Why we decided to experiment with Linkedin
Most of the growth in the user base of RealtimeCRM has come from word of mouth from our customers recommending us and organic traffic to our site. When it comes to converting prospects we do our best work when doing demos where we can find out what the customer needs and show them how RealtimeCRM can work for them.
We’ve never really gone down the paid online advertising route but we decided to run a £250 experimental campaign with Linkedin Sponsored InMail. The Sponsored InMail platform allows you to use Linkedin Messenger to get your content sent to the relevant people.
It looked like an interesting way for us to get more demos. Since Linkedin is a business platform we could leverage that rich data to target prospects who would be be interested in a simple to use CRM like RealtimeCRM. All we had to do was make a compelling offer which in our case would be a free consultation on how RealtimeCRM can help improve their bottom line and make their business run more efficiently.
Setting things up
The offering we were making was a free consultation to run through how RealtimeCRM could address the challenges specific to the prospect’s business.
We were going to target small businesses in the UK drilling down to business owners, sales managers and other relevant job roles.
The thinking was these small businesses are at the point where they’ve become complex enough where they can no longer run smoothly with just spreadsheets and they need something that can scale and still remain user friendly to keep track of what is happening in the business.
Our experience with the Sponsored InMail campaign manager was a bit of a mixed bag leaning towards being more negative. The UI is clunky and a little confused, it’s much more complicated than it needs to be to set up a form, it was also difficult to save progress as we completed each section which was a big annoyance as we were time constrained and its not fun to redo a section you’ve already completed. In terms of our bid we went with $0.25 and launched the campaign.
After launching the campaign
We ran the campaign and we were getting a lot of clicks but those clicks were not turning into leads. We figured that perhaps the problem was our form as after opening the message we were getting an above 50% click through rate, maybe asking for a phone number was putting people off and that it was too formal so we redesigned it with less fields now only asking for name and email which would be auto filled by Linkedin anyway.
It didn’t make a significant difference and at the end of the campaign we generated one lead. In terms of tracking performance here again Linkedin could do a lot better, beyond tracking clicks there isn’t really much here that’s useful and even there it’s opaque. The clicks track clicks on your company and logo as well on the actual call to action (CTA) even though we found the only clickable entity on the InMail itself was the call to action button so it made it difficult to really know if people were definitely clicking through the CTA to the form – we assumed they were but this opacity is not something we want when we’re spending money and want to be sure if there’s some variable we can change to improve our results.
To be blunt we would not recommend Linkedin Sponsored InMail. The interface is clunky, slow and glitchy. It takes much longer than it should to set things up.
The metrics available aren’t great and the results were simply not compelling enough to try again. The cost per lead was not great and even though it was below the expected lifetime value of a customer there are more cost effective ways to generate leads already in our arsenal.
Additionally, the InMail messages are marked as sponsored so that might increase the likelihood of them being ignored and viewed negatively from the outset which is something else to consider.
If you’re simply trying to create brand awareness perhaps InMail might be a tool to use but for direct response marketing we would steer away from it.