How to Optimize Convo Ads


Convo ads are becoming increasingly popular ads within the B2B space. Reason being, you can get directly into your target persona’s inbox, at an extremely low cost; they are a great way to get your foot in the door and deliver a quick elevator pitch with a bit more context than the standard image ads on LinkedIn.

Like with any campaign, what you are saying, and to whom, is extremely important, otherwise you can completely miss the mark.

In addition to those key factors, below are some things to pay attention to in order to get the most out of this ad format.  


Open Rate

What it is

Total opens divided by total sends.

This metric is somewhat vanity/flimsy, as it is often on the higher end due to people wanting to clear the red notification from their inbox. There are however ways to try and improve.

Why this metric is important

Sends are incredibly valuable and the first step in the process. Remember, prospects can only receive ONE piece of inMail every 30 days, from ANY sender. If a competitor beats us in the auction, we have to wait a minimum of 30 days to reach the prospect.

Given how hard it is to reach our target market, we want to make sure we’re at least getting a chance to start a conversation. Messages that never get opened are a huge missed opportunity.

Levers to Pull to Improve  

  • Sender: The user’s profile picture is one of the first things they’ll see in their inbox. Test out different senders here. You can also try having the sender input their job title in their name to increase relevance to your target audience.
  • Opening Headline: Your opening line is actually visible in the message preview in a receiver’s inbox. Increase relevance through using dynamically inserted properties (such as %FIRSTNAME% or %COMPANYNAME%) or even tease an incentive you are offering so not only are they inclined to open the message, but interact with it to learn more:

Click to Open Rate

What it is:

Percentage of people who clicked after opening your InMail (sponsored messaging clicks divided by opens).

Why this metric is important

Despite LinkedIn reporting CTR for Sponsored Messaging as “opens/sends”, this metric is actually more representative of a true CTR.

This metric actually measures users who engage with your ads. Again, a lot of users will simply open up the message to get rid of the notification, but this metric actually lends insight into what percentage of people are interacting with our messages.

The main goal is to get people to click through our convo ads and open our lead forms. This metric measures that interaction.

Levers to Pull to Improve  

  • Audience: How are you targeting your users? Is your entire total addressable market (TAM) grouped into a single campaign? You can likely improve relevance through segmented, single persona campaigns. What targeting options are you using? (if you’re not using job titles, you’re likely getting a ton of traffic that’s only mildly relevant.)

  • Messaging: You are in front of these prospects and have their attention; what are you saying? If your messaging is identical across multiple targets, you’re missing a golden opportunity. Chances are the Chief Information Security Officer has very different needs than an Information Risk Manager: they should be in separate campaigns and they should be getting different messages.
  • Look up your segment’s general job description online. Craft your messaging to position your client in a way that helps them meet their needs and goals.
  • If you have industry segments, talk specifically about other companies within the same industry and results your client was able to drive for them.
  • Sell them on that next step. While an incentive helps nudge them into agreeing to give us their information, we still need to do a good job of getting them pumped for what’s next, like a demo/meeting. What are they going to learn? Other than the incentive, why should someone take time out of their day to meet with you?

  • A potential prospect would have to do their due-diligence and make sure they hear these new strategies. Whether they go through with Directive or not, they gain more from the meeting than the level of effort required to attend.
  • Test imagery: Convo ads are fast becoming a popular ad format. One way to make your message stand out and drive engagement is testing the use of imagery. You can utilize an image as a banner to the right of the message, or within the message itself

Conversion Rate

What it is

There are actually 2 ways to look at this one:

  • Leads/Lead form opens

  • Or, manually calculate Leads/Sponsored messaging clicks

The former only takes into account people who have opened the lead gen form, while the latter takes into account anyone who has interacted with your Convo Ad. The latter provides a much more realistic story, as someone could click through a few buttons in our convo ads, never open the form, and therefore would not be reflected in the LinkedIn provided “lead form completion rate”; not a super realistic picture.

Why this metric is important

Just like on a landing page, this measures how well we are providing the user with relevant messaging and a desirable next step.


Levers to Pull to Improve  

  • Using an incentive: Think of trade shows: very crowded, tons of booths, and all the vendors want people showing up to theirs. How do they do it? Free SWAG. The incentive is your chance to break through the noise and get your foot in the door to start these meaningful conversations. People are more likely to give you their time if they feel they are getting something valuable in return. Not convinced? Here is a look at a client who was hesitant, and wanted to run a side by side A/B test on with versus without offering a gift card (GC).

  • Even with the incentive costs, it’s still cheaper to convert users this way, and much more scalable for volume.
  • Here is a look at varying levels of incentive from Directive’s data

  • Not shown here is volume. Keep in mind that if CPL does go up, but you are actually able to scale % of volume further and drive more leads, that is a win considering the finite amount of users in our audiences and the tough 30-day reach rule for all advertisers on the platform.
  • The messaging: This point is very similar to the one above in the Click to Open Rate section. Conversion rates will naturally increase if you are crafting a specific message to a specific segment of your TAM, and selling them on the benefits of the meeting. Not just something general like “Take a Demo and Get a Gift Card” but like the Directive example around “learning new strategies you had no idea were possible”.
  • The lead form: just like on a landing page, the language you use on your forms can make a huge difference.
  • Test out different language here
  • Restate the value of the meeting and what they’ll gain from it
  • Touch on the incentive


What To Test (Messaging Prioritization Framework)

So you got this far – or skipped this far – and need a quick summary. That’s fine by us – TLDR doesn’t offend a fellow busy marketer. You can review the list below for some quick take aways on what to test:

  • Subject Line – This is the first element of the ad someone sees
  • Offer – There’s a clear correlation between a higher gift card getting more responses. When you are trying to reach decision makers and executives, think about how much they earn and how busy their day is. Will a $50 gift card be enough to get a 30 minute meeting with a CMO? Probably not.
  • Initial message – Naturally, the higher up you test messaging the more it will be seen (think above the fold tests with landing pages)
  • Body – Here you can test leading with problems vs outcomes for example
  • CTA Buttons
It all began in 92’. Though curious since birth, Max Serrato found his passion in marketing at Cal State University – Fullerton and was driven to find new ways to reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time. After getting experience in the digital world running an e-commerce business and dipping his toes in marketing at an ad agency, he began his work at Directive. He works hard to discover creative, out-of-the-box strategies to increase lead volume and slash CPA, overall exceeding client goals. In his free time, Max enjoys watching the San Jose Sharks, listening to music, playing guitar, and petting as many dogs as he can find.

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