Web Marketing Today

Getting Started with LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn, the social networking site for business professionals, has more than 250 million members. It is an effective way for professionals to connect with one another.

Like most other social networking sites, LinkedIn has an ad platform that enables businesses to tap into its membership. If your business needs to reach other businesses or professionals, it’s worth your while to try LinkedIn ads. Here is a guide to getting started with LinkedIn ads.

Types of LinkedIn Ads

There are two types of “sponsorships” available within the LinkedIn Ads platform: sponsored ads and sponsored posts.

Sponsored ads appear on the right-hand column, either in-line or in a group section called “Ads You May Be Interested In.”

LinkedIn sponsored ad example.

LinkedIn sponsored ad example.

The grouped ads include a logo or image, headline, and body copy. Clicks on an ad can be directed to your website or to your LinkedIn page.

Sponsored posts, on the other hand, offer a way to share content — which originate as your LinkedIn company page posts — in front of a target audience.

LinkedIn sponsored post example.

LinkedIn sponsored post example.

Sponsored posts look just like organic posts, except the word “Sponsored” appears in the upper right hand corner. People can like, comment, or share the posts — all of which constitute a “click.”

Choosing An Ad Type

Sponsored ads and sponsored posts can both be effective ways to reach your target audience. So how do you choose which type to use?

First, think about the goals of your LinkedIn Ads campaign. Are you trying to increase followers of your LinkedIn business page? Are you trying to drive leads or sales? Or are you looking to promote branding and awareness? LinkedIn Ads can work for all of these scenarios, but it’s crucial to keep your goal in mind as you decide which type of ad you’d like to run.

Any business with a LinkedIn page can run sponsored ads. If you haven’t yet created a LinkedIn page for your business, you’ll need to create one before you can run any ads.

Once you have a business page, you’ll need to decide on ad copy and target audience. We’ll cover that in a minute.

If you’re interested in using Sponsored Updates, it’s crucial that you post regular updates to your company page, which you can then use for Sponsored Updates. Fresh, up-to-date content is key for successful Sponsored Updates. Weekly updates are a minimum; daily is better if you have enough content.

Selecting An Audience

Along with deciding what type of ads you’d like to run, you’ll need to select your audience. The LinkedIn ads campaign setup process is a little out of order, in that it asks you to create your ad copy first, and then has you select your audience. Audience targeting choices are quite complex, so it’s a good idea to plan this out before beginning the setup process.

LinkedIn campaigns can be targeted by location, company, industry, company size, job title, seniority, and function. While it’s good to have all these choices, keep your total audience size in mind. You don’t want to target too broadly — you’ll end up spending a lot of money. But you also don’t want to target too narrowly. In fact, LinkedIn won’t serve ads to audiences that are very narrow, such as those targeted to one specific company with the job title of “CEO.”

Let’s take a closer look at each of the targeting options.

Location. This one is easy. If you’re a local business trying to reach people in your city or state, then this is what you’ll select. If you’re a large national organization trying to reach business owners across the U.S., then choose “United States.”

Companies: Here you can enter specific company names, or you can select an entire industry or company size. Targeting specific companies can be very powerful. You can target just those companies on your prospect list.

There are a couple caveats to company targeting that you’ll need to be aware of. First, the company has to have a presence — via a company page or employees stating they work there — on LinkedIn in order to target it. You’ll be targeting everyone who tells LinkedIn that they work at that company. For instance, targeting large corporations like Dell or SAP is easy — they have thousands of employees on LinkedIn. But targeting a small, local restaurant may not be possible if they don’t have a LinkedIn company page, or if only a handful of people say they work there.

Second, each campaign can target no more than 100 companies. I recently had a list of 180 company targets for a client, and we had to divide the list in half and create two campaigns to reach all of them on LinkedIn.

Finally, there is no bulk upload available at this time — you have to copy and paste the company name and see if it comes up, and then select it from the list of choices.

LinkedIn company targeting example.

LinkedIn company targeting example.

If you’d like to cast a wider net, or if you don’t have specific companies in mind, you can select the sizes of industries or companies to target.

LinkedIn lets you target by company size.

LinkedIn lets you target by company size.

Again, choose these based on your business goals. Normally, you will not select “all” unless the campaign is very local in nature — for example, targeted to a single city.

Job Title. Targeting by job title is another unique feature of LinkedIn ads. If your primary audience is high-level executives, you can reach them on LinkedIn. If you want to focus on entry-level employees, you can do that too.

You can select job title by seniority.

You can segment job titles by seniority.

LinkedIn lets you segment job titles by seniority.

Or by function.

You can segment job title by function.

LinkedIn lets you segment job title by function.

You can also select specific job titles.

LinkedIn lets you target specific job titles.

LinkedIn lets you target specific job titles.

While selecting specific titles offers more precise targeting, it’s important to know that titles are selected by LinkedIn members. This means the list of potential titles is nearly endless. Use trial and error when selecting titles to target, and you may miss out on part of your target audience. Still, title targeting can be an effective way to hone in on your exact target market.

Once you’ve decided on your targets, it’s a good idea to keep a record of them. While you can duplicate a campaign, along with its audience, it’s not possible to use the audience from an ads campaign for a sponsored post campaign or vice versa. If you want to do both, you’ll have to re-create your targets from scratch. Having a list of segmented targets will save setup time when creating new campaigns.

Ad Copy Creation

If you’re running Sponsored Updates, there’s no ad copy to create — your page posts are your ads. Just select which post(s) you’d like to promote.

Sponsored Updates promote your posts instead of using ads.

Sponsored Updates promote your posts instead of using ads.

For ads, there is a little more work involved. First, you’ll need to select the language and ad type. There are two ad types: basic or video. For video ads, there are two requirements:

  • You must link to a YouTube video;
  • Your video must be no longer than 30 seconds.

You’ll be charged every time someone clicks on any part of your video ad, including the “play” button.

Most advertisers will want to start out with simple text ads. To create a text ad, just enter your destination URL, and the ad copy.

Most LinkedIn advertisers will want to start with simple text ads.

Most LinkedIn advertisers will want to start with simple text ads.

Images are optional, but I recommended them. Have several different images to test. Stock photos can work, but it’s better to use actual product images or your corporate logo. I’ll often take screen shots of product images on a client’s website and use those for ad images.

Images can be a maximum of 50×50 pixels, which is small. It’s best to select simple, straightforward images that will render well at this small size.

Setting Bids and Budgets

Pay-per-click bidding best practices apply to LinkedIn ads. Don’t bid more than you’re comfortable paying, and don’t set your daily budget higher than you’re willing to spend.

Note, however, that the minimum per-click bid on LinkedIn is $2 and the minimum daily budget is $10.

Once you’ve set up your campaign and targeting, LinkedIn will suggest a bid range. I’ve found that the suggested bid range is often too low for ads to get impressions. It’s not unusual to see a recommended bid of $2.02, when really it’s necessary to bid $8 or $9 per click to get impressions.

Remember, the value of LinkedIn ads is in its targeting — the ability to reach specific companies and job titles. If you can get your ad or sponsored update in front of the CEO of a large company that you’d like to do business with, and he or she starts following your company, you’ve justified your entire campaign budget.

If you want to reach business prospects in a highly targeted manner, give LinkedIn ads a try.

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Melissa Mackey
Melissa Mackey
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Comment ( 1 )

Have Something To Say ?

  1. LIAO February 25, 2014 Reply

    This is one of the most complete writeups on LinkedIn Ads I’ve read. Thanks for sharing!

    I’m having a lot of success on the platform. Love for B2B.

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