HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

Tips on how to advertise to generate high-quality leads with AJ Wilcox

  • I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”
  • I think people being in the right mindset is really key with LinkedIn.
  • When you move over to LinkedIn ads, your sales team is going to tell you “This is the perfect person. Thank you. We are talking to an ideal quality type of prospect.” But we're still little ways out. They haven't started the project yet. We have to nurture this relationship.
  • I really like combining search and social channels, because you really do give your sales team a little bit of a variety. You get those leads that want to close immediately, and then you also get the leads that will turn into the bigger deal sizes over the long term.
  • [With Ads on Social] you have to catch their attention, and that's usually by giving free knowledge, free access to content.
  • So, you have to options every time you're advertising on LinkedIn for traffic. You can either send them to your own landing page, which I prefer.
  • You as a marketer, you can only change so many things with ads and try to draw people in. But you can increase performance by three, four, five, 10X if all you do is just understand your customer.
  • Not everyone wants to post content on LinkedIn because maybe they're afraid of what their business colleagues think of them or whatever. But when you post it, it's by far the easiest network in the world to go viral on and people are having crazy success on the organic side.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: Well, welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing, Real Fast. Today's going to be a real fast episode and it's going to be all around advertising and generating high-quality leads. So, make sure that your seatbelt is fastened and your hands are firmly on the wheel. Today guest in the studio is AJ Wilcox. He is a lifetime digital marketer who fell in love with LinkedIn and generating leads as a platform in 2011, and then he went off and founded his own company B2Linked.com in 2014 which specializes in LinkedIn ads, account management, training and consulting.

Doug: Since then he has managed hundreds of accounts and a combined budget of 110 million Dollars in ad spend on the LinkedIn network exclusively. So, he's worked directly with several LinkedIn's top 10 accounts. AJ's entrepreneurial journey is deeply rooted in his faith. After he was fired from his last job, he was offered multiple job opportunities after he prayed to God to figure out what he should do, the answer came, and it all came down to starting his own business and he's never looked back.

Doug: Not AJ is somebody I have seen online. I've followed him for a little while. And he's someone that I've wanted to have on the podcast for at least six months. So, I'm super excited to have him on the podcast. You're going to hear some just amazing information on how to leverage this platform to generate super high-quality leads, and you're going to want to listen to the section around being able to target companies where you can actually load a list of all the companies that you want your advertising to be shown to exclusively.

Doug: So, with that being said, I want to welcome AJ to the Real Marketing, Real Fast podcast today. Well hey AJ, I'm super excited to have you on the Real Marketing, Real Fast podcast today. So, welcome to the show.

AJ: Thanks so much, Doug. I'm excited about that awesome intro.

Doug: Well, it's interesting because I saw your profile months and months and months and months ago, and I looked through some of your stuff, I thought man' this guy's really smart and he's really crushing it on LinkedIn. I got to reach out and get him on the podcast and you're busy, and it's just been sitting in a to-do file for me and one of my assistants to help me. And then boom, you showed up in my inbox as a recommended guest. I went wow, this is good. I just needed to put it out there and wait for it and it shows up.

AJ: Never underestimate the power of serendipity. Happens to me too and I always love it.

Doug: So, let's be specific. So, we're going to talk today about LinkedIn advertising. So, why don't you tell us just a bit of the backstory on how you got to where you are and specifically what you're doing.

AJ: Sure. Well, my backstory is the last job I was working at about seven years ago, I went to the job, I had a new CMO that I really respected. Went into her office on the first day and laid out all of my digital marketing channels and strategies that I wanted to do, because I had done a lot of SEO and a lot of Google Ads. And I remember her saying, “Okay, all that sounds great. But just so you know, we just started a pilot using LinkedIn so let's see what you can do with it.”

AJ: And I saluted and said, “Yes, Ma'am,” and then I walked out of her office and went, “What in the world is LinkedIn ads? I've never heard of it. It must suck.” And, but I didn't want to look stupid to my new boss, of course, so I went and dove into the platform and started trying to figure things out. I approached social as a search marketer. So, I know I was making a lot of mistakes. But just kind of fuddled round.

AJ: And then about two weeks later, I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.” And he got me just curious about the log into sales force and look at the leads that he was talking about. And surprisingly enough, LinkedIn was not the only channel I was running, but it was the only channel that was generating sales qualified leads for this sales rep.

AJ: And so, I saw the writing on the wall and said, “Okay, we got to keep investing here.” And I eventually grew that to become LinkedIn's largest spending account worldwide, ran that for about two and a half years, and then actually ended up getting laid off from that position. And then went, “Okay, well, what do I do next?” And I've got this skillset that no one seems to be talking about.

AJ: But I have had extreme success. I think there are more people who need this.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: That's really cool. I mean, I have admittedly done a little bit of LinkedIn advertising. But really enjoy the platform. It's been a great place to connect. Because it really is a B2B platform. I mean, all of the social platforms, I think when you're looking at people and their mindset, at least this is my thinking when I'm checking my social media, I'm not thinking business, I'm checking, hey, what are my friends doing? Hey, what are my kids doing? Hey, what's going on? Not, hey, I need to solve this particular business issue today.

AJ: Yeah, I think people being in the right mindset is really key with LinkedIn. When you give them an offer that relates to either their job or their career, that's the reason they're there. And so many people who are actually on LinkedIn are interested in improving and becoming better and becoming smarter. And that's most of the offers that work teach people how to be a better professional. So, you'll see much higher conversion rates there than you might no Facebook, for instance.

Doug: So, for our audience that's listening, I mean, they're probably running Facebook ads. At least if you follow Gary V.everybody's running Facebook ads or should be, and Instagram ads. And then we've got Google, we've got Bing and then we've got all the new, the more sponsored content. So, why consider adding LinkedIn to your media mix?

AJ: Well, if you're already running something like Google ads, the feedback that you'll get from your sales team is, “Wow, all of these leads are hot.” And then they'll thank you for it. Like these are people who are ready to close tomorrow. Be it's an intent-based platform. They were coming looking for you. It means they have a project on the table. The other feedback you'll hear though is, “Could we get maybe more of the right people, because we're talking to the CEO and the proverbial janitor and everything in between. Could we talk to maybe more of the CEOs?”

AJ: And with search, you just can't do that. You only get to show the people who happen to type a keyword and Google can't tell them apart. On the social side, we get this opportunity to target people by who they are professional. But what we lose in exchange for that is the ability to know where they're at in the buying cycle. So, it means that when you move over to LinkedIn ads, your sales team is going to tell you things like, “This is the perfect person. Thank you. We are talking to an ideal quality type of prospect.” But we're still little ways out. They haven't started the project yet. We have to nurture this relationship.

AJ: And so, I really like combining search and social channels, because you really do give your sales team a little bit of a variety. You get those leads that want to close immediately, and then you also get the leads that will turn into the bigger deal sizes over the long term.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: So, when you're running ads like this, so yore saying you're targeting by maybe position within the company. And I've often thought that I know from my own experience when I'm looking to buy certain things, there's certain research I will delegate to one of my team.

AJ: Oh yeah.

Doug: So, in that case, it's not me looking, right? It might be my other marketing manager or it might be my EA, and so when she's searching for something on google, she has different biases than I do. She has a different outlook than I do. So, we might be in the buying mode, but it's a different person that's doing the research on my behalf.

AJ: Yeah, that's totally true. So, the search will certainly hit your executive assistant. Also at the same time, we've had some very successful campaigns on LinkedIn specifically targeting assistants and executive staff. So, you can certainly decide to target those who are actually doing the research on behalf of their executives.

Doug: That's really cool. So, why don't you walk us through kind of the difference between if I was going to run a search campaign with Google and a LinkedIn campaign? Just from kind of a high-level executive.

AJ: Yeah. Soon search, what you do is you figure out what are those keywords that someone would type to want to find what you do. So, let's say you sell software to help HR reps better interact with their company? They call it HRIS software. What you do is say oh, if someone types in HRIS software or best HRIS software, or HR software for enterprises you might want to have those keywords trigger and show someone an ad that shows your product.

AJ: On the other hand on social, especially LinkedIn, what you're going to do is you're not bidding by the keyword, you're now bidding by the person. So, I might go in and create a campaign that says, “If you are in HR, you are a people manager or above at a company with more than 500 people. I know that you're going to need my product and that you can afford it. You can budget for it.”

AJ: So, those are the two structures on search. You have this hierarchy of broad keyword to narrow. And on LinkedIn especially you're going to have this hierarchy of audiences down to ads.

Doug: And then in terms of the structure of the ad and the if you want to call it the sales process you're going to go through, is there a difference and if there is, what's the difference between the two platforms when you actually now have your ad in front of somebody?

AJ: Yeah Doug, this is a brilliant question because there's a massive difference in the way that you approach both channels. On a search channel like Google, for instance, someone they came looking for you. They want to interact with you specifically. Or someone who can solve their problem. So, you can send them right to a sales page. You can send them right to a, “Hey, hope on the phone with a sales rep,” or get a demo kind of page. But if you do this with social, they have a different mission in mind as they're going around the platform. And so if there's just an ad that provides no incentive for them to do anything, they're just going to look at it and go, “Oh, ad,” and move on.

AJ: So, what you have to do is somehow catch their attention, and that's usually by giving free knowledge, free access to content. And some of the types of assets we've seen work really well would be like, “Here, download this free checklist or a cheat sheet. A free guide. Join our free webinar. Here's a free in-person event.” And something where you're providing value first in exchange for them as a lead.

Doug: And in terms of the actual, the tactic and executing that, is it pretty much the same then so you're going to an attention-getting ad, “So, hey here's your problem. I can solve it. Download this.” Drive them to a landing page just like you would in any other platform and ask for an email or mobile number so you can text him the information?

AJ: Yeah, exactly. And every company does this a little bit differently. Everyone has a different sales nurture and follow-up sequence. Some or a little bit more aggressive, like I've seen companies like Salesforce where they, you will download a piece of content and before you can even read the headline of this PDF you just downloaded, a sales rep is calling you, they've left two messages, and you have an email in your box.

AJ: And then we also know of companies who say, “Hey, if you downloaded a piece of content, we know you're not interested in us yet. We know that you're just, you're trying to solve a problem. So, we're going to hold off. We'll give you what you ask for. We're going to affix a lead score to you. And then if you come back and interact with us later through a different channel or download more content or go deeper, that's when we're going to reach to and actually start a conversation.

Doug: So, in terms of conversion, moving somebody from an ad to, “Hey, I'm interested,” and requesting your information or whatever it is that you put up as a lead magnet, is there a way to leverage LinkedIn's auto fill?

AJ: There is, actually. So, you have to options every time you're advertising on LinkedIn for traffic. You can either send them to your own landing page, which I prefer. I think it's great because you own that experience. But they also have this kind of an add-on to two of their ad types that are called lead gen format. And what that means is any time someone interacts with that ad, a little interactive drawer will pop down with all the form fields and there will be a button that just says auto fill with LinkedIn. When someone clicks that, LinkedIn will look at their profile and auto input anything that you've asked for.

AJ: So, what a lot of clients are thinking is like, oh, if it's all done for you, I can go crazy and ask a lot of questions. I can ask for your company name, your job title, your company size, your industry. And although it makes it easy to input those things, that's also off-putting for someone like, “Whoa, I want a free checklist, and you're asking for 19 pieces of information. And so it will decrease your conversion rate, so my recommendation is to ask for only what you absolutely need because every additional field you ask for is going to drop your conversion rate.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: Okay, yeah. Fair enough. Do you have the ability to integrate that into your own landing page, or no? Sit hat strictly on the Facebook platform?

AJ: Oh, you used to be able to do this on LinkedIn it was a beta. You'd have to go to your ad rep and they would have to white list you to put a code on your website. I don't think they're doing that anymore. I think as soon as they released lead gen forms, they took away the ability for you to actually integrate on your site. But I did get to participate in that beta five, six years ago, and I can report it did okay, but it wasn't life-changing.

Doug: Okay.

AJ: So, maybe [inaudible 00:12:43] results for everyone.

Doug: So, is there a particular company or a campaign that you want to give a shout out to and just walk us through her, they never used LinkedIn before. Ew moved into LinkedIn, and then kind of here's how they came through the other side?

AJ: Yeah. Let me run through, it's actually similar to an example I shared earlier about HRIS software. So, I was working with a company, and this has been several years ago, they came to us and they said, “We want sales qualified leads and we sell HR software.” And so I said, “Okay, well we only pay when one clicks. So, let's go ahead and try just putting ads out there that say click here to talk to our sales rep, or get a demo of our software.”

AJ: And what happened during month one is costs were really high and click-through rates were really low, and LinkedIn just shut our ads off. We weren't providing any value. We weren't giving anyone inventive to actually want to interact. It was just a pure sales pitch. So then for month two, they gave us four different e-books to share. And so, we went crazy here on rapid iterative testing around different intros, different headlines, different images, trying to find the best way to share each of these assets.

AJ: And over the course of this, we could not get our ads to break underneath 137 Dollar cost per lead. And this was for three months in a row and we were working our butts off. I was absolutely certain the client was going to fire us because heaven knows, I'm not willing to pay $137 for someone to download a white paper. And so, anyway, the client comes back to us and to my surprise, they said, “Hey, here's a different asset we'd like you to try.” And the asset was called The Definitive Guide to Onboarding. And I didn't think anything of it.

AJ: We didn't do anything differently. We put the ad up, did our same approach with intro, copy, headline, image, combination, and we pushed it out, and we logged in the next morning, and I could not believe my eyes. Overnight, the cost per click dropped by a Dollar or two, which was significant because they were spending a decent amount. And the conversion rate had increased by three times. What we ended up getting was a cost per download of $27.00.

AJ: And we let this run for a good little while, and it never deviated. It always stayed really high converting, really low cost per conversion. And usually on social media, if you're using Facebook right now, I'm sure you're nodding your head going, “Yeah, after a week and a half, all of our adds need to be refreshed. We need to say something different because we've saturated that audience.”

AJ: On LinkedIn, people don't log in nearly as often. And so, it's usually about a 27 to 33 day period where we start to see audiences because saturated with content. They don't want to interact with it anymore. Not for this piece. It ran solid for four months straight until finally, we started to see performance decline.

AJ: So I share this case study with you because we learned it doesn't necessarily make us look good, but what we learned was the importance of the content. There was only so much lipstick we could slap on that pig of those precious assets. They weren't solving a problem or satisfying a real curiosity. But this last piece definitely did and we got to reap the benefits of it.

Doug: So, I guess one of the messages there may make sure that you've done your testing. What problem you solve for your audience.

AJ: Exactly. And like I said, you can only put so much lipstick on that pig.

Doug: Yeah.

AJ: You as a marketer, you can only change so many things with ads and try to draw people in. But you can increase performance by three, four, five, 10X if all you do is just understand your customer. We like to say, go talk to your salespeople, the people who talk to your prospects all day long, and just ask them what are the problems that everyone has? What're the questions everyone asks? Let's create a piece of content that addresses those. And chances are, it's going to just hit a home run.

Doug: Now, in terms of advertising, I mean, I'm more familiar with the Google platform, so you may detect that in the question, what about remarketing?

AJ: Oh. Not a problem at all on that one. LinkedIn does have a retargeting solution. I will say Goggle is much better technologically and so is Facebook's. So, while I do like the idea of retargeting your own LinkedIn traffic with LinkedIn retargeting, probably even more importantly, I would drive the traffic to my website and then make sure that both my Google and my Facebook retargeting are picking that traffic up and continuing to market to it. The reason why is because LinkedIn's retargeting, it goes by a cookie. And half of your traffic comes from iPhones and iPads that aren't allowed to carry a cookie. At least in most cases.

AJ: And so you can't, like immediately half of your audience is gone. Plus LinkedIn's retargeting, you might pay six to nine Dollars a click to get the traffic originally from LinkedIn and then you get a little bit of a discount on retargeting. You might still pay $4.00 a click. Whereas on both Google and Facebook you're probably going to pay maybe a Dollar or less per click on retargeting and it's a lot better technology at staying top of mind.

Doug: That makes sense. Yeah, and where we sub a Dollar to do remarketing, retargeting, and on the other platforms.

AJ: Yeah, it makes so much sense. Just, it's a beautiful technology. Google was really first to market with it. And yeah it was better technology, cheaper, and it's pervasive. You get the entire Google display network across the whole web. And that's extremely powerful to just be in front of people, no matter where they are.

Doug: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, we've always found, people always say, “Well, what's the silver bullet?” I do lots of emails so people think you do just email? I said, “No. No, we don't do just email. We do social and we do email and we do pay search,” because we find that the one plus one plus one doesn't equal three. It equals like five, six, or seven. Because you're getting the multiplier effect of these different media and people in different mindsets on different platforms.

AJ: Absolutely. We see the same thing with all the different types of marketing. For instance, I mean the whole reason that I'm on the podcast. You checked me out before, but didn't have enough social proof to say, “Okay, I'm going to reach out to this guy.” But as soon as you saw me in two different places, it was like, “Oh, serendipity effect. I should probably take action here.”

AJ: The same thing is you see my ads on LinkedIn, and then you search and see another one of my ads on Google, and then I reach out to you, you're going to have an entire attitude shift. It's not going to be a, “Wait, so who are you?” Prove to me that you're good, it'll be a, “Oh, I've heard of you. You must be legit. Let's talk.”

Doug: Well, what I think's interesting too is you've also, I've heard you say a number of times social. And I don't typically, in my own mind anyhow, put LinkedIn into the social platform bucket.

AJ: Yeah, it's really interesting because I think people in the past have viewed LinkedIn very much as a stodgy platform. This is where you come back to update your resume every six months, or just when you're looking for a job. But really what's been exciting is when LinkedIn released the user feedback in 2013, and then every year they had more and more people using the user feed, enjoying it and starting to share things. It really has become a real social platform. LinkedIn released the stat that people are spending 40% more time in the news feed since last year. And that's incredible growth.

AJ: It means great things for when you post content. Not everyone wants to post content on LinkedIn because maybe they're afraid of what their business colleagues think of them or whatever. But when you post it, it's by far the easiest network in the world to go viral on and people are having crazy success on the organic side.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: So, is there a strategy that you work with? I mean you brought it up, and that's a great segue in combining what you're publishing on the social side in addition to what you're running for advertising?

AJ: Yeah. I think the social side tends to be pretty overlooked. But LinkedIn is very much a dichotomous system here. You have the organic side that so many people are having success on, absolutely loving it because it's so easy to go viral. It's so easy to share and get leads. And then on the paid side, you have this platform that is so powerful, but it's also pricey compared to other platforms. So, it's kind of hard to marry the two.

AJ: But when you do, here's what happens. Just like we talked about before with serendipity, we run ads for clients and their sales team is working on prospecting, kind of on the back end. And as they're working with people who've already seen our ads, whether it's subliminally or whether they've actually clicked on the ads, it's changing the tone of conversations and it's increasing their success rate. And so both of the sides together just make absolute sense.

Doug: That's really neat. So yeah, I mean I've seen lots of guys like you said that is going viral on the feed side where they're doing videos and all sorts of crazy things to get traction. Now because unlike Google and the other platforms, LinkedIn basically is very large, like a CRM if you want to look at it that way. You've got hopefully people that you've connected with. Can you target the people that you're connected with only?

AJ: Oh. So, you can target people who follow your company page. That's about the best you can do by default. In the past, this has been, I want to say it's like five, six months ago, you used to be able to go into LinkedIn and say, “Download all of my connections into a spreadsheet.” And one of those columns was an email address. And so, I think a lot of people were spamming. They would end up getting a bunch of connections. They would go and immediately add them to their marketing automation sequences and start blasting. And so, LinkedIn in said, “Oh, we're not going to allow that anymore.”

AJ: But back before then, when you had this giant list of email addresses of everyone that was either connected to your CEO or connected to you, you could then go into the ad platform, upload that list of email addresses, and target just those people. And what worked so nicely about that is because LinkedIn gave you the email address, LinkedIn has it on record, and so you'd literally have a 100% match rate of emails. So, if you had 501 connections on LinkedIn, you'd have a campaign with 501 people in it.

Doug: That's really cool. I mean, that was my thinking was, I mean LinkedIn's verified the user. And if I just show ads to them, it's not unlike me taking our customer database and downloading and uploading it into either Facebook or Google and running custom audience ads.

AJ: Yeah, exactly. This was LinkedIn's playing catch up to those platforms with that bring your own data kind of approach. But one thing they added to this that the other platforms can't touch that I absolutely love, it's company name match. So, for pretty much every platform out there, you can upload email addresses to match, and that's pretty cool. But on LinkedIn now you can say, “Hey, I want to upload a list of the Fortune 1000. Or I want to upload a list of every company who's ever been a leader but has not yet closed.”

AJ: And I can create very custom campaigns targeting just those brands. Just certain people at those brands. And you just can't get this anywhere else. It's the perfect account-based marketing approach.

Doug: Okay. So, let's just back that up a bit and go a little bit slower so our audience, everyone can catch up, make sure they're up to speed.

AJ: Yeah, sorry. I move a little bit quicker.

Doug: Yeah. No problem. I mean, I get where you're going. I think it's really cool, so I just want to make sure that everybody understands what the opportunity looks like. So, you want to explain that again?

AJ: Yeah. So account-based marketing is this approach. It's kind of become a buzzword. But around sales teams. It's this approach of, hey, we know that there are certain brands that if we close the deal with, we would want to put their logo on our website. We would cheer internally. Like this would be a game changer for us.

AJ: And so, the whole account-based marketing approach in sales is having the salespeople go out and specifically look at certain companies that they would want to go after. So, its kind of like the idea of spearfishing or whale hunting where you're going after the big guys specifically because they would be a great fit. As opposed to just kind of throwing your net out there and saying hey, any company that has at least 500 employees, we want to talk to. And so, LinkedIn has made that whale fishing kind of approach possible for us by letting us target specific company names.

AJ: So for instance, if you wanted to go after the Fortune 500 or the Fortune 1000, you can quite easily go and find a list of all of those companies. You then take that list of companies in an Excel sheet, upload it to LinkedIn and then it creates this audience segment called Fortune 1000 or whatever. And then you can go into your ads and say, “Target this list. Anyone who is marketing, manager or above.” And immediately you're showing ads to only marketing managers and above at the Fortune 1000, and it's probably not going to get a ton of traffic, but every lead generated here is going to be absolute gold for your company if they're an ideal target audience.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: Okay. That's really cool. I didn't know that existed. Yeah, we'll have an offline conversation about that.

AJ: Nice. We can do it too. And I love the approach.

Doug: So, in terms of somebody for an audience who's listening going, “Hey, this sounds good as another platform and another opportunity.” How does someone get started running a LinkedIn ad? So, walk us through your process. So, I come to you and say, “Hey AJ, I'm super excited. I heard the podcast. I'm interested in looking at this as a new media and doing some testing with you.” What are the steps?

AJ: All right. So, anyone who's tried to advertise on Facebook for the first time, you know the considerable friction of like, wait, I have to get admin access to a page, and then have to grant it to myself. And LinkedIn's a little bit simpler, but there definitely are some hurdles to jump over. So, we've got a free offer that we throw out there just to be helpful. So, if you go to our website, B2linked.com/checklist. Right there you can download, it's the eight things that you need to do in order to get advertising on LinkedIn. And it will ask for your email address, but if you don't tick the box that says, “I want someone to contact me,” you'll never hear from us ever again. This is purely we want to help you get started on a platform to help shortcut that journey.

AJ: But basically what this checklist includes is you need to advertise from a company's page, so you either get access to or create a page. You then create an account that you can do by going to LinkedIn.com/ads. It'll walk you through the whole process. You also need to have an idea of who your audience is so that when you get in there, you know who to target. You should probably also have either some imagery or video assets that when you actually go to create the ads, you're ready to go. You can start writing ad copy.

AJ: So anyway, download the checklist. Walk through that. But of course, we can go as deep as you want here.

Doug: Okay. Well, I mean it gives us a basic overview. So, you need to have a company page, and if you do have a company page, I'm assuming it's the internal version of your webpage hosted by LinkedIn. So, it should be cleaned up. It should be up-to-date. The proper links and contact information should be there, and you should have some history posting there.

AJ: Yes, I would certainly agree with that. I'll also mention that-

Doug: You don't have to agree with it. I'm just throwing it out there.

AJ: Well, I'll give you a little caveat here. Because I have had some clients come to me and they go, “We want to advertise because we know our audience is here, but we're a little ashamed of our company page. It might take us multiple weeks to get the information cleaned up or to where we're happy with it.” And I usually say, “Know what? Let's just move forward.” Because what we've seen. It's usually a pretty small percentage of people who actually click from the ad to the company page. It's usually just between three and six percent.

AJ: So, if you're really embarrassed about what's on there, it's not a big deal. You might maybe turn off the three to six percent of people. But otherwise, most people are going to interact with your offer for what it is. You said here we're going to teach you how to do something with this free guide, and they want the free guide. That's why they're interacting with you.

AJ: So, don't let it be a hindrance, but of course it's social proof. It's a validation of your brand, and if they go to your page and it's very complete and they learn something there.

Doug: And that's a really good point. I mean, I've worked with people who say, “Hey, I have [inaudible 00:28:22] webpage. I have to do this.” It's like, “No, we just need a landing page.” Let's get some sales. And when we get some sales, you have new cash. Then you can put somebody on the task of rebuilding your website. But in the meantime, let's get some new sales.

AJ: Exactly. I love that approach. Start with what you have and then iterate along the way.

Doug: So, let's talk timing and budget. So okay, sounds good. Let's add this to my media mix. Where do we start in terms of timing and budget to get a campaign rolled out?

AJ: So, hat you want is not necessarily an amount of time, but you want an amount of data. And what we've found is once you've spent somewhere between about three and $5,000 on the platform, generally your conversion rates and your cost per conversion becomes statistically significant. And so, if you're a fan of scientific testing and you want to know whether this is a platform that's worth investing on in the future, or if you should pull back or shut off entirely, what I recommend is go ahead and spend that three to five K, get statistical significance, and whether that takes you two days to spend or six months, that's how much data you want.

AJ: But of course, if you're working with an agency like ours, it really behooves you to try to do as much testing as you can during a single month, and that way once you get to the end of the month you can say, “Yes, this is working. Let's expand.” Or, “No, this sucks. We should get out.” And then you only paid one month of a management fee.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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Doug: Okay. Yeah, fair enough. And I mean that's a really good response. I mean, I like what you said. It really isn't timing and budget, it's more about the right amount of data. So, it's probably no different than any other platform. You need to get enough data to be significant so you can actually get some valid results and make some business decisions based on the metrics.

AJ: Yeah, and keep in mind because LinkedIn is a more expensive platform, you're paying six to nine Dollars a click, that means you just, you're going to need more spending in order to get that data. On Facebook, for instance, you might have received statistical significance between 1500 and $1500. And on LinkedIn, just you got to give it a little bit more leash. But realize that your target is there. You can reach near 100% of them, and that's why we're willing to pay LinkedIn prices is that access to very precise targeting and amazing scale that no other network can [inaudible 00:30:29].

Doug: Well, and although I might be six to nine Dollars a click, I mean, want to push back a bit on that because of just go into Google Ad Words and type in the keyword CRM and see how much you have to bid to get a click there. So, before you say, “Hey, LinkedIn's expensive at six to nine Dollars,” go look at the 30 Dollar click on Google fr CRM. So, I only think that advertising's expensive because it doesn't work.

AJ: Yeah. The nice thing about the pricing is if you're willing to pay LinkedIn prices, chances are that you have a pretty large lifetime value of your customer on the back end. And so, what I tell people is make sure that you're going to make $15,000 or more on average from a customer when you close them, and then the six to nine Dollars a click that you need at the beginning is jutting going to be a piddly nuisance. It won't even be a big deal.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that was another question. I was taking notes as you're talking, and I put LTV, so it's Lifetime Value so, is that kind of, is that a minimum, do you think?

AJ: I don't think it's a minimum. We definitely have clients who don't make $15,000 when they close someone. But because they're either the upfront process of advertising is more efficient. Like we have higher conversion rates or lower cost per click than average, then it brings the whole kind of average down. Or maybe they have a sales team who's really good at closing or getting in touch with people, and so they're much more efficient than average. And so, we have clients who close deals after $800 in ad spend. And so even if they only make $5,000 off the lifetime of a customer, they sill have over a four X ROI.

Doug: Yeah. And often I look for if I can break even or a little bit better on the acquisition, then I know I'm going to make it up on the back end over time.

AJ: Yeah, and LinkedIn's really powerful for that because you are creating relationships with exactly the right brands. And there is this long-term brand and halo effect. And so if you can get the money in the door as you said, you're going to have word of mouth back you up. You're going to have all of the social proof that comes with being able to talk about and do case studies with this there brand. So yeah, get whatever you can. During the first three months, things and probably going to be less efficient than once you've really figured out the formula. So, if things are looking good during months one, two and three, it's going to be a killer channel for you ongoing.

Doug: So, what are you most excited about in the next six to 12 months in what you're doing with your business or LinkedIn platform?

AJ: Well, on the LinkedIn platform side, I think LinkedIn understands now that they're a little bit behind the pack. Like for instance just last year, they gave us carousel ads and video ads. And those are things that we've had on Facebook for three, four years.

Doug: Sure.

AJ: So, what we've gone from seeing is they're four years behind. So now we are an official LinkedIn partner, so I get a little look at the road map that I'm not allowed to carry externally. But what I'm seeing on the road map is them moving at a breakneck speed and finally realizing that they're a legitimate player and should act like it. So, I'm excited about the new things coming down the pipe from LinkedIn ads specifically.

AJ: And for us as a company, I have a book coming out here in the next few months. We're building some really cool software to really make running LinkedIn ads much more efficient and easy to do at scale. So, those are the two things I'm super excited about personally.

Doug: Where do you see AI? Do you see AI coming into the advertising platform for running LinkedIn ads as well?

AJ: I don't, at least not yet. I think this is one of those situations where the really big players are probably going to pioneer stuff related to AI and machine learning, and then I think LinkedIn will catch up. The one piece they have right now that is machine learning based is their automated bidding. So, you essentially tell it, here's my budget of what I want to spend per day. And here's also my wallet. Go and decide how to bid for me. It works well for some people. But for the majority of our accounts, we find that we can get a lot lower costs if we're just biding manually. So, I'm excited to see them develop it, but I'll wait for the other platforms like Google to figure it out first.

Doug: Okay, fair enough. So, what's some of the bad advice, so this is a Tim Ferris question. What's some of the bad advice you hear around social media advertising and LinkedIn?

AJ: There are two really big pieces of bad advice that actually stem from LinkedIn itself. If you read LinkedIn's materials, they'll tell you to make sure that when you create an audience it has at least 300,000 people in it. The reason why I think that's bad advice if they're of course telling you to put giant audience sizes together because it's going to make them more money. But that's not in your best interest.

AJ: Let's say you're targeting an audience size of 300,000 people and you put ads behind it and you start generating leads. If it performs great or if it performs poorly, you can look at it and there's no analysis to do. You can't say, oh great, now I can go and do X. What you need is a comparison. So, rather than creating one giant audience of saying, “In X industry I want to hit everyone manager and above in, let's say finance.”

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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AJ: Instead, what you go and do is create a finance manager's campaign. A finance director's, a finance VP, or like a Chief Financial Officer. Campaign. So, it's four separate buckets all having exactly the same people in them. And now if you run the same ad or the same offer to all four of these, now you start to have a comparison. You can say something like, “Oh, our CFO, their cost per click is really high and they're hard to get on the phone. Maybe we pull back on there or we shut them off entirely. But oh, directors seem to be really interested in our content.”

AJ: And those are the types of things that you can do by getting really targeted in your audience. The other piece of bad advice that LinkedIn will tell you is to make sure you bid high. You want to show up nice and early in the day. You want to show up really high on the page. When someone is very first testing in the LinkedIn ads, we know it's a little bit more expensive of a platform and everything is a pilot. Everything is a test. And so if you go in and just throw all of your at the wall and say, “Yes, I want to be aggressive here,” chances are you're going to be disappointed. You'll end up with a really enormously high cost per conversion. And after month one, you'll look at it and say, “We should probably shut this off.”

AJ: As opposed to dipping your toe in the water trying to be as targeted with your audience and bid as low as you possibly can and to still spend your budget. That combination is going to tell you what the network is capable of. And then as you need more volume, of course, you can start increasing your bids and increasing the budget. But dip your toe in the water, make sure it's a good buy first.

Doug: That's great advice and I think that's great advice across all marketing platforms. It's very easy to spend money and then have to go back as you're reporting and say, “Hey, we did this. We had our budget. We blew it all in one month and we didn't get the results.” Opposed like you're saying dip your toe in the water. Do some testing. Test, test, test. Get some results. Teak it, and then you can look at her, now I can scale.

AJ: Yeah. It's in no one's best interest to go on and not set up an efficient test that fails. Because there's a lot of friction that you're going to go through and just the learning curve of trying a new platform, and it'll be a waste of money. So, I like the tiptoe approach to everything. But of course, if you're a marketing team where they're just handing you gobs of cash and saying use it or lose it, yeah sure, you can do a cannonball into that pool.

Doug: That's funny. That's fair enough. So who's one guest I absolutely have to have in my podcast?

AJ: All right, so there is a woman by the name of Judi Fox. And it's J-U-D-I Fox and she is fantastic at the sales approach to LinkedIn on the organic side. So, while I play exclusively on the ad side, I see her over there really making waves, creating good video content. Getting profiles to where they actually become lead generators. And she's just a fantastic person to boot. Also really fascinating, she spent time, she has her Ph.D. She spent time as a chemical engineer. She's been in sales. She's been in marketing and now she's running her own consultancy. So, she would be a fantastic interview for you.

Doug: That's awesome. Yeah I mean it makes sneeze. LinkedIn's been a great platform to connect people and generate leads for a long time like you said. I kind of thought, well, no, not so much LinkedIn. But for me organically and reaching out has worked. So it makes sense also to be advertising there as well.

AJ: Yeah. I agree. And the cool part about the organic side of linked in is like we mentioned earlier, it's the easiest network in the world to go viral on. So, you don't get control of who those audiences are who see your stuff. But you will reach large audiences and it doesn't cost you anything. On the ad side, we can be very specific about who sees it, but boy do we pay for it. So, you combine the two and you usually get some pretty stellar results.

Doug: Well, that's amazing. Hey, I really appreciate you taking time and sharing with our audience today. And this is a topic I've been so interested in and covering in the podcast. So maybe after your book comes out, we should have another conversation.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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AJ: Oh, I'd love to share.

Doug: So, where's the best place for people to reach out, connect and learn more about you?

AJ: Well, I'll share my dirty little secret here. If you go to my website B2linked.com and fill out the form anywhere there, you won't go to a sales rep and you won't go into our email newsletter and get spammed. It goes directly to only my inbox and I'm not a sales guy. So, feel free to just reach out, ask any question you want, as long as it's not a sales pitch, I would love to chat with you.

Doug: Fair enough. So, there you go, listeners. There's another absolute, and I really hope you take this to heart. I mean, LinkedIn's been a great platform for generating high-quality leads. We get leads every day just organically. So, we've looked at LinkedIn ads and now we know how to make that happen to be we can now reach out to AJ and he can solve our problem.

Doug: So, stay tuned for our next episode. We'll make sure that these show notes are transcribed, so you'll be able to find him, connect with him and find his links. We look forward to serving you on our next episode.

AJ: Thank you, Doug and thanks to everyone for listening.

Doug: Thanks so much.

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HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO ADVERTISE TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY LEADS

I had a sales guy come up to me and introduce himself and he said, “AJ we don't know what you're doing over here, but we're fighting over your leads. Keep it up.”

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