One of the best places for B2B advertising is on LinkedIn. You’ve got a huge audience of professionals and companies frequenting the site, so if you can catch the attention of the appropriate market for you, there’s a great chance that a number of those leads will convert.
So how do you get the right people to pay attention? Obviously you have to craft a well-written ad that clearly outlines the benefits of choosing you and includes a strong call-to-action, but that assumes that people will stop for long enough to actually read it. In order to accomplish this first task (getting them to stop), you want to include a great image with your ad.
There’s absolutely no reason not to do this, because LinkedIn charges you the same amount for your listing whether it has an image or not. And studies have shown that ads with images are far more effective than those without them – as long as you know how to choose good ones.
Best Practices when Selecting Ad Images
That’s where the hard part comes in: knowing how to choose the right image that’s going to hook people and get them to convert. Here are some LinkedIn ad best practices.
Make it bright and colorful. LinkedIn has a white background, so bright, vibrant colors are more likely to stand out.
Size matters. Your image can only be 50 pixels wide by 50 pixels high. What does this mean? Don’t choose anything that’s incredibly complicated visually or it may get lost. And if you’re considering including text on the image, don’t. That size is way too small for any text to be legible and you’ll end up making the image look messy.
Keep it fresh. LinkedIn ads – both the text and the image – should be changed about once a month to keep them looking and feeling fresh. Otherwise people will be more likely to simply gloss over something they perceive to be the “same old thing.”
Think about including a logo. Okay, there’s one exception to the no-text rule. You don’t have to, but it might be smart to consider including a logo on the image. It’s a simple way to reinforce your brand as long as you can do it in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the image.
People like people. Studies have shown that people respond better to images that include other people. So if you’re a cleaning service, show a person vacuuming. Selling software to businesses? Offer up a shot of a happy person sitting at a computer.
Relevance is key. There are two ways that relevance needs to be considered. First, you want to make sure that your image fits what’s being said in the copy and enhances it. A picture of a frog with “Buy Auto Insurance” on it isn’t clever – it’s just confusing. Beyond this, you need to think about your audience and make sure that the image is relevant to them. Trying to reach lawyers? Use a legal image. Targeting women? You might want to include a woman in the image.
Finding Images to Use
Where exactly do you find these kinds of images? There are all kinds of pay sites out there that can pretty much give you any kind of photo you want, but unless you’re looking for something extremely specific, spending money for pictures isn’t necessary. You can find plenty of completely free photos to use all over the web. Here are some of the best repositories.
Flickr. While it’s primarily a site where people can upload, store, and share their own photos, lots of businesses frequent Flickr for the abundance of free photos they can use. There are a few drawbacks. First, though many professional and professional-quality images exist on Flickr, there are also plenty of so-so ones as well, so you may end up spending a bit of time searching until you find something. Second, each photographer establishes his or her own permission terms regarding the photos so you need to be vigilant in making sure that every photo you pick actually is free to use.
Wikimedia. Guaranteed Creative Commons. Over 17 million media files. You can find images here to fit any situation, but like with Flickr, you will have to wade through some non-professional work to get to the good stuff.
FreeDigitalPhotos. Though you’re not given permission to redistribute, sell, or claim any of the images here as yours, the site allows you to use them in both commercial and noncommercial work. The selection is a bit small (just over 2,000 photos), but the search function makes navigation a breeze.
Microsoft Office. If you have Office.com or any MS Office Web Apps, Microsoft allows you to “copy and use the media elements in projects and documents” for commercial purposes without paying a dime. There are some additional rules that you’ll want to check out, but ultimately you can still use the images here for free.
Unrestricted Stock. This is a relatively small site, but most of the photos are of very high quality and their license agreement states that you can use all of it for commercial purposes without paying.
USA.gov. Yes, it’s true: government photos are completely free to take and use, and USA.gov has a list of government sites where you can go to find pictures from things like the national archives or NASA. You’ll want to double check that the specific image you choose actually is in the public domain, but the vast majority of them seem to be.
How to Effectively A/B Test your Images
Of course, you’re not really going to know how much specific images are helping your ads unless you engage in some A/B testing. Within a single campaign, LinkedIn allows you to create up to 15 different ad variations. No one is suggesting that you find 15 distinct images, though. Rather, we recommend that you pick three and then make changes to the other facets of the ad – the copy and the call-to-action.
So, for example:
Image 1: Copy 1: CTA 1
Image 1: Copy 2: CTA 2
Image 1: Copy 3: CTA 3
Image 2: Copy 1: CTA 1
Image 2: Copy 2: CTA 2
Image 2: Copy 3: CTA 3
Image 3: Copy 1: CTA 1
Image 3: Copy 2: CTA 2
Image 3: Copy 3: CTA 3
As individual ads receive more clicks, LinkedIn will automatically preference those ads so that they show up more and the others appear less. You can winnow things down further by taking the most successful ad and changing out only the image to see if one picture helps you to gain more traction. Continuing to do this will help you to discover which images get the best reaction from your audience, and you can use that information to help you choose better for future campaigns.
Looking for more LinkedIn ad campaign advice? Check out these past posts: Running Paid LinkedIn Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide, Writing and Testing to Optimize Your LinkedIn Ad Copy, and How to Target the Right Audience with Your LinkedIn Paid Ad Campaign.
12 thoughts on “Developing Effective Images for Your LinkedIn Ad Campaign”
Flickr is the best place i’ve found for photos. Like Tom said, just be sure to check the permissions. if you find one you like, you can always e-mail the photographer too. Most of the time they are very accommodating.
Thanks for sharing Mike!
“People like people”. Yes. This is absolutely true. I always get more hits when I show pictures of what’s going on inside my company, rather than just with our logos.
Great advice, as always, Tom. Your blog is becoming my go-to resource for all things social media!
I never even thought about using MS office images. Good call.
Thanks for posting this series of articles on LinkedIn adds. It’s been incredibly helpful. I’m new to all of this, so I appreciate the education, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.
Thanks for commenting Michael!
You know what? I think you’re exactly right about keeping the ad content fresh. I haven’t changed my images in months, and I wonder if that’s harming the campaign’s effectiveness….
Thanks for posting this A/B testing strategy. That’s a good way to measure.
I just laughed at your example about the frog telling people to buy auto insurance! Somebody needs to give Geiko the hint!
The visual component of an ad campaign is incredibly important, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or a billboard. I appreciate your suggestions here, Tom. You listed some photo resources I wasn’t aware of. I’ll be checking those out and checking back in on your blog to see what’s new.
Images speak to people in different ways. I think you make a good point about A/B testing to find out which ones have the best odds of accomplishing your ad’s goal.