Social Media

Optimizing for Return on Ad Spend Using LinkedIn Metrics

By Christine Warner on October 29, 2019

Sure, there are some tried-and-true methods for creating an engaging LinkedIn campaign. But measuring the effectiveness of those efforts—chiefly, their return on ad spend—requires another strategy entirely. Step one: Don't go chasing every single metric.

As you start to set up your LinkedIn ads reporting, it's critical to home in on the metrics that actually align with your campaign goals and objectives; otherwise, you're just wasting valuable resources. For starters, trying to interpret the value behind every single metric positions your team as a reactive force, where you're more likely to miss out on key opportunities as they happen.

With this guide, you can better determine which LinkedIn ads reporting metrics make sense to monitor when you're looking to prove a campaign's ROI.

Choosing Your Key Result

While all metrics matter, specific ones carry more weight in regard to showing return on ad spend. These metrics are specific to the campaign goals and objectives that you set: cost per result (conversion), average click-through rate (consideration), average cost per click (consideration), and average cost per impression (awareness).

The LinkedIn Campaign Manager lets you set up objective-based reporting to make sure each effort is optimized based on your key goals and objectives. Start by setting up a key result for each campaign—the main objectives LinkedIn offers for this are brand awareness, website visits, engagement, video views, lead generation, website conversions, and job applicants. Each of these will also inform bid types and optimization metrics.

Awareness: To increase awareness, the key results you'll be looking for are impressions using the auto or cost per impression (CPM) bid options. You'll want to focus on optimizing for the lowest CPM, making adjustments to your targeting and ad spend accordingly.

Engagement: LinkedIn engagement is based largely on social actions and—yes—clicks. The key results here can be landing page clicks, likes, comments, shares, and follows. To maximize your budget, choose the auto or cost per click (CPC) options. When driving traffic to a landing page or website, you should also track the referrals and on-site engagement.

Video views: LinkedIn buckets video views separately as an objective, measured by views and impressions. A view on LinkedIn is defined as two or more continuous seconds watched at 50 percent visibility on screen or an ad click. You have the ability to choose auto, cost per view (CPV), or CPM bid options. The choice between CPV or CPM for video content should be made based on the goal of the campaign: Are you looking to promote an individual video asset? If so, then CPV is the way to go. If your video is part of a broader awareness campaign, you'll want to integrate it in the measurement of the rest of your ads or assets and optimize for CPM for the overall campaign.

Lead generation: For a key result of leads, LinkedIn suggests using the auto, enhanced cost per click (eCPC), or CPM options for bidding. The eCPC bidding option is exclusive to lead generation and website conversion objectives; it lets you bid based on CPC, but then optimizes the bid for a lower cost per conversion. This is hands-down the best option for lead generation and maximizing your return on ad spend.

Website conversions: Similar to the lead generation objective, this lets you bid using the auto, eCPC (including manual caps), or CPM—the key result being a conversion action through your website, such as downloads, sign-ups, purchases, etc. In addition to conversions, LinkedIn offers impressions and CPM. Here, eCPC is the better option. To implement conversion tracking, you can install a site-wide insight tag on the corresponding pages or an event-specific pixel to use when there isn't an associated page. The event-specific pixel makes sense to use when you are promoting a form or PDF, also requiring a code installation.

Measuring your return on ad spend with LinkedIn is easy if you're chasing the right metrics.

Image attribution: Snapwire on Pexels

Organizing Your KPIs

With your key results in mind, you can then set and align your key performance indicators (KPIs) with the appropriate campaign objectives and goals. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to improve upon what worked well in the past, some KPI categories worth measuring on LinkedIn include growth in website and referral traffic, engagement, subscribers, downloads, applications, and qualified leads. To determine your success rate with these goals, these are the buckets of metrics you'll want to monitor.

  • For awareness: Reach metrics such as impressions, clicks, average CTR, average CPC, average CPM, and ad spend; and video metrics such as views, views at 50 percent, views at 75 percent, completions, completion rate, view rate, estimated CPV, and full-screen plays
  • For consideration: Engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, follows, desktop clicks, mobile clicks, total social actions, total engagement, and engagement rate
  • For conversion: Lead metrics such as sponsored InMail, ad spend, sends, opens, total clicks, button clicks, banner clicks, link clicks, click to open rate, open rate, CPS, cost per open, average CPC
  • For conversions and leads: Spend, conversions, click conversions, view conversions, conversion rate, cost per conversion, total conversion value, return on ad spend, leads, leads from opens, cost per lead

In addition to monitoring the metrics above, you can track conversions by identifying website actions such as content downloads, sign-ups, and purchases based on the criteria you define. This conversion data isn't just available for those who click on your ads, it's also available for those who view your ads. The three key metrics here are conversions, click conversions, and view conversions.

LinkedIn reporting also provides insights into the type of people who convert through your ad campaigns, showing job titles, companies, and industries that have the highest conversion rates.

In the past, LinkedIn has been a notoriously difficult platform for brands to stand out on. But when you use these metrics to your advantage, you can fine-tune your campaigns with a specific audience in mind and get on the radar of the key players you'd like to do business with.

Feature image: Robin Worrall on Unsplash


Christine Warner

Christine Warner is a freelance writer and digital marketer with agency, brand, and non-profit experience developing integrated campaigns and content platforms for diverse brands such as Uber, Samsung, Walgreens, Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Dignity Health. Her digital marketing specialties include content marketing strategy, customer relationship management, brand product marketing, digital media planning, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Digital for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she oversees the digital marketing efforts for the various non-profit communities and ministries throughout Southern California. As a freelance writer, she contributes regularly to various lifestyle and marketing publications. You can check out her writing portfolio to browse all her work.