Should My Franchise Advertise On Linkedin?
Every year, Scott Brinker of chiefmartec.com puts together an infographic called the “Marketing Technology Landscape.” You should check it out here, if you haven’t seen the one for 2015.
While the entire thing may appear as gobbledygook to most, essentially Scott is trying to give a single snapshot of all of the major players in the online marketing space. As you’ll see, he breaks down the landscape into categories such as “Experiences,” “Operations,” “Platforms” and more.
However, the box that is most familiar to us in the franchise marketing space is the one labeled “Internet.” When you take a look at this box, you see these players:
Here, Scott attempts to point out the primary places that you can spend your advertising dollars on the web. Previously, we’ve written about Google, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram, but today I want to focus on the most professionally focused place to advertise, LinkedIn.
I’ve heard rumblings of franchisors desiring to test LinkedIn as a source for some time, so we thought that we’d investigate its effectiveness.
THE APPEAL OF LINKEDIN TO FRANCHISORS
LinkedIn bills itself as the “World’s Largest Professional Network.” For lack of a more sophisticated description, LinkedIn is to professional lives what Facebook is to personal lives. It’s a one-stop-shop for staying connected to professionals that matter to you.
If you think about what makes a successful franchisee, at some point you’ll come around to the fact that most franchisees have had other professional success before becoming a franchisee. And what better place to find successful professionals than on LinkedIn.
It’s a pretty easy piece of logic. I want to attract successful professionals. Successful professionals use LinkedIn. I should advertise on LinkedIn.
TYPES OF ADS
Ok. So you’ve decided to advertise on LinkedIn. What are your options?
Here is my LinkedIn news feed:
The two types of ads break down as follows:
(If you remember correctly, this ad placement strategy actually closely mirrors that of Facebook.)
Right Rail Ads – Right rail ads on LinkedIn are fairly similar to right rail ads you’d see just about anywhere else. You can expect very low click-through rates as people continue to ignore the right rail more and more. It is highly unlikely that you can build a successful marketing strategy on the back of right rail ads unless you have a specific product that will relate to a niche market. (Something that franchisors do not have the luxury of…) Quite interestingly, when you dig into one of the ads, you’ll see that the URL actually starts with https://adclick.g.doubleclick.net/. Doubleclick is in fact a subsidiary of Google that does ad serving, so LinkedIn is even recognizing that it’s not a core competency of theirs! (We'll ignore right rail ads moving forward...)
Sponsored Stories – The more innovative and relevant advertising on LinkedIn is the “Sponsored Story.” Essentially you, as an advertiser, are paying for the right to appear as a relevant and curated part of a target’s professional life. Not that dissimilar to Facebook, your ads are going to be juxtaposed to updates, so the click-through rate promises to be quite high.
However, what makes these ads different is that they are required to be stories. So content marketing is the name of the game. LinkedIn certainly discourages (and in some cases may even disallow) sending traffic to a lead form page. Instead, you’re going to send people to a blog post or story that you want someone to read. So good luck forcing a “direct response” strategy. LinkedIn is all about the long game.
The goal is to establish credibility with an audience. While some campaigns will simply be for branding, others will have a specific commercial goal in mind. Imagine something like “3 ways this fitness brand used this software to grow its business.” Either way, the goal of the campaign is to establish a bit of a relationship with the target audience. If they engage with your content and maybe even share it with others, that will ultimately lead to a successful advertising campaign.
PROS AND CONS FOR FRANCHISORS
In my opinion, here are the pros and cons of franchisors using LinkedIn to find new franchisees --
New advertising platforms can pay high rewards – As I’ve written before, newer advertising platforms are a high risk – high reward proposition. There’s no guarantee that LinkedIn ads will work for your franchise. And because there’s no guarantee, figuring out how to make it work could pay unbelievable dividends. It’s not easy to do, but successfully cultivating new ad platforms can become true core competencies for companies.
Excellent branding play – If you’re trying to get your company out there more, specifically for branding purposes, LinkedIn is a great way to do it. By focusing on content marketing, you have the ability to control the narrative of your brand. If you find that traditional branding channels are becoming stale, LinkedIn will provide a fresh audience and fresh opportunity.
Get to see exactly who interacts with posts – One of the coolest part of sponsored posts is that people engage with them, e.g. by liking them. So in the case where you’re trying to make new franchise sales, you can see actual people who enjoyed your ads. If you follow up that type of engagement with a sales call, you could potentially see LinkedIn engagement as a lead generator.
Super expensive – Reaching a professional audience doesn’t come without a cost. According to this Contently Post, LinkedIn Sponsored Posts are around $4 per click! Compare that to the other 9 advertisers that they mention in the article, where you don’t see a single one higher than $0.50 CPCs. That’s a 400% markup on the second most expensive. When we’ve run LinkedIn tests, we’ve found the same thing. You better have a pretty big budget to play this game. Heck! A FranchiseHelp lead only costs $25-$35!
Very difficult to target the right people – As easy as it is to say that “professionals” make good franchisees, what about after that? What types of professionals make good franchisees? In all online advertising, it's imperative to get targeting right. When thinking about the information available in LinkedIn for targeting, it doesn’t match well with franchisee recruitment. Things like job titles, companies, and industries don’t seem to cut it. You always hear that “managers make good franchisees.” But unfortunately, simply targeting managers is too broad. So figuring out how to target correctly is a real challenge.
Must have good content – As I mentioned earlier, these sponsored stories are just that, stories. So you can’t just have a lead form on your site when buying LinkedIn ads. You have to have a variety of articles, blog posts, or pages that people actually want to read. Some franchisors have a content engine revved up such that producing new engaging stories is trivially easy. For some franchisors, generating good content will be difficult to do.
For the majority of franchisors out there, it’s likely to be a resource drain. For those looking for incredibly high net worth individuals or are big enough to invest in branding plays, it could work. However, my overall recommendation would be to pass.
If you want to know about how FranchiseHelp generates leads for franchises, let us know!