Case Study: LinkedIn Thought leader Ads

Running ads through your employees instead of your company page. We tested out this more personal approach for your B2B marketing.

A while ago LinkedIn launched a new way to run ads. Instead of the classic way we’ve known for ages, which is running ads through your company’s page. LinkedIn now allows to advertise through the profiles of your employees. They labeled this feature as: Thought Leader Ads. As a result: the ad doesn't come across as a typical advertisement, it appears as a personal post that the audience sees in their feed. Essentially, it's an ad that doesn't look like an ad.

image 1-1Here's a sneak peek at what the thought leader ads look like in the LinkedIn campaign manager.

Now, why is this feature so interesting?

We all know that for B2B informing your prospects is even more important than it is for B2C. People have been using LinkedIn to share their insights for ages. Most companies even encourage their employees to do so. However, this new way of advertising allows companies to provide information through their sales people, subject matter experts, founders, HR and more at a much larger scale. 

This is a great opportunity because people tend to have more trust in people than in organizations or companies. So, what happens when your audience receives information about your company from real people? Here at MakeWaves, we decided to test this strategy. What did we do, and how did it turn out? Dive into the details below, where we break down the strategy and outcomes of a two-week campaign run for one of our valued clients.

image 2
 How to use your employee post for the Linked ad: select "employee" tab in the ad content library – you'll be able to browse through your employee's public posts and send them a request to use it in your ad.

Test campaign for Calqi

Our client Calqi is a software developer that’s currently marketing a new kind of software allowing architects to manage specifications and measurements records. To test the demand for their product, Calqi launched a survey for architects. They asked architects about their day-to-day hurdles and whether they'd be open to the kind of solution their product brings to the table.

At the beginning they only promoted this through their cold emailing list and in all honesty: with an open rate of just 23%, it didn't get that much response. So: we had the idea to let one of their founders record a video (just with his phone) asking architects to fill in the survey to get more insights on the sector. What's in it for them? Once all the responses are in and analysed, the survey results will be shared with everyone.

image 3   The post we used for Calqi's thought leader ad.

A quick sidenote: leaving your email address was optional in order to share your answers. That being said, a lot of people were willing to give their information in order to collaborate.

How did it perform? 

Let's dive into the numbers now: in the first 2 weeks of the campaign we spent €186. This makes it so that 6136 people have seen the ad and 345 people clicked it. That's a CTR of 5,6% and a cpc of 0,56. For an expensive medium like LinkedIn, these results are promising and a good indication to scale the campaign further.

To put is in perspective you’ll find a comparison between Calqi’s regular awareness ads and the thought leader ads.


Calqi's regular LinkedIn Ad

2.49% €1,42
Calqi's Thought Leader Ads 5,6% €0,56

Now the most interesting part:

  • 18 people filled in the survey, all from qualified target audience.
  • 10 out of 18 people (55%) left their email address.
  • That adds up to €18 for an email address and €10 for a submission.

After just 2 weeks we gathered valuable marketing insights for a very cheap price, and proved the campaign is ready to scale.  

On top of that: some of the people who left their email even became leads after. The insights they shared helped Calqi provide them with content and personal outreach based on their needs. Plus, survey insights will be used by Calqi to better position their product.

And those who didn't fill in the survey?
Even though not everyone filled in the survey, it's not a lost effort.  About 1400 people watched the video for more than 50%. Since this shows interest, we can use this audience to retarget them in a later phase. For example: we can send them a different ad promoting the survey’s results. Or pitching Calqi based on survey insights.

Why did this work out?

Our ad made it look like a person just reaches out to their network to help. When this happens, people are generally happy to help. So the less an ad looks like an ad and the more it looks like it's coming from a real person, the better it's going to perform. That’s why you don’t need high-end production. You can do a quick video with your phone, use a picture or even go with plain text post. 

The main effort comes from coming up with a useful piece of content or information you want to share. Most importantly, you have to ask yourself: “Would this work if I posted this on my profile?”

4 more ways to use LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads

Testing demand with a survey is one of many approaches you can take when it comes to Thought Leader ads.

We've helped several of our clients to achieve various objectives with this ad format. It's new, it's fun and gives you a new angle to be creative with. Try some of them too:

  1. Build trust with your buyers via subject-matter experts posts.

  2. Give your executives a big audience without having to secure a PR publication in a magazine. Quickly grow their online network.

  3. Promote your vacancies in an authentic way that stands out and attracts high-quality talent.

  4. Have an employee already active on LinkedIn? Recycle their successful content in Thought Leader ads to maximise reach and scale up.

Unconventional B2B marketing for your business

Are you also excited about discovering new B2B marketing techniques? At MakeWaves we love testing out what's new and getting results while doing so. The best part: we're fun to work with. Got something in mind for yourself? Or just want to know more about what we do? Have a chat with one of our experts through the calendar below.