So you’re thinking of trying LinkedIn ads?
My personal take on this is, don’t bother, I’ve tried LinkedIn advertising with no results. And before you say “Allan, you run and LinkedIn lead generation company of course you don’t want people to spend money on ads”
That might be true but, I’ve actually done LinkedIn advertising myself and I know many people who have, but I haven’t tried every ad type and especially what I might test out which is lead Gen ads.
We’re going to lookat absolutely everything that you need to know about LinkedIn marketing and advertising and how to leverage the platform for your business.
LinkedIn Ads is a B2B advertising juggernaut, giving you an edge and a chance to connect with audience members who may be more inclined to keep scrolling past when they’re scrolling through their Facebook feeds and see your ad, but who are happy to engage when they’re in a business mindset.
LinkedIn Ads aren’t just for B2B companies, however; B2C companies, nonprofits, universities, and most other types of organizations can also use this ad platform for specific purposes to great success, including to find the right applicant for a job opening.
f you’re a B2B marketer, you already know that LinkedIn ads have become an indispensable tool both for prospecting new leads, nurturing those you already have, and converting who’s ready to take the next step.
How To Create & Use LinkedIn Lead Ads
Facebook’s lead ads are one of my favorite features the system has to offer, and I was really excited to see that LinkedIn had their own version of lead ads, complete with in-app lead forms. LinkedIn’s lead gen forms even automatically fill out the information they have on file for the users, making it exceptionally easy for users to complete and submit the forms.
On the next screen, you’re going to choose Leads from the objectives option.
If you haven’t been on LinkedIn Ads recently, you’ll notice that this is new; previously, you’d select an ad format first, but now the ad creation process looks a little more like Facebook’s.
You’ll next be asked to set up your targeting criteria (which we’ll look more at a little later on).
You can then choose the ad format that you want to use for your campaigns.
This is new, too, and wasn’t an option with the old ad system. You can choose from single image ads, carousel image ads, video ads, or message ads.
The next step is creating the ad campaigns themselves.
First, create the ad like you normally would, naming it, adding in text, and choosing an image.
Below this, you’ll see the option to create a lead form.
Next, choose what information you want leads to fill out to submit the form.
Asking one qualifying question– like what services the client might be interested in– can help you follow up appropriately, but keep the lead forms otherwise short to increase the likelihood of conversion.
After this, you can complete the ad campaign as you normally would.
Website Demographics: LinkedIn’s New Analytics
Now, company pages on LinkedIn can actually get information on the types of users that are visiting their site. Yep, you read that right: their actual site, not just their LinkedIn page.
While Google Analytics has some of this covered, LinkedIn is going to focus on the professional aspects of your visitors.
You’ll be able to see breakdowns of categories like job title, company, location, and industry that your site visitors belong to.
This is called the Website Demographics.
This is extremely powerful information. If you notice that decision makers or executives are coming to your site but not converting, you can ask yourself why.
As a freelance writer, I can also take a look at what types of industries people are coming to me from—am I appealing equally to people in the different niches I’m targeting? Thanks to LinkedIn, I can get some excellent insight into this.
Website Demographics can be accessed through your campaign manager.
In order to use them, you need to set up your Insight Tag, which works a lot like Facebook’s conversion tracking pixel.
LinkedIn Matched Audiences: How to Use Them
LinkedIn’s matched audiences is an excellent feature that gives you the option to target three unique audiences based on their interaction with you.
- Account Targeting, where you’ll to upload a CSV list of company names, allowing you to target decision makers and influencers
- Website Retargeting, which allows you to target users who have visited your site
- Contact Targeting, which allows you to upload a CSV list of email addresses of users you’re already connected to, much like Facebook’s traditional custom audience option
Like Facebook’s custom audiences, LinkedIn’s matched audiences allows you to target very specific types of users (or, in the case of contact targeting, very specific users) for better results. You’ll know what type of relationship users have with your business before you even run the ad, allowing you to create more targeted, relevant messages.
They also allow you to target “warm” audiences who are already more receptive to hearing what you have to say.
So far, LinkedIn has reported the following results with matched audiences:
- 32% increase in post-click conversation rates and 4.7% decrease in post-click cost-per-conversions with Account Targeting
- 30% boost in CTR and 14% decrease in post-click cost-per-conversion from Website Retargeting ads
- 37% increase in CTR with Contact Targeting ads
How to Create Matched Audiences
You create matched audiences from your ad creation tool when you’re creating your campaigns.
You’ll see this option located in the “who is your target audience section,” and when you click you’ll see “Add matched audience.”
You can then choose to either create matched audiences based on activity on certain pages of your website, or to upload lists of customer names or emails.
The former allows you to create automated, triggered campaigns based on site activity, while the latter makes it easier to target users you’ve already segmented yourself, like long-term clients or those who have purchased certain products.
When creating audience websites, you’ll need to be using LinkedIn’s conversion tracking pixel, which works similarly to Facebook’s. We’ll show you how to upload that shortly.
For this option, make sure that you’re choosing the right target criteria so you can show relevant copy to users who are looking at certain products or services.
If someone checked out my PPC services, for example, I wouldn’t necessarily want to show them an advert talking about content marketing, because it’s not relevant to them. This will require more individual campaign creation, but it will make your campaigns significantly more effective.
If you’d rather opt for a customer list, LinkedIn will provide different templates to allow you to target by accounts or emails. Download these and fill them out as needed, and then upload them.
Again, segmentation will be your best friend here, because it allows you to break down your lead or customer lists based on what you know about them so you can create more relevant offers.
How to Use LinkedIn’s Native Video
Video has taken the marketing world by storm, so getting video on LinkedIn is a big deal—especially once you consider that more users (including 59% of executives!) would rather watch a video about a product or business instead of reading about it.
Thanks to the new LinkedIn native video features, you can actually create videos with the in-app camera and upload it right to your timeline to share with your connections and followers. Using the native video platform on LinkedIn has similar benefits as using native platforms on other social media sites; one marketer reported significantly more engagement and reach, with 20,000 views in just a few days.
With the new update, you can upload videos, create videos in-app, and upload multiple still images in one post. Videos must be under 10 minutes, but more than 3 seconds long, with a file size under 5GB.
If you have the ability to upload videos to your timeline, you’ll see the video recorder symbol next to the camera symbol on your mobile device when sharing updates.
One important thing to keep in mind here (that should go without saying, but apparently needs to be said anyway: LinkedIn is a professional networking site.
This is a site where you need to represent your business appropriately.
These are all some big additions to both LinkedIn and LinkedIn Ads, and we think it will continue to make the platform even more valuable than it is now. Test out some lead ads if you haven’t already, and get started with the native video.
How to Get Started with the LinkedIn Campaign Manager
LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager is similar to Facebook’s Business Manager in several ways (except without a lot of the extra options and complexity).
In here you can manage your ad campaigns, edit Page or account details, get analytics feedback, and more.
But look at this graphic, $18,905 spent with only 145 Clicks, that’s $130 a click, unless your converting lots of them , not a great ROI in my opinion.,
After logging in, they’ll ask you to select which Page you’d like to manage or advertise under. Select it, and you should see something that looks like this:
Up above, you’ll see a quick snapshot of ad campaign performance over time. Over on the right-hand corner, you can fire up a new campaign by simply clicking the “Create Campaign” button.
On the bottom end of the page, you can see any active campaigns and get quick a dashboard with a snapshot of their metrics like performance, leads, conversions, etc.
There’s a Tools link in the very far upper right corner (by your account profile). Here, you’ll find some more Facebook-inspired options including conversion tracking, matched audiences, and lead forms.
In the new version, Key tools have moved under “account assets” in the top navigation to help you more efficiently manage your Insight Tag, API keys, targeting, conversions and more, including features like Matched Audiences and Lead Gen Forms.
First, let’s dive into the conversion tracking tool.
Clicking that text link takes you to a page like the one below, which asks you to select the website you’d like to track conversions on:
Next, they’ll provide a tracking script similar to most other apps you’re already familiar with. You know the drill here: Copy/paste that sucker into onto your site before the closing body tag (</body>).
If you’re not tech savvy (or don’t have access), you can also email this to someone who is (and does) directly from this screen.
Next up, we need to assign a conversion action. For example, is someone going to opt-in? Add a product to cart? Actually, follow through with the purchase?
This process is almost exactly like creating a Goal inside Google Analytics. Depending on your conversion action, you can drop in the Thank You or Confirmation page to track new unique visits back to your ad campaigns.
When finished, click “Finish” to confirm the new conversion action.
Now, let’s jump into Matched Audiences.
Go back to the Tools drop down and click on the link:
It will bring you to this dashboard that gives you two Matched Audience choices (website traffic audiences and uploaded list audiences).
Can we be honest with each other for a second? LinkedIn advertising used to… well, be tricky. Honestly, there were some legitimate issues with the platform.
Their ‘firmographic’ interest-based targeting was decent because you could select to show ads to people based on job titles, etc. But as we all know, the Holy Grail for social ads come down to audience targeting (or more accurately, retargeting custom audiences).
Thankfully, LinkedIn recently unveiled these new Matched Audiences as the answer.
So now your first Matched Audience option is based on targeting previous website visitors.
You can retarget all website visitors, or target those that hit certain page URLs (just like inside Facebook).
So for example, let’s say you only want to target blog post visitors. You can quickly do that now if your blog has a “/blog/” subfolder in the URL path. The same holds true if you have specific blog post categories.
For example, Unbounce uses the category before the post title in their URL:
So now you can drop: “https://unbounce.com/ppc/” into the Matched Audience option above to retarget all PPC blog post readers with PPC-related ads.
Then after selecting your new website audience, you need to install your insight tag to track those views.
Once again, you’ll need to copy and paste this bad boy onto your site before the closing body tag.
And then you will start to see the list fill up with those visitors to retarget:
Next up is your list option for uploading specific contacts.
To get started, hit “Connect to data integration” or “Upload a list.”
Otherwise, the “Upload a list” feature is exactly what it sounds like.
You have two options here:
The first is matching based on a list of accounts. In this case, you can send specific ads to employees of companies you are interested in targeting with account-based marketing.
For example, if you are a Facebook advertising software company (coincidence) and you want to target your product to interested users, you can target accounts in the marketing space that need your service.
Simply create a spreadsheet with the proper “file guidelines” and hit upload.
You can also select the second option to upload a list of emails from another platform. So you can export a CSV file of subscribers, leads, and customers from any platform and run new ads against them in minutes.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn will attempt to match those emails against user accounts in their system.
The final option inside the Tools section is LinkedIn’s Lead Forms:
Once here, head over to the “Create a new form template” button on the far right to get started.
Now you can literally create an opt-in form, similar to Facebook’s own Lead Ads:
Keep in mind that this is essentially your ad, so all the same ad creative rules apply. You want to make sure the value prop is clear and compelling, short punchy headline, evocative wordless images, etc. etc.
Next, you can select which form fields to require (hint: fewer requirements doesn’t always = more conversions).
The next option will allow you to essentially re-create a Thank you page that people will see after opting in.
So you can add a few details about what happens next, who’s going to be following up with them, etc. You enter the fields on the left and it’ll show you a preview on the right of what it looks like.
Once you’re done, hit save and you’re good to go!
Now that you know how LinkedIn’s ad platform works, let’s dive into actually creating individual LinkedIn ad campaigns.
What Do LinkedIn Ads Look Like?
LinkedIn Ads works on a bidding system like other ad platforms, and lets you show an ad to the audience of your choice.
You can target specific audiences, and control your budget. This is all similar to what we’ve seen on other platforms.
The ads themselves, though, have slightly different formats from what we’re used to.
LinkedIn Ads formats include:
This is similar to Facebook Ads; your content, like links to a post or a status update, will be displayed in users feeds.
These ads appear seamless, and are only marked as ads by the small “Promoted in the top right when corner.”
They can be displayed on mobile devices, tablets, and desktops.
This option lets you mass-deliver private messages to the inboxes of your audience.
These ads can be shown on all placements.
These are similar to ads in Facebook’s sidebar; these will be small and brief, off to the side of the site’s feed.
These ads are available only for desktop placement.
Like Facebook, ads that put you most directly in front of users will likely yield the best results.
These ads are the sponsored content and sponsored inmail formats, which fit more seamlessly into the platform and thus have a slightly higher chance of user engagement.
Which Ad Type Should I Use?
Each ad type as different advantages and best use cases.
Sponsored content is ideal if you want to get plenty of eyes on your content, like blog posts or business announcements, driving engagement. It’s also helpful if you want to get more followers for your on-site Company Page.
The format of the actual Ad lets you share valuable information that can help you with lead generation and nurturing, in addition to brand awareness.
Text ads are most effective if you want to boost reach. They can be helpful at driving conversions and they’ll always be most effective when you use highly targeted campaigns.
A great example would be an MS program advertising to potential students. You can also run text ads even if you don’t have a Company Page.
Sponsored Inmail feels highly personalized because you’re delivering content right to a users’ inbox; their interest is automatically piqued, and they get a notification of a message.
You can add a CTA button to the messages, allowing you to drive conversions effectively, whether you’re trying to get downloads of your ebook or registrations for your next event.
The other great perk of Sponsored Inmail ads is that they’re only delivered to users who are actually active on LinkedIn. That being said, you really want to niche down on your campaigns here so that they’re truly hyper-targeted; otherwise, you’ll likely struggle to get results.
Who Should Use LinkedIn Ads?
LinkedIn is a professional platform, making it different than all the other platforms we discuss on this site. People predominantly use this site to:
- Look for jobs
- Look for and maybe recruit potential new hires or freelancers
- Connect with colleagues and provide recommendations
- Share and discuss news in their industry
- Connect with industry influencers
People who use this site aren’t necessarily doing so for enjoyment; it’s a professional site, like a professional networking event, and it needs to be treated as such. People won’t be interested in emotional appeal products; they’re interested in software for their business and education to advance their careers and phone answering services instead.
Because of this, B2B businesses will have the best results on the platform.
In very rare cases, some B2C businesses that offer professional services to consumers (like consulting, training, or education). The exception to this is if you’re using LinkedIn Ads to recruit or find new employees; in this case, any business could use the ads to great success.
How to Create LinkedIn Ads
For all past LinkedIn Ad users, this is a new interface, so the ad creation process is a little different.
First, instead of choosing an ad format, you’re going to start by choosing an ad objective. The most popular options are website visits, conversions, leads, and video views.
Next, you’re going to go straight to targeting.
Start with location and language, including and excluding specific locations as needed to keep your ad placements relevant.
Then, you can choose to narrow down your audience a little bit more.
Go ahead and add in audience attributes, like job title, company size, company name, job or education experience, and more.
This is so wildly beneficial for B2B businesses. As a freelance writer, for example, I could make sure that my ads were being seen by people with job titles like CEO, managing editor, content manager, or CMO.
You can also choose from matched audiences here, which we’ve discussed above.
The exclusionary targeting features here are also outstanding and so valuable.
If you, for example, want to target people in the hospitality industry to cater for them but don’t want to target caterers (no point in showing great ad copy to the competition!), this is your chance to make sure that more ad placements are going to the right audience members.
Next, you’re going to choose your ad format.
For website traffic and conversions, there are plenty to choose from. Note that you can only choose one per ad campaign, unlike other ad platforms.
Then, you’ll set a budget and a schedule.
You can choose to set a daily or lifetime budget, choose when you want your campaigns to start, and decide whether you want to choose a manual bid (which sets how much you’re willing to spend) or automate it.
You can also choose whether you want to optimize for clicks, impressions, or conversions.
The last step is going to be to create the ads themselves.
First, add in the introductory text, which actually serves a little more like a headline than the headline.
Enter in a destination URL, choose an image, and then add an actual headline and descriptions to entice users to click.
Double check to confirm that you’re reviewing your ad on the side preview so you can make sure it looks great, that there’s new odd cropping (see above), and that there are no typos.
Once this is set, you can start running your Linkedin ads campaign.
7 LinkedIn Ads Strategies That You Need to Be Using
LinkedIn Ads has some incredible features and targeting capabilities alongside its receptive audience. I’ve had B2B clients who even get better results on LinkedIn than they do on Facebook or Instagram Ads, and for lower costs.
If you want to actually get those results, however, you need to be using the right strategies, just as you would with any other platform.
Just because it’s a B2B platform doesn’t automatically make your ad relevant or mean that people are interested, so test out the below strategies to see more results and gain traction on with your campaigns.
I’ve used each of these strategies myself or seen them executed from a client to great success.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #1: Get Personal With Dynamic Ads
LinkedIn’s new dynamic ads are a powerful opportunity for marketers, and they’ve just rolled out to most advertisers. These ads allow you to scale incredibly personalized ads, increasing their attention-grabbing capabilities and their effectiveness.
LinkedIn’s dynamic ads will personalize the ad a user sees based on their publicly available information– including their name, their company name, and their profile.
These ads pretty much scream “HEY LOOK AT ME.” They’ve got your photo and your name, and that enough will make you pause.
In order to create your own dynamic ad campaigns, you’ll need to create a new campaign and choose the “Dynamic Ad” ad product.
Follower and Job ads under the Dynamic Ads option have preset templates that automatically fill in a user’s information as needed.
These templates are easy to use, and can be translated automatically. Custom text, unfortunately, won’t be auto-translated.
Aside from these small differences, campaign creation is the same as other ad campaigns.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #2: Utilize Content-Styled Ads to Build Brand Awareness
If you scroll through LinkedIn, you’ll see many more much longer posts than you could ever imagine on Facebook, let alone other platforms with character counts like Twitter or Instagram. It’s not just because you can type for longer, but because LinkedIn users are often more willing to engage with longer content if it’s relevant and valuable to them.
Ads that promote content marketing efforts can there do well on LinkedIn, especially when you’re targeting cold audiences and looking to build a relationship before hitting them with lead generation ads or aggressive sales ads.
Well-written content allows users to get to know your business and take away value from what you’re offering, which leaves a positive association that can be capitalized on later.
When you promote content on LinkedIn, you can get creative here, but keep the following best practices in mind:
The “Learn More” CTA is the best bet.
CTAs do increase the effectiveness of any marketing element, after all, and it increases the likelihood that users click. It also emphasizes that this is a learning click and not a purchasing one.
Promote content that promotes you.
You don’t necessarily want or need to be promoting a “10 Ten Reasons We’re the Best Company Ever” post, but having at least several mentions to what you do and how you can help further resolve pain points or problems is a plus. This does not need to be aggressively sales-oriented, but you should keep overall brand awareness in mind.
Don’t forget to target correctly.
I’ve noticed that with content-based ads, some clients end up going for much more general, vague audiences than they normally do. While casting a wider net does help you catch more fish (and content is an excellent net!), it doesn’t do you a ton of good if you’re looking for salmon but getting 60% trout. Target users you would want to convert, eventually, because almost all other clicks are ultimately a waste of ad spend.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #3: Use Your Ad to Highlight Brand Culture or Social Missions
Right now, everyone wants to purchase from, work with, and work for brands on a mission. An ethical, moral, world-peace-improving mission, that is. We all care about businesses who are making ethical decisions and who care about their communities– including their employees.
As a result, using brand awareness ad campaigns that highlight brand culture or your brand’s mission or social policies is an excellent way to go.
This is true regardless of whether you want to find new employees or new customers.
If you’re wondering how exactly to do this, take a look at the ad from Fifth Third Bank.
They don’t mention their products or services or have any fancy CTAs, but instead just simply announce that they’re partnering up with a few other organizations to create a fund to support minority and women-owned businesses.
They’re doing good things in the world, and they’re using it to build brand awareness and enhance their reputation.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #4: Offer Immediate Value Propositions In Sidebar Ads
This is an important strategy for any ad campaigns, but it seems to be forgotten in LinkedIn.
Even if you’re running content-based ads, you need to immediately explain to readers why your ad is important to them. If it’s your product you’re promoting, great, explain why it’s important. If it’s a piece of content, still great! Explain what users can get out of it.
This really holds true for all ads regardless of placement, but it’s particularly important in the side column ads where your text really is everything. This is where your copywriting skills will come into play.
You want to offer value propositions that stand out, hopefully, set you apart from your competition, and answer that inevitably “but why should I” question users always ask about any action that you want them to take.
The ads in the screenshot below all do this well.
“Find better ways to use technology in business” is simple but straightforward. It’s immediately valuable to the target audience (me!, who is awful at technology and runs a business), and it explains why I should click. (I did). The Takumi ad also shows that promoting content can work well, and it sets itself apart by saying “the future of influencer marketing,” offering a different spin than just “influencer marketing.”
Interestingly enough, this more concise, detailed ad actually works best than the feed ad below, which comes across as clunky, poorly written, and doesn’t properly explain why users should request a demo.
Sure, “branded at scale” sounds great, but why this company? And why does someone need this service?
This doesn’t mean that you need to max out every character count, because you don’t.
The ad below from Chase shows that.
It immediately appeals to a pain point of business owners (not having enough time) and then offers their products as a solution. It’s a value proposition that’s made stronger by appealing to the pain point before it, and it doesn’t go on for ages.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #5: Be Sure to Target Decision Makers
There’s an episode of the office where Pam wants a new office chair. Here’s the thing though– she could see every ad in the world for the best chairs ever, and it wouldn’t matter because she isn’t the decision maker. Michael is, so he needs to be the one seeing those ads instead.
This is actually a really common mistake on LinkedIn Ads. Too many businesses are focused on keeping their audiences large or trying to reach every single person who might ever use their product, and they end up wasting ad spend on people who may be interested but ultimately aren’t the decision makers. While it’s true that some of these non-decision makers could submit the product or service to the right person, the ad is going to be a lot more effective if it finds the right person from the get-go.
This can be difficult to do, but LinkedIn does have job title targeting features that makes it easier.
If you want to sell social media software to a business, for example, you don’t want to target the social media intern; you want to get in touch with the CMO or the social media manager. Go for the most senior positions possible.
I also want to point out that in this section, you’ll have an easier time finding “decision makers” when targeting freelancers, micro-agencies, or other extremely small businesses where there may be only 1-3 people working it. In these instances, everyone typically has more of a voice in what happens and why.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #6: Be Strategic About Including or Excluding Company Followers
When you’re setting you targeting criteria, you’ll see the option to include or exclude users who already follow your company. There are good reasons to do both.
If you decide to include current company followers, you’ll be able to leverage that warmer connection.
Users will be more likely to engage with the ad, and may leave positive social proof. “I’ve done this course before, it was excellent!” is a comment that can go a long way towards encouraging other first-time users to convert or want to learn more. If you’re releasing new products or services or want additional sales on a certain promotion, that relationship will also benefit you there; warm leads always convert more often.
Excluding your current company followers, however, may increase the accuracy of your targeting.
If you want to run a video campaign designed to build brand awareness, you really don’t need to be showing that ad to existing users. You could end up paying for clicks or actions that won’t benefit you much, affecting your ad spend and your placements.
Consider what your goals are when you make this decision. Content-based ads can do well when including your target audience, but if you’re on a tight budget and looking for specific results from new potential customers or leads, stick to excluding.
LinkedIn Ads Strategy #7: Tell a Story With Your Ads to Increase Conversions
As a copywriter, this is one of my all-time favorite copywriting and ad strategies. And it is an actual strategy in addition to a copywriting technique, because you’re using the power of a story to create a specific, strategic impact on how customers view and remember your business or product.
A lot of people are under the misconception that storytelling doesn’t have a place in B2B marketing, but I vehemently disagree. Whoever said that business was personal, after all, is dead wrong, and almost anyone who has built a business, been fired, been hired, or even been passed over for a small raise can tell you that. We might research our business decisions differently and over a longer period of time, but never for a second think that those decisions are never emotional.
A great example of how to use storytelling to really make an impact is the ad below from Georgetown University.
They pair a video ad with enticing ad text, asking a question and then immediately answering it by offering an exclusive inside look into what your experience could be, too.
Having a current student talk about what they love about the program, how it’s affecting their life, and what they’re learning makes it all the more real. You can envision yourself in that classroom, talking to those professors, learning those lessons. It becomes more real, and this school suddenly becomes a standout because in half a second you had that mental image. And that image is now a memory that’s caught up in the hope and excitement that comes with a potentially big future.