Learn the most effective ways to create winning social media ads on the app built for professionals.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why LinkedIn Ads are worth looking into
  • The different LinkedIn ad options at your disposal
  • Tips for leveraging the social media platform properly
  • What elements make up a successful LinkedIn ad

Got a target audience of professionals? Then they’re likely on LinkedIn.

With more than 900 million members from all corners of the globe, LinkedIn is simply too big a marketing opportunity to ignore.

Since launching in 2002, the platform has grown from a place to connect and network to one of the most effective social media tools for connecting with your audience.

The platform’s audience data and targeting options make it a powerful tool for building highly-targeted LinkedIn Ads strategies. 

What is a LinkedIn ad strategy?

A LinkedIn ad strategy is a plan to use sponsored LinkedIn posts to reach and connect with your target audience. The goal is to get users to view and click your ad (and hopefully convert into a lead, subscriber, or customer). This is possible using ad targeting and various ad formats and types to appeal to a specific group of people (or companies). Using comprehensive strategies for LinkedIn Ads is proven effective for building brand awareness, lead generation, and even revenue. 

How effective are LinkedIn Ads?

If your target customers are businesses, then using B2B paid social media advertising on LinkedIn is a smart move. After all, it’s where millions of businesses and their personnel hang out. 

Some say it’s the “Facebook” for professionals and that it’s still in its early years, which means plenty of opportunity to build your brand on the platform. Speaking of Facebook—LinkedIn’s 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook (and Twitter). 

And B2B marketers agree, with nearly 80% saying LinkedIn delivers the best paid social results. Plus, its platform-exclusive Lead Gen Forms reportedly convert 5x times better than landing pages.

Hands down, this platform is a gold mine for the B2B advertiser simply because:

  1. LinkedIn has over 61 million senior-level influencers to champion your product to executives
  2. and 65 million decision-makers across various industries, with twice the buying power of the average web audience

This presents an unrivaled opportunity for social media marketing experts to “link up” with potential clients. 

Even if social media doesn’t typically top your ROI, it can bring significant results with the right strategy. Let’s cover some of the most effective approaches to generating leads via LinkedIn Ads.

woman holding "like a boss" mug

Today, two-thirds of B2B buyers expect personalized engagement from their vendors. (Image: Unsplash)

Common mistakes brands make with LinkedIn Ads

Some businesses choose to create their own strategies for LinkedIn Ads. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always pan out the way they hoped. And the reason typically has to do with:

  • Not setting clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your campaigns before launching them—otherwise, you won’t have any way to measure success.
  • Misunderstanding your target audience: Who are you trying to reach? What message will resonate with them? Knowing the answers to these questions is essential for creating effective campaigns.
  • Not optimizing ad copy: Keep your copy concise and include a clear call-to-action (CTA). Longer ads can be effective, but ensure they include a clear CTA to ensure your target audience knows what to do next.
  • Not testing different formats: LinkedIn offers several ad formats, including text ads and carousel ads. Test out different formats to determine if you need to use a different ad. 
  • Not using remarketing: Remarketing allows you to target users who have already interacted with your brand. This can help you drive engagement and conversions from your campaigns.
  • Only focusing on lead generation: It’s a best practice to mix brand awareness efforts with lead-driven campaigns to get the most out of LinkedIn. 
  • Using harsh call-to-actions: Asking people to request a demo as your CTA won’t work for a cold audience. 
  • Choosing the wrong types of LinkedIn Ads: Your audience and goals will determine the best ad types to use. For example, if you want to increase engagement, it’s better to use a carousel image ad than a spotlight image ad. 

How to turbocharge your 2023 LinkedIn Ads strategy

Want to compete in today’s digital marketing climate? Then it’s time to invest in what works, get rid of what doesn’t, and stay on top of the latest and greatest ad platform updates.

Here’s how to attract more leads and grow your business with LinkedIn advertising.

1. Create tailored ads

Targeting the right audiences with the right message is critical to your LinkedIn Ads’ success. Luckily, LinkedIn makes tailoring your content and ad formats to your audience’s interest simple. 

For instance, you can choose from a range of audience targeting criteria, including:

  • Industry, company name, or company size
  • Job title or position
  • Institutions attended
  • Age or gender
  • Skills
  • Level and field of study

These are the main targeting categories, but they get more granular from there.

2. Choose the right ad type for your campaign

LinkedIn sponsored ads offer several types to select from, such as:

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is a native ad that appears directly on the feed as users scroll. They’re seamless, appearing like any other posted content by users. They can help build awareness, nurture relationships, and drive leads.

Pro tip: Sponsored content gets the best engagement when the text adds up to less than 150 characters.

Message ads

Formerly dubbed Sponsored InMail, these ads are especially effective at reaching people directly. The unique format allows you to build personalized ads so you can deliver relevant content to qualified leads.

The ad goes straight to a user’s inbox as any other text-based professional message if the user is active. Message ads can reportedly work more than twice as well as traditional email marketing.

Text ads

These ad types appear on the site’s sidebar. You can choose between PPC (pay-per-click) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) payment options, meaning you pay when a user clicks on the ad or whenever 1,000 people view it.

Text ad campaigns are generally the most successful with audience sizes between 60,000 and 400,000.

3. Pick the appropriate ad format

Once you determine the best ad type to leverage, you can select the best format for your campaign. Options include:

Text ads

These only include text phrases and are located on the feed sidebar.

Single-image ads

These ads should feature an engaging, high-quality photo paired with short text. Single-image ads are ideal for sponsored content and are among the most common ad formats.

Carousel ads

This format is used for sponsored content. You can add several images to showcase multiple products.

Video ads

Video ads are one of the most popular ad types these days. LinkedIn allows video ads in sponsored content to get your message across, attract attention, and garner clicks.

Follower ads

These ads help promote your LinkedIn page to attract followers. This is a good option if you’re looking to grow your audience so more users can potentially see your content.

Spotlight ads

 Advertisers use these to showcase their overall brand. Whenever a user clicks on the ad, they’re taken to a landing page. These ads are only available with sponsored content.

Job ads

This is the appropriate ad format when you’re looking to hire new talent. They can be used in Message ads or sponsored content to help connect you with qualified candidates.

Document ads

Gathers leads and promotes engagement by sharing documents users can download from their feeds. Great opportunity to share a freebie, such as a report, guide, case study, or another valuable piece of content.

Conversation ads

These ads start quality discussions with the professionals you’re targeting using a “pick-your-own-path” experience. You can offer multiple options for a user to select from, such as “visit website”, “register for webinar”, or “sign up for newsletter”. 

Message ads

These send direct messages to prospects to spark engagement. Ideal to use after you’ve built a relationship with a prospective lead. Otherwise, cold message ads will rub professionals the wrong way. 

Event ads

These ads entice people to register for an upcoming event you’re hosting, such as a webinar, live conference, or offline meetup. 

Pro tip: B2B brands get twice the engagement and 3.5 times the conversions on video ads vs. static posts.

4. Personalize your ads

Personalized ads can get your target audience interested in your brand in a way generic ads just can’t. A customized ad experience delivers tailored messages to specific audiences that match their unique interests.

Today, two-thirds of B2B buyers expect personalized engagement from their vendors.

Of course, not every user will find interest in your brand or market. But by creating different campaigns that target different ideal client personas at the various stages of the buyer’s journey, you can be better positioned to attract the right leads.

5. Post strategic content

LinkedIn offers you up to 1,300 characters for a personal post. When it comes to highly visible content—longer is better. 

By using long-form updates, you can earn much more visibility than you would with a short post or embedding an article link.

When you want to post a link to a blog, ensure you provide value in your post by writing context on what the content is about and why they should read it. You can do this by offering a teaser or a quote that previews the topic.

Creating new content for your LinkedIn Advertising strategy can be time-consuming. You can cut costs and capitalize on your existing assets by repurposing content. Use content from your blogs, knowledge base, and lead magnets by editing it to fit the LinkedIn format and audience.

You can also take advantage of third-party content, like breaking industry news. Simply sharing the news may not be highly effective, but if you add your insight and provide an original opinion about the situation, you can get high-quality content without writing a long-form post.

Pro Tip: Keep your intros short to attract clicks from qualified leads. If it’s too long, you’ll pay for each time a user clicks “see more.” Since you’re paying for engagements, these clicks count toward your daily budget, but not your bottom line.

6. Monitor key LinkedIn Ads metrics

You launched your LinkedIn Ads campaign—now what? It’s time to measure the results to see what’s working. But understanding what to track is critical to avoid filling your data sheets with vanity numbers that mean nothing for your end goals.

Here are some of the metrics to evaluate your campaign performance:

  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Cost per lead (CPL)
  • Conversion rate 
  • Cost per conversion 
  • Engagement rate

The numbers vary depending on the ad types you run and your industry. While keeping an eye on your metrics is important all the time, the most effective way to ensure your strategy works is to conduct regular social media audits.

When you see something off, make adjustments to try and correct your campaign. At HawkSEM, we manage clients’ social media ad campaigns and regularly experiment, measure, and experiment some more. We don’t stop until we see amazing results. 

“I currently work for a client who used to promote Live Webinar sign-ups,” says Alyssa Galik, Senior SEM manager at HawkSEM. “We saw extremely high CPL values to these campaigns, which was inefficient since they weren’t lower-funnel leads. We transitioned our campaigns from running Live Webinar sign-ups to On Demand webinar replays, and in a matter of 60 days, we decreased our CPL by over 800%, and increased our lead volume by over 500%.”

two men outside on laptops using linkedin

To err on the safe side, it’s wise to keep your LinkedIn Ads polished, professional, and on-brand. (Image: Unsplash)

7. Optimize your video ads

Videos are eye-catching, engaging, and highly shareable. For some, it’s what makes the social media world go ’round. 

You can leverage people’s desire for video content by incorporating video ads into your LinkedIn advertising strategy. But before you do, consider your goals.

Goal: Brand awareness ads
  • Include storytelling and branding content at the end of the video.
  • Focus on real-life human experiences to make your product and services relatable.
  • Try to keep videos under 15 seconds since people are more likely to watch it to the end.
  • Don’t rely on conversion tracking if you’re promoting a brand awareness video—focus on engagement metrics, such as shares and website visits.
Goal: Thought leadership ads
  • Be sure to introduce your brand at the beginning of the video ad.
  • Use industry buzzwords if you’re targeting a warm audience.
  • Add captions to your video to be more inclusive and mindful of the 79% of LinkedIn users who watch videos with the sound off.
  • Take advantage of words that suggest growth, potential, and profitability: “thriving,” “successful,” “growth,” “progress,” “rewarding,” etc.
Goal: Lead generation
  • Introduce your brand at the beginning of the ad.
  • Use the combination of video ads and lead generation forms.
  • Make lead generation ads more dynamic, especially at the beginning of the video.
  • Communicate your key message in the first 5 seconds of the video.

Pro tip: Remember to ensure your video ads render properly for mobile devices and desktops.

8. Take advantage of Matched Audiences

To widen your campaign’s reach, you can leverage LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences option. It’s available for all the platform’s advertising products, including Message ads and sponsored content.

Matched Audiences offers:

  • Retargeting  Markets products to people who visited your website, clicked on a LinkedIn ad, or participated in your LinkedIn Event
  • Contact targeting: Allows you to market to LinkedIn members on your contact list
  • Account targeting  Helps you set up an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign by matching target companies against other LinkedIn pages
  • Lookalike targeting  Allows you to find audiences similar to the current audience you work with 

Users of Matched Audiences saw sizable increases in their CTR (30% to 37%) and post-click conversions (32%).

With the third-party cookie phase-out still slated to go into effect in 2023, these targeting tools can keep your LinkedIn marketing strategy afloat.

“LinkedIn’s Audience Manager allows you to create a retargeting audience based on how long someone watches your video,” shares Galik. “So if you have a minute-long video, you can create an audience based on if someone watched, 25%, 50%, 75%, etc. Even if someone doesn’t complete your video, you can still capture them to include in a retargeting campaign.”

So with that in mind, don’t be afraid to publish longer videos. And if you’re feeling like your data’s all over the place, hurting your chances of using the most of this tip:

“There are a lot of B2B third-party technologies that integrate with LinkedIn,” explains Galik. “Many allow you to share customer data or account-based marketing (ABM) lists on LinkedIn. Leveraging these will narrow the companies or individuals you’re targeting based on predetermined criteria.

For more, check out our articles on advertising best practices for Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok.

9. Keep it professional

Knowing the voice and tone your audience responds to best is, of course, key to a strong marketing strategy. But it’s also important to keep the ad platform in mind.

For example, a short bit of pithy copy with a GIF attached might do really well on Twitter, but fall flat on Instagram.

Think about what’s bringing your audience to this specific platform. For LinkedIn, the intent is usually professional, networking, or job-related. Because of this, creating an ad that could be deemed too edgy or wacky may not resonate in the same way it would on a platform like Twitter.

To err on the safe side, it’s wise to keep your LinkedIn Ads polished, professional, and on-brand.

10. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s extras

Certain LinkedIn features aren’t necessary but can certainly improve your metrics. These include:

Pro tip: Another extra you might consider is upgrading to a LinkedIn Premium account. LinkedIn has two relevant account upgrades that may be helpful, depending on your needs.

11. Don’t forget to optimize

It’s easy to set and forget your campaigns, especially when they start out on the right foot. But don’t sleep on your optimization efforts. Here are a few tips shared by Galik:

  • Frequently look at the job function, job title, and companies being served impressions of your ads to refine your audience and create more efficient campaigns.
  • Use the same ad copy, but two different create assets, and A/B test different call-to-action buttons. Consider calling out your target in the intro text, or including the asset’s name in the headline.
  • Update the content you share and creative assets you use quarterly to ensure you’re constantly re-engaging your consumers and presenting the most relevant information.

The takeaway

Advertising your business takes more than creating gorgeous, eye-catching ads. It requires a strategy to generate consistent results for your company. 

You can begin by using the tips we shared above and A/B testing different formats and ad types to see what works. But we understand you’re busy and may not have the time to learn the ropes of LinkedIn advertising. 

This is why we exist. HawkSEM is a full-service digital marketing agency that can launch and manage your paid advertising campaigns. So if you’re ready to jumpstart your LinkedIn ad campaign, then give us a holler

This post has been updated and was originally published in July 2020. 


Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation