LinkedIn as an advertising platform may not be the best solution out there. It is still undergoing product revamps and modifications to suit advertising needs better, this year. It does, however, know you target audience best for account-based marketing programs. Like every product have an area of improvement, here are 10 such common issues and problems I discovered while working with LinkedIn Advertising over the last three years.
1.Inconsistent List Match Rate in Matched Audience
You can create Audience by creating website audience or uploading a list of accounts or contacts to include or exclude in your campaigns under Account assets as given in the screenshot below. 300 is the minimum threshold value for a list to be ready for running campaigns as such.
The problem is that the list match rate observed under “Uploaded List Audience” changes with time. It can reduce or increase on its own. This is true even for a live campaign. I observed this during July to September this year to be specific. It has a significant impact on your advertising campaigns as more list match rate means more impressions being served, better changes for your audience to click your ads and vice versa.
Quick Pro Tip:
Keep a close watch on list match rates within your live Campaigns if any being used. This reason is not discoverable by usual metrics LinkedIn Ads provide as such.
For instance in the screenshots below the match rate for same list of accounts has changed thrice from 15 August to 16 September. (80% then 35% and then less than 5%)
There is no way to edit a Lead gen form which is most promising offering from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. You will have to create a new form all over again if you wish to edit anything at all. It is painful ☹
Secondly, you can choose a maximum of 7 form fields only. This is more like a limitation though!
Social engagements with lead gen forms just don’t work. If you intend to show ads to your target audience alone, they will see an auto populated lead gen form upon clicking your ad, if any among your target audience happen to like, comment or share it further, the followers of your target audience will see a mere image and post – nothing remains clickable on that ad. In short, followers of your target audience cannot take the desired action you want them to take.
Quick Pro Tip: Always create a landing page version on your website despite of using lead gen forms and include that URL in your ad copy/promotion. A lead gen ad when shared by your audience will get you more leads organically then.
3.Audience Targeting is not accurate
I was trying to setup a campaign in early November and surprisingly, Antarctica showed about 12000+ people available by IP addresses among my target audience which is not possible, because of all the available resources Antarctica doesn’t happen to have 12000+ people in winters at all.
Here is what Wikipedia Says
4.Bid Range & Simulators don’t work
If you happen to bid manually, you will notice suggestions for your bid range and real-time recommendations with a bulb icon as below. The recommendations as you see below are of no value.
Moreover, if you implement any of the suggestions as such, you will the next immediate recommendation to go further higher on your bids which is again difficult to digest.
Unlike Twitter, you can’t really advertise a GIF ad format on LinkedIn as such. Minor workaround of converting GIF in MP4 files work fine though!
6.Vague Quality Scores
Quality scores are measured at Campaign and Account level. There is no way you get a reward or incentive or better CPCs if ad quality is great. On the flip side, unlike google ads, you could run an irrelevant ad, promote an irrelevant landing page without being penalized for it as well.
Secondly, Multiple advertisers trying to target similar or exactly same audience as yours would only increase the bid prices.
This is true to large organizations running multiple campaigns or having multiple people as Campaign Managers on LinkedIn. If you advertise from your corporate handle, that is treated as one account and if you issue a purchase order or IO to LinkedIn from any part of the world, that is considered as another account. When you target similar audience within these 2 accounts and within the same time frame, you bid against yourself in simple terms and you also end up spending more money for showing ads as such.
Your audience, however, will see the ads coming in from same company as yours despite of having 2 separate accounts within your company.
Quick Pro Tip:
With one account you never bid against yourself, Avoid advertising from more than one IO or more than one corporate account.
8.Can’t Delete Ads & Campaigns
Don’t worry there are options to change your ads or add new ads in your campaigns, you can’t really delete any created ads though! They will just stay in there.
Quick Pro Tip:
Replace old creative with new ads instead of adding new.
LinkedIn Ads don’t have a way to send in alerts or notifications as such. While running campaigns if any of your ads happen to get a negative comment, there is no way you will be notified for such comments, instead you will have to manually check all campaigns and all ads within them to respond as appropriate. it is a tedious task if you are running multiple campaigns simultaneously. Positive comments are okay with negative comments need your immediate attention.
10.Ineffective Audience expansion
While targeting a list of accounts or audience targeting in general, Audience expansion does helps to get additional leads from similar audience within your targeting parameters. having said so, it can, sometimes go out of the proportion and get you irrelevant leads which you never wanted and certainly not at a bid price. It gets difficult to justify ROI from advertising spend in such cases.
Example: One of the campaigns targeting IT department as a Function, I ended up getting a lead submission for a “Medical Nurse” every factor was correct and in place except the fact that I had enabled Audience Expansion.
LinkedIn Ads are created in Campaign Manager, whilst there are standard best practices in general, I would try to focus on ad tips and best practices with respect to running ads on LinkedIn. This is a slightly deep dive topic and relevant for someone who has already started with LinkedIn Ads. If you are new to LinkedIn Ads or trying to learn from basics. I would strongly recommend referring my previous two blog posts:
Seamless user experience is desired today. Your web pages and landing pages capturing leads must be mobile optimized and in sync across all channels. Try to maintain same look and feel when a user comes to your website from any source, be it search, emails or if they come to your website from LinkedIn Ads. They should experience a seamless user flow and they should reach your desired call to action in minimum possible clicks. For example, if you use lead gen forms on LinkedIn to capture leads, try to have minimum form fields and users will be comfortable filling in, Secondly, if you are not using lead gen forms and driving traffic to your website or landing pages instead, try to maintain exact same number of form fields.
Quick pro tip:Having an email ID for subscription is enough likewise – capturing first name, last name and email ID is enough for first level lead capture.
Best Practice 2: Relevant Content & Messaging
In LinkedIn Ads, your target audience should get the context of your ad when they see it for the first time and understand it explicitly if it is really meant for them, reach to a landing page which fulfills their set expectation in first step and when they download the asset/marketing material being promoted, they should receive the exact same asset.
Quick Pro tip: For example, User Flow 1: LinkedIn sponsored ad promoting a whitepaper download should have the image of the cover page of the whitepaper itself, the message should address the target audience, “Hey Doctors”, Download this whitepaper to learn more about US FDA regulations this year.”
User flow 2: Upon Click, the landing page should have the larger thumbnail of the asset being promoted in step above with bullets or pointers around why they should be downloading this whitepaper.
User flow 3: Upon form submission, they receive the whitepaper with exact same cover page as expected by your target audience when they saw your ad in the first step above.
Best Practice 3: AB Test Ads & Variations
AB Testing is usually manual and behaves differently than any other advertising platforms. Creative and content rotation is very important in a successful campaign’s performance.
Test out your ad creatives and ad copies for at least 7 to 10 days.
You could do so by running the campaigns as usual and by automated ad testers like ezoic
Quick Pro Tip:I would recommend having at least 4 ad copies and creatives in one campaign, remove the worst performing campaign creative and ad copy every 7 to 8 days and allow it to run for another 10 days for performance observation.
Best Practice 4: Frequency Cap & Number of Ads
LinkedIn recommends running 4 updates simultaneously (mix of ad creatives and ad copies) Basically your target audience could see up to 4 unique sponsored content every 48 hours
Quick Pro tip: Remove the worst performing ad every week and update with revised/new ad while maintaining 4 ads.
Best Practice 5: Right Audience Targeting & Size
Audience size, you could find in the right-hand top side while setting up audience targeting.
Showing impressions tom your target customers is of utmost importance. The higher they are, the better are the changes for your ads to get clicks and thus, desired leads. You should aim for 100,000 and above in sizing of the Audience to see better conversions. It is usually difficult for ads to show up effectively when your audience size is lower than that. Anything above 1 million in sizing becomes too broad to target. Additionally, the narrower your targeting becomes, the prices usually go higher for your ads to show up, be it a CPC or CPM bid.
Having said so, there are minor exceptions to the rule above basis the type of business you might be operating in.
Quick pro tip:2 to 3 filters work best for audience targeting. For instance, mixing locations with Job function and Seniority works well.
Best Practice 6: Bids and Auctions
Cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC) are 2 broad bid types possible while running LinkedIn Ads. CPMs is about asking LinkedIn to show more impressions and you are charged for impressions. CPCs, on the other hand are leaving the onus of performance to the platform. You pay only when someone clicks an ad.
Quick Pro Tip: CPMs work better when you are looking for long term campaigns with sustained budget spends, $200/day for 2 months for instance. CPCs work better when you have heavy competition and need quick wins. A best practice and pro tip in that case would be to bid on higher side of the suggested bid range.
Best Practice 7: Retargeting, Audience Matching & Targeting
You can setup URL based retargeting lists which work with minimum threshold value of 300 or above. The larger the Size the better it is. Audience matching rate behaves erratically in my experience. Any match rate less than 70% is best to be avoided. Audience matching is available for email IDs or list of accounts you may want to target.
Quick Pro Tip: The Account list upload works phenomenally for Account based marketing objectives.
Avoid hyper targeting and target junior guys in your targeting too, these guys grow up fast and act as catalysts to influence decision making in organizational buying.
Best Practice 8: Utilize Website & Campaign Demographics
All the macthed audiences or retargeting lists you create can provide you significant amount of data about website demographic of your audiene within those lists. It’s a great way to look at insights around the industry, job titles, seniority levels etc. your audience might belong to.
Whilst its good to know, there is no significant way to use this information while running your campaigns.
Best Practice 9: Always on Campaigns
When you are always on and targeting a set of audience, you are at pace and keep your target audience occupied. When you pause or stop, you leave the opportunity for others to start targeting audience like the ones you have been targeting, Secondly, LinkedIn Algorithm takes a while to start serving or even pausing ads, therefore, the time gap is best avoided when you are always on. If budgets are limited, spending over 100/day per campaign basis your budget’ availability is a good way to plan budget allocations ahead.
Best Practice 10: Use More of lead gen forms in B2B
Lead gen forms are very popular with a lot of advertisers on LinkedIn today as they ensure prefilled form submissions within the ad platform. Your customers no longer need to go to your landing pages all the time. Moreover, conversions are far better when you ask your target audience to submit details on Lead gen forms against submitting on landing pages as such.
These forms could also be integrated well with leading marketing automation tools.
While I covered 10 such best practices above, there could be more as LinkedIn Ads continue to evolve, especially when they are trying to launch forecasting and BETA version of objective based advertising soon.
Let me know your thoughts, suggestions and if you discovered more such best practices for LinkedIn Ads in the comments section below.
Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.
Over the last two years, LinkedIn has been very focused to bring in new products and features in the online advertising market-place. At a very broad level LinkedIn classifies all its ad products into five major types, namely:
New objective-based campaign creation (BETA)
1) LinkedIn Sponsored Content
This is the most commonly used option of all the available options in LinkedIn Ad products. The ads you create get published in the LinkedIn feed of the end users. There are however, certain restrictions among ad types which could be shown on a desktop, mobile or other devices as such.
You can use them in three possible objectives for your campaign
a) Sending People to your website or Content
Your target audience will be shown an ad and then your landing page once they click on your ad. There are three ways to send people to your website, content or landing page.
Using Articles, images or URL
Carousel – Use series of images to tell your story
Video – to engage with your target audience
b) Collecting leads using lead gen forms
LinkedIn lead gen forms are prefilled, user-friendly responsive forms which allow advertisers to capture form submissions from your target audience within LinkedIn (website or app version) without having a need to go to your landing page as such. The possible ad types are the same as explained in the step above for sending people to your website or content, the only difference in this case Is that the traffic is not driven to your landing page, instead, the form submissions are captured within LinkedIn.
c) Getting Video views
As the name suggests, this is primarily used for promoting videos to engage with your target audience, you could drive traffic from videos to desired landing page or videos to lead gen forms as appropriate for your business.
Quick Pro tip: Less then 15 seconds videos are lighter and work best on LinkedIn, appending them with sub titles or screen supers ensures viewers could see them without using audio speakers or earphones as such.
2) LinkedIn Dynamic Ads
Dynamic Ads are a new development with LinkedIn, launched about two months ago. This is very different from other types of LinkedIn ads as you could create ads personalized to each end user in your target audience. Dynamic ads utilize LinkedIn profile data such as your image, company name, and job title to automatically personalize ads. These doesn’t work with lead gen forms and traffic is usually driven to your website or landing page as desired.
When to use LinkedIn Dynamic Ads?
Dynamic Ads are available in three types, namely:
Follower Ad – Use them if your objective is to add followers to your company or showcase pages as such.
Spotlight Ad – Best ad type for all B2B marketing purposes. The traffic is driven to your website or landing page; therefore, you could easily promote products, services, solutions, events and all marketing assets as needed
Content Ads – This is a new area again and not available in self advertising or LinkedIn Campaign manager as such. Advertisers could generate leads or drive content download conversions within an ad.
This is bit dated offering by LinkedIn and text ads work on desktops alone.
When to use LinkedIn Text Ads?
You could use them for driving traffic to your company or Career page on LinkedIn or to a specific website page or landing page on your website.
4) LinkedIn sponsored InMail
As the name suggests, this ad offering by LinkedIn is used to send direct personalized messages to your target audience. It appears in the message box or inbox when an InMail is received. This is widely used in recruitment world. As call to action, you could choose between sending people to your website or collecting leads using LinkedIn lead gen forms.
When to use InMail?
You could use them when you want to make person to person connect, generate quick wins without worrying too much about creatives and design as they are optional.
5) New Objective-based campaign creation in LinkedIn Campaign Manager
LinkedIn, during November 2018 released BETA version of “New objective-based campaign creation” (you could see this on the right-hand top side when you login to LinkedIn Ads) which aims to provide guidance for creating ad campaigns based on your marketing goals. The types of LinkedIn ads and all products remain standard as explained above, for the ease of advertiser’s understanding, it just reorganizes available ad types basis marketing objectives such as engagement, website visits or video views.
A Short Video By Linkedin introducing Objective based Advertising below
The new exciting feature it brings in is, Forecasted Results in Campaign Manager which appears on the right-hand side while creating the campaign in new objective-based experience. Projections are available for 1, 7 and 30 days, respectively.
LinkedIn is testing this out still (BETA Version is in market) and you could easily go back to the old campaign manager view by clicking on Change back in the upper right corner of the page below your profile image.
Linkedin ads are widely used in B2B marketing as it is the only advertising platform which knows the professional profiles across the globe in its most accurate form. It is unique because of the targeting features it offers. One can target end users by Job titles, profiles, seniority, job function and so on basis their individual public profiles on Linkedin professional network. In this blog, I will try to cover all the steps one needs to take for launching a campaign using Linkedin Ads in Campaign Manager tool.
Step 1: Access to Linkedin Campaign Manager
Before you start advertising on Linkedin, the first step is to have the access to Linkedin Campaign Manager. The Simplest way to do so is to click on “Work” followed by “Advertise” located on the right-hand top side as below.
Advertising on Linkedin is possible if you have a company page, showcase page or account on Linkedin to do so. Linkedin covers this in detail as here Creating an Account for Campaigns
Step 2: Create Campaigns using Linkedin Campaign Manager
The second step is to choose an ad product in the Campaign Manager. Once prompted you will see 4 options as below.
Sponsored content – Mostly used ad product with native advertising, I have used this as an example to explain steps to launch a campaign further in this blog.
Dynamic Ads – a new development with Linkedin launched about 2 months ago.
Sponsored InMail – Direct messages or In mails going from company or person to person, very hot in job markets today!
Step 3: Create Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is the most used option and native form of advertising with Linkedin Ads. The ads you create here are published in the Linkedin feeds which an end user can see on various devices they may be using. It appears a bit differently on the desktop, laptop and mobile devices basis difference in screens and resolutions for instance. click on Select here.
Step 4: Enter Campaign Information
Enter the name of the campaign in the first field, you may want to add a new ad group or select existing ad groups from drop down here under “Campaign Groups” an Ad group is a convenient way to keep your budgets, metrics and performance summary under one view. Consider using this if you have more than one business unit/product or solutions in your company. Once all details are entered here, click on next.
Step 5: Define Business Objectives
You will notice 3 options here as given in the screenshot below.
a) Send People to website/content: Select first option if you prefer using the landing page for promotion on your website, people would click on your ads and then visit your landing page or a specific web page you specify here. you can decide different ad types to direct traffic to your landing or promotion page later. It is also possible to add conversion tracking to measure the conversions from your ads in this option.
b) Leads using Linkedin Lead Gen Forms: Lead gen forms are quite popular with a lot of B2B advertisers. They are responsive and are very user-friendly. With the exchange of user’s information such as first name, last name, email ID etc. you could promote multiple types of ad formats to end users without a need to drive traffic to your landing page or website as such. Yes, you heard it right, users will remain on Linkedin and still get your asset in promotion. You have a choice from 1 to a maximum of 7 form fields to be filled in by the end users clicking on your ads. There are loads of options to connect your CRM or marketing automation software to Linkedin lead gen forms as well. Lead gen forms need to be set up before you launch a campaign though!
Please note that lead gen forms could easily be coupled with Image Ads, Video ads as desired.
c) Get Video Views: this option is meant for advertisers looking to sponsor videos on Linkedin feeds.
Step 6: Choose Ad formats
Basis the business objectives you selected above for Linkedin Ads (a, b or c) the choice of ad formats would vary.
For a) sending people to your website or content and b) Leads using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms you could promote an article, image or link; carousel ads- meant to promote a story through a series of ads or create a video ad to engage your target audience.
For c) Video views – its straightforward as you could only create videos for the same.
Step 7: Build Ads
Before you could create ads, it’s important that you have the full administration right over your company/Showcase page or your company page admin on Linkedin has grated you the access as “Campaign Manager” for publishing ads on your company’s behalf.
In this step, you could “select existing content” – all ads from your past campaigns would be listed here, or you could “create new sponsored content”. Click on “Create sponsored content” on right-hand side to get started.
Name your sponsored content. Select image and type in your ad copy. For image ads, best is to have an image size of 1200 x 627. Save the ad you just created. You will be routed back to the previous screen.
Click the checkbox on left hand side and select “Sponsor selected content”
Step 8: Audience Creation
This is the most important and crucial setup as it defines your audience and targeting features. It remains commons despite of any ad type/ format or objective you may choose. The target audience sections on the right hand top side changes dynamically as your audience size grows! The Ideal is to have 100,000 and above.
1. Matched audience & location Targeting
Matched audience is another great feature but optional wherein you could:
–Retarget your website visitors – Basis past visitors to your website or web pages, segments could be created by URLs which then could be used to target those visitors using Linkedin Ads. The minimum threshold for same is >=300 visitors though!
–Target a list of accounts or contacts – Linkedin uses few excel templates to enable so.
Location Targeting – you could target people on Linkedin by country, state, city and town etc. >= 1 location is mandatory.
2. Specific targeting Criteria
You could select by company name, industry, job title, function, seniority, skills, years of experience and so on as given in this screenshot
Quick pro tip: Exclude your company by name to avoid serving impressions to your own employees. 2 to 3 parameters work best in an ad campaign. For example, mix job seniority with job function and years of experience, or, use company size and job titles.
3. Linkedin audience network and Audience expansion
Linkedin Audience network – is the network of Linkedin partner websites and apps which moves your ad out of targeted Linkedin feeds in the steps mentioned above. I recommend this for brand awareness campaigns but not for targeted B2B advertising.
Additionally, you could also exclude certain categories of mobile apps and sites from Linkedin audience network.
Audience Expansion – This is a very tricky feature, in my experience, if campaigns are not getting you leads, this works in uplifting the performance. It can also, however, get you unnecessary leads from the audience totally out of the targeting parameters you may have defined. Linkedin, however, says that it broadens the reach of your campaign by showing it to audiences with similar attributes to your target audience.
Once you are satisfied with all targeting parameters in this step click on Next (right hand bottom side)
Step 9: Bids, budgets and Schedule
Select goal of the campaign from the dropdown, awareness, website visits or conversions (needs conversion tracking setup on your webpage)
Define daily budgets, your actual spends, usually are 20% higher though! In this step, Linkedin will show you minimum bid to reach your audience.
Bid Types: Choose from Automated (utilizes machine learning to maximize budget efficiency) or maximum CPC bid (manually bidding for cost per click you are willing to spend)
Setup start, end date, total budget and click on launch the campaign on right hand bottom side to get started with your campaign.
Linkedin ads bring in significant value to B2B advertisers and marketers today, it is very focused and helps in driving demand and brand awareness in different stages of buyer’s journey. No other advertising platform or tool can target users by their professional job profiles, thus, LinkedIn also enjoys complete monopoly in this market. Advertising on LinkedIn is not cheap as well! I have experienced CPCs ranging from anywhere between $7 to 21$ or more in a few cases and CPMs going anywhere from $21 to $67 or more in few cases. Automated bidding works best for initial few days (70 to 10 days), once you observe the trends and performance from your campaign it’s better to move into manual CPC bids which are more controlled at your end than relying on machine learning capabilities of Linkedin ads (where we don’t have a visibility into being an advertiser)
The narrower you get the price for your ads, increases, having said that, being too broaden in targeting is not good as well. I would recommend trying Linkedin ads for at least 45 days before deciding to continue or discontinue them further.