The B2B SaaS Marketing Blog

    B2B SaaS LinkedIn Ads: Why Your Campaigns Aren’t Working and What to Do About It

    Last updated: May 27th, 2024

    LinkedIn ads are certainly more expensive than they were several years ago and many of the SaaS marketers that come to us are disappointed by their ROI.

    However, we’ve found that LinkedIn ads are still the most effective platform to engage SaaS prospects, and it’s a core channel we use in our demand generation programs for clients today.

    The problem is that the rising cost of LinkedIn ads means you have a much smaller margin for error in your strategy. A few years ago, you could still see a positive ROI with a moderately optimized campaign.

    Yet today, a small mistake in your strategy can cause the entire campaign to be unprofitable.

    In addition, many of the strategies that worked a few years, or even a few months ago, are no longer effective.

    To help you make your LinkedIn ads more profitable, we’ll discuss the most common mistakes we see when auditing SaaS LinkedIn ad strategies and walk you through the step by step strategy we use today to help you make your campaigns more profitable.

    Driving leads with paid media like SaaS LinkedIn ads is one of the primary services we offer to B2B SaaS companies. Get a Free Marketing Plan to learn more about how we can help grow your business.

    Key B2B SaaS LinkedIn Ads Mistakes

    We audit dozens of SaaS LinkedIn ad campaigns each month, and here are a few of the most common SaaS LinkedIn ad mistakes we see.

    Mistake #1: Measuring Success Exclusively On Attributed Revenue

    If your goal is to drive more conversions, it intuitively makes sense to target people who have already decided to purchase a solution you offer.

    Yet most enterprise prospects research SaaS products for months, or even years before making a purchase decision.

    Therefore, if they don’t know your product exists until the final weeks before making a purchase decision, you’ll have a hard time converting them as they probably will have already built a relationship with one of your competitors during the research phase.

    As a result, ads you show to cold prospects at the bottom of the funnel will have a low conversion rate, and you’ll find that your LinkedIn ad campaigns are indeed unprofitable.

    So instead of using LinkedIn ads exclusively to drive conversions at the bottom of the funnel, we also use them to drive awareness and engage prospects at the top and middle of the funnel.

    In fact a core principle of our growth methodology is building a holistic demand generation strategy that creates awareness and trust with the prospect through touchpoints at each stage of the customer journey. And LinkedIn ads is a channel we frequently use to create touchpoints at each stage.

    Nevertheless, if you are targeting prospects at the top and middle of the funnel and still find that your LinkedIn ads aren’t effectively moving prospects through the buyer journey, the main problem we often find is that brands lack an effective follow up strategy to re-engage prospects.

    The buyer journey is a lengthy, complex process, so it’s important to have a strategy to capture prospects and continue developing the relationship with your brand after that initial touchpoint.

    Later in this article, we’ll discuss the exact strategy we use to capture and re-engage prospects to ensure your top and middle of funnel efforts are effective at nurturing prospects through the buyer journey.

    Mistake #2: Inaccurate Targeting

    Another common issue we see with underperforming LinkedIn ad campaigns is that they are targeting the wrong prospects, which ultimately results in poor lead quality and volume.

    There are usually two main reasons SaaS marketers unknowingly target the wrong audience.

    First, we see many marketers inaccurately use conditional targeting by using the “or” functionality rather than the “and” functionality.

    Related: How to Navigate Cookieless Tracking in B2B SaaS Marketing

    For example, if your target audience is a chief operations officer who works in the healthcare industry, it’s important to set the industry to “healthcare” AND title as “COO.”

    If you set it to “healthcare” OR “COO,” you might get COOs in different industries or healthcare workers in various roles.

    In fact, we often use ABM campaigns to eliminate this problem entirely and ensure we’re only targeting the right people at qualified companies to minimize wasted ad budget.

    Mistake #3: Inaccurate Messaging

    Effective marketing shows prospects how your product solves their problems, so if your LinkedIn ads aren’t performing as well as you had hoped, you might have the wrong ad messaging for the wrong stakeholders.

    There are three main issues we see with messaging.

    #1: Failing To Segment The Buying Committee

    This issue is particularly common with enterprise SaaS companies that sell to a committee of buyers, each of which has a different pain point.

    For example, if you sell a mobile observability product, the final check signer might be the VP of Engineering, but the person initially discovering your product might be a software engineer in the weeds working on the product.

    However, the pain points that your product solves for an engineer is probably very different from the pain point it solves for the VP of engineering.

    For example, the main pain point your product might help engineers solve is finding bugs faster. Therefore your messaging to them should be how the product helps them solve bugs faster.

    However, if the main pain point that the product solves for the VP of Engineering is that it saves them money by enabling the team to operate more efficiently, then your messaging to those stakeholders should address how the product saves money.

    #2: Addressing The Secondary Pain Points Or The Wrong Pain Points

    Another issue is that your ads might target a pain point your target audience feels, but it might not be the principal pain point they feel.

    For example, if you sell a cybersecurity product, the main reason the COO signs the check might be because they can’t afford a damaged brand reputation and a secondary reason they sign the check might be because it would save them the cost of having to clean up the damage.

    Therefore, your LinkedIn ad messaging should focus on brand reputation preservation rather than the cost of cleaning up the damage.

    #3: Using The Wrong Content At The Wrong Stage In The Buyer Journey

    Another common mistake we see is using the wrong content at the wrong stage in the buyer journey.

    For example, case studies are effective at the bottom of the funnel, yet they likely won’t drive engagement for prospects at the top of the funnel who have never heard of your brand before.

    Our Step-by-Step Approach to B2B SaaS LinkedIn Ads

    We manage hundreds of LinkedIn ad campaigns across dozens of enterprise B2B SaaS companies and are constantly testing different approaches. Based on this unique proprietary data, below we’ll share the LinkedIn ads strategy we’ve found most effective based on these unique insights.

    Step 1: Build A Buyer Persona

    Most SaaS marketers generally know which titles are involved in the buyer journey, but to effectively segment your LinkedIn ads, dial in your ad copy, and ensure you’re showing the right message at the right time, you need to know:

    1. Each person’s role within the buyer journey (influencer, check signer, etc.)
    2. When they enter the buyer journey and the platforms they use.
    3. The specific pain points each individual involved in the buying process feels and how your product solves those pain points.

    Before working with a client, we build out detailed buyer personas for each member of the buying committee to thoroughly understand how our product solves their pain points, how they talk about those pain points, where they enter the buyer journey, and their general behavior online.

    The data from the buyer persona ensures our messaging is always accurate as we’re essentially using the quotes and phrases from our current customers in our ad copy to ensure it resonates with prospects.

    In addition, prospects move through the buyer journey how they wish – not how you construct a funnel. Therefore, this research informs us when to show which ads and on which platforms to effectively nurture prospects to the point of sale.

    Step 2: Establish The Goal Of Your LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

    While LinkedIn ads are excellent for converting bottom of the funnel prospects, focusing exclusively on the bottom of the funnel isn’t always an effective strategy depending on the client.

    For example, if your product is a relatively new solution and there currently isn’t a lot of market demand, your LinkedIn ads will probably be more effective if you focus primarily on top of the funnel content and building awareness.

    Therefore, the next step in our LinkedIn ads strategy is to establish the goal of our LinkedIn ad campaigns and determine how it will fit into the larger demand generation strategy.

    If you exclusively focus on driving demos for a market with little demand and awareness of your product, you’ll likely earn very few, if any, leads. We use the Buyer Awareness Matrix to determine the type of content to serve (i.e., a checklist vs. a case study) depending on where the prospect is in the buyer journey.

    Step 3: Determine How To Capture The Lead

    A few years ago, our main approach to LinkedIn ads was sending people to the website or a landing page to capture their information.

    Yet today, users have access to so much free content that most of them don’t want to be troubled with leaving the platform.

    While there are still some scenarios where we might drive leads to the website or landing page, we’ve found that leveraging LinkedIn’s on-platform lead capture features are the most effective at earning new leads as it’s a frictionless user experience.

    Prospects are used to having access to content for free, so forcing them to go to a separate landing page and fill out an extensive lead form simply isn’t as effective as it was several years ago.

    Instead, the content types that we find that work best today include:

    • Thought Leadership Ads: This is a new ad type on LinkedIn that we’ve found particularly effective, and it allows you to promote individual profiles versus company profiles.
    • Document Ads: These ads allow people to consume content directly on LinkedIn, ensuring they don’t have to leave the platform.
      Videos: We often promote short form content that provides an overview of the product or a snippet of how it solves a specific pain point.
    • Giving away a template or checklist: Providing a piece of content that they can consume for free on the platform while still requiring them to provide an email address is a great alternative to landing pages.

    Step 4: Set Up Follow Up Email Automation

    After capturing a lead, there are two mistakes that can cause your LinkedIn ads to be ineffective:

    1. There isn’t any follow up set up to engage and nurture the lead.
    2. The follow-up immediately asks them to sign up for a demo.

    Instead, we look at the buyer journey we mapped out in step one, and identify the information prospects need next to continue down the buyer journey.

    Then, we construct an email automation sequence that answers those objections and questions so that they can proceed through the buyer journey.

    While there are multiple ways to remarket to prospects, we’ve found that email marketing is most effective for a few reasons.

    First, it’s significantly cheaper than running remarketing ads and you have much more control over deliverability and can ensure each prospect sees your content.

    In addition, people are in a mindset to take action when they’re in their inbox and will consume more detailed content, whereas they’re typically only in a mindset to browse content when they’re on social media.

    Email marketing is also a much more personal marketing channel than social media as prospects have given you permission to market to them, making it easier to build a relationship with prospects in less time.

    Step 5: Upload Current Customer Data

    We primarily run ABM campaigns, because we’ve found that it is the most effective method to ensure you’re getting your ads in front of the right people.

    Therefore, the first step is to upload current customer data.

    You can either upload current customer data manually or you can use the HubSpot integration to import it automatically.

    Alternatively, if you’re using a third party ABM platform, you can build an audience with that tool and then import it into LinkedIn.

    When building ABM lists, we also make sure to exclude any competitors, anyone from our company, and any other prospects that are irrelevant to ensure we aren’t wasting any ad budget.

    Step 6. Monitoring LinkedIn Ad Performance and Remarketing

    One of the biggest mistakes we see when auditing SaaS LinkedIn ads is that marketers simply aren’t monitoring and testing enough.

    If you don’t continuously test and optimize your ads, your audience will eventually experience ad fatigue and your ads will become less effective over time. Additionally, you won’t identify new opportunities to improve your future ads’ efficiency.

    Therefore, we track lead quality and customer acquisition cost to help us make decisions about where we should continue to invest.

    To determine what is working we look at a few things:

    1. Is the CPA within the target? (eg. “We need downloads/demos at $75/demo to stay profitable”). To answer this question, we look at LinkedIn’s demographic reporting. It tells you the demographics, company, and titles of the people seeing and engaging with your ads.
    2. Based on all the targeting we’re running, which campaigns are the top performers? (Prioritize the budget here).
    3. If the results are not this cut and dry, we’ll review audience data to confirm the targeting is spot on (e.g. Are these users in the right industry? Are these the right job titles?).

    Typically we’re doing omnichannel remarketing to nudge engaged audience members down the funnel, but we’ll save our explanation of this process for another day.

    Maximizing The Efficiency Of Your B2B SaaS LinkedIn Ads

    The step by step process we outlined in this post is the 80/20 you need to know to improve the efficiency of your SaaS LinkedIn ads.

    However, it can take years to truly master LinkedIn ads as there’s a lot of nuance to creating high converting ads as each audience is slightly different.

    To take your LinkedIn ads to the next level, work with marketers that have years of experience running LinkedIn ads for dozens of similar SaaS companies.

    While it’s unrealistic for most SaaS companies to hire individual experts for each marketing channel (like LinkedIn ads), this is exactly how we’ve built our team here at Powered By Search.

    You can get a Free Marketing Plan from our team to identify inefficiencies in not only your SaaS LinkedIn ads, but also your full marketing funnel, and we’ll map out a strategy to help you achieve your marketing goals.

    What you should do now

    Whenever you’re ready…here are 4 ways we can help you grow your B2B software or technology business:

    1. Claim your Free Marketing Plan. If you’d like to work with us to turn your website into your best demo and trial acquisition platform, claim your FREE Marketing Plan. One of our growth experts will understand your current demand generation situation, and then suggest practical digital marketing strategies to hit your pipeline targets with certainty and predictability.
    2. If you’d like to learn the exact demand strategies we use for free, go to our blog or visit our resources section, where you can download guides, calculators, and templates we use for our most successful clients.
    3. If you’d like to work with other experts on our team or learn why we have off the charts team member satisfaction score, then see our Careers page.
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