An Introduction to LinkedIn Advertising for B2B Marketers

Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Rose

18th September 2020

If you’re thinking of advertising your B2B company on LinkedIn but are a little unsure about how it all works, read on to find out whether LinkedIn ads are right for your business and how to get started.

What is LinkedIn Advertising?

LinkedIn ads are a type of paid social media advertising which, depending on your business and target audience, could help you to increase your conversions, sales or leads and reach your goals.

What Types of Ad Can You Create On LinkedIn?

There are seven ways to advertise on LinkedIn:

  • Sponsored content: This appears in LinkedIn users' main news feed. You've likely seen these ads yourself and they may be the first things you think of when considering LinkedIn advertising. They appear on desktop, mobile and tablet.
  • Sponsored messaging: Send sponsored messages to your target audience, which they will see in their LinkedIn InMail inbox.
  • Text ads: These appear on the right hand side of the page and feature a headline, a short description and a small image. They are only available on desktop.
  • Dynamic ads: These ads are personalised to each viewer based on their LinkedIn profile data and they are highly customisable. They appear on the right hand side of the screen on desktop only.
  • Carousel image ads help you attract attention with an eye-catching image.
  • Video ads are also a great way of attracting attention.
  • Conversation ads are a new type of ad from LinkedIn and they are something of a "choose-your-own-adventure" for users. They enable customers to click through different options to steer an automated conversation, which can ultimately lead to the user visiting your website, signing up for a demo of your product, signing up for your newsletter or a webinar, or completing other conversions you may wish them to. It's similar to taking to a chatbot, but with clickable options rather than free text, and it's an innovative new way to advertise.

Why Advertise On LinkedIn?

When done well, LinkedIn ads can offer a great return on investment. Here are some reasons why you should advertise on LinkedIn:

  • As explained above, there is a variety of different ad types to choose from, which means you can experiment with different formats and see which works for you.
  • You can target very specific criteria that you can't set on other social media platforms, to show your ads to the right people. For example, you can target:
    • Job titles
    • Companies people work at
    • Company growth rate
    • Skills people have
    • Groups they are members of
    • The university they studied at
    • The education or degree they have
  • Because you can target people so specifically, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to generate high quality leads. Though choosing a very specific audience may narrow your reach, it also means that the people you do reach should find your offering more relevant, leading to a higher click-through rate or conversion rate than you may have seen on other channels.
  • You can remarket to people who have already visited your website or who are already in your email database. You can also set up lookalike audiences to discover new audiences similar to your current ones.

Who Should Advertise On LinkedIn?

LinkedIn ads are particularly effective for high-value B2B products and services, recruitment companies and higher education. This doesn't mean that LinkedIn advertising won't work at all for anyone else, but it does mean that it's important to think carefully and do your research before diving in. LinkedIn advertising isn’t for every business, and if you're a B2C or ecommerce company, you may have more success elsewhere. You know your business and your audience better than anyone, so you should know where your audience spends their time. If you're already advertising on Facebook and seeing great results, perhaps you've already found where your people are. You don't have to advertise on every social media platform you're part of, and spreading your budget too thin could be detrimental to your efforts.

However, if you would like to give LinkedIn a try, you could run a campaign as an experiment and see how well it does, and know that you don't have to be married to the idea of continuing. LinkedIn advertising is commonly considered more expensive than other paid social media, so you should also bear in mind your average transaction value and use this to decide on your bids and budgets.

Because LinkedIn ads are often more expensive, some businesses consider them to be ineffective and they have less success with them. However, sometimes businesses don't achieve success because they are targeting the wrong people, or the right people at the wrong time. Social media ads are different to search ads - when you show someone an ad in search it's because they have used keywords to specifically look for what you are offering. On social media, nobody has asked to see your ad, so they may be much further away from a purchasing decision and your ads need to reflect that. "Buy Now" calls to action are less likely to work, so your ads will need to find your audience where they are - which is generally at the top or middle of the sales funnel.

How Much Does LinkedIn Advertising Cost?

Much like any other paid social advertising or search ads, how much it costs to advertise on LinkedIn depends on your bids and budgets. It's up to you how much you pay, so you will need to consider how much each lead or conversion is worth to you and how much you are willing to spend.

You can control your budget on LinkedIn by:

  • Setting a total budget in order to deliver results quickly
  • Setting a daily budget for an ongoing campaign
  • Setting bids for the maximum amount you would like to pay for clicks, impressions or delivered InMail messages

You can even choose what you pay for:

  • Pay a cost-per-click (CPC) for every click on your ad: This is good for lead generation and conversions.
  • Pay a cost-per-1,000-impressions (CPM) for every time someone sees your ad. This is good for brand awareness.
  • Pay a cost-per-send (CPS) for delivered InMail messages. This is good for lead generation or event registrations.

How To Set Up LinkedIn Advertising

To begin advertising on LinkedIn, you will need to create a LinkedIn Ads account. You will then be able to create a campaign step-by-step, exploring the different formats and targeting options available to you.

But before you start running your campaign, you will need to prepare your landing pages. It's important to carefully plan what you would like your potential customers to see and what you would like to encourage them to do in terms of converting. Bear in mind our advice above on thinking about which buying stage your customers may be at and how you can meet them there, promote your offering and increase awareness of your brand or bring in those conversions.

Going back to your campaign on LinkedIn, you'll need to set bids and budgets - and you may want these to be a little lower at first while you experiment with ads and discover whether LinkedIn is the right platform for your business.

You’ll likely want to set up conversion tracking for more insight into how effective your ads are. You could also set up LinkedIn's Lead Gen Forms, which help you to gain high quality leads from your ads. They are pre-filled with user profile information, making them easy for users to send to you, and they are a great way of tracking your campaign's cost per lead and number of leads. You can even integrate them with your CRM tool such as HubSpot or Salesforce.

How To Analyse Your LinkedIn Ads Performance

Once your campaign is live, you'll be able to analyse the results and draw your own conclusions about whether you should tweak your ads, experiment with other ad types, or dive in with a budget you’re comfortable with.

Here are some questions you could ask yourself when analysing whether your LinkedIn ads are working:

  • What click-through rates and conversion rates are you getting?
  • Are your ads appropriate for your target audience and where they may be in their decision making process?
  • Which audiences are engaging most with your ads, and could you tweak your targeting to reach more relevant users?
  • Is something not quite working but you think you could improve results by using different text, images or calls to action?
  • How are these ads performing compared to search ads or other paid social ads you've been running?
  • Do you think you will achieve a good return on investment using LinkedIn ads?

When considering any paid social strategy, it’s important to do your research first and consider how relevant the platform is to your business. Even when you’ve done your due diligence, you won’t know if something is worth the investment until you try, so we hope this guide has helped you to decide whether LinkedIn advertising may be appropriate for your business and how best to proceed.

If you would like help with any social media or paid advertising, get in touch with SilverDisc.

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