State of Social 1Q15: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Dips

Unemployment continues to sink, with official unemployment at 5.5% and total labor underutilization at 11%. Given this backdrop, how is the professional social network doing? Has LinkedIn’s pivot to become a content marketing site and publisher been a success? Let’s look at the numbers.

Growth

LinkedIn’s network continues to grow at a healthy clip, around 5% quarter over quarter:

LinkedIn Growth

At 364 million total members, LinkedIn’s network has a stronger member count than Twitter or Instagram.

Marketing Revenue

Marketing Solutions – meaning advertising revenue – is where LinkedIn stumbled in Q1. The first quarter is always soft for LinkedIn, but this Q1 2015 was especially soft:

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Revenue

While speculation, a significant contributor to this may be that LinkedIn’s new advertising solutions such as Network Display and Lead Accelerator are available only to a small portion of its advertisers. Most advertisers are stuck with the old LinkedIn self serve ads and sponsored posts; the former underperform other forms of display advertising.

Revenue Per User

Fortunately for LinkedIn, its revenue streams are more diverse than just advertising. Talent Solutions makes up the bulk of its revenue, followed by Marketing Solutions, then Premium memberships.

LinkedIn Revenue Per User

The dip in revenue per users was fueled entirely by the performance of Marketing Solutions; Talent Solutions and Premium memberships remained flat, quarter over quarter.

Looking Forward

With Marketing Solutions falling down, LinkedIn has made strategic choices to diversify its income with the acquisition of training platform Lynda.com. Lynda.com was already profitable, so LinkedIn’s revenue stream will be bolstered with it; Lynda.com may also provide additional ad inventory for its Network Display product.

For marketers looking for a greater impact from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, you may want to look past the native self-serve platform. If your website has at least 20,000 unique visitors a month, you may qualify for their higher level ad platform solutions. While it will cost more money, the newer features could potentially work better.

For marketers who don’t have massive budgets or huge website traffic, you may need to think outside the box for leveraging LinkedIn’s network without using their Marketing Solutions software. Content such as LinkedIn Pulse has publicly accessible URLs, so if you have better advertising results with platforms like Google AdWords, you might consider using AdWords to drive traffic to Pulse thought leadership posts.

For unpaid results, look to LinkedIn Groups. Frequent, relevant, valuable participation in Groups can often drive better results at a lower cost than the native advertising system.

Ultimately, while LinkedIn’s network is a powerful, focused community, there are caveats for marketers and communicators. When more of their Marketing Solutions technology opens up to everyone, regardless of company size, expect to see greater value driven by LinkedIn.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on May 1, 2015 in Advertising, LinkedIn, Marketing, Social Media

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change.

Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim.

He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast.

Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.

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