How to Advertise on LinkedIn

The Complete Guide to Advertising on LinkedIn

October 27, 2016

How to advertise on LinkedIn

Advertising on LinkedIn is a healthy part of an always-on marketing strategy. LinkedIn makes it easy to create campaigns that excel at reaching the most relevant audience for your message, in the format your audience prefers, 24 hours a day.

If you have never advertised on LinkedIn before, the following resources will help you get started. If you’re familiar with the platform, read on to learn tips that will make your next campaign even better.

Five Types of LinkedIn Advertisements

There are multiple ways to get your message out on LinkedIn. These services are designed to work well individually, but are even more effective when strategically combined. The first step in LinkedIn Advertising is to choose which ads will be most effective for your message and budget:

Text Ads appear on the right-hand column of LinkedIn on desktops. They feature a small visual and short message (100 characters). As simple as Text Ads are, they can be highly effective at raising brand awareness or driving leads.

  • How to Advertise on LinkedIn

See how HubSpot used Text Ads for a 60% higher clickthrough rate than other channels.

Display Ads are larger, more visually-driven ads on the right-hand column of the desktop experience. These ads are highly visible and placed only on LinkedIn pages that generate high traffic.

  • How to Advertise on LinkedIn

See how GE used Display Ads to reach professionals and policymakers on LinkedIn.

Dynamic Ads use information from the viewer’s LinkedIn Profile and activity on LinkedIn to create an eye-catching personalised message. These ads are especially effective for adding subscribers to your Company Page.

  • How to Advertise on LinkedIn

Sponsored InMail allows your business to bypass crowded email inboxes and spam filters. InMails deliver a personalised private message to the member’s LinkedIn Inbox. Because Sponsored InMail is only delivered when a member is active on LinkedIn, the service offers 100% deliverability.  

  • Advertise on LinkedIn

See how Utah State University used Sponsored InMail to attract quality graduate students.

Sponsored Content Enables you to boost your best-performing organic content via ads that display natively in your audiences’ LinkedIn Feeds. These ads appear on desktop, smartphone, and tablet.

  • Advertise on LinkedIn

Here’s how HSBC uses Sponsored Content:

Two Types of Campaign Management

Your choices for types of advertising will help determine how you will manage your campaigns. These two options are designed to fit every budget and level of marketing expertise:

1.      Self-Service Advertising is a fast and easy way to get up and running. You can run Sponsored Content or Text Ads through Campaign Manager, our all-in-one advertising platform. You decide your budget level and whether your goal is clicks or impressions. You can stop and start campaigns at any time, and you will have access to the analytics you need to continually optimise.

2.      Managed Campaigns partner your organisation with a dedicated LinkedIn Marketing Solutions team. The team will work with your brand to create highly effective, comprehensive campaigns for reaching premium audiences. Our experts can help with everything from targeting to creative to optimisation.

How to Administer Self-Service LinkedIn Advertising

Self-service advertising runs on Campaign Manager, LinkedIn’s new comprehensive dashboard. You will use Campaign Manager to set up the initial campaign, monitor performance with detailed data, control spend, and optimise as you go.

Here’s how to set up a Campaign Manager account.

Step 1: Choose Text Ads or Sponsored Content

Before you target and set a budget, Campaign Manager will guide you through creating your ads. If your goal is to reach members in their feed, on any device, with quality content, choose Sponsored Content. If you want to drive highly-targeted leads, choose Text Ads.

  • Advertise on LinkedIn

Step 2: Create Your Ads

For Sponsored Content, Campaign Manager will give you three options to create an ad:

1.      Promote an update from your LinkedIn Company Page

2.      Promote an update from your LinkedIn Showcase Page

3.      Create new Sponsored Content (known as Direct Sponsored Content)

If you’re just starting out, try one of the first two options. Choose an update that is already performing well organically—that means it is likely to connect with a broader audience as well.

For Text Ads, Campaign Manager will help you build the ad. You can choose your preferred layout, add a headline, add a visual, and specify where a click should take the member.

  • Advertise on LinkedIn

Once you create the ad, you can preview it before you move to the next stage.

Step 3: Choose Your Targeting

One of the biggest advantages of LinkedIn for marketers is the ability to select audiences based on up-to-the-minute, first-party information. Now that you have your ad created, select your audience:

  • Advertise on LinkedIn

There is an array of criteria to choose from. Keep these tips in mind:

1.      Start with two or three essential criteria

2.      Most successful campaigns have an audience between 60k and 400k

3.      Enable Audience Expansion to find a broader audience similar to your targeting criteria

4.      Narrow down your targeting over time based on engagement

For your first set of criteria, these three combinations tend to yield relevant but still sizable audiences:

  • Geography + Titles: Consider adding Years of Experience if relevant. A/B test against Geography + Skills.
  • Geography + Company Size + Seniority: Be mindful of seniority levels as they may vary depending on the size of the company or even the industry. A/B testing against Years of Experience + Function.
  • Geography/Industry/Function: Use Industry when your product serves one specific industry, such as a database for real estate companies. A/B test without Geography, or with Job Title instead of Function.

Step 4: Set Your Budget and Bid

LinkedIn runs all bidding as a second-price auction. That means the winner pays just enough to beat the runner-up bid, not the full amount of the winner’s bid.

The bid amount is one of two factors that determine who wins the auction. The other piece of the puzzle is the past performance of your ads. LinkedIn assigns value to ads that have seen higher engagement in the past, because this signifies the ads are more valuable to LinkedIn members. Here’s a quick overview of how it works:

Here’s how to make the most of your budget:

  • Bid slightly above the suggested range to increase your chance of winning the auction. Remember, you only pay enough to beat the second place, not your maximum bid.
  • Don’t set your daily cap too low. It’s important to get enough traffic that you can gather insights to use for optimisation.
  • Frontload your daily budgets earlier in the month or quarter, to generate more activity and collect optimisation data. Then you can do more with less toward the end of your time frame.
  • Ditch the daily cap for a time-sensitive offer to put your entire budget to work as quickly as possible.

Step 5: Track Conversions and Optimise

Optimisation actually starts before you run a single ad. Begin your campaign with specific goals that will tie to the metrics you can measure and improve. Here are a few early and late stage goals and the metrics you would monitor for them:

Early Stage

  • Goal: Brand awareness
    Measure: Boost in branded search
  • Goal: Website and referral traffic lift
    Measure: Increases in traffic to your site from LinkedIn
  • Goal: Increase in engagement
    Measure: Page views for targeted pages, pages per visit, time spent on site
  • Goal: Subscriber lift
    Measure: Company Page followers, newsletter or blog subscribers.

Later Stage

  • Goal: Website conversions
    Measure: Lead capture via form fill-outs
  • Goal: Growth in qualified leads
    Measure: Demographics of ad audience
  • Goal: Lower cost per lead

Measure: Number of quality leads generated versus budget

Campaign Manager will automatically track and report on many of the early-stage metrics above. For a good look at later-stage metrics, use Conversion Tracking in the campaign manager. Here’s a quick guide to set up Conversion Tracking on your website:

You can track actions like webinar signups, eBook downloads, and more. Once you have defined conversions and added them to campaigns, you will be able to track the number of conversions, filter them by demographics, and even calculate the ROI on your ad spend right in the dashboard.

  • How to advertise on LinkedIn

Once you understand how your ads are performing, you can start testing and optimising:

1.      Run multiple variations of each ad, with one variable changed (A/B testing).

2.      Focus your budget on top performers, and cut spend on low performers.

3.      Use the data generated each round to inform strategy for the next.

4.      For Sponsored Content, use Direct Sponsored Content to test variations without oversaturating your LinkedIn Company Page.

Continue to monitor, test, and improve campaigns to get the most out of your budget. With Conversion Tracking, you can look deeper than clicks and impressions to take a holistic view of the campaign. For example, if your ads are getting a high CTR but a low conversion, the landing page form might be the culprit. Or your ad text may not align with the offer as presented on your site. Fixing the site-side problems can make your ad spend more effective.

If you have selected goals and metrics, have a good idea of the audience you want to reach, and have the content that will persuade, you are ready to create an ad.

For more resources, visit the Advertiser Help Centre.