How to Set up Your First Campaign on LinkedIn in 5 Steps

April 4, 2021

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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. 

Objective-based advertising experience is designed to make campaign setup more seamless and intuitive, all while providing the top benefits of advertising on LinkedIn.

Below, you’ll find a 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 5 Easy Steps 

1. Choose 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.

Tip: We highly recommend balancing your objectives across the awareness, consideration, and conversions category, as part of a full-funnel marketing approach.

2. Choose the right audience

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.

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

Next you’ll want to customize your location settings — the only other required targeting facet for building an audience. Start at the continent level, then country, etc. In addition to choosing regions you wish to include, you can pick exclusions as well. 

From here you can start exploring the more specific and granular targeting criteria, which are organized across five different categories: Company, Demographics, Education, Job Experience, and Interests. 

Watch the video below for more guidance on setting up your audience targeting:

Tip: You can use the Matched Audiences feature for more precise targeting, enabling you to combine your own first-party data with LinkedIn’s robust professional data. Options within Matched Audiences include Email Contact Targeting, Lookalike Targeting, Website Targeting, and Account Targeting.

3. Choose your ad format

Based on your objective, a certain set of ad formats will populate here. Some of the ad types available to advertisers on LinkedIn are:

  • Text Ads: Consist of a headline, brief text, and an optional image. This format may be placed at the top of the page or on the right rail on desktop pages.
  • Single Image Ads: Allow you to promote your message directly in the LinkedIn feed. This ad format can be targeted to a specific audience across desktop and mobile
  • Carousel Ads: Allow you to tell an interactive story with a swipeable series of cards in the LinkedIn feed. You can customize the content and link for each card.
  • Video Ads: Allow you to engage your audience with interactive content directly in their feed. These ads show up on desktop and mobile.
  • Dynamic Ads: Personalized ads that appear on the right rail of desktop pages and allow you to acquire followers, showcase your product, and share thought leadership.
  • Message Ads: Direct personalized messages delivered through LinkedIn messenger with a single call-to-action. Messages are only delivered when members are active on LinkedIn to ensure higher conversion. This format is available on desktop and mobile.
  • Conversation Ads: Allow you to create a choose-your-own path experience for your audience. This allows for deeper engagement with your audience and more conversions. This format allows you to include multiple call-to-action buttons. 

For more info on which ad format is best for each objective, take a look at LinkedIn’s Guide to Objective-Based Advertising.

Tip: Creative best practices across all ad formats include showcasing value, making every word count, featuring eye-catching imagery, and having a clear call-to-action. 

4. Set your budget and schedule

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, we advise going with the recommended bid or higher.

Tip: To get a full grasp of the terminologies and fundamentals of LinkedIn ad bidding, check out our blog post on Defining Key Terms for LinkedIn Ad Auction.

5. Launch and optimize

With the objective, audience, format, and budget all squared away, it’s time to push your campaign live! Note that new ads are reviewed by LinkedIn before being served to members, but this process usually takes less than 24 hours. (Learn more in our advertising guidelines.)

Once the ad is active on the platform, you’ll start gathering data and insights, which can help you optimize and improve results. We recommend letting ads run for seven consecutive days before making optimizations, but at that point, you can begin drawing conclusions and tweaking campaign elements based on what you’re seeing in these performance categories.

Tip: A little attention and oversight can go a long way when it comes to maximizing the value of your ad spend on LinkedIn. Evaluate campaigns each week to check bid ranges, make sure the daily budget is properly allocated, and more.

Now You’re Ready to Rock Your First Campaign

With these five simple steps, you’ve launched a LinkedIn ad campaign and checked all the necessary boxes. 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 more in-depth walkthrough of all this information, including videos, interactive exercises, and knowledge checks, we invite you to experience our LinkedIn Marketing Labs course, Introduction to LinkedIn Ads. It’s free and, dare I say, even kind of fun?