We’ve heard a lot of moaning and complaining about LinkedIn not working. We’ll admit it: unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is not for every business. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful.
There are tons of B2B marketers out there leveraging the platform to spread brand awareness and drive lead generation. This is the largest stage for business-minded social interactions. If you are targeting c-suite professionals, providing educational material to marketers, or just spreading brand awareness, LinkedIn is the platform for you.
First things first, if you are going to advertise on LinkedIn, your company needs to have a LinkedIn company page to publish content. Once you have that all set up, you can dive into the specifics of LinkedIn Ads. Don’t worry – I’m here to help with those.
In this guide to advertising on LinkedIn, I’ll review everything you need to know to get started, including:
- Each type of ad LinkedIn offers
- What remarketing options LinkedIn Advertising supports
- How to target your audience on LinkedIn
LinkedIn Ad Types
Like other social advertising platforms, LinkedIn ads come in a variety of flavors. And, like other platforms, you should be selecting your ad format based on the overall action you want to drive. LinkedIn ads support brand awareness, website visits, engagement, video views, lead generation, site conversions, and job applications.
LinkedIn Sponsored Content
Sponsored content ads look and feel native to the LinkedIn platform. These are the ads that appear to be “boosted” posts from a company’s own feed. Your ads manager can create a typical post with a headline, image and link to sponsor. Or you can create carousel ads, video ads, and lead generation ads that appear in the same “boosted” format.
LinkedIn Text Ads
LinkedIn text ads are the closest to Google or Bing search ads that you can get on the platform. LinkedIn text ads operate on a familiar pay-per-click or impression basis, and they’re featured in the sidebar. These are admittedly kind of boring for a social platform – a basic text block with a headline, next to a company logo.
LinkedIn Sponsored InMail
Know that feeling when you log into LinkedIn and have 10 new messages? It’s likely that some of those are marketers popping into your inbox through Sponsored InMail for a pretty penny. Marketers or sales teams can curate a list of contacts to send personalized messages to. The content of the messages is largely up to you – you want to invite prospects to events or even attempt to generate an inbound call.
LinkedIn Programmatic Display Ads
LinkedIn joined the fray of programmatic offerings, which is great news for B2B advertisers who rarely have good options for targeting. With these display ads, you can target the largest professional audience based on intent or personas – but more on targeting options later. In terms of ad creative, it’s your run-of-the-mill display ads. Marketers can choose their preferred demand-side platform or trading desk and buy inventory through open or private auctions.
LinkedIn Dynamic Ads
LinkedIn’s new dynamic ads are basically as personalized as you can get on this platform. Advertisers can choose to promote job postings, content downloads, their own company page, or drive traffic to a website via spotlight ads, which also appear on the newsfeed. This ad type also has set templates and auto-translation options to make personalizing the ad creative easy for you.
Plot twist: Elevate is not an ad, per say, but it is an advertising solution. Elevate is a platform that a company can pay for their employees to become brand advocates. Basically, it makes it easier for your marketing or sales team to control or suggest content that your employees share on LinkedIn. Should employees be sharing your suggested content anyway? Probably. But this spoon-feeds posts and moves the needle – my company saw three hires learn about us from Elevate posts and had $20k+ in earned media!
LinkedIn Advertising Costs
Like other platforms, LinkedIn advertising costs are determined by your bids and budgets. This means that your overall ad spend will vary depending on your business and your goals, because this determines the types of ads that you choose for your campaigns and the budgets that you set.
However, the platform does have a few minimums that all advertisers must spend:
- $10 daily budget per campaign
- $10 total budget per campaign (an optional feature for Sponsored Content)
- $2 bid for CPC or CPM on Text Ad campaigns
LinkedIn also has a minimum bid for Sponsored Content campaigns, but the exact for this ad will depend on the audience that you’re targeting. Which brings us to…
Now, this is where advertising on LinkedIn gets exciting. The targeting on this social platform is better than most. It’s usually regularly updated and thorough, because professionals like to brag about all of their promotions and achievements. Members contribute their own job titles, company names, seniority, professional interests, and more. With over 500 million members consisting of 73 million senior-level influencers and 45 million decision makers, it’s extremely likely your ad is going to land in front of the right eyeballs.
To get started, you should place a tag on your website to be able to retarget your visitors on LinkedIn, just as you would set up for Facebook or Google. LinkedIn calls their tag an “Insight Tag,” and it can also be used to create lookalike audiences. In addition to targeting your website visitors, you can also upload or integrate email lists and run account-based targeting through LinkedIn.
Don’t have enough website visitors or sales prospects to build out a viable campaign audience? No problem! LinkedIn Ads features an audience option that expands your reach through their network of publishers. This is generally brand-safe, but beware – it can make your audience large.
Aside from the basic Insight Tag, you can also place conversion tracking on your campaigns. These triggers are great to track unique purchases or other actions on your site, especially if you do not use a marketing automation system to create unique landing pages and forms.
LinkedIn ads have exhaustive options for targeting, which means that you’re able to make sure your ads are getting served to the right people. If you are interested in testing the effectiveness of an ad against different audiences, you can save your audience as a template to layer on later.
To set up targeting, start with the basics first: language and location. You can choose a permanent geolocation as specified in user profiles, i.e., “The Greater New York Area,” or shorter-term location based on IP address.
Once you’ve determined the language and location, you can narrow down your audience based on these targeting options available.
Targeting by company is especially useful if your sales team has defined verticals. An added bonus, LinkedIn Ads have the best targeting by company option compared to other platforms (ahem, Facebook or Twitter), because members are far more likely to keep their employment info up-to-date.
If targeting a specific company isn’t right for your strategy, you can still use this targeting option to narrow down your audience.
Company Connections: LinkedIn allows you to target first-degree connections of selected companies – if they have over 500 employees.
Company Followers: This selection will let you reach your company page followers.
Industries: Based on the primary industry listed on company pages, you can reach LinkedIn members employed in those industries.
Names: Reach employees based on the company name listed on their profiles.
Size: Based on the number of employees listed on a company profile, you can reach employees who work at companies of a certain size.
This is much simpler: Add members to your audience that are of a certain age or gender, which is inferred from their profile.
LinkedIn Ads lets you reach members based on their degrees, fields of study (e.g., “Marketing,” or “Journalism”), and the institution they attended.
Like targeting by company, building an audience based on jobs is done best on LinkedIn.
Functions or Skills: You can build an audience composed of tasks in their job positions or skills listed in their profiles. The skills can also be gleaned from endorsements from connections.
Seniorities, Titles, or Experience: Reach LinkedIn members with a certain level of seniority, a job title, or years of experience listed on their page. Heads up: If there are gaps or overlaps on someone’s jobs, those are not counted!
LinkedIn introduced interest-based targeting just recently. Now, you can include users who have joined groups around certain interests – like brand marketing or digital advertising – and people with interests that align with your business.
If you target certain job titles, companies of a specific size, and followers of your company page, remember that LinkedIn creates the audience based on an “AND” statement, which can easily shrink your audience to an unrealistic size. Don’t worry! You can also elect to exclude certain criteria as well.
I recommend choosing one grouping to focus on: Create an audience that targets by job function and a different one targeting by groups. Then you can easily measure how your ads resonate and adjust bidding accordingly. LinkedIn Ads do not have you compete against yourself, so if there is overlap – a member who exists in more than one of your audiences – you won’t pay double to reach them.
Depending how big your audience is and the type of ads you run, LinkedIn generally recommends a certain level of saturation in your advertising strategy. The higher the impression rate, the more likely a prospect is to click on your ad. Is that expensive? Definitely. Effective? Find out for yourself!
Go for a Test Drive
When LinkedIn first began dabbling in advertising, managed accounts meant that you would work with customer service reps and commit to a fixed amount of money. Luckily, LinkedIn Advertising has moved changed significantly over the past few years and now offers a self-service platform that recently got a UX upgrade.
If you’re worried about spending too much money, the platform makes it easy to set budgets, bid types, and end dates. Stay on top of it, of course. But it is always worth a try to find the best customers for your business.