While LinkedIn’s network of working professionals and job seekers isn’t comparable in size to Facebook, it has introduced an advertising platform that is logical and effective. What LinkedIn lacks in volume, it makes up for in it’s straightforward targeting options and accurate audience segmentation, which, if leveraged correctly, will produce quality and relevant traffic that can turn into excellent leads and students.
LinkedIn is an essential advertising source for any higher education marketer looking to position their program brand in front of potential students. There is a perception that LinkedIn is composed solely of business professionals, but we have found this inaccurate and have produced great results for both our business and non-business focused programs. While cost-per-clicks (CPCs) can be higher in LinkedIn when compared to Facebook or the Google Display Network, traffic relevancy and quality also tends to be higher, which helps to keep your conversion rates to lead high.
There are two different types of advertising options: sidebar ads and sponsored content. Sponsored Ads will take up more real estate on the page and will generally have a higher click-thru-rate (CTR) than sidebar ads. If you have a large and broad audience segment, then sidebar ads can be effective at limiting irrelevant clicks. LinkedIn’s real strengths are in its ability to hone in on potential students through its targeting parameters. Here are five different ways in which you can target potential students using LinkedIn’s preset parameters, starting with the most effective:
- Job Titles – Simple and straightforward, LinkedIn provides job title groupings that position it as superior to Facebook when it comes to targeting individuals based on their job titles. This was a very smart move by LinkedIn, as Facebook’s job title targeting has become a jumbled mess composed of “Likes” and random titles. For any job titles that aren’t large enough to warrant their own grouping, LinkedIn will simply group them together with other similar titles in a logical way. While cost-per-clicks (CPCs) can be high, the conversion rate to lead of this traffic can be at 15% or higher, which quickly makes up for the higher click costs.
- Field of Study/Degree – A new addition to LinkedIn advertising, Field of Study/Degree targeting is similar to job title targeting in its simplicity and effectiveness. When targeting individuals, it is important to know what they studied in their undergrad, as this insight can greatly affect your messaging when positioning your graduate program. For example, if you wanted to market a master’s in health informatics to an audience segment who had graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, providing copy and imagery that speaks to how a nurse can benefit from an informatics education, while still utilizing their nursing skills, can be very powerful.
- Skills – This targeting option is unique to LinkedIn and can be very effective for honing in on potential student personas who might be challenging to target through jobs or degrees. For example, if you have a master’s degree focused on something like leadership, then it can be hard to understand whom to target as a broad array of people could be interested in a leadership degree. Through skills targeting, you can focus on individuals who have skills in executive leadership, or org. leadership/development.
- Groups – Targeting individuals who are part of relevant groups or associations can be a nice complement to the prior three targeting options. These can also be powerful for targeting individuals who are part of more niche industries, such as individuals who work with technologies that might not be mainstream. For example, if you were marketing a program that targeted web analysts, then targeting all of the various groups and associations relating to web analytics can be effective.
- Company + Industry – LinkedIn has put together broad industry categories that are less targeted but still effective. There are broad categories, such as accounting, that can be very effective for marketing a master’s degree in accounting but not very effective for more niche programs such as medical laboratory science or business analytics. Cost-per-lead (CPL) tends to be higher when utilizing this targeting option as relevancy is lower.
While we always recommend a diversified approach to marketing your program, LinkedIn is a platform that I would dedicate at least 30% of your budget. Coupled with an effective landing page, LinkedIn can be relied upon as a good source of mid-priced but high quality leads for an array of graduate programs.
Robert Lee is the CEO of Circa Interactive. He offers a decade of demonstrated search engine marketing expertise, working as an analyst, team lead and manager. Before founding Circa Interactive, Robert worked with higher education marketer Embanet