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We always talk about the cost of advertising. But have you ever thought about what is the value of the ads money? Recently I spent SGD 2,857.47 (approx. USD 2,117.26) for a month of digital advertising on LinkedIn and Google. Here is the result.

Spent SGD CPM CPC Clicks Impressions CTR
LinkedIn 605.91 41.17 14.43 42 14,717 0.29%
Adwords 2,251.56 29.40 2.43 926 76,573 1.21%

I believe the next question that an advertiser will ask is, “does it work?” This is how I (as a marketer) will reason with myself (as an advertiser).

My primary goal to advertise on LinkedIn and Google is for visibility. The business development of my business is pretty much based on word-of-mouth. I am in the design agency business. Since day one when I started my business, I already knew that the clientele was basically the people who knew me in person. It all started with my personal network (friends of friends and the customers from the past). These customers set the base revenue of the business. The business might survive with friend’s referrals, but I know at some point, the business will hit a spot when the pipeline is exhausted.

To me, a pipeline or a funnel is an interchangeable concept. It all begins with visibility, getting known or know where to present yourself to your potential customers. No matter how we want to theorize the concept of marketing awareness or engagement etc, etc, let’s simply say, you need to be there to be found. Meaning that, you need visibility before you can talk about conversion.

It is about relevance.

Why I choose LinkedIn and Google over Facebook or other publisher’s media? First of all, I am in the b2b business. My business serves primarily the commercial brands and corporations. Secondly, although my goal is for visibility, I also know exactly who are my target audience. I want to let my brand out and be visible to the marketing people. Other than the profile of my target audience, I also need to build a relevant engagement. These relevant engagements are based on content or you can call it contextual relevance. I don’t choose to advertise on Facebook because of the mindset on social media which I don’t see they are right for b2b. I don’t prefer publisher’s media or display network because I concern the quality of the content on the media. I don’t want the visibility of my marketing associated with any funny content.

Google AdWords is probably a no-brainer choice. When someone is searching for something relevant to your service, they find you in the search result. LinkedIn is kind of interesting with the user-declared demographics which is based on the LinkedIn membership profiles. For my business, I choose to target the LinkedIn members in the region that is relevant to my business with a series of business titles related to marketing such as CMO, Marketing Director, Marketing Manager, etc. If I want, I can target a specific company name which the LinkedIn members are showing in their profiles. Both LinkedIn and Google AdWords offer the advertisers additional ads extensions or filters depends on your ads strategy. They basically help you to improve the ads performance.

Alright, enough for LinkedIn or Google or how sophisticated that we can advertise for our business. My post is not a tutorial for digital advertising nor any association with LinkedIn and Google. I want to share a real experience as a practical small business owner. I spent over USD2,000 for a month of digital advertising. I don’t have any conversion. Is it worth it or does it work?

USD2,000 just for clicks, is it worth it?

Let me switch my hat to a mean business owner. Speaking economically, the average money that I gave for each click on LinkedIn was almost SGD14.5 and SGD2.4 for Google. LinkedIn is obviously more expensive. Please do not argue with me for my ads strategy which I can optimize to spend less with higher click-through-rate and lower cost per click, etc. I am now speaking as a mean business owner. Why on earth would I want to spend over USD2k for some clicks?

I have never advertised my business after five years of running my company. I am monetizing the leads that I know I know and I’ve no idea who I don’t know I don’t know. I can hire a person who can do the sales job for me (let’s call this sales person Clark). But then again, Clark will monetize the same as what I have been doing to reach out to our own personal network. They are the potential that Clark knows he knows. And then Clark still cannot reach out to the opportunity that he doesn’t know he doesn’t know. Let’s say the salary for hiring Clark is the same as my advertising money which is USD2k a month. My advertising on LinkedIn and Google resulted 968 clicks in a month but brought me no conversion. Can Clark make 968 contacts a month, approx. 38 phone calls in a day, to solicit business for me? Even though Clark can do it, I do not want to cold call for my business. Rolodexing to make contact just doesn’t work for a design agency. Don’t forget after making 968 phone calls or emails, Clark still cannot engage any business for my company. He gets frustrated and I probably get frustrated too.

I have a philosophy for marketing. Cost is about money and worth is about value. So, if you ask me am I happy for the result? I think in terms of letting my brand out in the market, starting to make impression and with 968 people in the first month who by purpose or by chance discovered my business, this result is pretty in line with my expectation. Although the cost of LinkedIn advertising is a bit high, it does help me to reach the target demographics. I think it is still a worth spend.

Would that be okay without a single conversion? I would say it is completely okay. Marketing has a lot of objectives before it can drive sales. For me, I want to start with visibility. And then the insight that I collected from LinkedIn and Google via the advertising campaigns converted an important value of my money. Through these advertising, I delivered an impression, a message, to the people relevant to my business who I have no idea where to find them. The insight that I collected also enabled me to discover what are these people looking for when they use a particular phrase or keyword to search for the things they want. I also know the demographics down to job title, industry, or job seniority who saw my ads or even responded with a click. As the first step of my marketing campaign, I have accomplished as what I’ve planned.

USD2,000 just for clicks, is it worth it? Click To Tweet

What about Clark?

Instead of rolodexing to contact people everyday, Clark is using Google and LinkedIn to build a pipeline and then he is improving the advertising effectiveness with the insight that enlightens him for the customer’s intent and interest. Clark then live happily ever after.