Google Analytics, LinkedIn Ads, The PPC Show

AJ Wilcox Talks Targeting, ROI, and LinkedIn Ads

Veteran online marketing guy, AJ Wilcox fell in love with LinkedIn advertising years ago and never looked back. He went on to quit his then-position at a local tech company to pursue building the first agency to specialize just in LinkedIn advertising, B2Linked.

AJ sat down with us to lend his expertise on this mostly uncharted platform; including the best ways to target specific audiences that naturally result in higher ROI for your LinkedIn ad campaigns.

Below are some highlights from the podcast. Check it out!

What Verticals Work Best For LinkedIn?

The verticals that work really well on LinkedIn generally fall under two main categories:

  1. Recruiting
  2. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)

The recruiting sector sees a lot of success here because LinkedIn’s platform caters to business networking; naturally, it performs extremely well on the ad side. While some argue an expensive cost per click, SaaS companies attract highly qualified prospects whose lifetime customer value (LTV) is greater than acquiring prospects from other channels with cheaper click costs. Ultimately if a SaaS product is sticky enough, spending hard earned dollars on LinkedIn ad campaigns could mean a significant impact on the bottom line for your business.

LinkedIn Audience Targeting: Always Start Small

Rule of thumb: to ensure ads are shown to the relevant audience, always aim to target a narrow population. LinkedIn offers granular targeting options to help focus the campaign audience scope.

LinkedIn Recommendations for Audience Size

  • For Sponsored Content they suggest a minimum of 300,000 (I would recommend trying to narrow this with targeting options below)
  • For Text Ads the majority of advertisers target between 60,000 - 400,000 (again try to narrow with targeting options)
  • For Sponsored InMail stay within the 100,000 range

LinkedIn Targeting Options

  • Geographic location is based on location specified by the member or the IP address location of relevant within a specific geographic region
  • Current employer listed on member’s profile (partially inferred)
  • The industry of the company at which the member is employed
  • As listed on the Company Page of the member’s current employer
  • Standardized from member-entered job title
  • inferred from member-entered job title
  • inferred from member-entered job title
  • Member-entered skills in the Skills & Endorsements section on their profile, skills mentioned in their profile text, or inferred skills based on their listed skills
  • Member-entered schools (partially inferred)
  • Standardized from member-entered degrees
  • Standardized from member-entered degrees
  • Specific LinkedIn Groups that member within your target audience has joined
  • Inferred in English from first name of member
  • Inferred from member’s last graduation year

Take very narrow segments of the population and build campaigns targeting each segment with more contextual copy. This way, not only will your leads be more qualified to actually convert (or use your product), but with this wealth of demographic knowledge you’ll glean valuable insights about your desired target audience. For example, with narrow targeting you learn how to refine your content strategy by analyzing which messages resonate with different audience segments.

Where to Target: Going Beyond the Job Title

When setting up your audience, LinkedIn has more than plenty of options to choose from and can be overwhelming. Most marketers will tell you to start with job title. Because of that fact, this makes it the most competitive.

Also, not everybody has a “targetable” job title, for example: “growth hacker”. This doesn’t quite signal a level of seniority. How do you reach them?

  1. : if you have the budget, test it
  2. Combine job function and seniority
  3. Take a skill only someone in that industry would have: FMLA if you’re targeting HR
  4. Targeting groups

Use all four of these targeting options and compare each of the outcomes. See which has the lower cost per click and cost per lead, then keep iterating on that copy for the specified targeting parameters.

The Advanced Guide to LinkedIn Ads via

Competitive Targeting: Does It Work?

Competitive targeting is very effective at getting attention. Unfortunately, when you target competitors you’ll see high CTR, but most users won’t take actions. They don’t want their name tied to it, right?

Instead, try covert and stealthy route. Exclude your competitors. If you don’t let them see what you’re doing, their marketing team is left in the dark. That way, they can’t gain any insight from your strategy.

Measuring Success

Attribution and analytics can be quite difficult using LinkedIn since conversion tracking isn’t built into the platform (yet).

However, there are some key key metrics available to determine performance:

Click-Thru-Rate (CTR) is a powerful metric for optimizing LinkedIn ad campaigns given the level of detail in selecting your ideal audience. When talking to your ideal audience you have to measure how the audience is engaging with your brand past the user’s ‘click’. On the other hand, CTR doesn't always turn into a conversion. To analyze ad performance in terms of the full funnel and for the business, Cost per Lead (CPL) is a good metric to keep in mind. The Cost per Lead metric measures how cost-effective your LinkedIn campaigns in generating new leads for your sales pipeline. This metric provides data to use in your return on investment (ROI) calculation. A campaign is considered a success when there’s a low cost per lead with a high volume of quality leads.

Use both metrics to understand exactly who it is you're talking to and what customized messages engages that audience.

Use Google Analytics to Your Advantage

Tracking on LinkedIn is worth the effort. Make sure that all of your links are tagged properly with your Google Analytics using the UTM parameters. The most overlooked parameter is UTM_Content, which allows you to tag at an ad level. The more you tag, the better understanding of your audience you’ll have.

Pro Tip: Learn How to Track LinkedIn Conversion in Google Analytics

Comparing Ad Units

Text Ads have been around since ‘08, most users are blind to these ad formats. Generally the CTR is pretty low with 4 clicks out of every 10,000 views, making it easy to overlook text ads. However, if you have an experience that isn’t mobile-friendly, these may be the ads for you: 100% of their traffic comes from desktop.

Sponsored Updates the sexier ad unit of the two, allows for more real estate and a much larger image to captivate an audience’s attention. You are allowed 128 characters for an intro, 38 characters for a headline, 155 characters for a description, and an 800 pixels-wide image that appears in the user’s feed.

The cost between a text ad click and sponsored updates click is usually in parity. Sponsored updates, for the most part, seems like the best bang for your buck. It probably is, but only if you avoid delivering a poor mobile experience; otherwise your ad may spend a more money with little return.

Pro Tip: Learn How to Engage Your Audience with LinkedIn Content

Wrapping It Up

When creating your LinkedIn ad campaign always remember:

  • ABT ( Always Be Testing) Make sure you know what works for you to ensure you make the most from your ad spend.
  • Slice your audience finely, so you can target specific folks with the right message.


Want to keep up with the latest PPC trends, tips, and influencers?

Join us every Tuesday Live @ 10am PT || 1pm ET for #PPCPodcast where we chat with industry experts from Microsoft, LinkedIn, Hanapin Marketing, Google and more.

Subscribe below to get updates every Tuesday and to tune in! [cta id="10860" align="none"]


AdStage Team