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Your Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn Advertising is one of the best digital advertising platforms to generate brand awareness, traffic, and sales for B2C and B2B businesses. In this resource, I explain everything you need to know to launch a successful LinkedIn Advertising campaign.

In 2021, LinkedIn turns 18 years old. What a journey they’ve been on. The social media platform was officially launched on May 5, 2003, just nine months prior to the launch of Facebook.

LinkedIn is consistently investing and increasing its marketing solutions. In Q3 FY21, there was a 64% increase in LinkedIn’s marketing solutions. What that means for marketers and advertisers is that LinkedIn will continue to provide them with solutions that help facilitate their marketing goals.

Does LinkedIn Advertising work?

A lot of businesses use LinkedIn advertising to consistently achieve their sales and marketing goals. And so can you. To understand why LinkedIn Advertising is powerful, first, we need to look at the anatomy of the LinkedIn audience.

1.    Audience Size

According to recent data from LinkedIn, the social platform has 756 million members in more than 200 countries. In Australia, there approximately 11 Million on LinkedIn, equating to approximately 85% of the Australian workforce.

2.    Audience Trust

In a survey asking people how much they trust social platforms to protect their privacy, LinkedIn was found to be the most trusted platform. No wonder the engagement and usage rates on LinkedIn have been consistently increasing, and that has a positive impact on LinkedIn advertising.

3.    Audience Quality & Buying Power

Generating qualified leads starts with targeting a quality audience. LinkedIn allows you to target buyers by job title, company, industry, seniority, and a lot more. What’s interesting is that 4 out of 5 people on LinkedIn drive business decisions, and the LinkedIn audience has 2X the buying power of the average audience on the web (LinkedIn).

4.    Conversations

People don’t just use LinkedIn to find jobs, hire employees, or find leads; they are increasingly talking and engaging with others. In Q3 FY21, conversations on LinkedIn increased by 43%.

5.    Lead Conversions

A study conducted by HubSpot across 5,000 businesses revealed that traffic from LinkedIn generated a 277% higher conversion rate (visitor-to-lead) than Twitter and Facebook (HubSpot). In addition, audiences exposed to both brand and acquisition messages on LinkedIn are 6X more likely to convert.

Like any other marketing effort, you need to set the right strategy. For LinkedIn Advertising, there’s an important concept that will guide everything you do when it comes to LinkedIn Advertising. LinkedIn refers to this concept as “Demand Marketing vs. Brand Marketing”.

Here’s what you need to know.

Demand Marketing vs. Brand Marketing

Before we go into the details of advertising on LinkedIn, it’s important to understand the difference between Demand Marketing and Brand Marketing.

Demand Marketing vs. Brand Marketing - LinkedIn

Demand Marketing vs. Brand Marketing – LinkedIn

Demand Marketing

In short, Demand marketing drives your short-term growth. It’s a strategy that helps you build urgency around a specific product or an initiative to motivate your target audience to take action now. Besides allowing you to captures demand and interest, it helps you achieve short-term business results. However, it has little impact on creating long-term demand, which means it’s not sustainable over time.

Brand Marketing

On the other hand, Brand marketing drives your long-term growth initiatives. With brand marketing, your brand is able to create brand associations, bigger awareness, and educate the market on the need for your product. This eventually creates a more significant demand for your business and allows you to tap into more sales opportunities.

Now, let’s look at how you can create a LinkedIn Advertising Campaign.

Steps to create a LinkedIn Advertising campaign

1.    Create a LinkedIn Advertising Account

To advertise on LinkedIn, you’ll need to create an ad account in Campaign Manager. An ad account allows you to create and manage advertising campaigns, view performance reports, and manage account assets such as Matched Audiences or conversion tracking.

Start a LinkedIn Advertising Campaign

Start a LinkedIn Advertising Campaign

Depending on the size and scale of your advertising needs, you may need to create multiple ad accounts. Here are a few examples of when you may need multiple ad accounts:

  • If you advertise for multiple companies as an agency
  • If you advertise for a company with multiple LinkedIn Pages
  • If you need to separate the billing for advertising campaigns by currency

In addition, you don’t need a LinkedIn Page to create a new ads account. But, if you intend to use Sponsored Content, Dynamic Ads, and Lead Gen Forms, you’ll need to have a LinkedIn page associated with the LinkedIn Advertising Account.

2.    Create a LinkedIn Campaign

First things first, you’ll need to create a LinkedIn campaign. In contrast to the structure of Google Ads and Facebook Ads, LinkedIn campaigns are grouped under Campaign Groups. LinkedIn has a default campaign group, but you can also create other campaign groups.

To create a new campaign from your LinkedIn account, you’ll need to click on the “Work” button then the “Advertise” button. This will take you to the LinkedIn Advertising portal. From there, you can create a new campaign.

3.    Choose a campaign objective

Next, you’ll need to choose a campaign objective.

LinkedIn Campaign Objective

LinkedIn Campaign Objective

Currently, there are 7 campaign objectives grouped by the purchase cycle:

Awareness

  • Brand Awareness – to help more people learn about your business.

Consideration

  • Website Visits – to help people visit your website and landing pages as well as LinkedIn events.
  • Engagement – to increase engagement with your content and get more followers.
  • Video Views – to share your videos with more people

Conversions

  • Lead Generation – to generate leads through a LinkedIn form and integrate with a lead management form.
  • Website Conversions – to capture leads and drive actions on your website.
  • Job Applicants – to share with people your job opportunities and get more applicants.

4.    Choose the right audience

You can create and target audiences in several ways. Below are the 4 main ways to build audiences for LinkedIn Ads.

Audience Targeting on LinkedIn

Audience Targeting on LinkedIn

Saved Audience Attributes

Company – target people by company attributes such companies that follow your page, sector, industry, size, etc. And you can also target specific companies by their names.

Demographics – you can target people by their age and gender

Education – target people by degrees, fields of study, and school memberships.

Job Experience – target people by job function, job seniority, job title, skills, and years of experience.

Interests and Traits – target people by LinkedIn Group membership, interests, and traits.

List Upload

You can also upload a list of companies or people to target them with Ads. If you use a “member interest” targeting, you can’t use a contact list simultaneously.

For a contact list, LinkedIn recommends uploading at least 10,000 contacts (maximum 300,000 contacts) along with at least one of the following data points

  • email address
  • first and last name
  • mobile device id
  • google user id.

Including other fields like company, job title, or country increases the accuracy of the match.

For a company list, LinkedIn recommends uploading at least 1,000 companies (maximum 300,000 companies) along with at least one of the following data points:

  • company name
  • company website
  • company email domain
  • LinkedIn page URL
  • stock symbol.

Including other fields like industry, city, state, country, or zip increases the accuracy of the match.

Lookalike

Through a proprietary algorithm, a Lookalike audience can help you find people similar to your target audience and who may be interested in your product. This is done by identifying people with similar characteristics to your best audience.

Your lookalike audience size can go up to 15 times larger than your original audience size. And, the original audience segment will not be included in the new lookalike audience.

So, what’s used to generate a lookalike audience?

LinkedIn member profile data and company attributes are used to determine similarity to expand to audiences based on similar characteristics.

Lookalike audiences do not use sensitive demographic attributes such as sex or age within the model. And they don’t guarantee that any particular characteristic will be shared.

Retargeting

The retargeting audience feature allows you to target people who engaged with

  • Your company LinkedIn page
  • One of your Events
  • One of your Lead Forms
  • Your Website

5.    Choose the Ad Format

Depending on what campaign objective you choose, you’ll have multiple ad format options. In every campaign, you can choose one ad format.

LinkedIn Ad Formats

LinkedIn Ad Formats

If you want to experiment with different ad types, you should create multiple campaigns under the same campaign group.

Single Image Ad

Create ads using a single image that will show up in the news feed.

Carousel Ad

Create ads with two or more images that will show up in the news feed.

Video Ad

Create ads using a video that will show up in the news feed.

Message Ad

Create ads using your LinkedIn Event that will show up in the feed. A message ad allows your to send a message with a single call-to-action to drive a focused proposition. You can combine a message ad with a Lead Gen Form to quickly generate high-quality leads.

Message Ad - Highlighted

Message Ad – Highlighted

Conversation Ad

Similar to a Message Ad, a Conversation Ad allows you to create ads that are delivered to your target audience’s LinkedIn Messaging inbox. But unlike Message Ads, a Conversation Ad allows you to create multiple calls-to-action within the same ad, to give you the flexibility you need to drive prospects to a Lead Gen Form or to various landing pages.

Text Ad

Create text-based ads that will show up in the right column or top of the page on LinkedIn.

Text Ads offer more than the name suggests. They allow you to add a small image along with a headline and description text.

Follower Ad

Create ads that are personalized using profile data and will promote a Company Page throughout the desktop. Follower ads can be quite helpful in boosting the followers of your company page, given that you’re targeting people who’d be interested in your business or product.

Follow Ad Highlighted

Follow Ad Highlighted

A Follower Ad is essentially a type of dynamic ads that helps you expand your audience and acquire more followers for your LinkedIn or Showcase Page. When someone follows your page, you then get the chance to engage with them through organic content you share on LinkedIn.

Here’s how a Follower Ad can look like.

Spotlight Ad

Spotlight Ads are another form of dynamic ads Spotlight Ads that help you drive traffic to your website or landing page by featuring your product, service, event, newsletter, etc., using a clear call-to-action. Through Spotlight Ads, you can create ads that are personalized to promote an offering.

Other Ad Types

If you’re looking to hire talent, LinkedIn has a couple of Ad types (Single Job Ad and a Job Ad) focused on helping you find the right people.

6.    Choose Ad Placement

The Ad Placement is a straightforward step. If you’re looking to expand your reach, you should consider enabling the LinkedIn Audience Network.

Ad Placement

Ad Placement

The LinkedIn Audience Network helps you get more reach with your target audience. You can reach up to 25% more of your target audience by running your ads on LinkedIn and its partner apps and websites.

7.    Determine your Budget & Ad Schedule

Next, you want to determine how much you spend on the campaign and for how long. To learn more about budgeting, check out this marketing budget guide.

Budget

You can either set a daily budget, lifetime budget, or a budget for both. Important to note that even if you choose a daily budget, your daily campaign spend may vary. LinkedIn may spend up to 50% more than your daily budget on some days and less on others. But across a longer period of time, the campaign will average to spend your specified budget.

Schedule

When it comes to the campaign schedule, you can either run the campaign continuously or specify an end date. If you run it continuously, you can still pause it later on. If you’re running a specific campaign with a specific timeline, such as an end-of-month promotion, you can specify the end date to ensure you don’t run ads past that point.

Bidding

Similar to the ad format options, your bidding options will depend on the campaign objective you chose. Here are the main bidding types:

  • Website conversions – deliver ads to people most likely to take action on your website
  • Landing Page Clicks – deliver ads to people most likely to click on the link to your landing page
  • Clicks – if you choose the “Lead” objective, this bidding type will deliver ads to people most likely to click on the ad.
  • Reach – number of unique members who see your ads
  • Leads – if you choose the “Lead” objective, this bidding type will deliver ads to people most likely to submit a lead generation form.
  • Impressions – get as many impressions as possible

8.    Create A Conversion

If you intend to drive traffic from LinkedIn Advertising to your website, you’ll need to install an Insight Tag. Here’s how to do that. From your advertising account, go to Account Assets and click on Insight Tag.

Install LinkedIn Tag

Install LinkedIn Tag

This will prompt you to install the Insight Tag. You have a couple of options:

  • Install the tag yourself directly on your website
  • Use a tag manager such as Google Tag Manager

Once you’ve installed your Insight Tag, it may take up to 24 hours for LinkedIn to verify it’s working.

Next, you want to create a conversion goal. To do that, head over to Account Assets and click on Conversions to create a new conversion. You’ll need to set up the following:

  • Conversion Name – for internal reference.
  • Conversion Type – lead, download, install, purchase, etc.
  • Conversion Value – how much a conversion of this type is worth to your business.
  • Clicks Window – how many days after someone clicks do you want to attribute the conversion.
  • Views – how many days after someone views the ad do you want to attribute the conversions.
  • Attribution Model – By default, it’s set as “Last Touch”.
Create a Conversion Step 1

Create a Conversion Step 1

Then, you can select the campaigns you want to assign this conversion to. You can also leave this option and add the conversion to your campaign setup.

Create a Conversion Step 2

Create a Conversion Step 2

And finally, you want to specify the page rules that indicate a conversion. For example, you can add a match URL to your thank you page or purchase confirmation page.

How To Maximise ROI from LinkedIn Advertising

1.    Define your objectives

Being crystal clear on your objectives will help you maximise your ROI. Each LinkedIn Advertising campaign should be focused on one objective. If you focus on multiple objectives, you’ll most likely not hit any of them. Instead, decide what matters the most and align the various campaign components around that single objective.

2.    Build your organic reach

Before starting LinkedIn Advertising, it’s recommended that you build your organic reach to some degree. This will help in different ways such as:

  • Dynamic ads will be more effective because LinkedIn has more data on your audience.
  • You’ll get more feedback on what content and messages resonate best with your target audience.

To learn more about how to create the right LinkedIn Marketing strategy to maximise your organic reach, check out this LinkedIn Marketing guide.

3.    Understand your target audience

Audience targeting on LinkedIn is one of the most critical parts of building a successful advertising campaign. Unlike other social media platforms, demographic targeting on LinkedIn is laser-sharp simply because LinkedIn members share more information about who they are, including their title, role description, the company they work for, etc.

In addition, advertising on LinkedIn is not cheap. The CPC is higher than most platforms. But it’s worth it.

And so, it’s important to know exactly who your target audience is to ensure you deliver it to the right people and not waste any ad budget.

4.    Measure performance

If your campaign is not performing well, LinkedIn will start to show it less to people. After all, their goal is to serve their members with content and ads that are most useful and valuable.

To improve the performance of your LinkedIn Advertising campaigns, you need to measure performance metrics like click-through rate, CPM, ROAS, etc.

To learn more about how to create the right set of marketing metrics, check out this marketing metrics guide.

Measuring the various campaign performance metrics will help you understand what’s working and what’s not. For example, your ad might be getting a high CTR but low form submissions. In that case, you might need to improve the copy and design of your Lead Gen Form or website landing page.

5.    Optimise

Just because your LinkedIn ad is not delivering the performance you require doesn’t mean you should start all over again. At times, yes, it’s best to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. But in many instances, the best approach is to make tweaks and measure the impact and improvement.

Once you’ve identified areas of improvement, you need to make changes. But I highly recommend making tweaks one at a time. Making multiple changes at once can backfire but will also make it harder (and perhaps impossible) for you to know what’s actually working.

Here are the areas you should consider optimising.

  • Audience
  • Ad Headline & Description copy
  • Ad Creative
  • Call-To-Action
  • Form & Landing Pages
Author avatar
Rani Arsanios
Founder and Director of SAVV Digital, Rani has spent over 15 years working and consulting brands and businesses globally on how to improve and optimise their sales and marketing capabilities.

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