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  • Gail Malcolm

Social Ads 101: Beginner's Guide to LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn advertising for beginners

LinkedIn has come a long way in recent years, developing its advertising platforms to have better targeting features and a range of flexible advertising options such as lead generation tools, tracking options and a range of versatile ad formats.

But when it comes to setting up an ad to promote your product or service, where do you start?


Before creating any ad, whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn you need to consider who your audience on LinkedIn are. Think about what companies they might work for, what their job roles could be, what their skills are and even the seniority of the role they hold. Would they be interested in your product or service? If not, then who?

Think about your customer journey from when they see your ad – what do you want them to do? Do you want them to visit your website? Would you like them to fill out your lead generation form for further information? Do you want to arrange a meeting or a phone call with them? Knowing the answer to some of these questions is key to choosing the most appropriate ad product.

Consider if LinkedIn is the right platform you could be using to advertise. For example, if you have a B2B business that specialises in technology or business finance, chances are your ads will be seen by the key decision makers in your target audience. However, if you are a retail or food and drink brand, you might not find your results are as successful than if you were to run the same ad on Facebook.

LinkedIn is a platform for professionals, so your audience will be in a professional frame of mind when they are online.

Creating Your LinkedIn Ad

To start creating your ad,go to the LinkedIn Campaign Manager.

Campaign Manager is where you will manage and optimise all advertising carried out on LinkedIn. As well as being able to create ads on this platform, you will be able to see a breakdown of all the actions generated on your ads including clicks, likes, comments and new followers. You’re also able to see a demographic breakdown of who seen your ads such as job titles, company and industry.

At the top right of the screen, you will see a button that says: “Create Campaign”. Click it, then choose the type of campaign that you would like to run.

Ad Formats

The ad formats you can choose from are:

Sponsored Content – This allows you to either promote an existing or new piece of content in the LinkedIn feed.

Dynamic Ads – These are personalised ads that can generate leads and conversions, drive traffic to your website or increase engagement on your Company Page. (We won’t be focusing on these in this blog but keep your eyes peeled for one in the future!)

Text Ads – The easiest ads to set up and run on LinkedIn that work on a pay per click/impression basis and generate leads and website traffic.

Sponsored InMail – This format lets you send targeted, personalised messages directly to the people you want to convert.

As a beginner, we recommend Sponsored Content or Text Ads.

Let’s begin with Sponsored Content.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn asks you to choose your creative first before your targeting. You have the option to either sponsor a post that you have already published on your Company Page or Showcase Page or you can create new Sponsored Content from scratch.

If you choose to create new content from within Campaign Manager, you will have the option to create single image content, video, lead forms or a carousel ad. Using one of these formats will help your ad to stand out in your target audience’s newsfeed and enhance your brand message and awareness. Which ad format you choose will depend on your overall strategy – that’s why it’s important to think about your targeting and what you want to achieve from your ad before you start creating!

However, one size does not fit all. Try creating a few different versions of your Sponsored Content to see which one gets the best results. We suggest testing either your copy or your creative first to see which one performs best.

Now let’s look at a Text Ad.

A Text Ad takes minutes to set up. Give it a name, then choose where your audience should be sent to when they click your ad. This can be either your Company Page or your website.

Add an image, headline and description and voila! You have a Text Ad. You can create up to 15 text ads to see which headlines, descriptions and images get the best results.

And now we come to Sponsored InMail.

If you have a specific message and only want to communicate it to certain people, then InMail is perfect. This unique ad format allows you to send personalised content to other users through LinkedIn Messenger.

With Sponsored InMail, you have the option to A/B test your messages, drive conversions, send personalised invites, promote specialised content and much more to your target audience.

Once you have named your campaign and chosen the language you are advertising in, you must select the InMail sender – this will be someone who will send the message on behalf of the company who you are connected to. No one wants to receive a spam email from a robot!

Create your InMail by adding a subject line, summary and a personalised message that’s about three paragraphs long. Keep your subject line short and to the point and keep your message conversational. Think of it like an email rather than an ad. You can add a hero banner image and a URL to your InMail too to make your InMail more eye catching. Your Sponsored InMail is now ready to be sent!


The next step in the LinkedIn Advertising process is to define your targeting.

LinkedIn has a wide variety of targeting criteria to choose from, such as job title, job seniority, companies and skills. You can also add lists of data to target specific people using company names, industries or email addresses.

Choose the ones that are most appropriate for your core objective. Keep an eye on your audience’s potential reach on the right-hand side – this will be changing the more you add or remove certain targeting elements. LinkedIn will serve you ad so long as it reaches over 300 users.

The next step in this process is to set your budget. You will have three options depending on the ad format you have chosen – Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) or Cost Per Send (CPS).

CPC is best used for lead generation campaigns or campaigns where you would like to drive traffic to your website. If you select “Website Visits” as the goal of your campaign, LinkedIn will automatically set your optimisation to CPC.

CPM is better used to increase your brand awareness. If you select “Awareness” as the goal of your campaign, LinkedIn will automatically set your optimisation to CPM.

CPS is unique to Sponsored InMail only, charging you for each InMail that is successfully delivered. Remember that there is also a limit on the number of Sponsored InMails that a user can receive – each user can receive one InMail within a 60-day period.

If you would like to measure how many conversions your ads are receiving, you can set up Conversion Tracking.

Once you have selected your optimisation, enter your daily budget for you campaign (minimum spend per day is £8.00) and select your bid type. You can selected an Automated Bid, where LinkedIn will adjust the bid to get the most results for your budget or you can choose your Maximum CPM or CPC. We recommend using the Automatic Bid until you learn more about the performance of your ads.

All that’s left to do now is choose the start date, the end date and the total budget you want to spend. Click “Launch”.

Measure and Optimise

After a few days of letting your ad run, check back in and see how it’s performing. Analyse the data generated and decide whether you are happy with how it’s performing. From this data, you can edit your ads, refine targeting and adjust the budget to see if it can be improved.

Being experts in social media marketing, we know that LinkedIn isn’t the easiest ad platform to work with. If you’ve tried to use it and failed, we really do feel your pain! And that’s why we’re here to help.

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