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Digital Marketing: LinkedIn vs. Google AdWords

LinkedIn vs. Google AdWords Infographic

When it comes to B2B pay per click (PPC) advertising, no one can touch Google AdWords when it comes to traffic. However, when the conversation shifts to ROI, LinkedIn Ads takes the top spot. Surprised? You’re not alone. I speak to business-to-business (B2B) marketers all the time and, to date, not a single one was aware that LinkedIn has a PPC platform! This information gap creates a MAJOR opportunity for savvy B2B marketers to cash in, but you need to act fast – the gap is rapidly closing.

Why LinkedIn PPC is Better than AdWords

LinkedIn has two advantages over Google AdWords, but the impact is considerable. First, there’s the cost per click. With rare exception (recruiting comes to mind), what you pay per click on LinkedIn is, at present, a fraction of what you’ll pay on Google AdWords. This is because the cost per click on LinkedIn is, in large part, determined by competition. It’s not unlike other PPC platforms – Google for example. On Google, if you’re bidding on a popular keyword, you can expect to pay a high price to be in one of the top ad positions.

You don’t target keywords on LinkedIn, so what you pay per click depends on how many other advertisers want to target the same audience you do. For comparison’s sake, the cost per click on LinkedIn for online marketing related keywords targeting a particular industry is just 10 percent that of Google AdWords! Pretty amazing, right? For smaller B2B marketers, your budget is going to go MUCH further on LinkedIn than on Google AdWords – that’s a fact.


The second advantage LinkedIn Ads have over Google AdWords is the ability to hyper-target your ads. The audience on LinkedIn might be only a fraction of what you can find on Google AdWords, but LinkedIn is almost completely void of erroneous clicks.

For example, let’s say you offer the best web conferencing services, but your company is a fraction of the size of your competition. If you advertise on Google AdWords, not only will you incur some clicks from your competitors, but there’s also a very high probability that you’ll get some clicks from consumers as well. Neither of these issues would be a big deal to someone like GoToMeeting or Cisco, but for an advertiser with a small budget, it’s painful to pay $20+ per click for unqualified visits.

Because LinkedIn is a social network for business, consumers are not an issue. With LinkedIn Direct Ads, you can target your ads in a number of different ways. The most common are by industry, geographic area, and decision maker. So, if you want to market to Higher Education companies in Maryland at the “C-Level”, you can guarantee that your competitors will NEVER click your ads (unless they were to set up fake profiles for your exact target audience – which seems high unlikely!).

So, advertising on LinkedIn is much more targeted than Google AdWords or competing PPC platforms. You don’t have to worry about competitors or consumers clicking your ads, and you can target companies by industry or even by name! You can create campaigns to target certain seniority levels, ages, or even interest groups. For example, let’s say you offer an integration of HubSpot softare, you could target your ads specifically to all the groups related to this platfrom (of which, there are several).


If there’s a downside to LinkedIn it’s related to the fact that while you can set very specific targets on LinkedIn, there’s no guarantee that the people you’re targeting are in the market for your product or service. This said, LinkedIn charges for clicks NOT impressions, and someone not in the market for your product/service is very unlikely to click your ad(s).

Tips for Getting Started with LinkedIn Advertising

Like any marketing campaign, you’ll want to make sure you define some goals on the front end and accurately track your advertising results. The best way to do this is to set up a unique landing page (be sure to include multiple calls-to-action), a new profile in Google Analytics, and assign a tracked phone line to the landing page. When you do things right, you’ll be able to attribute any lead activity directly back to your LinkedIn campaign.


So while Google might be the undisputed leader when it comes to traffic, LinkedIn is the king when it comes to PPC ROI for B2B marketers. Just like with Google AdWords, SEO, and other marketing opportunities, you’ve got to get in the game now because the economics are changing (for the worse) as the competition rises. This is another reason accurate tracking is so critical. In the most competitive spaces, advertising success is a game of inches. Having more accurate data than your competitors allows you to know exactly when it’s time to jump ship and test something new!


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