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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 12 , 2021

Learn the most effective ways to create winning ads on the social media app geared towards 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

As the largest professional network in the world with more than 756 million users from all corners of the globe — 200 countries, to be precise — LinkedIn is simply too big a marketing opportunity to ignore. 

Since launching back in 2002, the platform has grown not just as a place to connect and network but, among all the popular social platforms, LinkedIn consistently stands out as the most effective tool for connecting with your audience.

How effective are LinkedIn Ads?

LinkedIn has huge potential when it comes to paid social, particularly for B2B marketers. For starters, the platform has more than 61 million senior-level influencers and 65 million decision makers across a diverse range of industries and companies. This presents an unrivaled opportunity for marketing experts to link up with potential clients.  

While research by HubSpot indicates that social media isn’t the largest generator of company leads overall, it’s still a worthwhile component of a well-rounded marketing strategy. Over 80% of social B2B leads come from LinkedIn. Even if social media isn’t the key lead generator for your company, you can see positive results if you position yourself strategically.

Let’s dive into some of the most effective approaches you can use to generate leads via LinkedIn.

woman holding "like a boss" mug

A customized ad experience delivers tailored messages to specific audiences that match their unique interests. (Image via Unsplash)

Scaling up your 2021 LinkedIn Ads strategy

To compete in today’s digital marketing climate, you’ve got to be strategic. That means investing in what works, getting rid of what doesn’t, and staying on top of the latest and greatest updates when it comes to ad platforms. 

Here’s how you can attract more leads with LinkedIn advertising.

1. Create tailored ads

One of the biggest factors in the success of your LinkedIn ads will be targeting the right audiences in the right way. Luckily, LinkedIn lets you easily tailor your content and ad format to match their interests or requirements. You can choose from a range of criteria when targeting your audience, including:

  • Industry, company name, or 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

When running LinkedIn sponsored ads, you have several types to pick from for your campaign. These include:

Sponsored content
These native ads appear directly on the feed as users scroll through. They’re seamless, appearing like any other posted content by users. The sponsored content alternative makes your ad visible to all device types. They build awareness, nurture relationships, and drive leads. This makes them an excellent tool for creating an ideal audience from professionals interested in your brand. 

Message ads
Formerly dubbed Sponsored InMail, this ad variety is especially effective at reaching people directly. Its unique format allows for the creation of 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. 

Text ads
These ad types work the same way as pay-per-click (PPC) ads and appear on the site’s sidebar. You can choose between pay-per-click or cost-per-thousand-impressions payment options (so, whether to pay when a user clicks on the ad, or whenever 1,000 people view it). Your objectives and budget will determine the best choice for your ads. 

3. Pick the appropriate ad format

Once you determine the type of ad you want to leverage, it’s time to select the format that best suits your ad campaign. The formats you can choose from are:

  • 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 explicitly for sponsored content. You can add several images, which is ideal if you want to showcase a variety of products. 
  • Video ads – Videos are one of the most effective ad types these days. LinkedIn allows you to use 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. 

4. Personalize your ads

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

Of course, not every user will be interested in your brand or in the market for what you offer. 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. Create more content

LinkedIn offers you up to 1,300 characters for a personal post. When it comes to the content that sees the most success on this platform, it turns out longer is better. By using long-form updates, you can earn significantly 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 need to 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 changing it to fit LinkedIn format and audience.

Additionally, you can take advantage of third-party content like industry news. Simply sharing the news may not be highly effective. However, 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.

two men outside on laptops

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

6. Monitor key LinkedIn Ads metrics

To take full advantage of your LinkedIn Ads campaign, it’s imperative to measure it properly. These metrics can help you evaluate your effort and adjust your future tactics:

  • Click-through rate
  • Cost per click
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per conversion
  • Engagement rate

The numbers vary depending on the ad types you run as well as your industry.

7. Emphasize your video ads

On LinkedIn, video ads earn 30% more comments per impression than images in the news feed. That’s why it’s important to pay more attention to this ad format.

Depending on your current marketing goal, you can take advantage of the top practices listed below.

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. Longer videos may work. However, 10 to 15-second videos are more likely to be watched in their entirety.
  • Don’t aim for conversions with a brand awareness video. Analytics should focus on different metrics.

Goal: Thought Leadership Ads

  • Make sure to introduce your brand at the beginning of the video ad.
  • Use industry buzzwords if targeting a warm audience.
  • Add captions to your video to be more inclusive to your target audience and for those who can’t or don’t want to have their sound on.
  • Take advantage of words that suggest growth, potential, and profitability: “thriving”, “successful, “growth,” “progress,” “rewarding,” etc.

Goal: Lead Generation

  • Make sure to 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.

And remember: your video ads should be rendered properly for mobile devices as well as desktop.

8. Take advantage of Matched Audiences

LinkedIn offers a variety of effective advertising tools. To widen your reach, you can take advantage of Matched Audiences. The option is available for all LinkedIn advertising products, including Message ads and sponsored content.  

Matched Audiences offers:

  • Retargeting — helps market 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 ABM (account-based marketing) campaign by matching target companies against other LinkedIn pages
  • Lookalike targeting — allows you to find audiences similar to the current audience you work with

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

For more paid social tips, check out our articles on best practices for ads for Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

9. Monitor LinkedIn Stories 

In 2021, LinkedIn launched a new content-sharing format called LinkedIn Stories. It works similarly to Instagram Stories where your posted videos (20 minutes max on LinkedIn) and images remain available for 24 hours.

Once created, these stories appear as a tappable bubble on top of the user’s feed. While not available yet, LinkedIn is likely to introduce an opportunity for paid advertising in-between stories, as apps like TikTok and Instagram have done.

Meanwhile, you can use this new format to share professional tips, provide real-time event updates, host corporate Q&A sessions, and share brand announcements.

10. 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 it could 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 best to keep your LinkedIn ads polished, professional, and on-brand. 

The takeaway

When developed correctly, LinkedIn ads can deliver targeted, quality traffic to you. Keep the above tips in mind when you’re looking to fine-tune your campaign to achieve optimal results. 

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

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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