With LinkedIn Ads audience targeting, you can reach precise audiences and key decision-makers — if you know the right targeting strategies, that is.

Here you’ll find:

LinkedIn Ads audience targeting presents an excellent opportunity for marketing professionals — especially those in the B2B space. It offers an unparalleled platform to connect with a highly specialized audience and decision-makers. 

This article will explore advanced strategies, data-driven insights, and common pitfalls to equip you with the expertise needed to increase the potential of LinkedIn Ads audience targeting in your marketing campaigns.

 What is LinkedIn Ads audience targeting?

LinkedIn Ads audience targeting is a sophisticated advertising method that lets you harness the LinkedIn platform to pinpoint and engage with your desired audience. 

LinkedIn is often described as a professional social network. It hosts a community of over 950 million members in more than 200 countries, primarily comprising business professionals, decision-makers, and industry experts.

This means that with LinkedIn ads, you can deliver your message exclusively to professional audiences who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.

LinkedIn advertising targeting options

The LinkedIn campaign manager offers a variety of targeting facets to allow you to find the right audience for your ads. You can target people based on location, attributes, and custom audiences you create. These are your specific options:

  • Interests and traits: These include member interests, member traits, and member groups.
  • Member demographics: Demographics you can choose from are age and gender.
  • Education: Educational targeting is comprised of member schools, degrees, and fields of study.
  • Job experience: Experiences gather data such as job title, job function, member skills, years of experience, and job seniority.
  • Company targeting: The details about companies that you can use in your targeting are company connections, company size, company category, company followers, company revenue, company name, company growth rate, and company industry.
  • Matched audience: The potential custom segments you can use are third-party, lookalike, an uploaded company or contact list, and retargeting audiences like website visitors.

As you scan the list of targeting options, you may notice that some of these options are available on various paid ads platforms. So, we asked Alyssa Galik, HawkSEM’s Senior SEM Manager, what stands out about LinkedIn’s targeting.

“The biggest advantage and differentiator to LinkedIn is the ability to use a company list, not just a 1:1 contact list,” says Galik.

She also notes that LinkedIn’s continued growth and large numbers of daily users “makes this platform more valuable than it ever was before.” 

linkedin ads audience targeting

(Image: LinkedIn)

Who should use LinkedIn ads?

LinkedIn is a professional platform where business professionals create profiles to showcase their job history, skills, companies, and business interests. There are a variety of groups, trainings, and articles that focus on job skills and keeping up with industry news.

That makes LinkedIn ads best for businesses that want to target other businesses or their employees.

“B2B companies who are looking to target specific audiences are the primary users of LinkedIn,” says Galik. “There are some use cases for B2C or ecommerce businesses, but traditionally, those who are looking to target specific consumers within a company are the main reasons to advertise on LinkedIn.”

 The audience of daily users within LinkedIn continues to grow, which makes this platform more valuable than it ever was before. 

Why you need to understand LinkedIn ads audience targeting 

As marketing professionals, understanding LinkedIn ads targeting is essential for several compelling reasons:

  • Cost: With precise targeting, you avoid wasting your ad budget on irrelevant audiences. This will then result in a higher return on investment (ROI) on your ads.
  • Relevance: Targeting the right audience ensures that your ad message resonates with potential customers, which increases the likelihood of conversion.
  • Brand reputation: By delivering your content to a relevant audience, you enhance your brand’s reputation as an industry authority.
  • Data-driven decision-making: LinkedIn’s targeting options provide insights into your audience’s behavior. This enables you to make data-driven adjustments to your campaigns and optimize them.
  • B2B advantage: LinkedIn’s professional user base makes it an ideal platform for B2B marketers looking to connect with decision-makers and businesses.

 What are my LinkedIn advertising audience targeting options?

LinkedIn offers a robust set of audience targeting options that go beyond the basics, allowing you to zero in on the exact audience you want to reach.

In your campaign manager, you will come across various targeting options that let you select a wide variety of demographics. 

Job function and job title

Job function targeting allows you to reach people based on their specific organizational roles and functions. 

For instance, if you’re promoting project management software, you can target individuals with job functions like “Project Manager,” “Operations Manager,” or “Marketing Director.”

You can also target users based on their job titles for even more precision.

For example, if you’re offering executive coaching services, you might target individuals with titles like “CEO,” “Founder,” or “Chief Marketing Officer.”

Job function and job title targeting are ideal when your product or service aligns closely with specific professional roles. 

It’s especially useful for a B2B ad campaign, as you can directly engage with the decision-makers in organizations.

Company size and industry

LinkedIn allows you to target companies based on their size. The sizes are broken down into categories like “1-10 employees,” “11-50 employees,” and so on. This is useful for tailoring your messaging to suit the needs of businesses of different sizes.

Targeting by industry can also be beneficial when your product or service caters to specific sectors. For instance, if you sell IT software that is used specifically by dentists, you can target companies in the dental industry.

Education and degrees

Education targeting allows you to reach users based on their educational backgrounds, such as alma mater or field of study. For example, if you’re advertising a coding boot camp, you can target individuals who studied computer science or related fields.

Targeting by specific degrees is even more precise. If you’re offering an MBA program, you can target users with an undergraduate degree in business.

Interest targeting and groups

LinkedIn ads audience targeting allows you to target users based on their professional interests, such as “Digital Marketing,” “Artificial Intelligence,” or “Entrepreneurship.” 

This can help you ensure your ads get in front of people who are passionate about specific topics related to your product or service.

Targeting people who are members of LinkedIn groups can also be effective for reaching a niche audience with shared interests. 

For instance, if your company offers cybersecurity solutions, targeting members of cybersecurity-related groups can be a good place to start.

Location targeting

Location targeting lets you narrow down your audience based on geographic regions. You can target users at various levels, from entire countries to specific cities, regions, or even within a certain radius of a location.

Location targeting is a great ad targeting option when your product or service is location-specific. For instance, if you’re promoting a local event or you offer region-specific services like real estate. With location targeting, you can precisely reach your intended audience without wasting ad spend on irrelevant locations.

Audience Network and expansion targeting

LinkedIn’s Audience Network extends your reach beyond the LinkedIn platform. It places your ads on various partner sites and apps, which increases your exposure. This option can help you tap into a broader pool of potential leads.

Expansion targeting, on the other hand, leverages LinkedIn’s algorithms to identify additional users who closely resemble your target audience. It automatically expands your targeting criteria to include these lookalike audiences. This also increases your campaign’s reach.

When diving into LinkedIn ads audience targeting, it’s essential to consider a comprehensive array of audience attributes, such as job titles, job experience, and company industry. 

By incorporating several variables, you can establish connections with professionals whose qualifications align closely with your product or service and foster a stronger sense of relevancy and trust. 

Additionally, leveraging the power of company connections can enhance your campaigns by reaching individuals who may share common professional networks or associations, amplifying the potential impact of your marketing efforts.

 Expert strategies for LinkedIn ads audience targeting

While LinkedIn offers a wide range of targeting options, mastering LinkedIn ads audience targeting involves implementing funnels and creating advanced strategies. Using all of the tools provided to you will help you achieve greater success. 

“There are various strategies to consider when looking at a company list or a contact list, as well as even a look-a-like audience, which LinkedIn can also produce from your 1st party data,” explains Galik.

“By utilizing all different parts of LinkedIn audiences, you can create a strategy for every stage of the funnel for every use case of your business.” 

Here are some expert tactics to take your LinkedIn ads campaigns to the next level.

Layer multiple targeting criteria

A powerful tactic on LinkedIn is combining multiple targeting criteria. For example, you can target professionals who are both in the “Marketing” industry and have “Director” or “Vice President” job titles. 

This approach narrows down your audience to a highly specific group most likely to respond positively to your message.

Use matched audiences

LinkedIn offers a feature called Matched Audiences, which allows you to upload lists of email contacts or website retargeting data. 

This enables you to target users who have interacted with your brand through your website or previous email contacts.

According to LinkedIn, on its pilot program for Matched Audiences, advertisers saw an average 30% increase in click-through rate (CTR) and a 14% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with this targeting strategy.

A/B test your ad creatives

Testing different ad creatives is a fundamental marketing strategy for all digital advertising. But on LinkedIn, you can see some great results from it. 

Test various ad formats (e.g., sponsored content, sponsored InMail, display ads, text ads, video ads) to see which performs best with your target audience. 

Additionally, experiment with ad copy, visuals, and CTAs to discover what resonates most with your audience.

Dynamic ads for personalization

LinkedIn offers Dynamic Ads that automatically personalize content for each viewer based on their LinkedIn profile data. 

This level of personalization can significantly increase engagement. For example, a LinkedIn case study with In Touch Networks used Dynamic ads to send highly-targeted messages, introducing and familiarizing the business to its audience. 

In Touch Networks offers an exclusive networking platform that hosts exclusive roles and opportunities for elite professionals seeking non-executive careers. 

Placing the LinkedIn member next to the In Touch Network’s brand, along with a message that lines them up with customized opportunities (e.g., “Hi Tom, we have non-exec roles tailored to your expertise”), gives them a way to frame their value proposition and generate them a profitable ROI.

Focus on high-value actions

Rather than targeting for visibility, prioritize targeting people who are more likely to take high-value actions, such as signing up for a demo, downloading a whitepaper, or requesting a consultation.

Use LinkedIn’s lead generation forms to make it seamless for users to take these actions directly within the platform.

Dayparting and bid adjustments

LinkedIn allows you to schedule your ads to run during specific times of the day or days of the week. 

Review your analytics, see what time of day your audience is most active, and then schedule your ads accordingly. 

Additionally, consider adjusting your bid strategy to increase or decrease bids during peak or off-peak times to increase efficiency further.

linkedin ads audience targeting

(Image: Adobe Stock)

How are LinkedIn ads different from Facebook, Instagram or X? 

Businesses have many options for paid ads these days. You may be wondering how LinkedIn is different from other platforms. 

“While a lot of the other platforms offer some similarities in terms of criteria with company names or job titles, it is not as exhaustive in those platforms as it is with LinkedIn, or you aren’t given as many criteria to build out your custom audience,” says Galik. 

“Not only is the audience targeting more robust when it comes to consumer demographics, but the channel itself also creates a different mindset when someone is using it. Consumers are on Facebook, Instagram, or X multiple times throughout the day, mindlessly scrolling, just looking to be entertained.” 

Galik adds that, for the most part, when a consumer is engaged in LinkedIn, they are looking for new business opportunities, researching content for how to improve a part of their day, or looking to network with fellow individuals in their field.

That shift in mindset allows for the engagement to potentially be higher, especially for B2B companies, than the other channels.

 Common LinkedIn targeting pitfalls to avoid

Implementing advanced LinkedIn targeting strategies is essential. But it’s equally important to avoid the common mistakes that many marketers may make unintentionally.

Neglecting audience size considerations

Failing to strike the right balance in your audience size can have a negative impact on your LinkedIn ads and ROI. 

Targeting an audience that’s too broad might result in wasted ad spend. On the other hand, an overly narrow audience can limit your campaign’s reach.

Regularly assess the size of your target audience relative to your campaign objectives. 

Experiment with different targeting criteria and audience sizes to find the sweet spot that maximizes both reach and relevance.

Overlooking negative targeting

Not using negative targeting can lead to ad impressions with people who aren’t interested in your product or service. In turn, this results in lower CTR and higher CPC.

Implement negative targeting to exclude specific job titles, industries, or company sizes that are unlikely to convert. This ensures that your ads are shown to the most relevant professionals.

Failing to refresh creatives

Using the same ad creatives for an extended period can lead to ad fatigue. This, in turn, causes a decline in engagement and CTR.

Sometimes, it’s easy for us to take the mentality of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When you find a great ad creative that performs well, it’s normal to want to make the most of it.

But it’s also important to remember that your audience will tire of seeing it quickly. That means you must stay on the ball and develop new designs regularly.

Regularly refresh your ad creatives, including ad copy, visuals, and CTAs. A/B tests different variations to keep your audience engaged and maintain campaign performance over time.

Neglecting mobile optimization

If you neglect the mobile experience, you can limit your campaign’s effectiveness. According to Foundation Inc., 63 million unique mobile LinkedIn users access the platform via mobile devices.

Ensure that your ad creatives are optimized for mobile viewing. Test your ads on various mobile devices to guarantee they display correctly and are easy to interact with. 

The takeaway

LinkedIn Ads Audience Targeting can help you reach and connect with a highly specialized audience. LinkedIn has powerful targeting capabilities that range from job title to company size. Plus, its analytics can deliver data-driven insights to enhance your campaign’s effectiveness. 

Whether it’s the precision of multi-layered targeting, personalized messaging, or negative targeting, you can use several advanced strategies to navigate LinkedIn’s ad platform confidently. 

As you refine your approach, remember that LinkedIn’s dynamic ecosystem calls for ongoing adaptation and innovation to ensure your campaigns remain effective.

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