Four principles for getting more from LinkedIn targeting

Top tips from our targeting webcast

March 23, 2016

It goes without saying that LinkedIn targeting is immensely powerful. After all, it leverages the most current, detailed and relevant stream of information about more than 400 million professionals worldwide. However, making the most of LinkedIn targeting isn’t just a case of specifying the most precise target audience you can think of. It’s when you combine our targeting capabilities with the right content, the right format, and the right view of the decision-making process that the magic really happens.

That’s why we recently hosted a webcast devoted to demystifying targeting on LinkedIn, and explained how to match your campaign objectives with the right approach. Here are four principles, drawn from our own experience, and that of our most successful marketing clients, that will help you reap the full benefits from our platform:

Strike the right balance between scale and relevance

What’s the purpose of targeting? At the end of the day, it’s to ensure that as many relevant people as possible see content or advertising that is relevant to them. Hyper-targeting from the outset (by including three or four different targeting parameters rather than one or two) reduces scale and, importantly, gives you less scope for optimising your campaign. When you start with a broader definition of your relevant audience, you can gain greater insights on which groups respond to different approaches.

It’s often the case that tightening targeting parameters too far can lead you to miss important audiences. This is often the case for campaigns focused on decision-makers. As our recent research into the changing B2B Buyer’s Journey shows, an array of influencers of different levels are involved in the recommendation and decision-making process. Targeting only those in director roles and above risks excluding senior individual contributors who are often amongst the most influential members of buying committees.

Align your content and targeting strategies

One of the most important principles when marketing on LinkedIn is ensuring that your content supports your targeting strategy. It’s also a key element in finding the right balance between scale and relevance.

You may be interested in driving awareness and leads amongst businesses of all sizes, but if your White Paper or thought leadership post is only relevant to enterprise-level companies, you wouldn’t want it to appear in the feed of SME directors as well. That audience might be relevant to your overall campaign, but if that specific piece of content isn’t relevant to them, including them in your targeting risks being counter-productive.

On the other hand, when content and targeting are properly aligned, they provide you with the opportunity to customise your content – and maximise engagement. When LinkedIn deploys Sponsored Updates to promote eBooks and other thought leadership assets, we find that engagement rates increase 100% and more if we take the extra step of personalising the Sponsored Update copy by vertical, for example..

Align campaign goals to channel and targeting strategy

Targeting is at its most effective when it leverages the right combination of LinkedIn touchpoints. Sponsored InMail is best suited to granular targeting (content intended specifically for the CEOs of enterprise-level businesses, for example), where a personalised message can reflect the fact that you are targeting a very select group. When targeting a broader audience, Sponsored Updates and Display ads, which provide a great platform for sharing and amplification, are often better suited.

Experiment and test

As Adobe’s Simon Morris explained in a recent post on this blog, modern marketers know the value of learning by doing, rather than trying to create an absolutely perfect campaign the first time. This principle is as relevant in the case of targeting.

Marketers often find it effective to create several different LinkedIn campaigns, each focusing on a different aspect of their target audience. If you’re attempting to reach both decision-makers and influencers, for example, you might target one group by title, one by job function and seniority, one by group membership and seniority, and another by skills and seniority. This helps to ensure that you reach all of your relevant audience. Just as importantly, you can test which targeting approach delivers greater engagement with your content and make that your focus going forward.

Targeting on LinkedIn can be much more than simply a mechanism for delivering advertising and content. By following these principles, you’ll be able to align your targeting strategy more closely with your content and objectives, and give it the capacity to evolve as you gain a greater understanding of your audience. There’s much more detail on how to do this in our Demystifying targeting on LinkedIn webcast, which you can now watch on demand.