent on making sure your audience is correct.
In a normal buying process many a B2B buyer will likely have consumed 13 pieces of content. You want to make sure that the people you’re targeting have gone through that journey and consumed your content.
Thought leadership pieces, e-guides, white papers are important before a prospect signs up for that trial or demo.
In terms of generating a lead, 41% of demo and trial leads have to have 11 plus impressions served. That’s why it’s crucial that you have these audiences that are already nurtured so you can cut down on that frequency need.
You don’t have to serve an ad 11 times to someone. If someone has already been to your website, they’ve already engaged with your content, they’re already lead in your system – you’re not going to have to serve and add to them 11 times, You can cut that frequency down to save you some money on the overall cost while also improving your efficiencies with those demo and free trial campaigns.
You want to make sure you use previously nurtured audiences. There’s a reason why I’m saying it over and over again because this is really, really the key to success, to get the most out of your demo and free trial initiatives that you have on LinkedIn. Bottom of funnel audiences need to be in that last couple of steps of the buyer’s journey to make that commitment to signing up for a trial, or demo.
You have some of the options in LinkedIn that can provide for audiences with the highest intent.
First, one is website retargeting using LinkedIn Insight Tag you can create audiences based off people who has visited your whole website, or if you have enough volume, I would segment it out to look at people who have signed up or who have been to a demo or purchase page but haven’t necessarily signed up.
People who have been to a pricing page or maybe have actively searched for your product before and have clicked on a Google ad are also great audiences. You can retarget people from each one of these individual pages and group them together to create a high intent, website retargeting audience. They will be more likely to convert people and that demo and free trial.
Another strategy you can try is email contact retargeting. You can connect your content management platform or your CRM to upload a list of email addresses that are already in your system – people you’ve identified as high intent. From there, you can retarget them to send them that demo and free trial offering because you know that these are people that are already interested in your brand or product.
You can also retarget your leads or your MQL lists, or people who have attended events that your company has put on.
Another option is account retargeting. Similar to the email contact targetting but what you can do is work with your sales team to identify accounts, not just individual people who have shown high intent and have shown an interest in purchasing your product. From there, you can upload that list into the LinkedIn Ads campaign manager.
Then use the power of LinkedIn Ads demographic targeting to cut down that list to the specific people or specific groups of people that you know, to be the decision makers.
One great option is lead gen form retargeting because you can create an automatic funnel through LinkedIn by using your midfunnel campaigns where people have already filled out a lead form for an e-book or white paper and an automatically, create that audience to then retarget them with your demo or free trial offering.
Now, we’re going to talk about how you set up these campaigns to get that optimal level of conversions and efficiency. You want to set up your best practices to put you in the best possible position for your campaigns to succeed when you create your campaign for a downfunnel, free trial or demo campaign.
You want to have either lead gen or website conversions. Lead gen will have you using the LinkedIn lead gen forms, which I highly recommend. Website, conversions would have you directing someone to convert directly on your website.
When you’re thinking about the best ad format for your bottom funnel campaigns, Sponsored Content is really the go-to here by far the most popular ad format. It’s a single image ad that you see when you scroll down a couple scrolls on the LinkedIn homepage. The reason why it’s the most popular is because it’s able to deliver with consistency.
It’s able to drive a high reach against your key target audience. One tip we have here for sponsored content is to make sure you always have three to five pieces live because that will allow you to deliver the maximum level of frequency against your audience.
If you don’t, your campaigns could be capped and not deliver your budget.
Another great LinkedIn ads format for bottom funnel campaigns isconversation ads. Conversation ads are similar to message ads that are served in the LinkedIn inbox.
What this relatively new LinkedIn Ads format does is populate the inbox with a kind of robo chat conversation with multiple call-to-actions such as sign up for a demo, ask for more information or see case studies on their website. This allows you to measure the intent that these people have within your nurtured audiences to get an understanding if they are really ready to take that step to sign up for a demo or free trial.
LinkedIn Conversation Ads also offer significantly better engagement to improve your chances of getting those people to sign up for a demo, trial etc. Meanwhile, you are giving the prospect more information about your product, all within the ad format.
Another thing that we typically see is if conversation adds and sponsored content are served against the same audience, you can see engagement rates lift and cost per lead decrease in both ad formats.
Use lead gen forms to maximize your efficiency for your bottom-funnel campaigns. We typically see about a 3-5 X increase in conversion rate from lead gen forms versus trying to capture those same leads on your company’s website. The reason for this being is the information from the audience’s automatically populated in the lead form. All the prospect has to do is fill out a custom field and hit submit.
When you’re thinking about lead gen forms and some of the best practices for them you typically don’t want to use more than five fields more than one custom question.
If you do more, you’re going to see those completion rates drop off. One thing that typically happens or can happen when you use lead gen forms is that a personal email address will get pulled in from LinkedIn.
One workaround is to use that one custom question to validate for a work email and request that someone enters their work, email not a Gmail or a Yahoo.
Another thing that’s important to do with lead gen forms is to maximize your space with the offer details to describe the benefit the prospect is going to be getting from signing up for this demo, for your trial etc.
Many brands frequently make the mistake of just using generic bland copy with their lead gen form and they see their completion rates in their engagement rates plummet.
As a result, this is where you can really drive home why the prospect should hit that final button and give you their information to sign up for your trial or demo.
Now we’re going to talk about matching that audience’s intent with some creative best practices.
Before we do that, one more PSA to make sure that your members are already familiar with your brand. The goal of having them sign up for a demo, or trial is not to educate them about who you are, but it’s to show them what you can do for them.
After the prospect is aware of your brand and the products you provide, conversion rates increase. Exposure can lead to 6x conversion rate increase.
So you really, really need to have these audiences go through certain steps in the funnel and not try to skip steps by sending your demo or free trial ads to someone who should be in an awareness audience.
When considering your creative, it’s really crucial to describe the prospect experience. Keep the copy concise. Be detailed about what the prospect is going to get when they sign up for the free trial or demo.
You want to let them know what’s going to happen next. Is a demo in person? Is it with a team member? Is it on demand? Or is a salesperson going to reach out immediately?
Having that experience described in the ad will improve your ability to not only have the prospect submit the lead, but then after they submit to sign up for your demo, for your trial, convert into becoming a closed won deal for your company. You want to make sure the keywords demo or trial stand out.
You’d be surprised the number of people who make demo or free trial ads, but don’t actually have the word demo, or trial in their ad. And then when someone signs up for it, they don’t actually realize what they signed up for.
Next you want to make sure that your copy is compelling. Let the confidence in your messaging shine through and prove that you’re going to help the prospect’s business. Have a compelling first, sentence that starts with a stat or a question.
If possible you should quantify how much this product or service is going to save them time or save them money.
Your copy should address the audience! According to a recent LinkedIn study, you can see a 19% increase in CTR at a 53% increase in conversion rates just by addressing the audience directly.
Some other best practices that you should do when thinking about demo our free trials, stop relying on stock imagery.
At this point in the buyer journey, the prospect wants to see your product. They want to see a visual representation of what they’re going to be experiencing if they use what you’re offering or what their demo, free trial experience is going to look like.
You don’t want to add a follow button at this late stage of the buyer’s journey. At this point, the prospect should already know who you are. This is the final step to getting the prospect to take that demo or trial to eventually become a closed-won deal. That’s the action you want to take – not following your company page!
The next step in the buyer experience should be expressly described in your ad. What is going to happen? What is the free trial experience is like? What is the value you can provide?
As mentioned earlier, make sure you’re running three to five LinkedIn ads at once. Four is the sweet spot for the number of sponsored content ads to run once – even if you don’t have four different variations, make sure you just duplicate and make small changes so you can maximize the reach against your high-value, target audience.
Lastly, you want to A/B test your LinkedIn Ads and lead gen forms. There isn’t one way to run free, trial or demo LinkedIn ads.
You should change it up and experiment with negative framing. Maybe talk about the time that is wasted by not using your product. Or use positive framing and talk about the time and money that can be saved – support your case by using statistics.
And also look at the kind of imagery you can use to show off your product. It is important to get an understanding of what creative best practices and what creative styles work best for your brand when you’re at that at this stage in the process.
Now, we’re going to talk about after the process is complete, or after your campaigns are live.
Are you measuring results? Are you tracking ROI of these bottom-funnel LinkedIn Ads campaigns?
What you really want to do as you’re setting up these processes is make sure you have a strong connection with your sales team.
How is a demo trial program fit within your attribution model? Who’s getting credit for these demo, free trial campaigns? If someone has already gone through the full marketing process through other platforms, but then is completing the process on LinkedIn? How are you attributing credit there?
There’s no one size fits all but it’s important to ask these questions and figure out what works.
Another important thing to consider is how are these leads being treated? Someone who has signed up for a demo free trial, shouldn’t be given the same follow-up process as someone who signs up for an e-book or a webinar.
Bottom of funnel demo/trial leads are people who have raised their hands saying I’m ready. They are saying I want to see what you have to offer. They are not like just hey, I like this educational piece of content.
So it’s important that bottom of funnel leads are treated a little bit differently in their sales, follow-up.
One thing that is very important is to have a conversation with your sales team and make sure you know, how LinkedIn Ads leads are going to be followed up. What kind of messaging is the sales team using?
So, you can mirror that and create a seamless process in your marketing. We’re thinking about measurement, it’s important to adopt a long-term mindset. LinkedIn Ads bottom of funnel campaigns should not be evaluated based on their cost per lead that they have generated in a one-week period.
Bottom funnel campaigns are meant to drive ROI over a long period of time. And if you have a long sales cycle, that’s not going to be realized after one free trial. There’s still steps to complete after it.
Lastly, We’re going to leave you with some next steps on how to launch these best in practice bottom funnel campaigns with the key takeaways.
Allocate a portion of the budget to the bottom funnel of your campaign. Typically depending on your audience size? You want that to be about 10 to 20 percent.
Given that these audiences are already going to be nurtured, prospects have already visited your website, high intent leads, etc., the audience size is going to be a little bit smaller, so you’re not going to be able to put 70% of your budget into a bottom funnel campaign.
It’s going to take up a little little less space, but it’s going to have a high impact.
Next, you want to select your ad variations make sure that the messaging matches the offer that you’re giving them. Remember to keep those three to five ads live. You want to align your campaign with recommended objectives and bidding to make sure that you’re set up for success from the initial start of your campaign.
Lastly, you want to make sure your lead flow and your attribution is set up correctly and make sure marketing operations, the marketing team, and sales team are all aligned on how we’re measuring success of bottom funnel campaigns.