How to Run Paid Ads on LinkedIn: A 7-Step Guide

With over 706 million members in more than 200 countries, LinkedIn is one of the most effective ways for B2B businesses to reach professionals from around the world. 

There are two main ways to approach LinkedIn — you can run paid advertising or you can post organic content from your LinkedIn company page. (Ideally, you’ll do a bit of both.) 

If you’ve considered LinkedIn ads before but aren’t sure where to start, this step-by-step guide is for you. I’ll walk you through how to create a campaign group (and the difference between campaigns and campaign groups!), set your budget and targeting, and create your ad. 

How LinkedIn Ads Work — And Why You Should Use Them  

LinkedIn ads allow you to target and convert business professionals around the world. Ads are delivered in users’ news feed, the right sidebar, or through LinkedIn messages. You can also leverage more than 200 factors to create laser-targeted ads. 

What are the benefits of LinkedIn ads? Consider these stats: 

Ready to get started? Create a Campaign Manager account if you don’t have one already, then follow the steps below. 

Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Campaign Group and Campaign 

Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll create a campaign or campaign group. If you’re familiar with Google Ads, this is similar to their campaign group

Campaign Groups add an additional level in the hierarchy of your account structure, so you can more easily separate similar ads.

This chart outlines the differences between campaigns and campaign groups on LinkedIn:   

  Campaign Group 

/         \

Campaign 1      Campaign 2 

/         \                   /         \

Ad 1    Ad 2               Ad 3    Ad 4

 

You’ll need to create a Campaign Group before creating a Campaign or an ad. 

  1. Click the “Create” button in your Campaign Manager Dashboard.
  2. Select “Campaign Group.” 
  3. Give your group a name, and start date. You can also add an end date, but it’s not required. 
  4. Select “Create” again and choose “Campaign.” 
  5. Choose the Campaign group you want your campaign to be part of. 
  6. Click “Next.” 

When naming campaigns, we typically suggest the following naming convention: “[Type of Ad] | [ABM or Non-ABM] | [Target Location] | [Audience Overview]“. 

Example campaign name: SC | Non-ABM | US | JT + Industry

This campaign would be for a sponsored content ad that will not be utilizing account-based marketing, targeting the US, and specific job titles and industries.

Step 2: Choose the Right Objective 

Now it’s time to tell LinkedIn what you want your ad to do. LinkedIn offers seven objectives, including: 

  • Brand Awareness 
  • Website Visits 
  • Engagement 
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation 
  • Website Conversions
  • Job Applicants 

Choose an objective that matches your marketing goals. LinkedIn is an ideal place to reach B2B buyers in every stage of the buying funnel. 

If you’re new to LinkedIn ads, consider starting with website visits. It’s easy to track success, making it ideal for testing different ad formats or just getting comfortable with the platform. 

If your organization has a robust PPC strategy on other platforms, lead generation or website conversions may be a better fit. 

Step 3: Build a LinkedIn Ads Audience

The next step is to select who will see your ad. LinkedIn offers more than 200 targeting options, including: 

  • Company size 
  • Company name 
  • Demographics
  • Location 
  • Language 
  • Interests 
  • Groups 
  • Skills 
  • Job title 
  • Job seniority

LinkedIn will suggest attributes similar to the ones you’ve added. For example, I added Marketing Manager job title to the attributes lists, and they suggested similar titles like Director of Marketing Communications and Product Manager. Use these suggestions to refine your targeting. 

You can also upload lists and third-party data to further narrow your audience. If there are specific people you don’t want to target, select the “Exclude” option and add attributes you don’t want to target. For example, if you don’t serve a specific geographical area, you can exclude that location. 

Once you’ve set targeting parameters, click “Save Audience,” this will allow you to use the same settings for another ad. 

Note: We suggest disabling Audience Expansion because we do not want LinkedIn to automatically expand your specific audience for you. We also suggest disabling LinkedIn Audience Network so that you can maintain control over what platforms your ad is served on.

Step 4: Pick Your Ad Format 

Each ad format has its own look and will help you reach different goals. The simplest type of ad is a Single Image ad, which is similar to a sponsored post on Facebook. However, LinkedIn also offers more complex formats, including video and dynamic ads. 

The different LinkedIn ad formats include: 

  • Sponsored Content: Reach your audience right in their newsfeed with a single image, video, or carousel ads. 
  • Message Ads: Reach out to prospects directly through LinkedIn messenger to share conversion-focused messages.  
  • Dynamic and Text Ads: Display ads in the right sidebar of LinkedIn to drive followers, increase traffic, or highlight a new product or service. 

Note: Objectives impact the ad formats available to you. For example, if your objective is website traffic, you won’t see the option to run dynamic or message ads. 

Step 5: Set Up a Budget & Schedule 

LinkedIn offers three budgeting options: Daily, Lifetime, and both. 

I strongly suggest using both — this protects you from overspending if you forget to turn an ad off, which is more common than you might think. (Ever seen a Black Friday ad in February? That’s an ad spending money with no return.)

Set your daily budget to at least $10 a day, or more if you have the budget. This will provide enough data for testing. 

Next, choose to run the campaign continuously or with a start and end date. There’s no right or wrong choice here, but setting an end date means you don’t have to remember to turn the ad off. 

Finally, review the data under “Bidding – Optimization Goal” This displays the goal your ad is optimized for and allows you to adjust bidding manually. I suggest leaving this as is; you can create another ad later to test different bidding strategies. 

Click “Next.” 

Step 6: Creating Your Actual Ad

LinkedIn will now prompt you to create your ad. If you don’t see the option, make sure you’ve added a credit card to your Campaign Manager account. 

There are three main components of a LinkedIn ad 

  • Ad Creative: The visual images of your ad, such as videos or images. 
  • Ad Headline: Shortest part of your ad that tells users what the ad is about. 
  • Ad Copy: The longer part of your ad, this may display in the bottom or above an image in a sponsored post. 

Different types of ads have different inclusions. For example, Sponsored Content features copy in the post, an image (or video/carousel), and a CTA button. 

LinkedIn ads displayed in the side rail look a little different. This example uses dynamic text, as it includes my name:  

No matter what type of ad you select, focus on creating a strong, actionable CTA. Use the copy to explain the benefits and the CTA to tell them the next step. 

The two ads tell me to “follow” and “download.” There’s no question what my next step should be! 

Step 7: Create and Test Multiple Ad Copies and Images

You can create and run just one LinkedIn ad. To drive higher ROI, consider creating multiple ads with different copy, images, and CTAs. (Just changing one feature per ad.) 

Follow the steps above and create a total of four ads:

  1. Original Ad
  2. Original Ad different ad creative. 
  3. Original Ad, different copy. 
  4. Original Ad, different CTA. 

Let those ads run for a week, then check out your results. Log in to your Campaign Manager account, then click on “Campaigns.”  

Here, you’ll see your campaign’s overall impressions, clicks, social actions, and budget. Social actions refer to LinkedIn members who interact with your content without paying to see your post. 

Click on your campaign to see how each ad within the campaign performs. You’ll see how much the ad spent, impressions, clicks, CTR, and average CPC. Use this data to refine your targeting and adjust your budget. Toggle off the lowest performing ads, and create new test versions. 

Final Thoughts on LinkedIn Paid Ads 

The B2B buying cycle is getting longer and more complex.  LinkedIn Ads can overcome these challenges by providing direct access to B2B decision-makers. With more than 200 targeting options and multiple objectives, LinkedIn ads can help your business get eyes on your company or drive specific actions, such as lead conversions. 

Need help launching LinkedIn ads? Contact the Marketing team today to find out how we can help you reach your social media advertising goals.

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