Running a Successful LinkedIn Ad Campaign

24 min read
14-Dec-2019 7:45:00 AM


LinkedIn is one of the more powerful PPC platforms for B2B sales. But like any PPC platform, you can waste a lot of money trying to figure it out.

In this recorded session, will introduce you to the different types of ads, targeting, and best practices of LinkedIn Ads so you can set up your own successful campaigns.

Recorded Webinar

Webinar Transcript

Hello and welcome. My name is Kevin D'Arcy, the chief marketing enthusiast with ThinkFuel Marketing. And today with our partners at TechConnex, we're going to dive into how to run a successful LinkedIn ad campaign. As mentioned, we're doing this in partnership with TechConnex who is a dynamic member driven association offering opportunities for technology companies in the greater Toronto area to grow through peer education, networking and knowledge sharing. If you're in the greater Toronto area, if you're in the tech space, I highly suggest you check them out. Their website is

So let's hop into today's presentation. And what's the objective? Really, what we're aiming to do is to introduce the various types of LinkedIn ads, how they work on the platform, and how to set them up. So we're actually going to go through setting some of these up as real life campaigns. So the benefits of using LinkedIn over ad platforms like Facebook, or Instagram, or Google, is that it's very, very highly targeted towards a B to B audience. The information that you can refine your audience by is amazing. It's very detailed, and it's unlike anything that you're going to find anywhere else for a B2B application.

The other reason is that you can attract people at all stages of the buyer's journey on LinkedIn. So whether they're at the awareness stage, the consideration, or the decision stage of the buyer's journey, you can develop ads that are going to be relevant to all of them. So let's talk about some of the types of LinkedIn ads. The first one we have is display ads or sponsored content, and they typically come in three forms. There's a single image ad. That shows up on your feed just like any other update that you would see posted by somebody. There's carousel image ads, which are more used for almost telling a story or sharing multiple images and calls to action. And then there's video ads, which are just like your single image ad, except for they have a video instead of a picture.

The next ones that you see often are text ads. And these are the ones you typically see used for HR applications or low cost advertisement. The HR ones that you see over on the top right here, that's usually where you see it, on the right side of your LinkedIn bar, where it says, "Hey," it's got your picture. It's got a logo of a company who's looking to hire. And they've matched you based on your skills, experience, industry, things like that. Text ads are like what you see in the banner at the bottom of this page here, where it's just kind of a little text call to action that you see at the top and sides of the LinkedIn menu. We typically find that these ads don't get a lot of traffic or attention in our experience. And we're not really today talking about HR ads, so we're not going to show you how to set these two types up.

But after we show you all the other types of ads, you're actually going to be able to very easily understand how to set these up if you wanted to. And then the last type of ads we want to talk about today are message ads or sponsored InMails. And so you may be familiar with sponsored InMails, or InMails in general from using a Sales Navigator account through LinkedIn. These different from the ones that you use on Sales Navigator because with Sales Navigator, you go out and you run a search for people who meet certain criteria of your target prospects. And when you find those people, you click on their profile, and you see a button that says send them an InMail. And then you can type in whatever you want, specific to that person. So you can be very, very in tune and relevant to them.

With sponsored InMails, it's more of an ad format, so you build out your audience, so the types of people you're looking for. And then it starts to just bulk email or InMail those people. You don't know who it's going to. You just know that they fit your target criteria. And the main difference between these two, really when it comes down to it, is cost. With the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, it's about $100 a month for that package or so. And I think you can send out 20 InMails. With the sponsored message ads, you could send them out as inexpensively as 30 cents a piece, 50 cents a piece, something like that, depending on your audience size that you're working with. So it's much more cost effective, but you don't have the knowledge of who it's going to and when and so on. So it's just something to keep in mind.

So let's talk about benchmarks. So what can you expect in terms of your return on investment for these ads? So based on 2019 research, display ads or sponsored content, they average a click through rate of about .35 to .45, so just under half a percent click through rate of people who see your ad, click on it, end up on your website. So that means if 20,000 people see your ad, only about 80 of them will end up on your website. And if we use the average of 3% to 5% conversion rate, then you're looking at about four people will actually become leads for you, because they'll take the action that you're on the page you're sending them to.

Of course, the quality of your site, the landing page, load speed, all of those different things will play into effect on that, how many become a lead. That's outside of LinkedIn's control. But using averages, that's what you can expect. With those message ads or sponsored InMails, on average, you get an open rate of 25% to 45%. So think of that like your email marketing. When you send out your email marketing, what percentage of people actually open it and have a look at it? The average click through rate though, so people who open it and then actually click on the link to go to your website is around 2% to 5%, so a lot higher than what we see on the display ads.

So all of this means that if that same 20,000 people received your InMail, about 7000 of them will actually open it and have a look at it. Approximately 245 of those will end up on your website. And out of that, about 10 of them will become leads. So you can see that the conversion rates tend to be higher, but you don't get that repeat process. You don't get to stay in front of them as often with the InMail because it's kind of a one and done. So with a little background behind us, let's look at building a LinkedIn ad campaign. So we'll exit out of the presentation here, and we'll jump into LinkedIn.

So to open up the ads manager, you just go to your LinkedIn profile, click up where it says work up in the top right corner. And then over here, we'll click on the advertise button. And doing that will launch the LinkedIn campaign manager for us, what you see here. If you don't have an account presently, then you'll want to click on create an account. You give it a name, so usually it's going to be your company name. You're going to choose which currency you want to bid in and be billed in. And this is really important that you set this now because you can't change it later. So if you're a Canadian company and you want to do this in Canadian funds, make sure you switch it to Canadian. If you're in the US, US dollars, or anything in between.

And then you want to link it to your page, so your business page in this case. So we might come in here and say we're going to link it to ThinkFuel Marketing. And what you'll notice is as I type it in, it comes up down the bottom and we can just click on that and link them. I've already got one created for ThinkFuel, so we're just going to cancel that here and use this one. So I'm going to click on ThinkFuel Marketing and it's going to load our campaign groups. So campaign groups are a way to structure the ads or the campaigns within them for specific reasons. So you might have one for HR recruiting. You might have another group for a webinar event that you're running. You might have another one for general lead generation. So they're for grouping the focus of the campaigns.

So in this case, we're just going to use the TechConnex peer group one here that we have set up. And when we come in here, you'll notice that we don't have any campaigns set up, so we're going to start from scratch here. So first thing I'm going to do is create a campaign. Now a campaign is a type of ad group that you're going to run, so it might be that sponsored InMail. It might be a display ad. It might be carousel or video. So I'm going to come in here to create a campaign. And first thing I'm going to do is up top where is says untitled campaign, we're going to give it a name. So in this case, we're going to call it our single image ads. Next, we're going to pick what the objective of this ad is. So in this case, we want to drive website visitors.

And now it's going to ask us to start creating our audience. So if we look down here, it's going to say, "What location do we want to target?" That's kind of the bigger, broad sweeping area to start first. And with location, you can choose if they are a recent visitor or their permanent location. So if they recently visited that location, or they permanently live and work there. So if I travel to Ottawa a lot on business, and I want to make sure that I'm included in that ad group, then I might say, "Recent or permanent location." For the most part though, we're just going to target people who are permanently in that area. By default, let's just put in Canada here for me. But that's probably a little too broad for our targeting. We're going to focus it down on three different cities.

So I'm going to come in here and I'm going to start searching for the area that I want to add. So we're going to say Toronto. We'll say New York City. And we'll say Chicago. And you'll notice it's added those three up there for us. Down here, I could also exclude people in certain locations. So let's say we were going to run an ad Canada wide, but we don't have any support for French speaking Canadians. So I could say in the areas to include, we could say Canada, and then exclude, we could say Quebec and then maybe some specific bordering cities or areas within there.

If we want to focus on people who are within a specific language, so we're going to write our ads in English, or maybe Mandarin, or something like that, we can change the profile language here. And then now here, where it says, "Who is in your target audience?" This is where we're going to get into the real refinement and the real power of the LinkedIn audience targeting. So let's say we want to run a campaign focused on sales managers in these cities who are frustrated with their sales team's inability to get a full forecast or pipeline. So what we're going to do here is we're going to say, "Narrow our audience further."

So when we do this, we have different ways that we can sort and filter our audience that we want to go after, because you can see it right over here on the forecaster result. Right now, we're targeting over 15 million people because we're essentially just saying, "Target everybody in Toronto, Chicago, and New York." So we definitely want to get that down a little further. So what you can see is we have options for the company information that they work for, their demographics, their education level, their job experience, and different areas of interest that they have. So let's say we want to focus on technology companies, so we're going to come into the company one. And you can see number of connections that they have, company that they follow, what industry it's in, the name. So if I have specific companies that I want to target, I can put them in by name, and the company size.

So let's say first we want to focus by the industry, and we want to get into the technology. So here's our options here for the different industries. I can come down to software and IT services. And I can say, "I want to focus on these three," but I'm not really doing internet providers, so I'm going to stay away from that one. So now you can see that the industries, they have to be in one of these. And we've taken that 15 million down to 900,000. Still too large, so I want to keep focusing that more. So maybe I only work with companies of a certain size, so I'll come back into the companies, company size. And I'm going to say, "You know what, 50 to 500 employees is the sweet spot for us." Now that 900,000 has come down to 150,000. Now a lot more manageable, but I still want to refine it down even more because this campaign is targeted towards sales managers. So I'm going to click narrow audience further. And I'm going to go to the job experience this time.

And so now I have options for functions, so which role that they're in, their seniority level, their job titles, skills that they have and how long they've been in that role. So I could choose job title and start entering in everything like sales manager, director of sales, executive vice president of national sales. And I've got to remember and think of all of these titles. And so if I'm really, really title specific, that would be a good option. If I wanted to be more general, I'll come to job functions. And I can scroll through the list here, or I can just type in the search bar, sales, and pick that one. So now we went from 150,000 down to 20,000.

But right now, because we're just saying anyone in sales, we're going to get sales reps. And they're not really our target audience. We want to get more senior than that. So again, we're going to narrow the audience even further. I'm going to come to job experience. We're going to type in seniority, and we're going to say that we want people at the director, VP, and C level. So now, you can see now we're down to just under 5000, a lot more manageable list and a lot more targeted. So if we were happy with that, and again, we could continue to narrow this down further and further, we can come to the bottom and say, "Save this as a template."

The reason that we would do this is that if I'm going to use this same audience over and over again, I don't want to have to go through this filtering steps every single time. So I'm just going to click save as template. But before I do that, you'll notice over here we've enabled audience expansion. This is on by default. And essentially, what this does is that LinkedIn will use the information it has on people to try and also show your ad to people who are very similar to this. It's really up to you if you want to use this tactic or not. A lot of the times, we leave it on, see how things go. And we can always pare it back afterwards. So I'm just going to leave it on, and we're going to say, "Save as a template." And we'll give it a name, so we'll say, "Sales decision makers."

And then the description will say, "Chicago, New York City and Toronto." And we'll say, "Save." Okay. So now we have to pick which format of ad we want to use. So in this case, I'm going to choose the single image. We'll set this one up first. It's also going to say, "Where else would you like your ads to show up?" So similar to Google, where they have the Google audience network, the display network, LinkedIn has a similar one where they have affiliates and third party apps and websites who all show their ads. I want to keep it strictly focused on LinkedIn platform, so I'm going to uncheck that. Down here, we set our budget and schedule. So you can just set a daily budget. That means that you won't exceed that amount. It can spend a little bit higher, but it's going to average out to be your $25 a day.

What I prefer doing though is setting both a daily budget and a total budget. So if I know what our marketing budget for ads is, I'm going to say, "Okay. I'm willing to spend $25 a day until we hit $1000." Down here, we can say, "Run the campaign continuously from the start date." So the start date obviously has to be today or forward in time. And what this setting right here would do is it would just run it until we hit that $1000, and then stop the campaign. Start and end date is useful if it's a time sensitive offer. So if you're putting out an ad to encourage people to join a webinar, obviously you want to ads to run after the webinar date. Right? So you can set these up to run until a certain date, whether you hit your budget or not.

The bid type is, there's three different options here. So you have an automated bid that lets LinkedIn control what your max cost per bid is based on their auction system to get you the most clicks because that was the goal of our campaign. Now if we wanted to optimize them based on a goal, so if we wanted to do an enhanced cost per click bid, so this is going to be again more focused on getting those clicks, or the maximum cost per 1000 bid. So if I wanted my ad to show more often, then maybe getting clicks, then I would click on that. I typically suggest just leaving it on the automated bid, and you'll see the best results most of the time.

The conversion tracking down here, we're not going to worry about setting this up today. It can be a whole exercise all on its own, and a whole different series all on its own. But this is just for you to track the effectiveness of each of the campaigns based on certain conversion metrics. LinkedIn's going to give you a lot of the conversion metrics as well. This is just so you can tie it into other systems if you need to. So if I'm happy with everything that we've built, I'm just going to click on the next button down here. And what you'll see is it's going to confirm that we want to save this ad format and everything because where we picked single image ad, we can't go back and change that once we've saved.

So if I said, "This was supposed to be a carousel ad instead of single image," too bad. I've got to build it at a different campaign now. So I'm going to say, "Yes, this is what we want." And that will bring us to the ads in this campaign. So I'm going to click on create new ad. We could also use browse existing content if we have a post that we've already put out on LinkedIn that we want to sponsor and move up higher. But in this case, we're going to create a brand new ad. So now we've opened up the image or the ad builder in LinkedIn. So as you can see, we have a variety of different fields that we can fill in to create our ad. We have the name field, which is our internal name for it, so it doesn't show in the ad. The introductory text, which you can see over on the right side here, shows up in the ad. Where we want to send them to, we can upload an image for the ad, the headline and a description.

The description, it's important to note that it doesn't normally show up. It's typically used for the expanded audience network that we talked about on the other page. But you just put something in there in case it does show up. And then we also have a call to action, which adds a little button onto the ad as well, so that it gives somebody a button to click to go to your site. So what I'm going to do is just quickly fill in all the information here, so you don't have to watch me type. I'll just copy and paste it in real quick. Okay. So now we can see. We've put in our information. So I just gave it a name as our single image display ad. We put in the introductory text of, buyers have changed. Is your business keeping up?

In this case, I just put in our homepage address. Typically, you would want to put them to a specific landing page that speaks directly to this ad content. We uploaded our image here for the fill your sales funnel. One of the things I like to do on images like this is include something that looks like a button on it. It just increases the likelihood that people are going to click on your ad. Our headline, which is the one down here, learn how ThinkFuel can help you grow better. And then as you can see, we have the description in there, but it doesn't actually show up on this device or in the desktop newsfeed. And for the call to action, we'll use learn more. And what that will do is create a little button on our ad that you'll see live on the ad. And that button, when the ad's live, will appear just right here. And it'll say, "Learn more." So if somebody clicks anywhere on your ad or on that learn more button that will appear, they'll get brought to your website.

Couple of things to note on here. I always suggest keeping the introductory text and the headline short and to the point. Try to keep them to a sentence. Don't try to cram a bunch in there. Get to your value prop really quickly. Get to what's important to the people who are going to be looking at this ad. Try not to put in sentences or paragraphs of information because people will probably not read it. And it can also get into the point where it says, "Click here to read more," and people aren't going to click on that.

So if we're happy with that ad, we'll just click create ad, and it brings us back to the campaign manager screen. So if I wanted to keep creating more single image ads, I could just do create new, and then create multiple variations of this ad with different messages, different images, things like that. It's usually a good idea to try out to do two or three different variations of your ad. Just that way, you can tell which one people like clicking on more, which message resonates with people and converts people into leads more often. Allowing you to track that can help you refine your ads in the future.

So if I was happy with everything, I'm just going to say, "Next." And it's just going to give us the opportunity here to review everything before we're set with it. And you'll notice here that launch campaign is grayed out right now. That's because the campaign itself is set to draft mode. So I have to actually make the campaign live before I can launch this. And it requires entering in my credit card number and everything like that. So in this case, we're just going to say, "Save and exit." And you'll notice that it saved that ad there for us. As you go through building out campaigns, you're going to get these little pop up messages on the bottom that you can just clear as they come through.

And so now what we'll do is we'll create another campaign, but this time we'll do the image carousel ad. So I'm going to say again that our purpose here is website visitors. Instead of typing in my audience all over again, I'm just going to pick from saved audiences, our sales decision maker one that we made in the last one. This is just warning me that it's going to overwrite any other audience settings that are already there. We'll say yes. And now you'll notice it's put in our three cities, and it's got all our job titles, industries and so on. So down here, I'm going to pick carousel image ad this time. We'll leave our budgets and everything where it was before. And we'll say, "Next." Again, it's going to ask me to conform, and we'll say, "Save."

So now we're going to create a new ad for this carousel style. You're going to notice that it looks very similar to the single image ad that we just built, with the exception that down here, we have the ability to add multiple images and multiple headlines per each image. So again, we can give it a name, the introductory text, which is okay the main headline for all of the cards, the destination URL, so where we're going to send them. Now you can set it up so each card or each image sends them to a different page. So if you were walking people through a list of all of your services, for instance, each service card could send them to a different page. Other ways you could use this is to kind of walk people through a complex process, tell them a story, speak to the challenges that they're having.

So if all of your cards are going to go to the same URL, you would just click this use destination URL for all cards. And what it'll do is it'll disable the card level URL down there. To create a card, you would just click here to upload your image, give it the headline. And then you can add up to 10 cards per carousel. So let me go ahead and fill this in and show you what we've done. Okay. So now we have all of our information in here. So we have our introductory text. We have the URL that we're sending them to. And then we've uploaded an image for all of our cards with a little headline for each card. Headlines are limited to 45 characters, so it forces you to get a really short and to the point proposition that people will click on.

Once I'm happy with everything we've entered, I'll come down here and say, "Create." And it brings us back to the image screen where we can see it here. Again, I'm going to give this campaign up in the top a more meaningful name, so I'm going to call it carousel ads. I'm going to say, "Next." It's going to again ask us to review everything, make sure we're happy with it all. And we're going to say, "Save and exit," down the bottom. If I wanted to see what this one looked like in a live preview, I can click on the campaign name there. I can click on the name of the ad. And I'll actually bring a version over here that I can see. You can see my headline and you can see that I can click through all of these images. These are great for mobile images because you can just easily scroll through them as well. So you see it kind of tells that whole story. And if I click on any of these cards, it would take me to our website.

So we'll go back to our overall campaigns. And here's the two we built, one using carousel ads, one using the single image. And if we wanted to, we could do a video one as well. You would do the exact same steps, except for you would upload a video instead of a single image. So now let's move on and show you how we can create a sponsored InMail or a message type ad. So I'm going to come up here and create a new campaign again. And again, what do we want to do? Well, in this case, again, we want to drive more traffic to our website. I'm going to open up and use my saved sales decision makers audience. Going to leave the same budgets and everything like that down here. Now I'm going to pick message ad. Leave my budgets the same.

So down here, you can see the bid amount for sending InMails is a cost percent. So instead of the cost per click that we had with the sponsored ads, this is based on how many InMails go out. So what it's telling me here is that it's recommending about 50 cents. People who are bidding on the same audience as me are between 50 and 60 cents. So if I adjusted my audience, so let's say maybe I didn't go after a market as competitive as New York City, I might notice that I could get away with spending 30 or 40 cents. So using the bid amount here will help you strategize how often your InMails will go out and how many people will see them.

Come down here and we'll say, "Next." So it's going to ask us again if we want to save, and we'll say yes. And this brought us back to the familiar ads overview here. So in this case, we're just going to say, "Create a new ad," again up in the top corner. And again, very similar to the other ones you've seen. We can give it a name. We pick who we want it to send from. So because these are InMails, they're going to go from a person, not your company, so it has to be somebody who is an admin of your company page. So it's probably going to be someone on your sales team, marketing team, owner of the company, things like that.

If you need to add somebody new, who's not part of your admin team, you can do this ad sender. You can just search out their name online or through LinkedIn and send them a request for it. They'll get a request to allow you to send InMails on their behalf. So once we pick who we want to use, we'll click down on the message. So this looks like just writing a normal email. We give it a subject line. We write our email in there. And we have a call to action where we want them to click, or what we want them to do, where we want to send them. And we can upload a banner image as well.

So let's show you what all of this looks like. Okay. So we've pasted in all of our InMail copy, so we're sticking with the same subject line that we've used in all of our ads. Buyers have changed, is your business keeping up? We've pasted in our marketing message, or our email to them. But now we want to add some customization. So to do that, I'm going to come into the top. I'm going to do, hi. And then under insert custom field, we can say, "Insert their first name." So now whatever their first name is, it's going to put it in there. And then down here near the bottom, we said, "We've accomplished this for other tech companies. We'd be eager to share some insights with you." Maybe we want to get a little bit more specific. So I'm going to erase tech. And under custom fields, I'm going to insert their industry, so it's going to be specific, whatever their LinkedIn industry is. It's going to say, "We've done this for other software companies. We've done this for other IT solution companies."

Down here, we can create our call to action, so we're going to say, "Learn more." Where we're going to send them, so in this case, we'll send them to our main website again. And then we can upload a banner image if we wanted to. I'm just going to leave that blank for the time being. And so if we look through here, we haven't given the ad a name, so that's why it won't let us save it. So we'll just call it InMail version one. We'll say, "Create." And so now you can see, here we are. We're going to give this campaign a new name, instead of just website visits. We're going to call it InMail ads. And we're going to say, "Next," review everything that we're happy with, and click save and exit.

If you want to see what your InMail is going to look like when it comes to people, you can always click on the InMail ad. Click on manage. And then underneath here, oops, underneath the three dots rather, you can say, "Send a test message." And you'll see right here that this test message was sent successfully. And when you send yourself a test message, it'll show up under your messages within your LinkedIn profile, so you can always go back there and have a check. So once we're happy with everything again, we'll just save and exit. And now we've built out a campaign group with three different ad types, all going to the same audience, that as soon as we put in credit card and billing details, we can turn it on and let it start running, and start marketing to people.

So I hope that's been a helpful overview of how to build a marketing campaign inside of LinkedIn using their ads platform. Again, to find more marketing resources, tools, tips, things like that, you can always visit our website at The other option too is if you're in the greater Toronto area, absolutely come by. Check out TechConnex at Again, they're a dynamic member driven association that offers education through peer groups, networking and knowledge sharing for technology companies throughout the greater Toronto area. So we really encourage you to check them out. Stop by one of the marketing peer groups that occur on the first Wednesday of every month, and learn more about things like LinkedIn and other marketing tools. 

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