Livability: 200+ qualified leads below target CPL with LinkedIn ads

b2b social media, lead generation

Sculpt employed a continuous LinkedIn ad campaign to generate hundreds of hard-to-reach leads for the Livability sales team.


Livability, a division of Journal Communications, is a niche media and content company serving economic development organizations (EDO). Their flagship generates millions of pageviews on their original research and articles exploring the best small to mid-sized cities for work, play, and quality of life. 


Livability won clients through the strength of their brand and the hustle of their business development team. Their BDs organized by geography and made their presence known through tried-and-true, face-to-face relationship building. Then 2020 happened. When Zoom became the norm, it was time for a digital-first approach to amplify thought leadership content, attract new leads, AND nurture existing ones. That’s when Sculpt came in.


Livability works with a niche audience: Decision makers at Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations. While paid social platforms offer a wealth of targeting options, none of them fall into these two categories.



We knew LinkedIn would be the best platform to reach our audience on so we got to work audience building. Rather than relying on broad targeting types, we employed Matched Audiences. We built a custom list of organization names, LinkedIn Company Pages, websites, and locations that fit their ideal client profile parameters. This source audience of 123,000 members could then be broken down by role, location, and industry for deeper segmentation. 


campaign plan

Sculpt employed a continuous improvement and testing plan to find the winning combinations of ads and audience month-over-month.

Content Offer Testing

Livability had built strong research content that was previously used in sales conversations. Rather than assuming which would work best for LinkedIn, we tested them all. Our top-of-funnel paid strategy revolved around repurposing each with a variety of creative positions and formats. We drove each to a native Lead Form with matching fields so we could compare performance across campaigns seamlessly. 

Creative Testing

We knew static thumbnail ads performed best for our Sponsored Content campaigns. The question was — what kind? In the end, we deployed a wide variety of ad styles, colors, and copy angles to allow LinkedIn room to do its thing (pairing the right creative with the right person).

HubSpot Implementation

The Livability team wasn’t using HubSpot to its full potential. We helped implement Marketing Professional to unlock better automation, provide custom team notifications for new leads, and sync up audiences for precise retargeting.

Campaign Optimization

One of the ongoing optimizations made was excluding companies that were taking over impression share in our audience, as well as constant creative refreshes to keep the ads exciting and tailored to how our audience responded to them.

Social Selling & Nurturing Support

Sculpt provided personalized training on LinkedIn social selling to the BD team to complement email outreach, paid ads, and other acquisition sources.

Refreshing and Evolving

We continuously refreshed our CTAs because even the best content has a shelf life. When published their popular “Top 100” annual ranking we worked with Livability to assemble a companion guide that broke down the methodology. We then targeted community leaders in cities on the list with one offer, and leaders that didn’t make the list with another. It was a smash hit.


LinkedIn is misperceived as an expensive channel with low conversion rate for high LTV businesses. We proved otherwise. Before we launched, we established a $120 cost-per-lead target to hit our goals. When the ads launched in June 2021, the campaign generated four leads at a $103.62 CPL during its first week live.

Our Campaign Managers made constant optimizations throughout the first six months to bring in a total of 218 leads at a $47.19 cost per lead average, -61% under the target CPL. That made for an overall click-to-conversion rate of 18.55%. Importantly, the campaign boasted a 92% email open rate in HubSpot. And these numbers continued to grow in 2022.

Our impact

The campaign opened the dialogue with multiple statewide organizations — who have historically been harder to meet with in the past.

“This campaign has opened the dialogue with multiple statewide organizations — who have historically been harder to meet with in the past. In fact, I just met with North Carolina earlier this week. The people we meet with from the leads are super motivated and the campaign just builds on itself,” 

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