With two ‘professionals’ signing up to the site every second, it’s fair to say that LinkedIn is a great place to be if you’re trying to reach the B2B market.
Whilst there are ‘organic’ methods that you can use to get in front of your ideal clients on LinkedIn, such methods often take a lot of time to implement, and their return on investment can also be hard to measure.
Thankfully, LinkedIn provides a paid solution, in the form of LinkedIn Advertising.
By using LinkedIn Advertising you can get in front of your ideal B2B client with pinpoint accuracy and in a matter of hours.
As with all advertising platforms, if you want to benefit fully, you must first appreciate how the platform works.
If you don’t, you’ll probably end up with little to no results despite spending a lot of money on your campaigns.
Therefore in this guide, we’re going to take a look at the steps that you need to take if you want to get the best possible results from your LinkedIn campaigns.
We’ll dive into what you can do to keep mistakes to a minimum, as well as what you can do to improve the odds of your campaigns producing profitable results.
By the end of this guide, you’ll understand how LinkedIn Advertising works, and what steps you need to take to create an effective campaign of your own.
Understand Your Customer
As alluded to earlier, LinkedIn has a lot of members, in a lot of countries.
In fact, if you take a look at the graphic below, you’ll see just how far reaching the platform is.
Now, there is a good chance that not all of these individuals represent your ideal customer.
If you wanted to reach all sorts of people from all sorts of countries, your return on investment would be low.
After all, there’s a good chance that not everyone on LinkedIn will benefit from your offer, and what’s even more likely is that you simply can’t afford to advertise to everyone that is on the platform.
Therefore, as is the case with many other kinds of marketing, take some time to figure out who your ideal customer is, before you dive into running a campaign.
One of the best ways to do this, is by creating a Buyer Persona.
I’ve mentioned the importance of creating a Buyer Persona before, when writing about Facebook Advertising.
Creating a Buyer Persona for your LinkedIn Advertising campaign is equally important, as doing so will allow for you to clearly understand who it is that you need to be showing your ads to.
If you take a look at the image below, you’ll see some of the targeting options that LinkedIn provides, of which aren’t necessarily available on other platforms.
Ideally, you want to make sure that your Buyer Persona contains enough information, so that you can fill out the sections shown.
These targeting options really allow for you to take advantage of the B2B nature of Linkedin and if you want to get the best results from LinkedIn Ads, you need to act on targeting settings that would only matter in a B2B campaign.
Such settings include ‘Member skills’ and ‘Company size.’
An Overview of LinkedIn Ad Formats
LinkedIn Advertising provides you with three distinct formats of advertising –
- Text Ads
- Sponsored Content Ads
- InMail Ads
Note: There are some other forms such as Display and Dynamic Ads, but for the beginners, the formats mentioned are best.
Each one has it’s own benefits, and you’ll want to experiment with each one, in order to figure out what works best.
Let’s quickly examine each form, just to get a quick overview of how the method works, and why you might want to use it.
Sponsored Content Ads, are ads that are designed to show in the LinkedIn Newsfeed.
Sponsored Content Ads are not just limited to Desktops and can also appear on other devices too.
As the name suggests, Sponsored Content Ads are designed to promote a piece of content, and therefore work very well as part of a Content Marketing campaign.
Such campaigns are a great way to generate awareness of your business and the services that it offers. You can also use Sponsored Content campaigns to drive leads, provided that you have a way to collect leads, once someone is reading your content.
Alteryx generated some great results with their Sponsored Content campaigns, and managed to achieve a 4x lower cost per lead with Sponsored Content campaigns, when compared to Search Ads. Using Sponsored Content, they also managed to cut CPC by 3x, compared to Search Ads.
Aside from promoting great content and targeting ads effectively, there are a number of things you need to pay attention to if you want to get great results with Sponsored Content Ads.
One is that you need to make sure your ‘thumbnails’ do a good job at drawing attention.
Images of ‘faces’ can tend to do well, as well as text against a contrasting background. The example below, showcases what a strong thumbnail might look like.
Aside from the thumbnail, you’ll also want to make sure that the text or ‘copy’ for the ad is good at creating curiosity, and driving action.
The copy of a Sponsored Content ad typically includes the headline and the description.
As you may know headline writing is an art, and you’ll typically want to write out 15-20 headlines for an ad, before you decide on a winner. Even then, testing your ads is a good idea, in order to find the best headline variation.
To begin with, it helps to create headlines that clearly demonstrate the result that will come about, should someone read your content. Don’t try to be clever, and avoid using any kind of clickbait.
In terms of the description, it is important that you don’t ramble, as doing so could lead to readers getting confused and simply scrolling past your ad.
The best method is often to simply let people know what you have, why it matters, and what they need to do next.
Here are some additional tips provided by LinkedIn, in terms of creating effective Sponsored Content ad copy.
The other kind of ad you can create is a ‘Text Ad.’
These ads tend to appear at the top, bottom or side of a LinkedIn webpage.
Similar to Sponsored Content ads, Text ads can be used to drive awareness of your business.
However, you can also use Text ads to drive people straight to an offer page, where you might have something for sale.
Though the ad formats are different, a lot of the best practices that apply to Sponsored Content Ads, also apply to Text ads. This includes the approach you take when crafting the headline and the description.
Lastly, let’s take a look at InMail Ads.
Essentially, an InMail allows for you to email anyone on the LinkedIn network. Here are some of the goals you might want to have in place when creating an InMail.
This kind of advertising is fairly unique, and in a sense quite different to what we’ve discussed before.
This means that there are some other things you’ll need to pay attention to, when it comes to the best practices of creating effective InMail Ads.
InMails work best when they’re written in a way that is precise, conversational and personable. You might want to use the name of the person you’re sending the message to, for instance, within the greeting of the InMail.
It’s likely that you’re trying to reach ‘high-level’ people when sending an InMail.
These people tend to be busy so make sure that you are respectful of their time, by keeping things to the point.
Write your InMail in a way that is easy to read, so that people can quickly scan it, to gather the useful information.
In addition, make sure that your subject line does a good job at conveying the benefit of the offer.
For the purposes of an InMail, you can either adopt the approach of writing your subject line as if you’re emailing a friend, or you could craft your subject line as if you’re writing a headline.
You’ll want to test both approaches, as what will work best tends to depend on the market you’re going after, and the offer you have.
As shown in an earlier image, you also get to include a ‘Call to action’ button and a ‘Banner creative’ as part of your InMail.
Here are some examples of the CTA’s that work well for InMails. What you use, of course, will depend on what your campaign hopes to achieve.
When it comes to the banner, it helps to craft something that is visually engaging.
Adding a Banner to your InMail campaign is not a necessity, but it is advisable to create one anyway. If you don’t, there is a chance that LinkedIn will serve an ad where your banner was supposed to be, drawing attention away from your InMail.
Keep the banner simple and in line with your branding. Also consider adding a CTA within the banner image, to encourage people to take action.
Okay, so now that we’ve covered the kinds of ads that you can run on the platform, now let’s take a look at how you can actually create ad campaigns.
Creating LinkedIn Ad Campaigns
Because there are three different kinds of LinkedIn Ad campaigns that you can run, we’re going to explore each method, as each one requires a slightly different setup.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that if you’ve just created a LinkedIn account, to check your inbox before you run any ads. That is because LinkedIn sometimes sends people coupon codes, to help them learn more about advertising on the platform.
When you login to LinkedIn, you should be able to access the Ad Manager by clicking on your picture in the top right-hand corner, and then selecting clicking the ‘Manage’ option that is next to ‘Advertising, within the drop down menu.
On the next page, you’ll then want to click on ‘Create Ad.’
On the next page, you’ll be asked to select your ad account. If you do not have an ad account with LinkedIn, you can just click on Add account.’
You can then fill out the required information.
Note: If you want to run Sponsored Content campaigns, it is required that you have a ‘Company Page.’ Therefore, create one by clicking on ‘I don’t have a Company Page.’ After doing so, you’ll be given the chance to set up your Company Page.
Once you have done that, you’ll then see that in the next section you can choose to build a campaign. Click on ‘Create campaign.’
You can then select the kind of campaign you want to create.
First, let’s take a look at how you can create a Text Ads campaign.
Unlike a Sponsored Content Campaign, you do not necessarily need to have a company page if you want to create a Text Ads campaign.
When you select the ‘Text Ads’ option, you’re given the chance to provide a campaign name.
In the next section, you get to adjust the ‘creative’ of your ad.
As you can see, there is the option to provide a headline and a description for your ad, as well as an image.
Here is some advice provided by LinkedIn, of which details how you can improve your Text Ad copy.
I have filled in some of the fields below, to give you a sense of what your ad might end up looking like.
My ad is designed as if I was a company that provided sales training, and I want help businesses who need to improve their Telesales.
I chose the selected image because I think the strong colors would stand out on LinkedIn. Of course, testing will ultimately let me know which image is going to work best.
On the right hand side, you’ll also notice that you can see in realtime, what the ad looks like, in relation to edits being made.
You can also choose to see what your ad will look like in different sizes. For instance, here is what my ad would look like in the ‘Tall’ size.
In any case, once you’re happy with the way your ad looks, click on the ‘Save’ button.
In the next section you get to decide the targeting for your ad.
How you set this up will depend on the Buyer Persona you created earlier.
For the sake of this guide, let’s say that I’m going after people in the UK who deal with and manage the overall sales approaches of the companies that they work in.
As a result, I’ve selected the location as the UK and the ‘Job Titles’ as Sales Manager and Account Manager.
I’ve also selected ‘skills’ that are related to sales.
There are many other ways I could target my ads, and testing will ultimately let me know which approach is best.
For instance, it might be a good idea to set a ‘Company size’ as part of my targeting parameters – especially if my business allows for me to deal with companies who have big budgets.
As you go about adjusting the targeting for your ad, you’ll notice that there is a graphic on the right hand side, that summaries your targeting approach. You’ll see this style of summary when creating other ads formats.
Here are some tips provided by LinkedIn, that let you know what audience sizes you should be aiming for.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll also notice that there is a section known as ‘Audience Expansion.’
The Audience Expansion feature makes it so that LinkedIn broadens the reach of your ad, by showing it to people who have similar attributes to the people you’re already targeting.
Be sure to disable this option for now.
Whilst this is a potentially useful feature, it can sometimes mess with your data if you’re using it from the get-go, as it makes it hard to see just how effective your targeting options are and what exactly is causing good, or poor results.
When you’re finished in the targeting section, then click on ‘Next.’
In the next section, you’re going to decide how much you will be bidding for your ads.
For now, it is advisable to leave the ‘Bid type’ on CPC, especially if your audience is large. CPM is bidding based on impressions – in this case every 1000 impressions.
Keeping your bidding set to CPC will help you figure out how ‘click worthy’ your ads are. If you set CPM bidding, you may be charged a lot, even if very few people click on your ads.
You’ll also be better protected if you choose CPC over CPM to begin with. That’s because if your ads aren’t aren’t targeted effectively, those who are shown your ads as a result of your ‘ineffective audience targeting’ generally won’t feel inclined to click on your ads.
Something to note here, is that the bids for CPC ads will be high, and this is generally the case across the board when it comes to LinkedIn advertising.
LinkedIn ads are expensive because you’re dealing with a smaller audience of people, say when compared to Facebook or Google.
This means that there is less inventory to go around, and hence each ‘piece of the pie’ costs a little bit more – especially because of the auction mechanism that is used.
Additionally, LinkedIn is aware of the fact that they’re dealing with a B2B market.
B2B sales are generally of a higher value, when compared to B2C sales, and so companies are willing and able to spend more to acquire customers. Taking that into account, LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily feel as much pressure to keep ad costs down.
When it comes to setting the bid for your ads, think about going around 20% below the suggested figure, as long as it is not below $2.00 or whatever the minimum bid is.
Let your ads run for a while. If results are poor, consider gradually raising the bid until results begin to look better.
Remember that you can also experiment with adjusting your targeting settings, if you find that your ads are costing you too much.
Click on the ‘Next’ button when done.
In the following section, you get the chance to create other variations of your ad.
If you do not want to create another variation, just click on ‘Next.’
You’ll then be provided with a summary of your ad, and you’ll also be asked to provide payment information if you haven’t done so already.
When you’ve filled out all the relevant information, you can then click on ‘Review order’ to check if everything is okay.
If it is, you then just have to let LinkedIn know, and then your ad will be put in the review process. If all is well, your ad should start running soon.
Now let’s take a look at how you can create a Sponsored Content campaign.
It’s worth mentioning that there are two kinds of Sponsored Content campaigns that you can run.
The first is the standard Sponsored Content campaign.
This is where you go to your Company Page, and simply select an existing piece of content that you want to sponsor.
This means that you want to advertise a piece of content, so that people other than followers of your Company Page, get to see the content.
The other kind of campaign you can run is a Direct Sponsored Content campaign.
This is where you can sponsor a piece of content that is not available on your Company Page.
Note: The latter half of creating a Sponsored Content campaign is very similar to a Text Ads campaign, so we won’t go into as much detail as we did earlier.
After selecting Sponsored Content, you’ll then see this page. Here, as before, you need to provide a ‘Campaign Name.’
You’ll then see existing pieces of content that are available on your Company Page.
If you want to sponsor a piece of existing content, select it, and then click on the ‘Sponsor selected’ button.
However, if you want to create a ‘Direct Sponsored Content’ campaign, click on ‘Create new Sponsored Content.’
Upon doing so, you will then be able to create a piece of content that you can use as part of your campaign, of which will not appear on your Company Page.
In the next section you get to decide how you’re going to target your ad.
Now, whilst you could use the same targeting settings you used for Text Ads, for Sponsored Content ads you need to make sure that your promoted content matches the seniority of who you’re targeting.
So step back for a moment, and think who will find your content most useful. Will it be…
- The higher ups – C level executives
- Mid-range managers
- Lower level employees
Note: It’s worth remembering, that you can also just create a single piece of content, but ‘repackage’ it so that it appeals to various levels of a company.
You can do this by making some adjustments to the content itself, but also to the ad copy. When doing this, it is important to think about how the goals of each employee differ, and therefore how you can acknowledge this when writing your copy.
When doing this, you can take one piece of content, segment the content, and then advertise ‘bits’ of the same content to different authority levels.
It’s a good idea to refer to your Buyer Persona here, if you have any doubts.
In addition to the Audience Expansion feature we covered earlier, there is also another extra targeting feature here.
This extra feature gives you the ability to deliver your campaign beyond the LinkedIn feed.
As with Audience Expansion, It’s best to leave this option deselected for now.
Doing so will allow for you to get a better understanding in terms of how your campaigns are actually performing, and specifically how well your targeting settings are performing too.
Next you get to adjust the bidding for your campaign.
Follow the tips we covered earlier, in relation to Text Ads.
Now let’s take a look at how you can set up a Sponsored InMail ad.
Go back to the ‘Create campaign’ section, but this time, select ‘Sponsored InMail.’
In this section, give your campaign a name and then click ‘Next.’
In the subsequent section, you need to provide a name for the ad (not the campaign) and also who will be the ‘sender’ for the InMails.
When using the InMail feature, you can decide on who you want the sender to be, by clicking on the ‘Add sender’ option.
All you have to do next, is type in the name of the person you want to ‘send’ the InMails.
This can be a useful feature if you want to send InMails to prospective clients, from people who have relevant job titles.
In the next section you get to write up the copy for the InMail. When writing out your InMail, refer to some of the tips that we covered earlier in the guide.
Note: If you want to add a ‘custom salutation’ use ‘%FIRSTNAME%.’
Make sure you type that in properly, however, as not doing so might lead to you just sending that piece of text as part of the message, and not the first name. I’m sure that you have received a marketing email in the past that has made that mistake!
There are some suggestions provided by LinkedIn on the righthand side of this page. Refer to these when writing your InMails. In addition to this, LinkedIn also provides further suggestions, as to what you can do to write better InMails, as shown below.
When done with this section, then click on ‘Next.’
You then need to provide a URL for your Landing page, and also edit the copy for the ‘Button text.’ There is also the chance here to upload a Banner creative for your ad.
Once you click on to the next section, you’ll then see a summary of your ad.
As was the case before, here, you can create another ad. This can be a good idea if you want to do some split testing, and so consider creating 3-5 variations.
When split testing your InMail campaigns, consider focusing initially on Subject Lines and email copy.
Note: You might also want to create separate campaigns, in order to split test your targeting methods.
You can also send yourself a test message, by clicking on the ‘envelope’ icon.
Be sure to do this, to avoid any annoying issues, once your campaign goes ‘live.’
When you click on the next button, you then get to set up the targeting for your ad.
You’ll want to stick to the same principles we covered earlier. However, this time around, it can be a good idea to keep your audience sizes much smaller, say below 5,000.
The reason for this, is that your InMail will produce better results, if they feel as though they’re personalized and custom made for the people receiving them.
It is hard to create customized messages at scale. By keeping audience sizes small, you can improve the odds of engagement.
Be sure to deselect Audience Expansion also.
Once you’ve finished setting up the targeting, then set the bids for your ads.
As mentioned before, consider bidding on the low end of the spectrum first, to see what kind of results you get. If results are poor, then gradually raise your bids.
When done, you’ll get to review your order, and send it off to LinkedIn so that they can review it.
Watching Over Your Ads
As with all forms of paid advertising, it is essential that you watch over your ads.
If you do not do this, then you won’t be able to tell if your ads are producing the results that they should be.
The best thing you can do is check the analytics section, in order to monitor how well your ads are performing.
If you go to the ad manager section, you’ll be able to see some metrics, of which will tell you how your ad is performing.
This section is useful because it allows for you to observe the click through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) of your ads.
A lot of the time, CTR can be a good indication of how well you’ve targeted your ad.
If your ad is properly targeted, your ad has a greater chance of being shown people who find the ad relevant.
And if that is happening, then a greater proportion of people who see your ad in total, will click on it, as opposed to if your ad was poorly targeted.
CPC is useful to keep an eye on because it lets you know the average cost of your ads.
This helps you decide whether or not it is profitable to keep on advertising, and what you might want to forecast, in terms of future ad expenditures.
Needless to say, it is arguable that the information above, is not enough, especially if you want to optimize your campaigns like a pro.
Therefore, it can also be a good idea to set up Conversion Tracking.
When you do so, you’ll have access to the following metrics.
Such metrics will make it easy to understand which ads are producing effective results and which ads aren’t.
This makes it easy to quickly ‘trim the fat’ so that your campaigns are lean and never wasting money for too long.
You’ll also be able to identify what your ‘Cost per conversion’ is.
This is a good figure to have available, especially if you know what your ‘customer lifetime value’ is.
That is because, for the most part, provided your cost per conversion is lower than your lifetime customer value – there’s a good chance that you’re going to make money from running your ads.
To setup Conversion Tracking, click on ‘Tools’ and then select ‘Conversion Tracking.’
You’ll then be asked to go through a process, of which will eventually result in you being given a ‘LinkedIn Insight Tag.’
You’ll need to install this on your website, so that conversions can be tracked. If you need help with this, then consider hiring someone on UpWork.
When installed, the tag will track the actions of those who click on your ads, once they’re on your site.
LinkedIn Advertising can provide you with the chance to generate some traction in the B2B world.
As you have seen, however, if you want to get the best results, you need to understand how to set up your campaigns properly.
For instance, you must appreciate which ad format will work best for you. You must also take the time needed, to figure out which targeting approach you must use.
Either way, take what you have learned in this guide and put it into action.
By running a few experimental campaigns of your own, you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t work, when it comes to LinkedIn Advertising. Provided you keep an eye on things, it shouldn’t be long before you’re able to generate some serious returns.