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Creating LinkedIn Ads: A Beginner’s Guide

Hannah Beazley

A social media platform without the noise, LinkedIn presents the perfect marketing opportunity for businesses looking to reach a professional audience.

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Designed and targeted as a professional social network, members have on average 2 times more buying power than the typical web user. With over 300 million active monthly users, LinkedIn Ads presents the perfect B2B marketing opportunity.

LinkedIn Ad Types

Sponsored Content

Essentially promoted LinkedIn posts, Sponsored Content ads appear in the feed. Available as single images, videos or carousel posts, their organic appearance makes them perfect if your campaign goals include engagement.

They can be run as native news feed ads or Lead Generation forms and as feed engagement continues to grow within the platform, they are a popular choice.

Direct Sponsored Content

Direct sponsored content example LinkedIn ads

With the same look and feel as Sponsored Content, these ads have one noticeable difference. Direct Sponsored Content ads aren’t published on your company page. It’s for this reason that they’re perfect for testing multiple variations of an ad because they won’t clutter your feed. Similarly, if someone were to come across your company page, you’re not going to appear overly salesy.

Sponsored Message Ads (formally known as Sponsored InMail)

Message Ads give you access to LinkedIn members’ inboxes, allowing you to deliver targeted messages direct to the user.

LinkedIn determined that these ads are more successful at driving conversions than emails. They’re are particularly useful for sharing event registrations, free product trials and educating your audience about your offering.

For this ad type you’ve got two options:

  • Message Ads – send your audience direct messages to spark action
  • Conversation Ads – initiate quality conversations with your target audience through choose-your-path experiences (automated answers).

Text Ads

LinkedIn ad - text ad

Appearing in the right-hand rail on a desktop, text ads allow you to get seen by audiences who matter to you. With a short headline, copy and the option for a square image, this ad type offers a cost-effective advertising solution.

Measured on a pay-per-click or cost-per-impression basis, you can easily set your budget and control pricing so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Dynamic Ads

Similar to Text Ads, Dynamic Ads allow you to target audiences but with the added feature of personalization options. Taking profile data (name, photo, job title etc), Dynamic ads create custom ads for each member in order to boost conversion rates.

Perfect for building brand awareness, driving traffic/conversions and generating leads, they offer targeted advertising with a personal touch. You can read more about them here.

LinkedIn Audience Network

While not an ad in itself, LinkedIn Audience Network allows you to expand the reach of your Sponsored Content Ads by up to 25%. Active the Audience Network when creating a campaign and your ads will get shared across 1000s of partner apps and websites to users active within the network.

With the option to exclude publishers’ categories during set-up, you can ensure your ad won’t end up on conflicting or inappropriate sites to maintain brand standards.

How To Set Up LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

Before you start running ad campaigns you’re going to need a company page. You can read more about how to use LinkedIn for business, including how to set up your page here.

Within the Campaign Manager select Create Campaign

It’s recommended that you add the following to each campaign name

  • Business line/product
  • Reference to the campaign title
  • Campaign type
  • Geographical region
  • Unique campaign ID that matches with other channels
  • Date range for the campaign timeframe
Choose ad objectives
Set audience targeting parameters

It’s recommended that you start out with an audience size of over 50,000 for regular ads and over 15,000 for Message Ads. This, however, is completely up to you.

You can target by permanent or recent locations, profile language and audience attributes (company, demographics, education, job experience, interests etc).

Tip: use ‘or’ to broaden and ‘and’ to narrow audiences. For example ‘photographers or graphic designers’ targets either and/or both while ‘photographers and graphic designers will only target users with both jobs listed on their profile.

Audience expansion shows ads to LinkedIn audiences with similar attributes. You can also create custom audiences by uploading a link to your website to get page visitors or upload lists such as email subscribers.

Tip: Press ‘Save as Template’ before continuing to access specific targeting options for future ads

Select ad format
Set budget, campaign schedule and bid type

Here you can choose total or total and daily budget options, select from bid types (cost-per-click or cost-per-impressions and cost-per-send for Message ads) and set your campaign schedule.

LinkedIn estimates that marketers experience a 33% higher ROI when bids are placed within the suggested range.

*Optional* Create a conversion

Track actions people take on your website after viewing an ad by installing either a site-wide insight tag (recommended) or an event-specific pixel to track conversions.

LinkedIn ad arrow
Set up the ad

LinkedIn allows you to preview your ad as you create it and for Message ads, there’s the option of sending yourself a test message first.

LinkedIn ad arrow

Submit for review and launch it

LinkedIn reviews all ads before they go live to make sure they adhere to the platform’s ad policies. You can read up on them here to make sure you get yours right the first time.

Typically review takes up to 24 hours, but occasionally, it can take longer, so plan for any time-specific ad campaigns.

LinkedIn ad arrow

Optimise performance

Once the ad is launched, the performance chart tracks various metrics so you can determine the success of the ad. Review it regularly and make adjustments accordingly to maintain performance.

LinkedIn Ad Best Practices

Target the right audience

Familiarize yourself with LinkedIn member demographics and look for overlap with your customer profile. Ads can be targeted by location, company, industry, age, gender, education, experience, job title, interests, groups and more.

Breaking down campaigns by region can be effective if you’re creating a global campaign as it allows you to target time zones more easily. Running ads when half your audience is asleep isn’t going to lead to the returns you’re after – unless your target market is insomniacs!

Targeting by job function rather than job title can result in a greater reach and increased CTR. This is because job titles are no longer the straight-forward label they once were; one person’s ‘Recruitment Consultant’ is another person’s Talent Delivery Specialist. Our personal favourite? A ‘Digital Overlord’, or ‘Website Manager’ to you and me.

Keep content short

Global attention spans are decreasing, and never more so than on social media where there’s always something new. Keep ad content short and to the point for best results.

  • Sponsored Content – Keep headlines under 150 characters and copy under 70.
  • Sponsored Videos – For brand awareness keep it under 30 seconds, for marketing later in the funnel up to 90 seconds and for the bottom of the funnel advertising anywhere between 2-6 minutes. With all videos, share the key message in the first 10 seconds to get viewers hooked.
  • Message Ads – Keep it under 1000 characters, including the link. Ads with less than 500 characters have, on average, a 46% higher CTR – people are busy!
  • Dynamic Ads – Just primary headlines get a 25% higher CTR with this kind of ad. Talk about minimalism…

Have a clear message

Ambiguity has no place in LinkedIn ads. With only a short amount of space in which to convince the reader, you need to be upfront about the value you’re adding. Stand-out quotes and statistics at the start can be a great way of capturing attention.

If you’re using imagery in your ad consider the fact that viewers respond better to ads with people in them, leading to a CTR increase of 160%.

Choose CTAs wisely

Call-to-actions should be compatible with campaign adjectives. Simple, straight-to-the-point ones usually get better results. Examples include ‘Register’, ‘Try’ and ‘Download’.

Personalise where possible

Outside of Dynamic Ads it’s still possible to run personalised ads, you just have to be a little more creative.

  • Text Ads – use direct address such as “attention photographers” / “calling all dentists” etc.
  • Sponsored Content – use direct language.
  • Message Ads – add a personal greeting, mention job titles and use ‘you’ when addressing the recipient.

Optimise your landing page

As with any ad, the right landing page is crucial for boosting conversions. Always make sure links lead to specific pages that relate to the content of the ad – don’t promise what you’re not delivering.

Consider giving something away for free on the landing page, such as an ebook, template or free trial. This can be a great way of demonstrating value and allow you to collect contact details for future interactions.

A/B Test

Even the most experienced marketers don’t get everything right the first time. Run A/B tests to ensure you’re putting the best version of your ad out there and connecting with your audience.

Know your ad dimensions

We covered everything you need to know about LinkedIn ad dimensions in another post, which you can read here.

With their potential to reach people with buying power and flexible targeting options, LinkedIn ads make them a great solution for B2B marketing. If they still seem a little overwhelming, why not get in touch and let us help achieve your marketing goals?


01 July 2021


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