LinkedIn: A website full of business professionals, job-seekers, senior-level executives, fresh graduates, and marketers alike. It’s the perfect place to advertise, don’t you think?
If you have experience using LinkedIn, you probably know by now that the platform is bursting with advertising opportunities for B2B marketers. Maybe you’ve already got Google and Facebook ads up and running, but are in need of that extra influx of prospective buyers. Adding LinkedIn ads to your repertoire of marketing channels could be extremely beneficial for your business.
How to run LinkedIn ads
Create a LinkedIn business profile
Set up LinkedIn Campaign Manager
Pick a campaign objective
Define your audience
Choose an ad format
Assign a budget and schedule
Create your ad
Track results and make adjustments
If you're selling to a business audience, it's more than likely that your prospects are already using LinkedIn. They scroll the app on their way to work or while waiting in line for their morning coffee. They’re networking and talking to people all the time. Why wouldn’t you want to reach to them, too?
This article will cover everything you need to know about running LinkedIn ads. Let's jump in.
How to advertise on LinkedIn
LinkedIn ads are advertisements displayed throughout various locations on LinkedIn’s website. Whether you browse the site on your desktop or through the mobile app, LinkedIn is a clear go-to if you want to advertise your business, especially if you’re trying to target other business professionals.
Your LinkedIn business page is your company’s personal hub of information. It’s where potential clients and connections can go to find out what your business offers. Additionally, a business page is where you can post company updates, amass new followers, and share job openings.
Creating a strong business page is important to your advertising efforts because you want buyers to recognize your brand and become familiar with it - especially if you want them to click on your ads. The more people can recognize your business, the better your chances are of standing out from the crowd.
2. Set up LinkedIn Campaign Manager
The next step is opening LinkedIn Campaign Manager (formerly known as the LinkedIn Ads Manager) . The tool is pretty easy to use, just enter an account name, your preferred currency, and enter the URL of your personal LinkedIn (this step is optional).
Once you’ve clicked “Create account,” the first thing you need to do is enter a name for your campaign. These are only seen internally, so dating your campaign name is recommended.
3. Pick a campaign objective
You will find the "Objective" section directly below the field where you named your campaign. Selecting the right campaign objective can make or break the results you get because it helps LinkedIn to customize your campaign and report accurate results.
LinkedIn campaign objectives
You’re able to choose from one of three campaign sections: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversions. Within each of those sections are the campaign objectives, including:
Brand awareness will make your brand more recognizable by increasing the overall number of impressions.
Website visits will drive traffic to your website and landing pages.
Engagement will increase social engagement on your content as well as followers to your company page.
Video views will share your videos with more people. Your campaign will be shown to people most likely to view your videos.
Lead generation will capture leads on LinkedIn and uses a lead generation form pre-filled with LinkedIn profile data. Your campaign will be shown to people most likely to fill out a LinkedIn lead generation form.
Website conversions is designed to improve form fills on your website.
Job applicants will attract more qualified talent to fill open positions at your company.
4. Define your audience
The next step in creating your LinkedIn ad is to cast a net for your audience. Targeting the right people will result in an ideal situation for everyone (you want to advertise to people who actually care, and people on LinkedIn want to see ads that are relevant to them). This is where targeting your audience comes into play. Taking advantage of these features will ensure you’re reaching the right audience and increase the chance of you having a better ROI.
First, select your profile language and start adding locations to your audience net (you’ll need at least one). These locations can be very broad or very specific, but the more specific, the more fruitful your campaign will be. On the other hand, think about excluding locations that aren’t relevant to your campaign to maximize your budget.
Next, click “+ Add new targeting criteria”.
Select audience attributes
To hone in on your audience even more, you can target things like their skills, industry, or job experience. Say you want to advertise to employees at Google. You’re able to do that. Just click Company > Company Names > and search Google.
Let’s take a look at everything you can take advantage of when it comes to your audience’s attributes.
You can target an audience with a specific employer, industry, or company size.
Consider your campaign and who you’re trying to target. You’re able to skew your audience toward one age group or gender.
If you want to target people who went to a certain high school, college, or university, you can target your ads based on degrees and fields of study. Your campaign may be extremely relevant to a particular association or club at a particular school. Target them!
Say your product or service really benefits CMOs. You can target people with CMO in their job title. LinkedIn allows you to choose specific job titles, job functions, and years of experience. Additionally, you may want to advertise toward people who have a specific skill set. Maybe you want to target people with skills in graphic design. Targeting a group with a skill set you desire will yield the best results with LinkedIn ads.
A useful way to target people (if not the most useful) is to add interests. Targeting people who have similar interests to your business can be awesome for engagement and conversions. Consider advertising to groups or professionals who are continually talking about a certain topic or business trend that relates closely to your product or service.
Here’s what your audience section may look like after you’re done:
After you’re done targeting, you have the choice to save it as a template if you want to use it in the future. LinkedIn also offers Audience Expansion which expands your audience to include similar professionals to your existing audience. You can check this box if you’d like.
5. Choose an ad format
Now’s the time to choose your ad format. There are three different ad types that LinkedIn offers:
Single image ad: create ads using a single image.
Carousel image ad: create ads with 2 or more images.
Video ad: create ads using a video.
Think about your campaign. Will using video make sense? If you’re advertising a product that’s best captured through video, go for it. Otherwise, choosing one of the image ad options is a safe bet. Keep in mind that to run a campaign, you must have a company or showcase page associated with your account. If you’re seeing that alert, enter your page URL.
Keep an eye on the Forecasted Results box on the right side of your screen. This feature looks at your audience parameters and predicts how much you’ll spend for one day, seven days, and thirty days. It also predicts impressions, click-through rates, and engagement.
You have an option to opt into being displayed on the LinkedIn Audience Network. By opting in, your campaign will have 25% more reach of your target audience and be displayed across LinkedIn’s partner websites.
You can also choose to exclude or block certain applications and websites you don’t want to advertise on.
6. Assign a budget and schedule
Setting your budget, schedule, and bid type will give you a better understanding of where your money is going when investing in LinkedIn ads. Additionally, you will have to set up the conversion tracking feature which tracks how users interact with your ad.
With the budget feature, you can set up a daily or total spending budget. Before diving in and spending $500 right away, consider starting small and seeing what works for your business. It’ll take some time to find your ideal audience and even see any ROI. Test a few of the ad options, varying how you target your audience. Practice is perfect. You don’t want to end up spending thousands of dollars on an ad that doesn’t grab the attention of your target audience.
You’ll need to choose a start date for your campaign. You can also choose an end date if you only want to run an ad for a certain period of time.
You have three options here:
Automated bid lets LinkedIn decide what amount will benefit your campaign. This one is best if you’re not sure how much to bid/first time advertisers. With an automated bid, you can maximize for clicks, impressions, or conversions.
Maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid charges you every time someone clicks your ad. You set the initial bid yourself and LinkedIn will raise or lower your bid to get you more conversions. LinkedIn will suggest a particular bid range after looking at your budget and the ad competition on the platform. The more competition, the higher your bid will need to be. This high bid is the max you’ll be charged; if the going rate is lower, you’ll only be charged that rate.
Maximum pay-per 1000 impressions (CPM) bid charges a certain amount (depending on your ad type and audience) every time your ad is seen by 1000 people on LinkedIn. Not available if you choose to use the LinkedIn Audience Network option.
Remember, this isn’t easy! Consider what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to drive traffic to your website or generate new leads, CPM may be your best option. If you want people to see your ad, CPC would be a better choice.
When thinking about your perfect maximum bid, it’s tricky to estimate the “right” amount when every ad campaign is different. LinkedIn will suggest a bid range, which is a great place to start. Continue to play around with your bid amount. Where is your audience? The app? In their InMail? When are they browsing LinkedIn? Switching up your bid every once in a while can help you answer these questions more than just setting one bid and never changing it.
Finally, you have the option to set up conversion tracking, which tracks what people do after they click on your ad. This is optional but can be incredibly useful if you're interested in monitoring user activity. If you so choose to set it up, click “+ Add conversions”.
On this page, you’ll name your conversion, choose your conversion settings, and choose how you’ll track it.
Whew! You’ve set up your LinkedIn ads campaign! But we’re not done. It’s time to set up and create your ads. When you’re ready to move forward, click “Save and next”.
Tip: You won’t be able to change your objective and ad format once you save, so double-check everything just to make sure.
7. Create your ad
Depending on which LinkedIn ad you chose, you’ll have different options here. For this example, we chose the Engagement objective with the single image ad. To get started, click “Create new ad.”
A new window will pop up. Here, you name your ad, enter copy, upload an image, and see how your ad layout design looks on desktop and mobile.
Introductory text: this is the caption or main message your potential audience will read. Make sure it’s to the point and comprehensive at the same time. Give them incentive to click your ad.
Destination URL: this is where your audience will go once they click your ad.
Ad image: this is the graphic that your audience will see.
Ad headline: this is the headline of your link. Make it clickable!
Ad description: this provides more information about your ad. It won’t be visible most of the time unless the audience is using the LinkedIn Audience Network.
Once you enter this information, you’ll get to see what your ad will look like on the desktop and on mobile. Click “Create” if you’re happy with your ad.
After clicking “Create,” you’ll be taken back to the Campaign Manager page from before. From here, you can create multiple ads, review them, and submit your order. Try out a few different formats to see what your audience likes. Write different copy for different audiences and different ads. If you’re advertising to college students rather than working professionals, leading a headline with “The College Student’s Ultimate Guide To-----” will probably do a whole lot better than a generic catch-all headline. At the end of the day, it’s all about trial and error.
8. Track progress and make adjustments
When you’re getting started and tracking your ad’s progress, keep in mind that at first, you’ll see a lot of zeros. Remember that your ad is new and LinkedIn always reviews ads before they appear on the newsfeed. You can keep track of your ad’s progress on the Campaign Manager dashboard. There will be actual numbers in here, don’t worry. Our example is just for show.
A few things to keep in mind:
LinkedIn will continue to change. That includes the Campaign Manager! On top of that, your audience will change so often you may want to reassess your marketing strategy every month.
If your ads aren’t performing as well as you want them to, change one variable at a time. Try to add audience interests, exclude a location, or expand your age range. You can go farther and change some ad copy. It never hurts to see if that change helps or hinders your ad campaign.
Keep your graphics interesting. I cannot stress this enough! We are visual creatures. Taking the time to perfect your logo, ad image, or promo video will pay off.
Look back on the numbers and adjust your audience accordingly. If you notice that no one over the age of 55 is clicking on your ad, exclude that age and save yourself some money.
Try it for yourself
So you now know how to create LinkedIn Ads and use the Campaign Manager like a pro! It’s time to get to work. LinkedIn is the number one place for business professionals seeking jobs, software, or connections. Don’t miss the opportunity to advertise to them. Keep your ads interesting and continue studying your audience. If you manage to nail LinkedIn ads, the sky’s the limit.
LinkedIn Ads are just one way to fuel your sales team with leads. If you're looking for additional resources, check out our guide on using LinkedIn to enable your sales reps and their prospecting efforts.
Alexa is a content writer at Showpad and a former content associate at G2. Born and raised in Chicago, she went to Columbia College Chicago and entered the world of all things event marketing and social media. In her free time, she likes being outside with her dog, creating playlists, and dabbling in Illustrator. (she/her/hers)