LinkedIn Advertising For B2B & B2C Brands – The Ultimate Guide

LinkedIn Advertising for quite some time was not the premier advertising platform for brands.  The targeting capabilities were limited.  The audience data was not as accurate.  And most importantly, the results for leads, engagement, and sales were bleak for B2B advertisers working to attribute revenue and lead increases to LinkedIn Advertising.  When Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion in 2016, the platform became a behemoth for not just B2C, but B2B advertising.

LinkedIn started taking major steps into video content and overall content to ensure individuals are getting the best experience from the platform and consuming rich content from influencers and individuals across the LinkedIn ecosystem.

In this guide we go through the many aspects of building winning LinkedIn Advertising campaigns including:

  • How LinkedIn Works + Powerful Statistics
  • LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Capabilities
  • Benefits Of LinkedIn Advertising
  • Powerful Advertising Tactics Within LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn Ad Types & Format Options
  • LinkedIn Audience Targeting (Types Of Audiences You Can Target)
  • Advanced B2B Strategies For Implementing LinkedIn Ad Campaigns
  • Discussion Around Conversion Rate Optimization & Sales Enablement
  • Analytics & Tracking With LinkedIn Ads
  • LinkedIn – Parting Thoughts

How LinkedIn Works + Powerful Statistics

As the premier platform for B2B advertising and frankly even B2C marketing, Propellant Media has utilized LinkedIn to reach professionals who utilize the platform to share their professional profiles with the world beit for brand building, engagement in useful content, building relationships with other professionals and those simply working to find a new job.

As the platform has made more investments in data and content, professionals have been spending a greater amount of time on the platform, thus making it more powerful for advertisers to leverage it to get in front of the right audience sets.

Powerful Stats

LinkedIn advertising has proven to become an effective advertising platform for B2B companies that need to reach decision makers.  But the stats tell an even bigger story as to why and how the platform is having so much more success.

LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Capabilities

LinkedIn was previously not a powerful platform for content creation and sharing of content.  But LinkedIn executives have been working hard to think through ways to get LinkedIn users to engage more on the form.  From making the platform more video friendly to promoting influencers, usage rates are continuing to increase.  Below are some additional powerful statistics related to LinkedIn content marketing and consumption:

social media marketing channels

top linkedin statistics

Benefits Of LinkedIn Advertising

Many professionals are unaware of the sheer benefits of LinkedIn as a platform, but here are a few worth considering if you’re interested in leveraging the platform for advertising.

The Only True Professional Social Platform

Many of the users on LinkedIn are not only professional but serious in their decision making.  Think about it…people are not spending time on LinkedIn to browse content the same way users o Facebook and Instagram do.  So you know when that person is on LinkedIn, there’s a reason.  It’s either to conduct research, conduct with other professionals, or consume thought provoking and useful content.  For that reason, this is a ready audience of decision makers that are worth connecting with.

You Can Target Your Audience With Accuracy

We talk about this in great detail below, but here is an example of targeting people in the finance industry with specific financial skills.  The sky is the limit for the B2B targeting you can do in LinkedIn.

linkedin advertising audience options

You can even take it a step further and exclude people from your audience.

And lastly, you can utilize Inmail Message Ads to reach individuals with an offer, but combined it with lead generation forms within the LinkedIn platform.

linkedin advertising targeting

Customize Your Budget To Your Business (LinkedIn Costs)

The minimums are not onerous on brands.  You can start small and then scale up based on performance and overall results.  So no $10,000/month minimums are required.  We’ve seen companies leverage a $20/day budget and other leverage a $1,000/day budget.

Occasional Higher Advertising CPM’s, But Bigger ROI Potential

We do admit the CPM costs are higher compared to Facebook & Instagram.  But the ROI potential is even greater given most B2B companies have much higher average customer values and the users on LinkedIn have greater conversion rates than other platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

Support Your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Campaigns

If you are running account based selling (ABM) and marketing campaigns, LinkedIn is an absolute must.  You can take your same target list for outbound sales, upload them into LinkedIn, and create a targeting campaign to those same users.  You can take it a step further and create Inmail Message Ad campaigns as well as sponsored ad campaigns to hit the same users you may have sent a letter or package to in order to get them thinking about your brand more proactively.

Create A Variety Of Ads, From Video To Text & Image

A frequently mentioned benefit of LinkedIn advertising comes from its ad options. When you advertise on LinkedIn, you can use text, images, and video. You can also use several different ad formats including carousel ads, email advertisements, and more.

linkedin creative ad types

The complete list of ads available on LinkedIn include:

Every ad offers different benefits, which is why it’s helpful for your team to review each ad type’s features before committing to it. The advantage of advertising on LinkedIn, however, is that your company can always update your campaign to a different ad type.

Increase Your Conversion Rates

Finally, a straightforward benefit of LinkedIn advertising: use it the right way, and you can increase your conversion rates. Some of the advantages discussed above already hint at this benefit; lead ads, for instance, remove some of the steps your audience needs to take to become a customer or at minimum a lead.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 percent conversion rate. For reference, that compares to 2.58% for Google search ads. Use LinkedIn the right way, and your advertising efforts have the potential for significant success.

linkedin advertising lead generation hubspot

Powerful Objective Advertising Tactics Within LinkedIn

If you want to advertise on the LinkedIn platform, it’s important you consider how best to utilize it various functions and combine with your overall marketing objectives.  Similar to Facebook & Instagram, LinkedIn starts with marketing objectives and you use that as a baseline to build out your campaigns for various clients.

Marketing Objectives

LinkedIn’s marketing objectives is the first place you begin when you’re developing ad campaigns.  All dependent on your objective, LinkedIn provides you with many options to start with.

  • Brand Awareness – Raise awareness for your brand.  In this case, you can limit the frequency (ads served per day per person) to 1 to 2 per day per person in order to extend the reach of the campaign to hit more people.
  • Website Visits – This objective is obvious, but the campaign will optimize and serve ads to more people more likely to click on your ads and visit your website.
  • Engagement – This objective maximizes overall engagement which can include link clicks.  In this case, the system uses its algorithm to find people likely to engage at higher rates.
  • Video Views – If you have a 15 – 60 second video spots, this objective matters to get more people to watch longer periods of your video.  This is a greater objective if you have video creative you want to use.
  • Lead Generation – Great for lead forms and capturing contact information, this works similar to Facebook’s lead form tactic.  We utilize this often and it’s even better when you combine with an Inmail Message Ad marketing campaign.
  • Website Conversions – This requires you to set up a conversion pixel on your website to track critical conversions such as form submissions, button clicks, etc, but once it’s set up, LinkedIn will go out and find similar people who are converting so they can deliver more of those types of converters to your website.
  • Job Applicants – For the recruiters out there, if you want to use LinkedIn for recruiting purposes, this is the most ideal tactic for you to deploy.

LinkedIn Audience Targeting (Types Of Audiences You Can Target)

After you have chosen your marketing objective(s), next it’s important to think through WHO you want to reach.  Below is a sample list of the various audience targeting opportunities that are available.  These are audiences you have the potential to either upload or control yourself.

  • List Upload – With the proper template from linkedIn, you can upload a list of contacts and match them to your ideal campaign.  Mind you it’s best to have at least 500 – 100 contacts.
  • Lookalike – If you have that same match list, LinkedIn can find similar folks who fit a similar profile targeting people who have converted with you in the past.
  • Other – In general other types of audiences you may want to leverage.
  • Retargeting (company page, events, lead generation form, video, website) – Similar to your typical retargeting techniques on other platforms such as Facebook and Google, Linked allows for retargeting to people from their company page, events, lead generation forms, people who have watched your video, and then of course people who have visited your website.
  • Third party – For leveraging third party audiences you may have uploaded into the platform or connected with a third party audience platform.

Audience Attributes

These comprise of the audience data LinkedIn has directly in the platform that you can target against.

  • Company – Various means to reach people at the company level
    • Company Connections – reach people who are connected to your company page or other company pages
    • Company Follower of – reach people who are following your page or other pages
    • Company Growth rate – reach fast growing companies
    • Company Industries – probably the most used attribute, reach people who are within specific industries
    • Company Names – you can use this for Account Based Marketing and target people at specific companies
    • Company Size – If you want to reach companies of a certain size, this is the best means of targeting
  • Demographics
    • Age – can be utilized to reach those who are over or under a certain age range
    • Gender – less utilized of a targeting method, you can reach only men or women depending on the product or service you’re offering
  • Education Level
    • Degrees – you can target people based on the the types of degrees they hold beit bachelors, masters, PHD’s, or even simply high school diploma holders
    • Education – you can target people based on the type of education they attained
    • Member Schools – you can reach individuals based on the schools they attended
  • Job Experience
    • Job Functions – these are the actual function or rather industries people work in.  From accounting and finance to marketing and legal, this is an often used targeting metric that allows for brands to micro-target their ideal audience.
    • Job Seniorities – Don’t intend on reaching lower level employees?  This tactic allows you to get to the decision makers in organizations including partners, owners, chief executive officers, but also directors, vice presidents, and managers.
    • Job Titles – Most of the target you’ll want to do will be in this tactics as you can usually get even more granular to the seniority of the individual titles.
    • Member Skills – maybe you want to reach people with skill in Salesforce or Pardot..  Maybe you want to target those who are great public speakers and you have a particular product for them.  This targeting tactic is used in that case.
    • Years of Experience – And of course, whether you want those who have a ton of experience or no experience, this targeting tactic is ideal in that case.
  • Interest and Traits – Many times despite all the various boolean logic and targeting capabilities available, you may not get to your target audience with the tactics above.  This is a last gap measure we use to help us get in front of the ideal audience.
    • Member Groups – There are tons of groups on LinkedIn.  And we’ve noticed for example doctors don’t normally list themselves as surgeons on LinkedIn let alone surgeons that specialize in a particular area.   So here you can search for a surgeon and know you’re getting into front of those who fit that demographic.
    • Member Interests – You can target individuals who interests align with your business from marketing and advertising to.
    • Member Traits – for traits related to the members on LinkedIn, these are individuals who exhibit a particular trait such as a frequent traveler, heavy desktop user, or someone who was recently promoted or changed jobs.  Say you are a software marketing company and you want to reach people who just got promoted or changed jobs, this target metric can be relevant.

LinkedIn Ad Types & Format Options

And after you have chosen the marketing objective and the audiences in which you want to reach, the final step is picking the ad types you want to leverage.  Essentially, what are you going to say to these audiences when you show up.

  • Single Image Ad – choose this option if you want to serve a single ad size to people which in this case is usually a 300 x 250 ad or a large image you can embed in ads for desktop newsfeeds
  • Carousel Image Ad – if you have more to share including multiple images, this ad format type can be effective from a click through rate perspective
  • Video Ad – if you have video you want to push, we recommend you keep it to 15 or 30 seconds.  But we’ve also seen more personalized videos that tend to humanize the brand which can be greater than 30 second or more.  But nothing over 2 minutes is ideal.
  • Text Ad – Text ads are just they, text ads that show up on the right rail and not in. your typical newsfeed.
  • Spotlight Ad – Each member sees their personalized information; member profile information is not displayed to other members. Members can also opt out of allowing their profile information to be used to personalize ads. Learn more about Dynamic Ads advertising preferences.  When members click on your spotlight ads, they’ll instantly go to your website or landing page. These dynamic ads may be seen on desktop or mobile devices and are tailored to each member based on their own LinkedIn profile data, like profile photo, company name, or job title.
  • Message Ad – message ads allow known as inmail ads allow you to send direct messages to prospects directly in their LinkedIn inboxes.  This is like email marketing, but in the LinkedIn ecosystem.
  • Conversation Ad – if you love conversation bots,  you’ll love this one.  Conversation ads allow you to create boolean logic based conversations that allows you to automate a conversation with a prospect based on their responses.  Greatly used for lead generation.

Placement Options

If you want to keep your advertising in the LinkedIn platform, you can do that.  But with LinkedIn’s rich data on its users, it created an opportunity to target those same users across other ad networks, which they call their audience network.  Many platforms have this feature including Google, Facebook, Snapchat and others.  You can reach up to 25% more of your target audience by running your ads on LinkedIn and their partner apps and websites.

For purposes of extracting a stronger performance from the beginning, you can immediately start excluding categories of apps and website in various categories including Careers, Food & Beverage, Personal Finance, Pets, and many more.  And in addition, you can block list groups of mobile apps and sites altogether. When you add a block list to your campaign, the platform will avoid serving ads on apps or sites selected.

Advanced B2B Strategies For Implementing LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

We believe in combining various strategies to devise the right recipes to achieve your marketing goals.  We’ve ran omni channel advertising campaigns for many breads.  Thus, below are some examples of tactics we’ve developed for B2B clients.

LinkedIn Message Ads + Carousel + Video Ads

In this case, we would send inmail message ads to your ideal audience first, and then follow up with carousel static ads and split test against video ads.  This 1, 2, 3 punch is the equivalent of email marketing combined with showcasing the display ads again.

Lookalike Audience With Message Ads

LinkedIn allows advertisers to build lookalike audience based on actions occurring on your website, site visitors, and even customer lists you want to upload.  This can be considered your sales enablement strategy where you find similar buyers and shoot them an inmail message to meet or discuss your solutions with them.

Leverage Within Bing & Yahoo Search

We’ve leveraged this tactic to ensure our targeting was even further defined in the search networks of Bing & Yahoo.  A great example is if we know that people searching for dentists on Bing are rather those who also work in specific industries, that is an appropriate strategy to execute on.

CRM Retargeting

We’ve uploaded targeting lists given to us by B2B and B2C clients who want to retarget those people who meet very specific criteria.  We’ve even combined this strategy of CRM Retargeting across other advertising networks including Google Display, Bing, Programmatic, and Facebook/IG.  But LinkedIn too has this capability as well.

Site Retargeting Like Crazy

We would implement a site retargeting campaign on LinkedIn that includes Inmail Message Ads, Video, Sponsored Ads, and even Conversational Ads to truly engage those who visited the client’s website.  And then once they become a lead, they are immediately added to your exclusion list to save on ad budget.

Discussion Around Conversion Rate Optimization & Sales Enablement

Many B2B organizations think about their advertising in a vacuum rather than truly thinking through the opportunities that exist to combine their marketing with their conversion rate optimization and sale enablement tactics.  It’s as if the two teams do not work more in tandem to execute campaigns.  Marketing is sales and sales is marketing.  And in both instances, there is a funnel that needs to be improved upon through each iteration.

A great example of what we see is when a B2B brand chooses to deploy a linkedin advertising campaign, but doesn’t have an effective website with gated content to collect more leads or a website that truly excites visitors and explains the offering.  Hubspot has in many ways revolutionized the concept of delighting customers.  We at Propellant Media are a Champion User of Hubspot, and have figured out how to combine our sales enablement process with more and better content while leveraging the same content for our marketing efforts.

If you only focus on lead generation, you are only thinking about half the recipe.  The other half is CRO and Sales Enablement.  If you receive a lead, but don’t nurture them it’s the equivalent of going to an Apple store to possibly buy a computer, but there is no Apple Display, the lighting in the store is dim, Genius Bar is closed, and the place has a weird odor.  You can to think about the entire funnel from the first point in which someone sees an ad from you to the point in which you conduct a demo after they submitted their contact information.  And I would venture to say for SAAS companies, it’s even beyond that.  It’s during the trial phase in which you are delighting those customers with a phenomenal user experience.

Analytics & Tracking With LinkedIn Ads

Data matters and tracking your campaigns matter.  We’ve implemented many ways to discern both lead flow as well as conversions tracked from LinkedIn Advertising.  Here are 7 ways to effectively measure the success of your campaigns.

Add UTM’s To All Your Campaigns

This serves as the foundation to effectively track the success of all your campaigns.  Utilize tools such as GA Developer Url Builder so when you are pulling in there tools such as Google Analytics and CallRail (call tracking software), can you measure your campaigns more precisely.

Ensure Google Analytics Is Installed

This is a no brainer, but we can’t tell you how many companies do not have Google Analytics installed.  Those UTM’s will be passed through into the GA platform so you can measure success through that specific marketing channel.

Consider A Call Tracking Software

Our goto is CallRail, but the beauty of this platform is it allows you not only measure phone calls, but also form submissions that occur directly on the website so you can see the level of form submission intelligence that is taking shape.  Please note the form submission tracking in CallRail only works when your forms are embedded in the landing page, NOT iframes.

Leveraging Lead Forms…Consider Zapier/API Integrations

We leverage Big Query, Zapier and other API data integration tools to measure the effectiveness of our lead generation campaigns compared to the traffic we send directly to a landing page.  This allows us to not only get a 24/7 lead count on the form submissions, but to see the contact details come in real time so the B2B companies can follow up immediately with a phone call or email through their sales engagement software.

Pull Everything Into Your Analytics God View

Platforms such as DOMO, Google Data Studio, Tableau as well as Tapclicks can help you accomplish this.  With Tapclicks, we can pull in LinkedIn Advertising, Google Analytics, Lead Form Submissions, CallRail and Call Tracking, and many many other API integration solutions to give companies that god view of how their campaigns are performing.

Parting Thoughts On LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn remains a powerful platform for B2B brands looking to reach users that fit their target audience.  The statistics below is a sample of the total contacts and leads we at Propellant Media have generated off a modest monthly media spend via the LinkedIn platform.  Our reply rate off of those contacts is 18%…meaning we get 1 out of 5 company contacts that want to book a demo after we emailed them after becoming a lead or contact in our Hubspot CRM database.

linkedin advertising hubspot

If you have not leveraged LinkedIn Advertising, you should seriously consider it as part of your lead generation strategies.  Regardless of whether you’re doing geofencing marketing, Facebook/IG advertising, or even Google Adwords, LinkedIn remains the perfect omnichannel advertising solution for brands.

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