With LinkedIn Ads, advertisers can finally promote their business to a targeted professional audience. Ads on LinkedIn can target the information entered by members on their resume-like profiles or from information entered by other members, such as skills they’ve endorsed.
An example of the powerful targeting available in LinkedIn is targeting ads to director-level IT professionals only. In this guide, we’ll walk through the different pieces of LinkedIn Ads to help you get started.
Where Ads Display
(This feature has since been deprecated, updated 8/14/2015)
Ads appear to your target audience when they visit various pages on LinkedIn.com. They can also be set to show across other website that are part of the LinkedIn Audience Network (details below).
Ads on LinkedIn
Up to 3 LinkedIn Ads are shown in each ad placement on the website. Ads are placed on:
Profile Page – when members view the profile of other LinkedIn members.
Home Page – the page members see when they sign in to LinkedIn.
Inbox – the page where members see messages and invitations to connect.
Search Results Page – the page that results when you search for a member by name.
Groups – when members view pages in their group.
Ads could also be shown in a text link advertisement at the top of the home page. Images and logos in the ad may be omitted in this situation.
LinkedIn also recently added the ability to sponsor company updates. These promoted posts will display in the content feed.
Sponsored Updates on LinkedIn
Businesses with LinkedIn company pages can also promote their posts with “Sponsored Updates.” Sponsored Updates are LinkedIn’s native ad type and display directly within the LinkedIn feed, even across devices on both mobile and tablets. Learn more about creating Sponsored Updates.
Ads on the LinkedIn Audience Network
The LinkedIn Audience Network is a collection of websites that partner with LinkedIn to display ads on their pages. This allows you to use the same LinkedIn-specific targeting to reach professionals when they are visiting other websites. Note that partner websites may also be part of the Google Display Network so it’s possible to have overlap.
Suppose you’re targeting LinkedIn members who are IT directors. If you run your ads on the LinkedIn Audience Network, your ads could display to IT directors when they visit LinkedIn and when they visit other websites in the LinkedIn Audience Network.
More about the LinkedIn Audience Network:
The LinkedIn Audience Network is available at no extra cost.
Excluding the network could limit how much your ad is shown.
You can add or remove the LinkedIn Audience Network at any time, even after you’ve launched your campaign.
When creating an ad, you can choose to display it to specific viewers based on their industry, job function, seniority, geography, and more. LinkedIn won’t show your ad to members who don’t meet the targeting criteria you specified. As you select your targeting options, you’ll see an estimate of the audience size you’re able to reach.
LinkedIn ads are made up of a headline, a description, a URL and an image. The ads that perform best will be relevant to the target audience and have a clear and compelling message:
Headline – Choose a headline that really grabs the attention of your target audience. Keep in mind that people on LinkedIn are in a different frame of mind than when they’re browsing other websites. Take advantage of that.
Description – Give people a reason to take notice and click to learn more. You can do this by highlighting your special offers, unique benefits, whitepapers & content, free trials or demos. Also include strong call-to-action phrases like Try, Download, Sign up or Get a Quote.
Image – Include an image with your ad that’s relevant to what you offer. Bright colors are more likely to capture the attention of your audience. The maximum size of the image is 50 pixels wide by 50 pixels high, so be sure that the contents of your image are still readable when they’re that small.
Here are some tips to create strong and relevant ads:
Try calling out the group you’re targeting; it improves click throughs.
Make the ad relevant to your target audience.
Images of professionals tend to work best, but always be testing.
Stick to only 3-4 ads per campaign.
LinkedIn uses the information provided by members to target their professional identity. Here’s an example of the some of the information found in LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s profile.
When creating your campaign, there are a number of ways to target your ads in order to reach the most relevant audience. You can use any combination of these targeting options:
Specific Job Title
Skills (Example: HTML or Project Management)
Narrow your target audience to focus on the people who are most likely to be interested in what you offer. Make sure to create ads that resonate with that particular audience.
Geographic targeting helps you focus your advertising on the areas where your customers are. Choose one or more locations for your campaign. Avoid narrowing your audience to the city level as it will decrease your target audience dramatically.
Top LinkedIn Industries
You can also target by categories of companies (known in LinkedIn as Industry) if you’re trying to reach people of various job functions within an industry. Examples of industries include: Real Estate, Banking, and Automotive.
Targeting by job function will allow you limit your ads to people who are in one of 20 broad job functions. If your offer appeals to multiple job functions, you could create a campaign for each function. This will let you tailor your ads to each function.
Here are some example job functions:
Academics: Includes teachers, professors, and science researchers
Administrative: Includes admin. assistants and program/project management
Creative: Includes artists, designers, musicians, writers, and journalists
Engineering: Includes engineers, developers, architects, and quality assurance
Finance: Includes bankers, investment managers, financial advisors, and insurance agents
InformationTechnology: Includes IT workers, system and database administrators
Marketing: Includes advertising and marketing professionals, market researchers
Operations: Includes operations roles, logistics professionals, facility managers, and manufacturing roles
If job function isn’t specific enough, target by exact job titles and customize your ad text for those people. When you enter a job title, LinkedIn Ads will suggest similar titles. However, your audience will consist of people whose current job title matches the titles you select.
People express their interests, skills, and expertise by joining LinkedIn Groups. You can also target by adding members of groups to your target audience. When those people visit various pages on Linkedin (not just in LinkedIn Groups), they can see and click on your ads.
You can also specify exclusions for each of these targeting options in order to prevent subsets of your audience from seeing your ads. This is a great for when there are segments of your target audience that have a lower value to you.
For example, if leads from the hometown of your biggest competitor never seem to work out, you can add that metro as an excluded location. This way, they won’t see your ads and you can focus your budget on a more profitable audience.
Just think through what qualifies your leads and apply exclusions where relevant. This strategy helps you keep your target audience large without wasting your budget on lower quality leads.
You can choose between two different bidding options for your ads: Cost-per-click (CPC) and Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM).
With CPC, you will pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Your bid is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each click by a member of your target audience. This is the recommended bidding option for most advertisers.
With CPM, you will pay each time your ad is shown 1,000 times on LinkedIn, no matter how many clicks you receive. Your bid is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each thousand impressions of your ad.
LinkedIn provides a Suggested Bid Range field to help you select a bid by estimating the competing bids from other advertisers. Keep in mind your bid will compete with other advertisers for impressions and clicks. So the higher you bid, the more likely you are to receive impressions and clicks. While there is no set cost for ads, there is a $2.00 minimum bid for advertising on LinkedIn.
Your Daily Budget is the maximum amount that you’re willing to spend each day. Once your budget is depleted, your ads will stop showing that day. Your spend may be lower on weekends than weekdays since most people visit LinkedIn during the workweek.
LinkedIn Ads Optimization
If your goal is to generate leads, inquiries, or sales that result from the clicks that you receive, you need to configure conversion tracking on your website in order to attribute those actions to your ads on LinkedIn and evaluate performance. Keep your goal in mind as you create your ads, target the right audience, and choose the best landing page on your site.
To get more clicks at a lower cost per click (CPC)
Test new ads. One of the easiest ways to get more clicks and reduce your average CPC is to improve the click-through rate (CTR) of your ad. In general, the higher the CTR, the lower the CPC you’ll need to bid to receive impressions and clicks. The best way to increase the CTR is to test multiple variations of ad text and images.
Your CTR is a good indicator of how well your ad is performing. According to LinkedIn, good ads generally have a CTR greater than 0.025%.
If the CTR of your ad drops, refresh the ads with new images or ad text. A good practice is to refresh your ads at least once per month.
If your CTR is lower than 0.025%, create and test new ad variations. Even small changes can improve the CTR significantly. You can also try narrowing your target audience so that your ad becomes more relevant and will receive more clicks.
To generate more leads or sales
Review your targeted locations to make sure your ads are shown to people in the places you do business in.
Refine your targeting to reach your ideal customers. Are there any job functions or industries you should focus on? Make sure you’ve selected the targeting that fits your prospective customers.
Send people to the best landing page. The landing page is the page that people are sent when they click on your ad. The information on that page should be related to the products, services, or events that are mentioned in your ad. If people can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave.
Improve your landing page. Your quality of your landing page and website can determine how many of your visitors do what. Here are a few tips for creating the best landing page:
Keep things simple. Don’t clutter your page with too much text, images, or competing messages.
Make sure the messaging of your page matches your ad.
Offer relevant and useful information that you’ve mentioned in your ad to give users a reason to stay and take action.
Test paying by CPM. With a CPM bid, you’ll be paying each time your ad is shown 1,000 times.
To increase the number of times your ad is shown or clicked
There are a number of factors that affect how many impressions and clicks your ad receives. This includes how competitive LinkedIn ads are and how big your target audience is.
When selecting which ads to show, LinkedIn factors in the performance of each ad and its bid. If your ad isn’t receiving enough impressions or clicks, you can either increasing your maximum bid or improve the ad text and image.
You can also edit the audience targeting to make it more broad or narrow. It also helps to include information that is specific to your target audience in ad text.
(This feature has since been deprecated, updated 8/14/2015)
LinkedIn Ads offer a Lead Collection feature that lets advertisers collect leads directly through their LinkedIn ad campaigns. WIth this feature enabled, members who click on your ad can easily request that you contact them. For each lead, you’ll see the member’s name, headline, a link to their LinkedIn profile, and an optional email address. You’ll be able to send a free follow-up message to them on LinkedIn.
If you’re not receiving as many impressions and clicks as you’d like, this could be because your Daily Budget is too low. If your total spend per day is close to your Daily Budget and you’d like to receive more impressions and clicks, increase your Daily Budget.
Please note that LinkedIn is unique in that their advertising “day” is based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which starts at 4 PM Pacific (7 PM Eastern) in the U.S.
Sam is the Director of Online Marketing at InVision and former Director of Marketing at AdStage. Prior to AdStage, he was part of the AdWords product team at Google, serving as the in-house AdWords expert and advisor to product management, engineering, and UX. Prior to that, he personally managed and grew in-house digital marketing programs with over $300,000 in monthly ad spend.