You’ve likely heard that LinkedIn has rolled out advertising, but what you might not know is that it's ideal for certain types of companies and products. 

LinkedIn Ads can help you promote your business to targeted groups of professionals. Recently, LinkedIn added some interesting new features. In this guide, we’ll walk you through who should use LinkedIn Ads and help you get started.

Understand Your Audience

1. Is your business a good fit for LinkedIn Ads?
Not everyone’s is. Before spending a dime, ask yourself if you fit into the target market for these ads.

LinkedIn ads are ideal for business-to-business marketing —Do you sell something that a business owner or a professional at a day-job would buy? Can you explain it briefly? If you can, LinkedIn ads may be for you.

People go onto LinkedIn to better their careers, hire new employees, network, and waste a little time while avoiding work problems. If you've got something to help working professionals and business owners, great. If you want to promote a weight-loss program or vacation rental, stick with Facebook and Adwords.

You'll also want to make sure that you can articulate what your business does in a brief sentence. If you need a 5-minute elevator pitch to explain what you do, think about consolidating your sales message or definitely go for LinkedIn video ads. (More on those later.)

2. Are you targeting decision makers?
A huge pro to LinkedIn ads is the ability to pick who you're going to show your ad to in the business hierarchy. When you run a campaign, you select an audience by job title and category. So you can flash your ad in front of Managers, Directors and Owners if you like. Getting your product shown to decision makers in an company is golden, since they're more likely to do something with it—thus increasing your ROI for ads.

Who is your target audience? Go beyond age, gender and location. Do they have specific job titles? Do they have certain professional interests? Do they work for specific companies? Do they have certain skills? Did they go to certain schools?

Get a very clear vision of who your customer is, and this will help you know if LinkedIn Ads can deliver. 

Let’s review what ad options offer, and where LinkedIn Ads fit.

Pros of Bing & Google Adwords:
- Reach people actively searching for your product or service.

Pros of Facebook & Twitter Ads:
- Reach your target demographic, with target interests.

Pros of LinkedIn Ads:
- Reach working professionals
- Zeros in on highly specific groups of people
- Reach decision makers

*Hot tip: Make sure you want to reach business professionals and decision makers, and that you that you can describe your product or service briefly.

Creating Your Campaign

So you decide the LinkedIn audience is for you, and you want to get a campaign set up. The Campaign Manager in LinkedIn is intuitive and easy to follow. 

To start, you’ve got two options: ‘Create an ad’ or ‘Sponsor an update’. We’ll focus on ‘Create an ad’ right now.sponsor - linkedin ads

1. Name Your Campaign Meaningfully
Chose a name for your campaign, which will be visible only to you. The name of your campaign should reflect your marketing strategy. So if you’re focusing on a free trial, or reaching out to a certain demographic—include that in your campaign name.

Campaign names might sound like:

“Accounting Software 30-day Trials”
“Accounting Software Year-end Special”
“Accounting Solutions - Boston Area Small Businesses”

You can run 15 variations of an ad within a campaign, so make sure your campaign name is descriptive. This will help you evaluate which campaign strategies are running most effectively.

If you name your campaigns ‘Test 1’ & ‘Test 2’’—you might forget the strategy you’re tailoring your ads around.

*Hot tip: Name your campaign to identify a marketing strategy.

2. Choose a Language
LinkedIn won't translate your ad for you, but if you translate it yourself, you can put it in front of LinkedIn members who view the site in other languages.

For example, if you select Spanish, then your ad will only appear to LinkedIn members who view the site in Spanish.

3. Chose Media Type
LinkedIn Ads can be Basic (which include text and a photo) or Video ad formats. If you've got a video to promote, opt for Video. Note: your video must be under 120 seconds.

If you go for Basic, make sure your image is 50x50 pixels square.

*Hot tip: According to LinkedIn’s own optimization team, using an image will get you 20% more clicks. And choosing a photo of a woman typically drives the best click through rates the highest. Only use your business logo if you’re trying to build brand awareness. Don’t have too much going on in your photo — remember, it’s a small thumbnail and you have a lighting-quick opportunity to draw the eye to your ad before, poof, it’s gone. 

media - linkedin

4. Write Your Ad
LinkedIn ads have a headline, a description, a URL and an image. Of course, you’ll want to create clear, relevant copy that’s compelling. Think deeply about what makes this group of online professionals tick and write something to connect with them.

You can create up to 15 variations of your ad in a single campaign, with all 15 targeting the same bunch of professionals. Testing multiple variations of your ad—trying different images or headlines—helps you learn what resonates best with your audience.

Also, decide carefully where your viewers will land after they click your ad. Are you going to make a custom landing page or a discussion group page on LinkedIn?  The content you share on your destination URL should educate people so they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.

After you select your destination URL, pick your 'from' link—either your personal or company profile on LinkedIn.  It's a good idea to update your company profile and link from this, as it lends some extra credibility to your ad.

linkedin ads

To sum up:

Headline. Make it short and punchy. Try using the title of the people you’re targeting. LinkedIn recommends using a question.
Ad Copy. Describe the benefits of your services and include a call-to-action.
Destination URL. Dream up something relevant to this audience. Tailor a landing page for LinkedIn members, if possible.
Photo or Video. Pick something that draws the eye. Photos of people are best!
Link From. Link to your company profile for credibility.
Duplicate. Experiment with 15 ads. Try little word changes (like 'Buy' versus 'Order Now') and offer variations (like '50% off' versus '3 months free').

*Hot tip: Find out what resonates best with your audience by trying multiple versions of your Ad Campaign—use different headlines and and images.

5. Define your audience
After you create your campaign ads, define the professional audience that you’re pursuing with your ads. Each field you complete will narrow down the size of your audience. Keep an eye on the counter to watch how many LinkedIn users you’ll reach with your selection.define audience - linkedin ads

You ad will be shown exclusively to those who match your exact specifications, so pick your target audience wisely. You can narrow it down to company-level, position, number of professionals, or even special interest groups.

job title - linkedin

All fields are optional—except location. You are required to specify at least one area for your audience. This can be as narrow as “Boston” which will include LinkedIn members who indicated Boston was their location, or as wide as several continents.

Who sees LinkedIn Ads?

Anyone on LinkedIn in your target audience can see your ads. Here are some of the pages where they might appear:

Ads within LinkedIn

• Profile Page — where members view other people’s profiles.
• Home Page — where members sign in.
• Inbox — where members send messages and invite others to connect.
• Search Results Page — shows results when you search for members.
• Group Pages — where members view pages in their group.

Ads also may appear in a text link on the top of the homepage, without images and logos. 

text ad example - linkedin ads

LinkedIn added the ability to sponsor company updates, which display in the content feed.

sponsored company update - linkedin ads

Ads in the LinkedIn Audience Network
Ads can show on the LinkedIn Audience Network, if you permit it. This is a collection of websites that partner with LinkedIn to display your ad on their pages. You’re essentially reaching the same targeted group of professionals while they browse other websites.

Some of these websites might also be on the Google Display Network, so your ads could show up twice. Since LinkedIn has a minimum CPC bid of $2.00 and Google’s is often cheaper, you might pay more to put an ad on the same site with LinkedIn. Of course, your traffic viewing the ad from LinkedIn is more qualified.

Things to consider about LinkedIn Audience Network
Ads are placed here are at no extra cost, you pay the same as you do on, either per click (CPC) or per thousand impressions (CPM).

You can add or remove the LinkedIn Audience Network anytime. Removing this audience may limit how often your ads are shown.

audience network - linkedin ads

How much do LinkedIn ads cost?

You pay for ads either by CPC (cost-per-click) or pay-per-1,000 impressions (CPM). Prices, as usual, depend on your target audience and your competition. CPC ads start at around $2 and run up to $4 or $5 per click. CPM rates run about the same. The minimum daily budget is $10.

When launching your campaign, you will be instructed to enter a bid. LinkedIn suggests a bid, but also warns you to bid high, "Tip: To ensure you receive impressions, make sure your bid is within or above the suggested bid range."

LinkedIn has a CTR (Click-through-rate) minimum threshold around .02%. Meaning, your ad will actually fall out of rotation if it doesn’t get enough clicks. That being said, bid on the high side and make your copywriting shine!

Bidding high ensures your ad will show and a good position with a strong CTR from the get-go. You can always lower it later.

wpv - how to pay - linkedin adsLinkedIn also notes that you may be charged up to 20% beyond your daily budget for clicks or impressions. Since pulling your ad down isn’t instantaneous, you may still get clicks after your max budget was reached. After the system turns off your campaign, ads might show for a few more minutes. If your budget is $10 a day, and you actually get $14 worth of clicks, LinkedIn will only charge you for $12. (They eat the extra $2.)

linkedin - ads - wpv

Aside from the "Lead Collection" feature (lets LinkedIn users to contact you directly), there’s not much for tracking conversion in these ads. So tag your ad URLs to track conversion performance.

*Hot Tip: To ensure you receive impressions, make sure your bid is within or above the suggested bid range.

In summary

LinkedIn Ads are the way to go for reaching a specific niche of business professionals. Be prepared to bid high for your ads, and have patience in setting things up. When it comes to reaching B2B customers, LinkedIn can generate valuable leads.