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How to Use LinkedIn Ads to Grow Your Business in 2020

LinkedIn Ads are often put on the backburner in favor of Google Ads and Facebook ads. However, if you overlook the world’s largest professional networking platform, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

With 690+ million users in more than 200 countries and territories, there’s no better way to directly connect with your target audience. 

Add this to the fact that LinkedIn’s audience has 2x the buying power of the average web audience, and you have a winner on your hands.

Now that you understand the power of LinkedIn, there’s an important question to answer: what’s the best way to get your message in front of your audience?

While there are many strategies to consider—from growing your connection count to publishing value-packed updates and posts—LinkedIn Ads may be the best place to focus your resources.

In this guide, we’ll answer five of the most frequently asked questions about how to use LinkedIn Ads to grow your business.

How do you create a LinkedIn Ad?

Creating a LinkedIn ad starts with visiting the “Marketing Solutions” portion of the site. Here’s what you’ll see:

Next, click on the “Create ad” box to start the process. This takes you to the LinkedIn Campaign Manager, where you’ll create an account name, choose your currency, and select the LinkedIn page to associate with your account (this is optional).

After clicking “Create account” you’ll see a page that looks like this:

When getting started with LinkedIn ads, I urge you to poke around this page for a few hours. Test every feature and make notes on what you do and don’t like. This knowledge is invaluable, as it’ll provide you with everything you need to create and publish your first ad.

One of the first things you should do is choose an objective. For example, if lead generation is what you’re after, click on it for a more detailed look at how to create an ad.

You get the point. There’s a lot to see and do from the comfort of the campaign manager. You won’t get everything right the first time, and that’s okay. Trial and error is all part of the process.

Is there more than one type of LinkedIn Ad?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. There are four yes’s, one for each ad type on LinkedIn.

As noted above, there’s no way of knowing upfront which ad format will convert best. You may have an idea, but you won’t know for sure until you give each one a try.

Let’s take a look at the four options, along with how LinkedIn describes each one:

1. Sponsored Content

With sponsored content, you can promote your company updates to targeted audiences and build brand awareness on both desktop and mobile devices. 

Sponsored content comes in three distinct forms:

  • Single image ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads

Here’s an example of what it looks like if you opt to run native ads across desktop and mobile:

Use sponsored content to target the professionals you want to reach, in the manner that best serves them.

2. Sponsored Messaging

Engage your prospects in LinkedIn Messaging, where professional conversations happen.

Messaging is one of the most used LinkedIn features, as it allows you to connect with your audience through their inbox (and chat).

However, if you want to engage through messaging at scale, you need a strategy. And that’s where sponsored messaging comes into play.

With this approach, you can send native ads directly to your audience’s LinkedIn Messaging. So, when they check their inbox, they see your ad. There’s no way around it.

Some of the benefits of sponsored messaging include:

  • Reach your audience in a personalized manner
  • Engage with prospects to move them through your pipeline
  • Accelerate the number of leads you generate

The two types of sponsored messages are message ads and conversation ads.

With message ads, you send direct messages to your audience. With conversation ads, you provide a “choose-your-own-path experience” experience.

Here’s an example of a sponsored message ad:

You know your prospects spend a lot of time with LinkedIn Messaging, so sponsored messaging shouldn’t be overlooked. 

3. Text Ads

On the surface, text ads sound old school. However, it’s often the best way to generate leads in short order. Here’s how LinkedIn describes this type of ad:

Add a compelling headline, description and even a 50x50 image. Easy setup means you can start reaching your target audience in minutes.

It’s the same approach as almost every advertising platform, such as Google Ads. You’ll choose your audience, create your ad, set a budget, and track click-throughs and leads.

Note: there are both cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-impression (CPM) pricing options.

4. Dynamic Ads

Expand campaign reach with ads automatically personalized to your audience.

There’s only one thing that matters when advertising your business: conversions. 

Dynamic ads allow you to activate custom ads for members based on profile data. Subsequently, since they’re seeing the ad that best suits them, there’s a greater chance of a higher conversion rate.

It’s 2020...and personalization is the name of the game. This holds true with both advertising and marketing.  

Dynamic ads allow you to take your personalization to the next level.

Who should you target on LinkedIn?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but there’s one thing you need to remember: LinkedIn has nearly 700 million users—so, you won’t have a hard time finding an audience to target.

LinkedIn targeting is quite advanced compared to many other platforms, which allows you to better connect with your audience while keeping costs down. 

As expected, LinkedIn has powerful career-related filters in place, as opposed to those for personal demographics (which is more common on Facebook).

You can build your target audience by:

  • Title 
  • Company size
  • Geographic location 
  • Industry

Maybe you only want to connect with VPs of Sales at technology companies in Austin, Texas. 

Perhaps you’re most interested in engineering professionals at companies with more than 1,000 employees. 

There’s no shortage of filtering options, which allows you to build the perfect target audience. And that’s exactly what you need if you want to get the most bang for your buck. 

Tip: experiment with more than one audience, as this allows you to tweak future ad campaigns based on what has and hasn’t worked in the past. 

How much do LinkedIn ads cost?

It would be nice if there was an easy answer to this question, but there’s not. Like every other ad platform, it depends on a variety of factors ranging from the type of ad to the audience you’re targeting.

The first decision you need to make is whether you’re interested in pay per click (PPC), cost per impression (CPM), or perhaps you use a hybrid model if you’re running more than one type of ad.

Note: with LinkedIn Message ads, you’ll pay on a cost-per-send basis. In other words, you pay when a message is successfully delivered to someone in your target audience. 

The most important thing to remember is that you can set a budget. You can control spending in three ways:

  • Total budget: Use this when you want fast results within a predetermined budget
  • Daily budget: If you want your ad campaign to run 24/7, a daily budget makes the most sense
  • Setting bids: Set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for clicks, impressions, or messages delivered. 

According to WebFX, most companies have a CPC of $5.26 and $6.59 per 1000 impressions when advertising on LinkedIn.

So, if you have a daily budget of $100, you can expect to receive roughly 19 clicks per day. 

Start small, get your feet wet, and track everything (more on this below). As your campaigns become more successful, slowly increase your budget while ensuring that your results don’t slip. 

What’s the best way to track LinkedIn ad performance?

You can spend more money than all of your competitors combined, but if they’re not performing up to your standards you’re throwing away money. That's why proper tracking is a necessity.

LinkedIn has a built-in tool—Conversion Tracking—to help you keep tabs on your performance. It’s powerful, accurate, and easy to use. 

Here’s how to use this tool:

1. Connect ads to conversions

This allows you to measure the impact of ads on your website, including but not limited to traffic, downloads, and purchases. Plus, you can track conversions from people who viewed your ad, without clicking.

Here’s an overview of the type of data you can expect:

With filters, you can drill down to better understand your conversions, thus allowing you to adjust your campaigns accordingly.

2. Get help deciding what to do next

With simplified analytics, you never have to guess as to what you should do next. LinkedIn Conversion Tracking gives you a push in the right direction.

This allows you to answer the million-dollar question: what type of people are converting via your ads?

If you don’t know the answer, everything you do in the future is hit or miss. Once you create the perfect buyer persona, however, your targeting will immediately improve.

You have access to data including:

  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Industry

Check this out:

In this example, you see that individuals in the marketing industry have the highest conversion rate. However, you also see that there were only 44 conversions, which is far less than in other industries.

You can spend hours on end combing through this data, tweaking your campaign, and devising new strategies.

3. Use automation to your advantage

LinkedIn wants you to succeed. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away from its advertising platform and never return again.  

That’s why they have a variety of automation tools you can use to target the right audience, stay within budget, and boost your conversion rate. For example, automated bidding allows you to set the optimal bid for reaching members who will convert. 

If you have no plans to track the performance of your LinkedIn ads, you’re taking a big risk. You may have some success here and there, but you’re probably missing out on something much bigger and predictable. 

Final Thoughts on LinkedIn Ads

There’s no denying the power of LinkedIn Ads. Now that you know the basics, there’s nothing standing between you and launching your first campaign.

According to a recent study, the United States offers the largest LinkedIn advertising audience with a reach of approximately 160 million users. Furthermore, the US audience has the highest potential to be reached via advertisements.

Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t let the details slow you down. Create your first campaign, track the results, and make changes until you reach your desired performance. You may come to find that LinkedIn ads are just what you need to grow your business! 

Written by Chris Bibey

Chris Bibey is a freelance writer and content marketing consultant based in Pittsburgh, PA. For 10+ years, Chris has provided content creation and marketing services to entrepreneurs, companies, and agencies spanning a variety of industries.