How to Set up Your First LinkedIn Campaign in 9 Steps

October 30, 2019

How to Set up Your First LinkedIn Campaign in 9 Steps

The first step is often the hardest. New undertakings can feel complicated and intimidating before one dives in and gets a feel. At LinkedIn, we recognize that this can be the case with Campaign Manager. When investing in your brand’s success, no marketer wants to miss a step or get off on the wrong foot. 

The recently revamped objective-based advertising experience is designed to make campaign setup more intuitive and seamless than ever for users. Still, it’s unfamiliar territory for many marketers who recognize the benefits of advertising on LinkedIn.

Below, you’ll find a detailed, step-by-step guide to setting up your first campaign. Through these straightforward instructions, you can square away your targeting, ad format, budget, and more. Plus, we’ve included some insider tips to maximize your success right off the bat.

(Note, the guidance below covers the setup process after you click “Create Campaign.” For specifics on creating your account and campaign groups, we recommend checking out our LinkedIn Learning course, Marketing on LinkedIn: The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide, which walks you through everything.)

Setting Up Your First LinkedIn Campaign in 6 Easy Steps

1. Select your objective

We believe it’s important to build your entire campaign around what you hope to achieve, which is why this is the very first step. You’ll want to decide whether your goal is awareness, consideration, or conversions — then, you can select from subcategories to get more specific. If you’re unsure which one to choose, this blog post explains how to select the best objective for your LinkedIn ad campaign.

2. Select your audience and location

As a preface, we strongly suggest saving an audience once you’ve created one, so you can use it again. This will enable you to frequently skip much of this process in the future.

You can build your first audience by starting with location, which is one of the two required targeting facets for building an audience, along with language. You can start at the continent level, then country, etc. In addition to choosing regions you wish to include, you can pick exclusions as well.

3. Select language

Next up: profile language. This is a basic yet critical step in personalizing your ads for their recipients. LinkedIn offers 19 different language options.

4. Set up your targeting

Now, we move into LinkedIn’s uniquely robust targeting capabilities. You can get pretty granular here in defining your audience. Be careful not to hypertarget (getting too narrow and specific with parameters) as this can limit campaign success. We suggest going as broad as possible and casting a wide net while staying relevant to your goals. 

Tip: Best practice is to target by three or four (five at most) different facets.

There are many different attributes you can tweak to tailor your audience, including company, demographics, education, job experience, and interests. These facets are based on information that members include in their profiles, as well as some inferred data (such as industry, which is based on their company’s profile).

As always, think in terms of what you’re trying to achieve as you set your targeting parameters. If you’re running an account-based marketing campaign, it might make sense to target by company. If you’re trying to reach decision makers at a certain level, job experience might hold the key. 

You can become more sophisticated in your targeting on LinkedIn by taking advantage of the Matched Audiences feature, which enables you to target beyond the information within LinkedIn profiles. For example, you can upload a contact list from your CRM or marketing automation tool, or retarget your website visitors via the embedded Insight Tag

Tip: You can also exclude with these targeting parameters as well. For example, “sales operations” or your own employees so you don’t waste impressions.

5. Enable Audience Expansion (if desired)

We strongly suggest using Audience Expansion if you’re trying to reach reaching a broader (but still highly relevant) audience. We consider a broad audience to be a million or more people, and this tool can allow you to target at such a scope while staying within the recommended 3-4 targeting facets.

Audience Expansion allows you, as an advertiser, to increase the reach of your campaign by showing your ads to audiences with similar attributes to your target audience. For example, if your campaign targets members with the skill "Online Advertising," Audience Expansion may expand your audience to members who list the skill "Interactive Marketing" on their profile

Having said that, if you’re looking to target a smaller niche group, you may want to bypass this tool for now so you don’t reach an unintended audience.

6. Select your ad format

Based on your objective, a certain set of ad formats will populate here, ranging from text ads to carousel ads, video ads, followers ads, job ads, and beyond. For more info on what ad format is best for each objective, take a look at LinkedIn’s Guide to Objective-Based Advertising.

7. Use LinkedIn Audience Network (if desired)

With the LinkedIn Audience Network, you’re allowing LinkedIn to place your ads on external, high-quality mobile apps and websites.

If you want to incorporate this into your strategy you can leave it checked. If not, be sure to unclick it.

One example of a reason to use LinkedIn Audience Network is if you don’t want your ads to run on your competitor’s website.

8. Set up budget, schedule and bid type

You can select either daily or total budgets, depending on your preferred spending structure.

The start date for your campaign will automatically set itself to the current date, unless you select otherwise.

When it comes to bidding, the automated bid option is what we generally recommend, because the tool will most efficiently use your budget without stringent oversight required. For best results, it is advisable to go with the recommended bid or higher.

9. Set up conversion tracking (if desired)

The final step in setting up your campaign is to put a mechanism in place for measuring results beyond the click. In Campaign Manager, that mechanism is conversion tracking, which measures actions taken by a user after they visit your website through an ad (content downloads, sign-ups, purchases, etc.). This won’t be a fit for every campaign type, but it’s very helpful for marketing attribution when you’re trying to drive valuable actions outside of the LinkedIn platform.

Now You’re Ready to Rock Your First Campaign

With your audience, ad format, and budget all selected, you’re ready to move forward with creative (copy, imagery, CTA) and setting your campaign live. Remember: all of the above steps will become more efficient after you’ve gone through once and saved your audience for future use.

For a complete, video-guided walkthrough of executing a LinkedIn marketing strategy — organic tools, paid tools, setup, advanced targeting, measuring impact, and more — make sure you check out our full (free and ungated!) LinkedIn Learning course: Marketing on LinkedIn: The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide.