LinkedIn Advertising: A Guide to LinkedIn Text Ads & Sponsored Updates

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With over 347 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Each day, millions of professionals form relationships, publish content and most importantly, engage with companies that share useful and relevant information. Amongst all social media platforms, LinkedIn is the number one channel for B2B marketers to distribute content and is the leading social network for driving traffic to corporate websites. But standing out amongst such an aspirational crowd can prove difficult for even the savviest digital marketers.

In this article, we’ll show you how to leverage the power of LinkedIn Ads self-service platform to reach your target audience, grow your LinkedIn presence, build your brand and acquire new customers for your business.

LinkedIn’s self-service platform offers two distinct ad types: Text ads and Sponsored Updates. While the two ad formats have some key distinctions, they’re both similar in that they offer a complete bid and budget control, precise targeting and content that can drive significant sales and leads for your business.

The Three Pillars of Success:

Bids & Budgets: Stay visible the whole day by fully funding campaigns as LinkedIn members are engaged throughout the day, across platforms. And as you begin to see which campaigns are top performers, shift budget from less effective campaigns.

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Audience Targeting: Don’t over target or target the same audience in multiple campaigns as this may cause you to compete against yourself in the ad auctions. Test multiple messages and pieces of content in each campaign to find what resonates best with a particular audience.

Content: Directly address your audience within your messaging while using strong visuals and snack-able content (ie. numbered lists) to immediately grab their attention.
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Text Ads

LinkedIn text ads will appear to your target audience only on desktops and throughout various pages on LinkedIn.com, including:

  • Homepage
  • Profile page
  • Inbox
  • Company page
  • Search results page
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Campaign Structure:

When creating your text ad campaigns, it’s important to consider and implement campaign structures based on your targeting objectives. As a general best practice, target each campaign to a unique audience and name your campaign accordingly for easy identification as you continue to build more campaigns. For example, when CM ran text ads for our Twitter Quiz, we targeted one campaign to Groups and another to Skills (more on targeting options below).

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This approach will allow you to test different content types and messaging amongst a specific audience and help you determine what resonates best with them.

Ad Creation:

Each LinkedIn text ads campaign can have up to 15 text ads and it’s recommended to have at least 3 ad variations within your campaign – with varying ad text, calls-to-action and images. A text ad consists of:

  • 25 character headline – a catchy headline addressing your audience
  • 75 character description – describe why someone should click your ad and include a strong call to action
  • 50 by 50 image – use an image that will capture the attention of your audience. Images of professionals tend to work well
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Targeting:

There are multiple targeting options available and this is really where LinkedIn shines as an advertising platform. But it’s also where the success or failure of your campaigns can happen. For best results and to ensure the most effective use of your budget, aim for an audience size of at least 60,000 members and no more than 600,000 members. Based on your advertising objectives, you can target your campaigns by:

  • Location
  • Company – name, industry or size
  • Job – title, function or seniority
  • School
  • Field of Study
  • Degree
  • Skills
  • Groups
  • Gender
  • Age
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If you find your ideal audience is either too small or too large, you can also exclude members from each available targeting option too.

Bids and Budgets:

Each text ad campaign requires a minimum daily budget of $10 and allows you to bid on a Cost per click (CPC) or Cost per impressions (CPM) basis. Because LinkedIn advertising is so targeted, CPC bids can and do get expensive. Therefore, it’s best to start your advertising efforts with a solid daily budget so you have the opportunity to accrue enough impressions and clicks to accurately measure the impact of LinkedIn ads for your business.

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The platform also allows you to set campaign start and end dates but doesn’t currently offer the ability to schedule ads for certain days and times of the week. However, this functionality is available through third-party management platforms such as AdStage.

When creating new campaigns, we recommend setting bids at the higher end of the “Suggested bid” to ensure your ads are competitive during the beginning of a campaign flight, which can help to earn a higher relevance score and lower your average cost per click over time.

After your campaign has been up and running for a while, pause ads with low click-through rates and test new variations for your lowest performing ads. Since low CTR can lower your Relevance Score, strive for a benchmark of at least 0.025% CTR and pause ads below that level to optimize your ad spend.

Sponsored Updates

In order to create LinkedIn Sponsored Update campaigns, you must first have a LinkedIn Company page. If you don’t already have one, learn how to create your company page here. Sponsored Update campaigns can be executed in two ways: by sponsoring content that you’ve already published to your Company page or through Direct Sponsored Content. Both are managed through the self-serve platform, appear on desktop, mobile and tablet devices and within the homepage feed of members within your target audience. However, the key difference between Sponsored Updates and Direct Sponsored Content is that the latter does not appear on your Company page – think of it as hidden content only viewable to members that are part of your campaigns’ target audience.

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Creating Sponsored Updates from Published Content on Your Company Page:

You can sponsor Company Updates directly from your Company page if you’ve already got Sponsored Update campaigns running. Otherwise, you’ll need to login to Campaign Manager to begin the process.

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[Sponsor content directly from your Company page]

Once logged in to Campaign Manager, click Create campaign and select the Sponsored Updates option:

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After naming your campaign – keeping in mind our tips for campaign naming conventions above – select the updates you’d like to sponsor. Here you’ll be able to choose existing content that has been published on your Company page, existing Direct Sponsored Content or you’ll be able to create new sponsored content. Since proceeding with either of the first two options is quite straightforward, we’ll jump into creating new Direct Sponsored Content.

Creating Direct Sponsored Content:

First click the Create new sponsored content link.

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Name your Direct Sponsored Content and enter the URL of the webpage you’d like to promote.

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Next, delete the long URL, add a compelling intro description and call to action and upload an image if one wasn’t automatically pulled from your URL. Your image should be at 500×300. The intro text is limited to 600 characters, the auto-pulled title is limited to 70 and the description has a 230 character limit. As a best practice, include a short link (ie. bit.ly) in your intro text to provide another opportunity to obtain a click. You’ll end up with an update that looks like this:

 

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Now that you’ve created two to three updates for your new Sponsored Updates campaign, it’s time to move on to audience targeting and setting budgets and bids.

Audience Targeting and Budgets & Bids

Audience targeting for Sponsored Updates is virtually the same as the Text Ad steps outlined above. As a reminder, limit the targeting options of each campaign to a specific objective, whether targeting by title, industry or groups. And unlike with Text Ads, strive for an audience size of at least 300,000 members.

And finally, creating budgets and setting bids is also the same as with Text Ads. However, Sponsored Updates allow you to generate social actions for free. Social actions include, Comments, Likes, Shares and Follows and can significantly impact the virality of your content, thereby driving down your average cost per click through improved Relevance Score.

Final Thoughts on Tracking Results

LinkedIn advertising has proven to be a very effective channel for both CM and our clients. However, be sure you’re getting the most out of your advertising dollars by diligently tracking all of your campaigns. Be sure to use UTM tracking on all links within your campaigns. Use consistent naming conventions for source, campaign and medium so that your data is neatly organized within Google Analytics. Utilize LinkedIn Click Demographics side by side with your Google Analytics conversion data to optimize your ad spend – for example, you may discover a particular geographic area is generating a lot of ad clicks but very few conversions.

Through constant monitoring, continued optimization and testing, you’ll have LinkedIn Ads working for your business in no time. And if you’ve got any questions along the way, reach out to our team of experts. We’re here to help!

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Jeremy Sherman

As the Vice President of Operations, Jeremy Sherman oversees CM’s client service operations, including content marketing, SEO, social media, paid search, and web design & development. He enjoys golfing, spending time with his wife and two dogs and sipping a craft IPA.