As an advertising platform, LinkedIn’s a great place to drive brand awareness, establish thought leadership, and to educate a given market segment about your product, service, or methodology for solving a particular business challenge.
It’s not a great place to zero in on commercial intent.
People browse passively with an open mind, looking for insightful content, which affects the strategy one might take when leveraging the platform from an advertising perspective.
That's why, in contrast to an ad network like Google Ads, LinkedIn is best for education, thought leadership, and driving top-of-the-funnel brand awareness.
With all of that in mind, here are a few helpful tips for starting out with LinkedIn Ads:
1. Install the Insight Tag on your website before you spend a single dollar
Before you start spending any money on LinkedIn, it’s a no-brainer to install the LinkedIn insight tag.
This will give you insight into who’s coming to your website, what their job titles are, what seniority level they are, and more.
You can leverage that insight to build custom audiences and retarget people with your ads.
Depending on how much traffic your website gets on a daily basis, give it 2-3 weeks at least for the insight tag to “season” (or collect data). he more traffic you get, the less time you’ll need to wait.
Once you have some insights you can use to build those custom audiences and retargeting campaigns, you can start spending that ad budget.
But if you jump straight into spending before seasoning that insight tag, you’re burning through your ad budget before you really know who your best bets are to target.
2. Leverage content assets in your ads
So you’ve got your insight tag installed and seasoned. Now you need to strategize around what you’re going to say in your ads.
One of the classic mistakes we see people make all the time with LinkedIn advertising is driving ads to a demo request, another bottom-of-the-funnel offer, or even worse, their homepage.
Again, LinkedIn is a social media platform where one passively browses — not purposefully searches for a solution.
People log on to LinkedIn to network and learn. If you lead with your bottom-of-the-funnel offer (especially if you’re not a known brand) you’re speaking to people at the wrong stage of their buyer’s journey.
That’s why we recommend promoting content assets like ebooks, infographics, or the holy grail — videos — whenever possible.
If you’re a brand trying to grab a foothold in a marketplace where people don’t necessarily know who you are but have a clear need for the solution you’re offering, the best thing you can do is educate first and sell second.
Meet people where they are in their buyer’s journey, and you’ll stand a much much greater chance of making a lasting impression.
3. Upload a contact list
This one might seem obvious but not everybody realizes this is an option the LinkedIn Ads platform affords its advertisers.
By uploading a list of leads from your database to LinkedIn, you can build a target audience by account or contact.
LinkedIn recommends a list of at least 1,000 account-level contacts or 10,000 contact-level contacts.
LinkedIn will attempt to match those contacts to the verified email addresses of users on LinkedIn.
The effect this strategy can have is to orchestrate a unified, marketing strategy that integrates the different marketing channels you have at your disposal to reach a target account or contact.
If you’re emailing your database on a semi-regular basis, running Google Ads, and/or retargeting via Google Display Network, targeting the same contacts on LinkedIn will give you another opportunity to reach your target audience and capture their interest.
4. Decide on a bid strategy that aligns with your goals
Similar to other ad platforms, LinkedIn gives you multiple options when it comes to how you place bids for your ads.
You can set your ads to auto-bid and let LinkedIn manage your spend for you or set a maximum daily budget to set a cap on how high you’re willing to go on a daily basis.
While either of those strategies can be effective depending on your goals and total budget, our LinkedIn Ads experts have one principal recommendation when it comes to your bid strategy: Cost per click (CPC) over Cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM).
Why CPC over CPM?
At the end of the day, you want to be in the business of driving traffic to your website.
That’s what is ultimately going to help you convert leads and close customers. While awareness of your brand, product, or content is certainly a good thing, it’s not nearly as good of an investment as traffic.
If you’re going to pay LinkedIn to expose people to your content and brand, you want a good return on investment (ROI) on that spend.
Thousands upon thousands of people could be seeing your ads (and you could be racking up quite a bill in the process), but without a click-through-rate that keeps up with that pace, what measurable value would that represent to your business?
We recommend bidding on a CPC basis so that you can gather data on at least one stage of the process and make decisions accordingly.
If you’re paying for lots of clicks but not getting any conversions on your landing page, then you can optimize your landing page for conversion, tweak your messaging, or consider whether your ads are connecting with the right audience.
Employing those tactics to drive ROI while bidding on a CPM basis would be considerably more difficult.
5. Test an ad budget before you go all-in
Lastly, possibly the most important tip we can provide for people just getting started with LinkedIn Ads is don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Start with a small percentage of your ad budget and start testing.
At IMPACT, we like to begin all LinkedIn Ad management engagements with our clients with a month-long testing period with a limited ad budget of $1,200.
That gives our paid media specialists the opportunity to experiment with the ad types, custom audiences, messaging, and tactics we have at our disposal, and to learn as much as we can about what will and won’t work before we proceed with spending any more money.
The risk you run by charging ahead with your full budget straight out of the gate is simple: wasting money.
Much of any marketing strategy succeeds and fails based off how quickly it can iterate and evolve, and LinkedIn Ads is certainly no exception.
Even the most experienced paid media strategist will depend on testing and iteration to develop a winning strategy.
What often separates a great strategist from a not so great one is how quickly they can make use of a test budget to learn as much as possible and develop a successful strategy for when the budget ramps up.
Now that you're ready to start spending those dimes...
LinkedIn is a great place to get in front of business decision-makers.
Think of it like a giant networking event where everyone you’ve ever worked with is hanging out — and they’ve brought everyone they’ve ever worked with as well.
In such a crowded, competitive space, the best thing you can do is be insightful, educational, and targeted. You only get a few chances to make an impression on the right people, so make sure your message is right.
Using the tactics we outlined above when getting started with LinkedIn advertising will give you an edge on the competition and help you drive ROI with whatever budget you have at your disposal.