LinkedIn Ads

The Experienced Advertiser's Guide to LinkedIn Advertising

This guide is Part 2 of a 3-part series on how to be successful on LinkedIn Advertising.
Hopefully you've already read the first post, The Beginner’s Guide to Success with LinkedIn Advertising, and your boss has given you your well deserved raise. Now, you’re back to bask further in the sunshine for B2B marketers that is LinkedIn Advertising.

By now, you understand the basic principles of how audience targeting works, which ad units are available and how to track your success.  For Part 2, I’m going to take you deeper into the platform to find efficiencies and opportunities for scale. This post will read less like a step-by-step guide and more like a variety of smart practices.

What this guide will cover:

  1. Audience Targeting & Expansion
  2. Bidding Strategies
  3. Tracking & Attribution
  4. Image Optimization & Testing
  5. Laser-Targeted Retargeting

1. Audience Targeting & Expansion

Once you've successfully identified your target audience, it's time to begin expanding your impression coverage.

In the Beginner’s Guide, I talked about approaching your target audience from multiple directions. Now, my first thought as a marketer was that this practice would be a waste of time, because you're just reaching the same people, but I’ll tell you that it’s just not the case.

The fact of the matter is that each type of targeting has its own personality. As a refresher, my 4 main targeting tenets are:

  1. Job Title
  2. Job Function + Seniority
  3. Groups + Seniority
  4. Skills + Seniority

LinkedIn Advertising Audience Targeting
For instance, I would imagine that a LinkedIn Groups user is more engaged on the platform than someone who simply puts his or her job title in and rarely comes back. Applying that filter gets you a more active audience, but it also limits the audience size.

Skills are likely similar to Groups, because both are associated with more advanced engagement on the platform. They also allow you to target very specific interests that may not be implicit simply by job title. The flip side is that such interests could be ancillary and carry less weight. For instance, I list SQL as a skill because I took a class once, but you likely wouldn’t want to hire me for your database work.

Build Out the Full Monty

When fully evaluating an audience, I recommend targeting all 4 aspects of your audience and tracking each one meticulously. You may find that targeting Groups yields a lower CPA, or that skills are a discounted CPC – things you wouldn’t know unless you tested them out.

I realize that taking my lesson to heart might mean that you have to create 4 campaigns for each audience segment, which could muddy your account a bit and make management slightly more complex, but trust me–you won’t regret it.

2. Bidding Strategies

LinkedIn Bidding Strategies

Now that you’re set up to fully permeate your audience, it’s time to get the right amount of traffic from it. There are two basic bidding strategies I would recommend:

- Cost Conscious

The vast majority of advertisers tend to fall under the Cost Conscious model. The goal of most performance marketers is to procure conversions at the lowest possible cost, which maximizes the reach of budget.

This method entails bidding low to ensure that traffic comes to the advertiser’s site as inexpensively as possible. The side effect to this approach is that traffic will be much more limited in most cases due to the fact that there are plenty of advertisers bidding more than you.

Bidding too low can result in stalled campaigns, so while employing this strategy, make sure to bid higher than the minimum bid ($2 in the US). Otherwise, LinkedIn may view your ads as not worth showing and cause your ads to stop receiving impressions, despite the campaign and ads being Active.

- High Traffic

For those advertisers who are less concerned with a low target CPA and more concerned with driving a high quantity of traffic and leads, I recommend bidding well above the recommended bids. For instance, if the recommended bid is $4.25, and you placed your bid at $50, you would receive a steady flow of impressions, which definitely wouldn’t actually cost you $50/click. Instead, you might be charged $6 per click (or more/less depending on the competitiveness of your audience), but you have the potential for near-unlimited traffic.

If you’re ok with paying a premium to get as many members clicking to your landing page, I definitely recommend bidding high.

3. LinkedIn Tracking

LinkedIn Conversion Tracking Attribution Image Source:

I believe the point at which a rookie LinkedIn advertiser becomes a more sophisticated one happens when he begins proper ad tracking and attribution. LinkedIn does not provide a conversion tracking pixel, so this analysis is something that currently you must do externally, which is a new experience for many search marketers. UPDATE: LinkedIn Conversion Tracking is Now Available

I want to walk you through the high-level theory of what this tracking entails.

- Conversion Tracking 201

Your ads by default will simply send traffic to your landing page. The problem is that when Google Analytics sees this traffic, all it knows is that the traffic came as a referral from Besides the obvious fact that this traffic is indistinguishable from your free traffic from company updates or your company page, GA also isn’t able to attribute which ad, campaign, or even which audience drove those clicks. Worse still, if you can’t determine which campaign is supplying your conversions, how do you know which campaign to expand? You can’t.

Enter destination URL tagging. Google Analytics recognizes 5 query parameters in a URL by default. These are:

  • Source (i.e. LinkedIn, Google, etc.)
  • Medium (Sponsored Update, text ad, etc.)
  • Term (for keyword targeting – not useful for LinkedIn Advertising)
  • Campaign Content (differentiation between ads)
  • Campaign Name (the name of your LinkedIn campaign)

Google Analytics even provides a tool that creates your URL for you, and inserts those parameters automatically – it’s called the Google URL Builder.

If you are trying to classify two ads within the same campaign, only the variable ‘Campaign Content’ is set up to differentiate your ads. How do you then fit a description of the ad’s content into that one parameter? The answer is by creating a key.

Give each ad a unique tracking key, and keep track of it on a spreadsheet. The easiest way I’ve found to create unique keys is to base them off of the date you launched your ads. For instance, if I were creating 3 ads today, they might have the following keys:

  • li12081401
  • li12081402
  • li12081403

Here’s a breakdown of the anatomy of these codes, but feel free to customize however you’d like:

LinkedIn Conversion Tracking Code

On that same spreadsheet, you can associate the various elements of your ad with that key. You can make a column for your headline, adline, image name and any other ad-level information you’d like associated with your key.

Then comes the fun part! Generate an ad-level report from LinkedIn for the time period you care about, and generate a Behavior>Site Content>Pages report in GA for that same time period. This will allow you to match up the URLs to tie conversions to your LinkedIn data. Learn how to track conversions in Google Analytics.

I won’t be covering the exact steps for this process in this guide, as this topic easily could be an entire guide by itself. However, this overview is a good starting point.

4. Image Optimization

LinkedIn Ads A/B Testing

Ironically enough, images are often overlooked by advertisers on LinkedIn, when visually, they’re the most impactful element on the page. For text ads, you only get 50x50 pixels to get someone’s attention, so you have to make it count. With sponsored updates, you get more real estate, but you’re fighting for attention among the happenings from personal connections in their news stream.

Because images are the most impactful element, they’ll also become the fastest element to fatigue if you’re over-saturating your audience, so make sure to focus on changing up your imagery often, even if you’re not writing new copy as consistently.

LinkedIn’s platform does not make it easy to optimize your imagery. When you launch an ad, you don’t know if the CTR is great because your image is awesome or if your copy really resonates. To source this data properly, you need to run an A/B test.

How to A/B Test Images on LinkedIn

For an A/B image test, create two ads which are exactly the same, but swap out the image on one.

There are two measures by which I evaluate an image A/B test:

1. CTR

The most direct effect that an image can have is to call more attention to your ad so that a user will click it. It stands to reason that if ‘Image A’ garners a higher CTR than ‘Image B’, then Image A is your winner. This method is the most straightforward measuring stick, and you can even do this analysis right in the LinkedIn interface by comparing the CTRs.

2 . Conversion Rate

Many marketers will tell you that the click doesn’t tell you anything. Maybe your image of a pretty brunette got someone to click, but if that user is not interested in your offer, then your ad was a waste of money. For that reason, I also evaluate images by the conversion rate. Although a conversion is one step removed from the click, it’s still answering the important business question of how your image testing is affecting the bottom line.

In order to track conversions, you’ll need to affix a unique tracking parameter onto each ad, so you can then marry your ad reporting data with your analytics conversion data. Then, you can compare both the CTRs and conversion rates of your image tests.

You’ll likely need to collect a lot of data to bring correlations to the conversion level, and you’ll want to balance your findings against the CTR results to avoid any outlying behavior.
When you’re following the Conversion Tracking 201 suggestions above, I would especially recommend including two specific columns in your tracking key spreadsheet:

  • Image Filename (so you can always go back and reference the exact image later)
  • Image Description (so you have a human-readable description of the image, and you don’t have to reference the actual image file later)

These practices will enable you to run reports in GA on just your images. These tests are especially helpful if you are running similar imagery in other campaigns, and you want to measure how they perform in aggregate, for a larger testing sample size.

5. Laser-Focused Retargeting

Retargeting Your LinkedIn Advertising Traffic Image Source:

Last, but not least, one of my favorite benefits to LinkedIn advertising traffic is its potential for powerful retargeting. Let me explain.

With search traffic, the only thing you know about a visitor is data around the keyword they typed at one point, which makes it difficult to retarget to them with display ads showing different offers. With LinkedIn, on the other hand, you can create a landing page for each type of audience, which is extremely powerful.

Are you trying to reach sales managers? Send all that traffic to a page that you have tagged specifically for sales manager clicks. Then in your retargeting efforts, you can address them as sales managers, and not just as random people who happened to search for "prospecting software." This method is something that Tad Miller of MarketingMojo referred to in a recent conversation as “bulletproof retargeting.”

Remember, you already paid a good bit to get the traffic, so it’s in your interest to use it in the best possible way!

Time for Another Raise

You’re now a more sophisticated advertiser than 90% of advertisers on LinkedIn, which is a stellar accomplishment! You have the tools and know-how necessary to laser-target the prospects your sales team is craving and expand your efforts. I can’t think of a better time to give your boss an update on where your strategy is headed, and to watch for the results to start pouring in.

Watch for the final guide in the 3-part series, entitled “The Advanced Guide to Success with LinkedIn Advertising” to become the ultimate LinkedIn Advertising powerhouse.


AdStage Team