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How To Use LinkedIn Conversation Ads To Reach Your Audience (2023)

Effective advertising is all about getting the right information in front of the right audiences in a format that is familiar and inviting. LinkedIn conversation ads appear as direct messages in potential customers’ inboxes, and they display different dialogue depending on how the reader interacts with them. They can be an effective way to promote your brand to a large group of people, generate sales leads, and drive traffic to your website. Learn how they work and how to incorporate them into your business’s Linkedin marketing strategy.

What are LinkedIn conversation ads?

LinkedIn conversation ads are an interactive native advertising format that allows advertisers to connect with potential customers through LinkedIn Messaging. LinkedIn conversation ads are different from LinkedIn message ads. Although both are delivered to a user’s inbox, conversation ads are interactive. After the initial message, the ad content displayed depends on which call-to-action (CTA) button the receiver selects. Message ads, on the other hand, contain only one CTA button and don’t allow for multiple conversation pathways.

Although conversation ads generally mimic the format of LinkedIn messages, the platform applies a sponsored tag to distinguish conversation ads from private messages.

How do LinkedIn conversation ads work?

LinkedIn conversation ads function much like a chatbot. Each ad contains an introductory message and a number of CTA buttons that link to external landing pages, lead gen forms, or options to continue the conversation. Here’s an overview of button types and the functions associated with each:

External link buttons

External link buttons lead users to your website or to another external landing page. 

Lead generation form buttons

Lead generation form buttons open pre-filled forms, allowing message recipients to easily submit key profile data to your company. 

Conversation buttons

Conversation buttons continue the dialogue within Linkedin Messaging. If a user selects this option, LinkedIn will populate the next message in the conversation using responses specified by the advertiser during setup. For example, an advertiser might include a button that says “Tell me more” and provide a detailed response expanding on the content in the introductory message.

The LinkedIn campaign manager tool provides detailed reporting on conversation ad performance, including audience demographic information and specifics about the number of clicks received by each CTA button in the conversation ad flowchart. 

What are the benefits of LinkedIn conversation ads?

One of the main benefits of LinkedIn advertising is the platform’s advanced audience targeting abilities. Conversation ads offer marketing personalization and interactivity, meaning ad behavior is in part determined by recipient activity. Here’s a more detailed look at the benefits of this ad format:

1. Personalized sender and recipient fields

Conversation ads can address recipients by name, and advertisers can also personalize sender fields using either a company page or an individual user profile. Customers expect personalized marketing. Research from Statista found 60% of shoppers said brands that don’t use personalization would lose their loyalty.

2. Advanced targeting abilities

LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities include segmentation by industry, geography, experience, education, behaviors, interests, job title, and company size. This allows you to customize your ads and speak only to those who matter the most.

3. Interactive ad structure

Conversation ads respond to recipient activity. After the introductory message, ad content depends on a user’s selections. Interactive ad structures can help advertisers serve each recipient with the most relevant information. 

4. Higher engagement rates

Conversation ads tend to have particularly high click-through rates (CTR). Globally, the average CTR for sponsored content is 0.44%, according to LinkedIn, while the CTR for ads sent via LinkedIn Messaging is around 3%.

What are the drawbacks of LinkedIn conversation ads?

LinkedIn conversation ads are sophisticated and powerful—but not necessarily cheap or simple. 

To prevent users from being flooded by conversation ads, LinkedIn only allows users to receive one conversation ad in a 30-day period. This means inventory is limited, and advertisers may need to bid high to win sends to the people they want to reach.

LinkedIn conversation ad creation can be time-consuming, and unlike simpler ad formats, content can’t necessarily be reused across other outlets. You’ll need to devote time to building an ad on the platform—whether or not you place a winning bid.

How to get started with LinkedIn conversation ads 

  1. Set an objective
  2. Set up your campaign
  3. Select the conversation ad format
  4. Create your introductory message
  5. Add your CTA buttons
  6. Send a test message
  7. Monitor ad performance and optimize results
An example of a Linkedin Conversation Ads showing David reaching out to Mary.
Source: Linkedin

Advertisers can use the LinkedIn campaign manager to build and test ads, view conversation ad flowcharts, and track performance. Here’s how to get started:

1. Set an objective 

Like other LinkedIn ad formats, conversation ads are tied to specific campaign objectives. Conversation ads are available for the following objectives:

If you want to run a conversation ad, you’ll need to select one of these objectives. For example, if your campaign goal is to increase sales, you might select the website conversion objective. LinkedIn will set parameters for your ad based on the objective you choose.

2. Set up your campaign

Log in to the LinkedIn ad platform, select Create Campaign, and specify your selected objective. The next step is setting up your target audience. You can specify factors like location, job title, company size, education, and interests.

3. Select the conversation ad format

Select the conversation ad format from the dropdown menu and follow the prompts to set your budget and schedule. All conversation ads are charged on a cost-per-send (CPS) basis, which means you’ll set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each interaction with your ad.

4. Create your introductory message

You’re ready to create your introductory message in the ad builder. As you type in the text field, LinkedIn will generate a message preview on the right side of the page. 

LinkedIn suggests keeping your introductory message conversational in tone. Since conversation ads don’t have a subject line, you can use the first sentence to introduce yourself and let the recipient know why you’re reaching out. You can add images, use bold or italicized text, and personalize the message with the recipient’s first and last name, job title, company name, and industry. 

5. Add your CTA buttons

Next, add your CTA buttons and indicate the action that corresponds with each. LinkedIn allows users to add up to five CTA buttons per message. Click Edit Response to draft a button reply for conversation buttons and View Flowchart to see an overview of all conversation pathways. 

LinkedIn requires at least one CTA button to link to your website, and specific campaign objectives may trigger additional requirements. If you’ve selected the lead generation objective, for example, you’ll also need to include a lead gen form. 

6. Send a test message

Once you’ve created your ad, click Send Test Message to see your ad in action. Once you’ve reviewed your draft, set your campaign to active, click Next, and launch your campaign. 

7. Monitor ad performance and optimize results

To access your conversation ad reporting, log in to the campaign manager and download the Conversation Ads CTA Performance report. You can use this report to see which CTA buttons users prefer and if (and where) they drop out of the conversation. Here are a few troubleshooting tips:

Low open rates

If you’re seeing low open rates, LinkedIn suggests confirming the profile from which you send the message has a high-quality profile picture that is set to be visible to all LinkedIn members. 

Drop-off after introductory message

If you are seeing a drop-off in engagement after your first message, your introductory copy might be unclear. LinkedIn’s advertising experts suggest making your copy more conversational or asking a question to encourage engagement.

Low engagement

If your engagements are low, LinkedIn suggests adding rich media (like photos or infographics) to your messages or including a video link.

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LinkedIn conversation ads FAQ

How much do LinkedIn conversation ads cost?

Like all LinkedIn ads, LinkedIn conversation ads are sold through the platform’s bidding system. Conversation ads are charged on a cost-per-send (CPS) basis, and costs depend on how competitive your market is.

What is the limit for LinkedIn conversation ads?

LinkedIn users can only receive one conversation ad in a 30-day period.

How do LinkedIn conversation ads differ from other ad formats on LinkedIn?

Conversation ads are an interactive ad format, meaning that ad content is partially determined by recipient behavior. They appear in LinkedIn Messaging and are marked with a sponsored tag to distinguish them from private LinkedIn messages.

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