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LinkedIn Ads: Our Definitive Guide to Reaching B2B Leaders

August 11, 2020
Ines Da Pieve
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LinkedIn ads are one of the best business-to-business (B2B) marketing moves you can make to reach industry leaders. Why? Your ads have way more chances of converting on the professional identity site than other social platforms. 

Discover how to wield these LinkedIn B2B marketing tools effectively. We'll cover: 

  • The different types of LinkedIn ads that you can run
  • Examples of best practices and advanced tips
  • A step-by-step approach of launching effective ad campaigns that drive results
  • Why LinkedIn targeting criteria is key to capture the interest of B2B leaders
  • The pros and cons of the different types of ads

LinkedIn Ad Types

LinkedIn advertising options cater to diverse B2B marketing needs. To find the right ad for you and run a campaign successfully, you need to know all the types of ads and how they work in detail. 

We'll review the juiciest types of LinkedIn ads so you can implement them to get the results that you want for your company as well as all the ingredients you need to launch your first campaign.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

Basically, this is a sponsored post that gets an extra promotion. You can format it either as a text post, with a single picture, as a carousel with many pictures or as an in-feed video

This type of ad is dynamite to generate engagement. Even though it may have the highest cost-per-click (CPC) from all the ad types, it blends unobtrusively in your audience feed — and that’s a bonus. 

Within the world of sponsored content ads, there are 2 types:

  1. Sponsored Updates: You can share company updates to certain targeted users that don’t belong to a company's followers and visitors. 
  2. Direct Sponsored Content: This type of content won’t appear on the company page. You can customize, improve and test your messages with no clutter for the company page.
LinkedIn advertising options cater to diverse B2B marketing needs.

LinkedIn Text Ads

These ads are your classic social media advertising: the square at the top of your screen with text and visuals. It’s a less intrusive option and will only attract audiences that are actually interested in what you're specifically offering. These types of ads include a headline, a succinct bit of text and a square image. 

You can preview your text ad and see how it will look like in these formats:

  • Square
  • Tall
  • Horizontal
  • Long

An important feature of these types of ads is that you don’t need to create a company page to run them.

LinkedIn Message Ads

This ad arrives directly to your targeted audience’s LinkedIn inbox. This kind of ad gives you direct contact with your prospects and an even easier way of contacting you right away. 

These ads are more likely to create conversions than your typical e-mail ad campaign because they feel super personalized. One downside of message ads is that LinkedIn members can choose to opt out of them.

Other Ads: LinkedIn Dynamic Ads 

A dynamic ad looks similar to a LinkedIn text ad. It appears on the rail as well, but it lets you personalize your creations for each individual. 

To customize the experience to the max, these ads need to access LinkedIn profile data, such as a company name, a photo or a job title. 

There are 3 formats available:

  • Follower ad: To drive users to follow a company page through a single click
  • Spotlight ad: For action-oriented campaign goals
  • Jobs ad: You can personalize your ads to top talent for relevant positions

All 3 work on desktop and mobile versions.

Note: The creation of these ads, in particular, will require you to contact a LinkedIn representative.

Here are 7 best-practice tactics to get sponsored content and text ads right from the start.

LinkedIn Ad Best Practices

There are a number of aspects to take into account to run ads well. At first, it can feel a bit overwhelming. 

No worries. We’ve put together 7 best-practice tactics to get sponsored content and text ads right from the start.

7 Must-Haves for Sponsored Content: 

  1. Your headline shouldn't exceed 150 characters.
  2. As for your descriptive copy, it shouldn’t exceed 70 characters.
  3. Always use images sized 1200 x 627 pixels. 
  4. Include a clear call to action that tells your audience exactly what to do .
  5. Start by using 3 targeting criteria: For example, location and 2 more categories is a safe place to debut. 
  6. Run split testing as much as you can.
  7. Use YouTube, Vimeo or SlideShare videos as they are excellent for engaging your audience organically.

Audience Expansion: A Must-Have for Your Text Ads

When you have your first winning campaign of text ads try the Audience Expansion feature. Audience Expansion is the equivalent of Lookalike Audiences on Facebook. It targets related audiences to the one you originally set up. This will help you scale your campaign, reaching more people. 

Your metrics will change this way: While Audience Expansion will affect clicks and impressions, it isn’t the case with your audience count, which excludes users from Audience Expansion.

How to Set Up LinkedIn Advertising Campaigns

To start running ads on LinkedIn, you'll first need to create an account on the platform. 

Here are the 5 core elements of a LinkedIn advertising campaign:

1. Your Objective 

This is what you want the viewers to do when coming across your ad. LinkedIn lets you customize your campaign within 3 main categories: awareness, consideration and conversions. Within that division, you will find specific goals such as Website Visits, Engagement, Video Views or Lead Generation.

Having a solid customer journey map is necessary to provide the right content for them at the right time. 

2. The Targeting Criteria 

This is your opportunity to segment the audience that interests you the most with more than 20 categories at your disposal. You aren’t obliged to select all the options, but the more you personalize your targeting criteria, the more relevant your campaign will be to your desired audience. 

Here are 4 targeting criteria tips: 

  1. You can add a location or exclude a specific place you want to leave out. Keep in mind you must select at least one location for your “campaign.”
  2. The LinkedIn Campaign Manager allows you to select the language of your “audience.”
  3. You can include highly specific audience attributes, such as “demographics”, “education,” “interests” or “job experiences.”
  4. Two powerful words you can use here are “and” to narrow your audience and “or” to broaden it.

For example, you could include in your ad "consultants" and "coaches" to find someone who is both a consultant and a coach. Or you could add "consultants" or "coaches" to find different B2B leaders in both fields.

An extra advantage of the targeting process is that you can save all your selections as a template, to easily use it later for future campaigns.

3. The Ad Format 

In this step, you will choose which ad format you want to design first. 

You can add more than one type of ad to your campaign. The ad formats are: 

  • Sponsored Content
  • Text Ads
  • Message Ads
  • Dynamic Ads

4. Your Budget and Your Schedule

About your budget, you can choose among these 3 cost options:

  1. Cost per send (CPS): If you run a message ads campaign, you will pay for every message successfully delivered.
  2. Cost per click (CPC): Use it for action-oriented campaigns. This is the case for event registration and lead generation
  3. Cost per impression (CPM): If you aim at brand awareness, this is your go-to cost option

It may be a good idea to try out some slight adjustments to your campaign, such as the ad format or audience targeting, before committing to high campaign budgets. In any case, LinkedIn will allow you to cancel a B2B advertising campaign at any moment, even if the amount of money you chose to spend isn’t met. As for the timing, you can find all the scheduling options, such as start date, end date or the option to show your ad repeatedly.

5. The Campaign Metrics

Performance data is always crucial to understanding how your campaign is faring. With the LinkedIn Campaign Manager you can easily track:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Social Actions
  • Budget

This aspect is paramount to retarget and adjust for further campaigns. Also, if you opt into conversion tracking, a new window will pop up with options and steps to choose the kind of data you wish to monitor from your campaign. 

LinkedIn advertising options cater to diverse B2B marketing needs.

Why LinkedIn Targeting Criteria Is Crucial

Time is the main reason you should target like a pro on LinkedIn. The B2B arena is always on the go and needs very specific results. Time is such a scarce resource when it comes to doing company research to find new places to work or think about new partnerships to forge. 

A thorough and well-targeted LinkedIn campaign is perfect for reaching B2B leaders because they’re already in a working mindset when navigating the platforms. Ads directly on their feeds can have a high impact. 

The most important facet of the targeting criteria is the overall goal of your LinkedIn campaign. Don’t forget to name your campaign and to create campaign groups. And keep in mind LinkedIn ads cover all the stages of the funnel. 

There Are 3 Types of Campaign Goals:

  1. Awareness: The campaign is oriented to impressions. This should be the initial step for new brands that simply need to be seen for the first time. For instance, users reading a blog article about the product or service you offer.
  2. Consideration: They foster engagement and include all the actions to find out more about your business (such as starting a free trial, for example).
  3. Conversion: The campaign focuses on lead generation. For example, an e-book download is an action that a conversion campaign triggers. Bear in mind that these types of campaigns need you to use conversion tracking.

Pros and Cons of a LinkedIn Ad Campaign

If we start with the glass half empty, it's important to know that LinkedIn advertising costs are higher than other social networks, as is the case with Facebook. But the good news is that LinkedIn ads are definitely a solid value for the money, especially when you segment your audience well. 

Here are the major benefits of running LinkedIn ads campaigns:

  • It's quick and easy to get started
  • You can hypertarget and make sure that you're only talking to the right B2B leaders
  • LinkedIn insight tag tracks leads and conversions
  • You won't need a whole design team to run a LinkedIn campaign

LinkedIn Ads: Specific Pros and Cons

By trying out the different kinds of ads you can get a variety of advantages that fit your specific needs, but you may face some disadvantages that may change the way you organize your campaign. 

  • Pro: Ads such as sponsored content will allow you to showcase your products or services with at length text and compelling visuals. Con: They may be more expensive and tend to generate fewer impressions.
  • Pro: Text ads are simple to set up and to control costs. Con: They don’t have the same reuse period as other ads and may blend to the background if overused. 
  • Pro: Mail ads will let you personalize and get closer to your target audience. Con: They take more time and care to generate an impact. 
  • Pro: Dynamic ads have greater reach with little more work than text ads. Con: They suffer from a similar attention problem, so you’ll have to be careful with the schedule of your campaign when using these ads and keep an eye out for metrics.

Use LinkedIn Ads Effectively to Drive Conversions

LinkedIn B2B marketing tools provide you with ads that can be an essential ingredient of your digital advertising stew. 

You can optimize LinkedIn for B2B sales by getting help from an experienced digital marketing agency. Kantaloupe helps brands plan and follow personalized marketing strategies that drive results on social media and other channels, such as organic search and paid advertising

Drop us a line through our free online form to get a proposal and talk about how you can achieve your marketing goals within your budget.


Ines Da Pieve

Ines Da Pieve is a business-to-business copywriter from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She writes about technology, education and digital marketing.

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