I left learning how to advertise on LinkedIn until just recently, and I wish I’d put the investment into the platform sooner. As a marketer who works almost entirely in the B2B (business to business) realm, neglecting the LinkedIn ads platform was an oversight on my part. After all, LinkedIn’s own advertisements name their platform #1 for B2B marketing.
That’s the Google ad LinkedIn is currently using to promote their platform, and it’s pretty honest. Creating an ad typically takes more than a few minutes, but the interface is quite easy to understand.
That said, I feel like I had an advantage getting started on LinkedIn for a few reasons: LinkedIn’s ad manager is like a stripped-down version of Facebook’s, and I’m pretty familiar with Facebook advertising. I’m also used to learning to use new software, and I had a simple objective for my ad which enabled me to use an extremely simple ad and targeting.
This article will demonstrate the steps I followed to set up my ad and explain the strategies that helped it succeed within its first two hours running.
How to Set Up LinkedIn Ads Manager
If you’ve never used an advertising platform before but your business is B2B, I think LinkedIn is a good place for you to get started. The Linkedin ads Manager has a lot of power and versatility despite being much simpler than platforms such as Facebook or Google.
To get started with LinkedIn ads you’ll need to set up the ads manager. Once logged in to LinkedIn, click on Work in the right corner of the top menu. A sidebar should open, where you can click on “Advertise”.
It’s easiest to go through the process of setting up your account with a payment option right away. You won’t be able to run any ads until you have a payment option enabled, and not having one may restrict other aspects of the account.
Alternately you can just go to https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions and click on Create an Ad. I could only set up my ad account once so I haven’t tested it both ways, but I’m sure either will work fine for you.
Once you have your ad account set up, navigate to campaign manager. To get started, you’ll need to create an advertising campaign and then an ad. Let’s go!
How to Create LinkedIn Ad Campaigns
From the campaign manager, you have two “Create Campaign” buttons to choose from, both indicated below. Click on either one of them to get started.
You’ll be taken to the following screen, which may look slightly familiar if you’ve ever used Facebook’s ad manager.
From here you need to choose an objective from one of the three lists in the middle of the screen.
How to Advertise on LinkedIn – Ad Objectives
LinkedIn currently has three different types of higher-level ad objectives you can choose between. Selecting the best option is the first step in making sure you get your money’s worth on your ad spend.
At this time Brand Awareness is the only campaign option under the umbrella of Awareness. These campaigns will be designed to reach as many people as possible, spreading the word about your company. Awareness ads will work well for businesses that are trying to grow their following on LinkedIn or gain recognition in the professional community.
Consideration ads are focused on the middle stages of a buyer’s journey – interest and attraction. Having strong headlines and CTAs (calls to action) will be especially important with consideration ads because you’ll need to use them to convince people to learn more about you. At this time consideration ads can be used to generate website visits, engagement, or video views.
LinkedIn conversion ads can generate leads through a built-in form, or they can send folks to your website to be converted or attract job applicants. It’s important to think carefully about which type of conversion ad you need based on what you’re selling. For example, lead forms will work well for many service based businesses, but a Software as a Service company would probably prefer to send users to their website.
Once you’ve selected an ad objective, click on it to proceed to the next step.
Using Audiences With LinkedIn Ads
Once you’ve selected an objective, the screen will expand to give you a number of other choices. Don’t feel overwhelmed! It’s quite simple if you work through it one stage at a time.
Where is Your Target Audience
Under “Where is Your Target Audience?” you get to select the physical location(s) you’d like to target with your ads. Since I’m primarily interested in expanding my Canadian client base right now, I selected Canada. You also have the option to EXCLUDE people based on their location rather than including them based on it. This could be handy if you were looking to run ads worldwide except for a handful of countries.
This is the language of profiles that will be included in your targeting. Unless you’re specifically targeting other language speakers, I recommend leaving this at the default (English).
Who is Your Target Audience
You can refine your audience based on a number of attributes such as job title, industry, or skills, as well as education, demographics, experience, and interests. Since I need to get in touch with decision makers in order to sell services, I used this feature to target chief officers, owners, and founders of Canadian businesses. Similar to the “where” function, you can also exclude folks based on these attributes if needed.
Enabling audience expansion gives LinkedIn the ability to automatically expand your audience to include people similar to your target audience. Since I knew exactly who I needed to target based on job title, I did not check audience expansion.
LinkedIn Ad Formats
LinkedIn currently supports the following ad formats:
- Single image ads
- Carousel image ads
- Video ads
- Text ads
- Spotlight ads
- Message ads
- Conversational ads
If you aren’t clear on what each ad type does, I recommend doing a little research into them. LinkedIn has plenty of easily accessible information regarding their platform which you can find via Google search.
Since I wanted to create an effective ad that required minimum effort and design skills, I decided to go with message ads. LinkedIn message ads (also called sponsored inmail) is one of the only types of social media ads that does not require a visual element. You do have the option of including an image, but I chose to stick with a headline, body text, and CTA button.
Under placement you can choose whether or not you want to extend your ad’s reach to LinkedIn’s network of partnered apps and websites. Since I chose a message ad, this option wasn’t available for me.
Budget and Schedule
I recommend setting both a daily budget and a total budget here, in order to have as much control as possible over your spend. Be aware, there is always a risk that LinkedIn ads will spend more than you intended. You can also choose whether you want to run the ads continuously or select an end date, and of course you must set a budget (currently $10/day minimum).
There are a number of options here, but I recommend leaving this as automated or whatever your ad type defaults to.
If you like you can set up conversion tracking, which will measure actions taken on your website by LInkedIn visitors. I chose not to set this up because I didn’t want the hassle, but if you’re planning on running a lot of LinkedIn ads to your site, getting familiar with their analytics is probably a good idea.
When all of that is properly arranged, click on “Next” at the bottom of the page.
Creating Your First LinkedIn Ad
At this point you should see the following screen:
Click on “Create new ad” to begin the ad creation process.
Depending on the type of ad you’re using, your screen may look different, but this is what the message ad interface looks like right now:
I gave my ad a name, selected myself as the sender, and then clicked on the “Message” section to move on.
Next I filled out the subject (headline) field, and added my body text to the message field. I left custom footer unchecked, used “Learn More” as my call to action, and put in the URL of my landing page. Notice at the bottom there’s the optional field for uploading a banner image. I chose not to use a banner because I wanted my ad to seem more like a natural message.
After I finished my ad, this is what the campaign dashboard looked like. Notice how the estimated budget on the right has a significant variance; LinkedIn ads are not the best at staying precisely on budget, so if you have limited resources you may want to pay careful attention.
From here you can make any final edits to your ad and then click on “Save and exit” if you have other things to do or “Next” if you’re ready to go. I recommend leaving your ads in draft mode until after they’ve been approved for distribution – that way you actually get to control when they go live. After launching my ad I navigated to my campaigns tab.
This gives you a nice and easy view of what’s happening with the campaign. As you can see I have my campaign paused because at this point it was still under review. Once it was approved, I waited until around 6am and changed the status to active. It only took a few hours and $10 to get my first results:
Of the two people that visited my landing page, one of them submitted the form. Sadly my ad ran for the next 24 hours without getting any additional results, so I decided to turn it off. Here’s the final statistics:
At the end of this short experiment, I paid about $10 per website visit, but two website visits converted into one solid lead. The person who submitted the form on my website also reached out to me via LinkedIn, and they are CEO of a mid sized technology company looking to outsource their marketing. In other words, the ad worked perfectly and I paid $20 to have a CEO in a relevant field contact me. If I could guarantee that kind of return ever time I’d probably invest at least $100/month, and my lead generation would be mostly taken care of.
Final Thoughts On LinkedIn Ads and Using Them To Get Clients
Ultimately this was a very small experiment with limited scope, but if nothing else it acted as a proof of LinkedIn’s concept. My $20 spend indicates that if you have a decent knowledge of paid media and the patience to understand the system, running business-to-business ads on LinkedIn makes a lot of sense.
For me this was a really fruitful experience – even if the potential client I met doesn’t pan out, learning how to advertise on LinkedIn has given me an easy to repeat method for contacting business owners. I’m planning on running some more ads on this platform both for the purposes of creating case studies and because I believe I’ll benefit from them.
Next week I plan to run Facebook ads to the same landing page to see if I can get better results, but I have a feeling it will be difficult. While Facebook’s targeting system is ideal for many things, it doesn’t have the easy ability to simply tick a box and target CEOs. Either way, my findings will be documented and presented in a case study.
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