LinkedIn Advertising Made Easy

If you haven’t advertised on LinkedIn before, you may be unsure where to start. We get it – we’ve probably heard your exact concern from clients new to paid LinkedIn ads.

“How much should I spend on LinkedIn campaigns?”

“What kind of ad should we invest in?”

“Am I sure that I’m targeting the right audience?”

In our new blog series, we’ll break down the different capabilities, benefits and ROI of paid advertising across various social platforms.

Today, we’re taking a look at LinkedIn campaigns from start to finish. We’ll help you establish a goal, pick an ad style that’s right for you, find your audience and determine a budget.

First things first – if you don’t have a LinkedIn campaign manager account, now’s the time to make one. Go ahead; we’ll wait!

Once you’re all set up, you’re ready to get started.

Establish Your Goals

For starters, let’s define the goal. When you create a new campaign on LinkedIn, you’ll be asked where your paid advertising goal falls within the Buyer’s Journey.

Your desired outcome will fall within one of these three categories, depending on what you’re looking for.

linkedin paid social media ad

For example:

  • Awareness: Awareness goals revolve around introducing your company to new potential customers and increasing your reach. A successful campaign would boost your page’s impressions, grow your follower list and spark higher rates of engagement (likes, comments and shares).
  • Consideration: A consideration LinkedIn campaign would reel in potential customers who are ready to learn more about your business. For this objective, your goals could include increasing website traffic, gated content downloads and video views.
  • Conversion: Employ a conversion-focused campaign when you’re ready to cultivate potential customers (or job applicants). Conversion campaign goals include lead generation, web form signups or even new applications for open positions.

Once you’ve chosen your objective, you can start building your audience.

Define Your Target Audience

Next, get specific about who you want to see your ads.

You’ll be asked to answer a few questions, like where your target audience is located, what language your target audience’s profile should be set to and how you’d like to build your audience.

linkedin paid social ad target audience

Audience vs. Audience Attributes

Choosing Audience (also described as Matched Audiences) allows you more room to customize your audience. You can:

  • Upload a list of companies or contacts you’d like to target
  • Retarget visitors to continue to build your audience
  • Use a third-party system to add audience contacts
  • Create a “lookalike” audience with similar features to your current audience segment

linkedin paid social ad target audience

Instead of more targeted, personalized advertising with Audience, Attributes looks at larger segments like companies, job titles and industries. This is beneficial if you’re looking to target purchasing managers in the automation industry, or digital channels associates at Simple Machines Marketing (hey!).

You can also use these two features to exclude contacts. If you’d like to hide your ads from competitors, for instance, click on “Exclude people by attributes or Matched Audiences” and add in those contacts or companies.

Target Audience Size

As you specify your audience, you may notice the number on the right-hand side under “Target Audience Size” increasing or decreasing.

That number estimates how many people match your audience criteria. The right size for your campaign will differ based on your company size, campaign goals and available data.

According to LinkedIn, the minimum audience size required for a campaign is 300 members. LinkedIn also suggests:

  • A minimum of ~50,000 members to drive results in general
  • A minimum of ~300,000 members for Sponsored Content and Sponsored Messaging
  • A target of between ~60,000 and ~400,000 members for text ads

There’s no one-size-fits all for audience size, as every company has different goals, budgets and targets. But our advice? When we’re running a brand awareness or traffic-driving LinkedIn campaign for a small business, we tend to hover around a minimum 50,000 members for our audience, and we don’t exceed over 300,000 members. But, if we’re running a hyper-targeted campaign, we may narrow that number even more to 10,000 members.

To narrow your audience, define the specific demographic attributes that match your target market. For instance, if you choose “purchasing manager” as your only attribute, purchasing managers from any company could be included. Without more specifics, such as companies, demographics or industries, your audience size will be unmanageable.

With too big of an audience, you’ll be spending budget less efficiently by showing your ads to people outside of your target market.

Determine Your Ad Type

Now’s your chance to get creative! Next you’ll be asked to choose a style of sponsored content or text ad:

  • Single Image Ad: Ads using a single image, article link or one of your LinkedIn events that will show up in a member’s newsfeed
  • Carousel Image Ad: Ads that include two or more images that will show up in a member’s newsfeed
  • Video Ads: Ads using a video that will show up in the news feed
  • Text Ads: Text-based ads that will show up in the right column or top of a LinkedIn page
  • Dynamic Ads: Personalized desktop ads that promote an offering, like gated content or valuable blogs
  • Follower Ads: Personalized desktop ads that use a member’s profile data to promote a company page
  • Conversation Ads: Ads that are delivered to your target audience’s LinkedIn Messaging inbox

linkedin paid social ad style

Again, your ideal ad depends on your goal and your offer.

If you’re looking for a boost in followers, a follower ad could be perfect, or a personalized conversation ad asking potential clients to connect. If you have a new product line you’re ready to show off, a carousel will allow you to include several high-quality photos.

If you need help creating eye-catching graphics and building ad mockups, we’ll be sharing our tips soon! Sign up for our email newsletter to get them in your inbox.

Finalize Your Budget, Timing and Bid Strategy

Once you’ve got your audience set up, it’s time to pick how long you’d like to run your campaign and set your budget.

Your options for campaign length are 30 days, 7 days or 1 day. The 30-day option is helpful, as it gives your campaign time to grow. You’re also able to edit your campaign as it runs, and a 30-day option gives you time to experiment with you ads and optimize them.

But, if you’ve got a lean budget or have a time-sensitive ad (an upcoming webinar or conference, for example), then the 7-day or single-day options might work best for you.

Next, you’ll have to choose how to organize your campaign’s spend. This can be done in two ways:

  • Setting a budget for the maximum you want to spend each day on ads
  • Setting a bid for the maximum you want to pay for either every click, or every thousand impressions

Setting a bid offers a few options:

  • Pay-per-click (CPC):You choose how much you want to spend per click and then set a budget accordingly. Say you’d like to pay $10 per click – you’d then set a budget for how much you’re willing to spend each day on clicks, so perhaps you’d set your budget to $50 per day for 5 clicks maximum.
  • Pay-per-1,000 impressions (CPM):Instead of clicks, you’re deciding how much you’d be willing to spend daily for every 1,000 impressions. This is helpful for awareness campaigns, where you’re trying to boost traffic and brand awareness.
  • Pay-per-send (CPS): Here you’d pay for every successful message ad that’s sent to member inboxes.

Our advice is to create a range of how much you’d be willing to spend and experiment with those numbers. This will show you your possible impressions, CTR (click-through rate) and click predictions from various budgets.

As a general benchmark, here’s a look at CTR averages for different ad formats:

  • Sponsored Single Image Content: 0.56%
  • Sponsored Carousel Content (: 0.40%
  • Sponsored Video Content: 0.44%
  • Message Ads: 3% with open rates at 30%
  • Dynamic Ads (Standard): 0.06%
  • Dynamic Ads (Dynamic): 0.08%
  • Text Ads: 0.02%

For a closer look at averages based on location, industry and more, click here

After determining your budget style, you’ll decide how you’d like to bid. A “bid” for paid ads is how much you’d like to spend for a specific action (clicks, impressions, etc.)

There are a few automated bidding options (automated bidding, target cost bidding and maximum cost bidding) that automatically optimize your bids. While they are useful, sometimes that can lead to overspending. Manual bidding allows you to set a firm limit on how much you want to spend every day.

For first-timers, we recommend using manual before experimenting with automations.

What’s Next?

Once you save your campaign, it’s time to import your ad assets. These will be different depending on what type of ad you chose. For a single image ad, you’ll be asked for a graphic, ad copy and a CTA, while for a message ad, you’ll be asked for an inbox-style blurb.

Here’s where we’ll leave you for now. The next part in our series will break down how to create LinkedIn ad graphics, the keys to writing engaging copy and how to optimize your campaign as it runs. In the meantime, make sure you’re making the most of your LinkedIn presence so that you’re making the most of the platform.

But, if you think you could use a hand with your LinkedIn plan, graphic design, copywriting (or even just putting together a campaign for you!), we’re here to help. Reach out to Simple Machines today and let’s get started with your paid advertising.