Before I start off, this post isn't a direct commentary towards the people in LinkedIn. The reps I've talked with have been nothing but nice and supportive. Good folks.
This also isn't a criticism of the habits of LinkedIn users. While there could be an abundance of opportunity on that front (posting images of random math problems....really?), this isn't the space for it. At least not today.
I'm looking at LinkedIn from the perspective of a B2B marketer. My new role at North Highland requires me to spend more time on LinkedIn than I ever have at any other job. We launched a customer experience thought leadership campaign my first few weeks here. I took a pretty diverse platform approach and had some level of ad spend on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, YouTube and yes, even Facebook. It was my time setting up campaigns in multiple platforms at once that brought a few LinkedIn product shortcomings to light.
The Ability To Build/Leverage Custom Audiences
One of the great things about advertising on Facebook and Twitter is the ability to target based on user behavior. Hypothetically, if someone visited the Healthcare portion of our North Highland site, they would likely be interested in our latest healthcare white paper. I can place a tracking pixel on pages and advertise based on user behavior. When done right, it's smart and an incredibly efficient spend of money.
This also isn't new tech. Google and other ad platforms have been offering this for years. LinkedIn hasn't gotten on this bandwagon yet. While their profile-based targeting is pretty good, the ability to leverage remarketing and create very specific ad CTAs would be a welcome feature.
Also, the ability to use email lists to build a custom audience seems like it would be a no-brainer feature. Since many B2B marketing campaigns have a foundation in email marketing, being able to target ads based on user email addresses via LinkedIn would be a powerful tool. LinkedIn caters to a B2B audience, their lack of email integration in certain areas appears to be a huge miss to me. Facebook can do it. I would love to see LinkedIn offer a similar option.
A Better Campaign Setup User Experience
Setting up a campaign in LinkedIn isn't the best. Especially organizing. Within Google and Facebook, you have the opportunity to group ads by category or campaign. You can pick and choose which pieces of creative are running and optimize them to get the most bang for your buck while the ads are running. Plus, if you want to add money to a certain ad, it's pretty easy to do. Heck, Facebook even prompts you to add a few bucks here and there to your ads.
While they've recently updated their campaign dashboard, it still feels a bit clunky. You can replicate campaigns but cannot simply add budget to a high-performing ad. The setup isn't ideal and there's no real organization to your ads. It's hard to group and file ads by campaign level, each ad is just an individual line item.
Making the campaign dashboard even easier to use would make spending money with them even easier - something I believe a publicly traded company like themselves would be interested in.
In terms of looking at the pure cost-per-click of an ad, LinkedIn was by far the most expensive medium. Their InMail marketing campaign solution, while likely effective in driving quality, is incredibly expensive to start out with for one campaign.
While it is expensive, I did not that the pure quality of click-throughs was much higher, especially for us. People are in LinkedIn with their mind on work, so seeing a business-related sponsored post isn't a miss for us. We spent a lot of our social ad budget on LinkedIn but we also saw a higher rate of conversion from those posts.
I really do enjoy LinkedIn as a user. Despite it's shortcomings in ad products, I'll still be using it since it is where our audience is. It's the medium easiest to activate employee advocacy internally. It's a great tool but I think they could be considerably better.
My opinions on other annoying pieces of LinkedIn (more user-fault than that of the medium itself) will be saved for a later date.