In the digital advertising landscape, options abound. From social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and X to search engine powerhouses like Google and Bing, the avenues for reaching your target audience can seem limitless. But when it comes to B2B marketing—where the stakes are high, and the decision-makers are discerning—LinkedIn Advertising emerges as a front-runner, granting access to a concentrated pool of professionals and unparalleled targeting capabilities.
LinkedIn began primarily as a space for networking and job hunting, but it’s grown into a powerful advertising platform tailored for businesses that thrive on professional relationships. Between 2018 and 2023, B2B ad spend on LinkedIn soared from $0.65 billion to a staggering $2.33 billion.1 This trend is not a fluke but a testament to the platform’s increasing importance in the B2B marketing ecosystem. And as machine learning and artificial intelligence rapidly evolve, LinkedIn is poised to offer even more advanced targeting and analytics features in the near future. Leveraging these continuous advancements, LinkedIn takes the guesswork out of identifying your target audience with a suite of data-driven features and instant access to its highly focused professional user base.
This comprehensive guide delves into why LinkedIn Advertising is a game-changer for B2B companies and how you can turn LinkedIn’s specialized features into your competitive advantage.
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Is LinkedIn Advertising Right for Your B2B Strategy?
From young professionals working in tech startups to C-suite healthcare executives steering multi-million-dollar companies, LinkedIn’s user base is as exclusive as it is expansive and brings a treasure trove of actionable data. LinkedIn boasts a user base of over 675 million, and for the most part, these aren’t casual social media users aimlessly scrolling through feeds. These are professionals actively engaged in their fields who use LinkedIn as a reliable resource for career and personal development. On other platforms, you might target based on age, location, or interests. While LinkedIn provides these options, it also allows for more granular targeting, like job title, seniority, skills, company size, and industry.
This specificity enables advertisers to craft campaigns that resonate with highly defined audience segments. Understanding these specific targeting options becomes even more powerful when you consider the two main reasons professionals turn to LinkedIn:
- Career Advancement: Professionals often seek job opportunities and networking avenues rather than passively scrolling. A recent case study showed that 70% of people who changed jobs used LinkedIn to inform their decision.2
- Professional and Personal Development: LinkedIn users are committed to learning and development, consuming articles, participating in discussions, and enrolling in LinkedIn Learning courses. Microsoft reported that LinkedIn Learning saw a 50% increase in course enrollments during the pandemic, underscoring the platform’s role in professional development.3
By aligning your advertising strategy with these intrinsic motivations, you amplify the effectiveness of your already focused targeting. You’re not just reaching an audience; you’re engaging with a community of motivated professionals, making each campaign more likely to result in engagement and conversion.
LinkedIn Ads – When, Why, & Tips
Advertising on LinkedIn is a fully customizable endeavor with various ad types to meet different marketing objectives, each with its advantages and limitations. While platforms like Facebook and Google offer robust targeting options, they lack the professional context that LinkedIn provides. On LinkedIn, you’re not just targeting an age group interested in “technology”; you could be targeting “C-level Executives at SaaS companies with more than 200 employees.” This level of granularity is unmatched and can make your campaigns more focused and effective.
Here’s a breakdown of the types of LinkedIn ads and strategic insights on when and how to use them effectively:
When and Why to Use It: Sponsored Content can consist of Single Image Ads, Carousel Ads, Video Ads, and Document Ads (more on these below). All are ideal for promoting blog posts, articles, or other valuable content directly in the LinkedIn feed. This ad type excels in building brand awareness and thought leadership.
Tips for Optimization:
- A/B Testing: Test different ad creative, audiences, or placements using LinkedIn’s targeting options to resonate with specific demographics and clarify your messaging.
- Content Relevance: Ensure your promoted content aligns with the audience’s professional interests or pain points.
- Engagement Tracking: Use LinkedIn analytics to measure how well your Sponsored Content is performing in engagement and conversion.
When and Why to Use It: Document Ads are a versatile type of Sponsored Content that serve multiple campaign objectives like brand awareness, engagement, and lead generation. What makes them unique is the ability for readers to view typically gated content directly in their newsfeed.
Document Ads are particularly effective for sharing educational content, eBooks, whitepapers, and case studies, nurturing and building trust with these audiences. And their unique delivery method provides a great opportunity to get more mileage from existing content with fresh audience reach.
Tips for Optimization:
- Content Gating: Decide whether to share your content freely or gate it in exchange for lead information.
- Audience Interest Metrics: Track what percentage of your document is viewed and the number of unique downloads to inform your strategy across all phases of the marketing funnel.
When and Why to Use It: Conversation Ads are displayed in your target audience’s LinkedIn Messages and only when members are active on LinkedIn. Their natural and organic tone are useful in direct engagement, offering recipients immediate value like an exclusive eBook or webinar invitation.
Tips for Optimization:
- Relevance: Since LinkedIn caps the number of Sponsored Messages, make your message relevant and valuable to stand out.
- Timing: Pay attention to when you’re sending messages. Timing can be crucial, especially if promoting time-sensitive offers or events.
- Follow-up Strategy: Have a follow-up strategy for those who engage with your initial message. This could be a secondary message, an email, or a special offer.
When and Why to Use It: Text Ads are pay-per-click and usually appear in the sidebar, ideal for low-intrusion, targeted advertising.
Tips for Optimization:
- Short Yet Compelling Copy: Use concise, compelling headlines and descriptions to grab attention and inform readers of the benefits and advantages of your offering.
- Strong Visuals: High-quality images or graphics are crucial to standing out for Display Ads.
- A/B Testing: Experiment with different headlines, descriptions, and visuals to identify what resonates best with your target audience.
Thought Leader Ads
When and Why to Use It: Thought Leader Ads are designed to build brand equity by leveraging the voices of your organization’s thought leaders. They are particularly effective for building credibility, distinguishing your brand from the competition, and growing your community.
Tips for Optimization:
- Identifying Thought Leaders: Use LinkedIn Campaign Manager to search for employees associated with your company Page, find a post you want to promote and request the poster’s permission.
- Content Types: You can select “Single image ad” or “Video ad” based on the content type of the post you plan to promote.
- Measuring ROI: Campaign Manager helps you evaluate the performance of your ads and review metrics that align with your objectives. Be sure to encourage your thought leaders to track and share their organic performance for comparison.
When and Why to Use It: Follower Ads are geared towards long-term engagement and brand building, encouraging users to follow your LinkedIn page.
Tips for Optimization:
- Visual Consistency: Make sure the visual elements in your Follower Ads are consistent with your overall brand imagery.
- CTA Wording: Experiment with different CTA phrases to see which encourages the most followers.
By understanding the nuances of each LinkedIn ad type, you can better align your advertising strategy with your objectives and target audience. From Sponsored Content that builds brand awareness to InMail Ads designed for direct engagement, LinkedIn offers a suite of options you can fine-tune to meet your needs.
Leverage LinkedIn Audience Creation
LinkedIn’s Audience Creation capabilities go beyond the industry standard. Unlike other platforms that offer only basic demographic and interest-based targeting, LinkedIn allows for targeting based on professional attributes such as:
- Job function or title
- Company size and industry
- Professional skills and endorsements
- Recent activity or content engagement
This degree of specificity is invaluable for B2B marketers aiming to reach decision-makers in particular industries or roles.
Practical Tips for Effective Targeting
Having a detailed targeting strategy can mean the difference between a good campaign and a great one. Here are a few practical tips that will help you use LinkedIn’s advanced targeting features to their fullest potential:
- Leverage Lookalike Audiences: A Lookalike Audience is a digital advertising tool that identifies new users similar to your existing customer base, expanding your reach while maintaining campaign relevance. If you’ve already had success with a particular demographic, LinkedIn can help find similar profiles likely to engage with your content.
- Use Exclusion Targeting: To make your campaign more efficient, exclude audiences that have already converted or are part of your existing customer base.
- Target by Content Engagement: If LinkedIn users have recently engaged with your posts or articles, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. Make them a priority in your targeting strategy.
- Test and Refine: Always allocate a portion of your budget to test different targeting options. The insights you gain can be invaluable for optimizing future campaigns.
By capitalizing on LinkedIn’s unique targeting features, you connect with the right people, elevating the impact of your campaigns, maximizing your advertising spend, and delivering better ROI.
Determine if LinkedIn Ads are a Good Fit
If your business targets professionals and decision-makers or operates in specialized industries, LinkedIn’s advertising platform opens the door to a level of audience precision unparalleled in the digital landscape. Likewise, LinkedIn provides a uniquely tailored environment for your advertising needs if your product or service involves a complex sales cycle or demands targeted relationship-building.
- Budget: Are you prepared for LinkedIn’s higher Cost-Per-Click rates? Does your budget align with this reality?
- Sales Cycle: Does your marketing strategy account for LinkedIn’s relationship-nurturing focus, which often results in a longer sales cycle?
- Audience: Do you have a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of your target audience’s professional demographics?
- Content: Is your content high quality and tailored to resonate with a professional audience?
- KPI Alignment: Have you identified KPIs that align with LinkedIn’s strengths?
By checking off these points, you’ll be better positioned to leverage LinkedIn as a potent asset in your digital marketing strategy.
Choose Sagefrog as Your LinkedIn Advertising Agency
Harnessing the power of LinkedIn advertising can elevate your brand, engage your target audience, and drive meaningful business outcomes. Your current and future customers and partners already use the platform, so it’s just a matter of connecting with them in the right way at the right time. But success requires a blend of strategic insight, hands-on expertise, and continuous optimization – that’s usually where the experts come in. If you’re ready to unlock the full potential of LinkedIn advertising, Sagefrog is the perfect partner to guide you every step of the way. Contact us to get started.
- US B2B LinkedIn Display Ad Spending, 2018-2023,” eMarketer, Published on July 19, 2021. Available at https://www.insiderintelligence.com/chart/248731/us-b2b-linkedin-display-ad-spending-2018-2023-billions-change-of-b2b-display-ad-spending-. Accessed on August 25, 2023.
- Ultimate List of Hiring Stats,” LinkedIn, accessed August 25, 2023, https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en_us/c/pdfs/Ultimate-List-of-Hiring-Stats-v02.04.pdf.
- Leading with Learning: Insights and Advice,” LinkedIn Learning, accessed August 25, 2023, https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/learning/resources/pdfs/LinkedIn-Leading-with-Learning-Insights-and-Advice-Report_.pdf.