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How to Create LinkedIn Ads in 10 Steps: A Quick & Easy Guide

Are you looking for an easy guide on how to create LinkedIn ads? Look no further! Just continue reading this article.

Whether you are a Digital Marketing specialist or an entrepreneur who wants to boost his business’ profitability, LinkedIn Ads is a great option to reach a more professionally-oriented and industry-specific audience.

With over 760 million members, LinkedIn is home to the biggest network of professionals across the globe, making it the perfect place to find your target audience in a business environment.

linkedin ad guide

But this is not the only reason why it’s so powerful – it also provides you with unique targeting criteria that you can’t find elsewhere. For this reason, today we are going to see how to create LinkedIn Ads in 10 easy and fun steps, explaining everything along the way.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

1. Sign in to your Campaign Manager

Before we dive into the practical part of how to create LinkedIn ads, the first step that you will need to take is to sign in to your Campaign Manager. And this is very easy to do.

If you already have a Campaign Manager for your business, you can go straight to it by typing https://www.linkedin.com/campaignmanager/. Of course, you will have to be logged in to your personal LinkedIn account first.

If you don’t have one, simply go to your personal LinkedIn account, and click on the button Advertise at the top of your feed:

create linkedin ads - campaign manager

And then, follow the simple and easy steps to create your account for free.

2. Select a Campaign Objective

Now that you have your Campaign Manager up and running, the next step of our guide on how to create LinkedIn ads is to select a Campaign Objective.

First, to start building a new campaign, click on your account, and select the Default Campaign Group that LinkedIn creates for you automatically – or create a new one.

linkedin campaign group

Then, find the button at the upper left corner that says Create Campaign, and you are ready to start building your first audience. The first step will be to select your campaign objective.

Currently, there are 7 types of campaign objectives to choose from:

how to create linkedin ads - campaign objective

How to create LinkedIn Ads: Campaign Objective

Keep in mind that once you’ve selected an objective and have your campaign running, you will not be able to change it later – you will have to create a new campaign.

Put simply, an objective is the goal that you aim to achieve with your campaign – it can be driving more website visits to your website, getting form submissions, or generating leads.

I will not go into too much detail in this article because I already explain everything about LinkedIn’s Campaign Objectives here. However, let’s sum them up briefly:

  • Brand awareness – if you select this goal, LinkedIn will try to show your ads to people who are more likely to view them.
  • Website visits – this goal is perfect for driving more visits to your web – in other words, LinkedIn will optimize for ad clicks.
  • Engagement – with this goal, algorithms will try to show your ads to users who are more likely to like, share and comment on your ads – aka engage with them.
  • Video views – do you want to get as many people as possible to watch your videos? Then this is the goal for you.
  • Lead generation – if you select this objective, you will be able to create ads using LinkedIn’s native Lead Gen forms.
  • Website conversions – select this goal if you want to drive conversions such as form submissions or eBook downloads. It’s important to install the Insight Tag for this one.
  • Job applicants – with this goal, you will be able to promote your open job positions and track the amount of LinkedIn members that apply for them.

3. Determine your location and language

The next step of our guide on how to create LinkedIn ads is to start building your audience.

How to create LinkedIn ads - selecting location and language

First, will have to select the geographical region that you want to reach with your campaign. No campaign on LinkedIn can run without having a location.

At this step, you will have to choose your target countries or cities, depending on the goals of your campaign.

This step is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t require too much explanation. However, here are some tips that I think are important to apply if you really want to achieve success with your LinkedIn ads:

  • Get specific – instead of selecting multiple countries at the same time, I recommend you to select only one country per campaign. This way, you will be able to gather data more quickly and efficiently, and not dilute your budget across different locations. On LinkedIn, you can’t see how much of your budget went to each country.
  • Exclude – play around with the exclude filter to only target the locations that are of most interest to you, and remove the ones that aren’t that interesting for your target audience. For example, if you are targeting Spain but only want to smaller cities, you may want to exclude Madrid, Barcelona, etc.

The language that you select will be the profile language of your target audience. And although there is not much science to it, there are some important things to keep in mind:

  • You can select only one language at a time. This means that if you want to reach people in both English and Spanish, you will have to make two separate campaigns.
  • You can only target the main language of a person’s profile. For example, if you select Spanish and the person has their profile in both English and Spanish, but their main language is English, you will not be able to reach them.
  • The language should be consistent throughout the campaign. This means that if you selected Spanish because you want to reach a Spanish-speaking audience, you cannot have your ad copies, creatives, landing page or lead gen forms in English. You either have to translate everything to Spanish, or keep everything in English. If you try to mix languages, LinkedIn will stop your ad from running.

For this reason, selecting English as the default language is sometimes the safest bet if you are trying to reach a more international audience.

Although, if you have your web and ad creatives prepared in multiple languages, it might be more efficient as people will be able to resonate with your campaign better when they see it in their native language.

4. Define your target audience

If you want to learn how to create LinkedIn ads, one of the most important things that you should pay attention to is how to define your target audience.

linkedin audience attributes

How to create LinkedIn ads guide: Defining the criteria for your target audience

We will be back to Audiences in a minute, but first, let’s start our LinkedIn guide with Audience attributes.

Audience attributes

Company Category

This attribute is relatively new, but it gives you a quick way to automatically target the top companies across various countries using pre-built selections.

This way, you will not have to search for these companies and target them manually one by one.

Company Connections

With this attribute, you will be able to reach the 1st degree connections of employees at the companies you select. However, you can only select from companies with over 500 employees.

So, if you are only targeting small or middle-sized business, it might not be the right attribute for your campaign.

Company Follower of

I am not particularly fond of this attribute as it only allows you to target your own followers. Which, to be honest, can be done organically without spending your budget on it.

Although it’s true that even organically, you are probably not going to reach all of your followers, so this might give you the boost that you need to reach all of them.

Company Growth rate

This attribute allows you to identify companies that are still small, but fast-growing, and have a huge potential down the road.

Or for example, if you are a company offering financial advice to businesses in bad financial position, you may want to select the option Negative growth companies to increase your chances of reaching such companies.

Company industries

This attribute is great if you want to reach a more broad audience. However, if you want to reach a specific, more refined target, I would suggest pairing Company Industries with other attributes (such as Company Size or Growth rate) to reduce the volume of your audience.

Company names

This attribute allows you to type down the names of organizations that you want to target. While you do that, LinkedIn will also suggest similar companies, which is awesome as it saves you time.

However, with this attribute, you will only be able to type up to 100 Company Names. If you need to reach more companies, you can use Matched audiences – which we are going to cover in a minute.

Additionally, if a company doesn’t have a Company Page on LinkedIn, you will not be able to target it with any attribute.

Company size

And last but not least, we have an attribute that allows you to target by organization size. I love this one because it helps me refine my audience better, but also allows me to keep the total size under control.

Depending on your business and Marketing goals, you can also include or exclude “Myself only”, as there are a lot of people who create a Company page for their project website or freelancer services.

And next on how to create LinkedIn ads, we have Demographics:

how to create linkedin ads - demographic attributes

Our next attribute category is Demographics. It allows you to target by age ranges which cover ages from 18 to 55+, and also by Member gender. This data is collected anonymously by LinkedIn.

However, you will have to check enable these fields manually by checking a consent box, and certifying that you are not going to discriminate by age or gender with your campaign.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend using the age filter – in most cases, it is much more relevant to filter by Years of Experience or Job Seniority, which are attributes that we are going to see in a minute.

After all, if we are looking for professionals on a certain decision making level within the company, or with more or less experience, age isn’t necessarily going to determine that.

How to create LinkedIn ads: Trying out the Education attribute

The next section, Education, is a very interesting one, and I think it can be really effective depending on your goals. The main reason why is because it allows you to get more specific than other advertising channels.

Degrees

This attribute allows you to select from a rather limited selection of Degrees. Which, I assume, are the most popular ones across the world, that’s why they have a separate section for them.

To see all that’s available, simply click on one of the suggestions, or start typing on the search bar.

If you can’t find the specific Degree or Master that you are looking for, you will most certainly find it in the next criteria – Fields of Study.

Fields of study

As I just mentioned, if there’s anything you can’t find in Degrees, you will most probably find it with the criteria Fields of Study.

This one has a much larger database as it collects all specific degrees it can find on the profiles of LinkedIn members.

For a starter, simply type a keyword to find the Degree that you are looking for, or click on LinkedIn’s suggestions. And you will be able to see a wider variety (and significantly more specific Degrees) compared to the previous attribute.

Member schools

This attribute allows you to target by the schools, colleges and universities your audience went to. However, keep in mind that you will not be able to target schools that don’t have a Company Page.

The next category of our guide on how to create LinkedIn ads is Job experience, and it includes multiple awesome attributes to choose from. Let’s see them:

Job Functions

This attribute allows you to select from different job functions, which are simply multiple job titles grouped by LinkedIn into more generic categories.

It is a great filter if you want to reach a broader audience of people with similar functions, instead of typing Job Titles one by one.

Because Job Functions are generic categories pre-built by LinkedIn, you also have less options to choose from. So, if you prefer to build a more specific and refined audience, you may opt for Job Titles instead – which is one of the criteria that we are going to see next.

Job Seniorities

This is another criteria that cannot be found directly on someone’s LinkedIn profile. Instead, the algorithms collect data from multiple profiles to group them into different job seniorities.

Job Seniorities are a great option if you want to reach decision makers within the company without limiting yourself to very specific Job Titles. It is also a great way to manage the size of your audience.

Job titles

If you want to learn how to create LinkedIn ads, you will really need to master the art of making your audience as refined as possible. And using the criteria Job Titles is a great way to do that.

As opposed to Job functions, Job titles are directly extracted from members’ LinkedIn profiles, and they are much more specific and wider in variety.

However, a single Job title will also have less volume than a single Job function. So, you can choose Job Functions if you want to expand your audience to reach more profiles, and Job titles if you want to reduce it and get more specific with it.

Member Skills

This attribute is interesting because it extracts data from the profiles of LinkedIn’s members. If you already have a personal account on LinkedIn, you probably remember that you had to add Skills to your profile when creating it.

And this is where the Campaign Manager is getting its information from.

However, from my experience, this attribute doesn’t typically work so well in ads because people tend to put everything they can think of (I’m guilty of it, too) on their profiles to make them more complete.

Years of experience

And last but not least, we have years of experience. This one is pretty straightforward, and it takes into account the years of accumulated experience from different job positions for a LinkedIn member.

It is also a great criteria to use if you want to refine your audience, and make sure that you are reaching more experienced professionals – which is important if you are looking to impact decision makers.

Next, we have the last attribute section – Interests and Traits:

how to create linkedin ads - interests and traits targeting criteria

How to create LinkedIn ads: Interests and Traits targeting criteria

Our next set of attributes will allow you to reach member by their direct or inferred interests, traits, or professional groups they might belong to.

Member groups

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite attributes as I have found it really efficient for hundreds of campaigns. The main reason why is because, for someone to belong to a group, they have to be really interested in a topic.

Also, they have to be accepted in that group, as group owners do not accept just anyone. So people can’t simply join any group they can randomly think of, they have to be very interested.

Member interests

This attribute is quite broad. To give you an idea of how LinkedIn collects this data, it takes it from the Interests section of a user’s profile.

This is something that users usually don’t take the time or dedication to fill out with too much thought. In fact, people tend to select some random interests that come to their mind when they create their profile, but they are not necessarily representative. 

So, it’s not a very precise filter in my opinion and experience.

Member traits

Traits are a relatively new attribute, but definitely worth trying if you want to learn how to create LinkedIn ads. Member Traits are not directly extracted from users’ profiles, but instead are created by algorithms based on users’ historical activity.

For example, Job Seeker will take into account actions such as the number of recent job applications on LinkedIn, or if someone has configured Open to recruiters to show up on their profile.

Matched audiences

linkedin matched audiences

How to create LinkedIn ads guide: Matched audiences

Now that we’ve looked into Audience attributes, the second option that we have is to go with Audiences.

Audiences are a great way to re-impact users who have already interacted with your business in one way or another – whether they visited your website, registered for your event, or are a part of your email or account database.

They are an essential step to master if you want to learn how to create LinkedIn ads.

However, I am not going to enter into detail in this article as I already have an entire article on how to build them, and what are the best practices – you can check it here.

5. Expand or reduce your audience

The next step of our guide on how to create LinkedIn ads is to take a look at some ways in which you can expand or reduce your audience.

Exclude filters

You can also use exclusion filters for your segmentation, and I highly recommend you to do so to ensure that your audience is as specific as possible. Do not try to reach the whole world at the same time.

Generic campaigns will never work as well as niche ones.

For example, if you are trying to reach decision makers such as Directors or CEOs, you may want to exclude Entry, Training and Unpaid  to make sure that you only want to reach the desired profiles.

Audience expansion

Audience expansion is an automatic way to reach a wider audience than you’ve initially set up.

By enabling Audience expansion, you will give more “freedom” to LinkedIn to show your ads to people with similar traits as your current target audience. This box is checked by default.

If you decide to uncheck it, algorithms will play strictly “by the rules” and stick precisely to the criteria that you have chosen for your segmentation. Keep in mind that Audience expansion is not available for all ad formats.

6. Choose your desired ad format

If you want to learn how to create LinkedIn ads, the next essential step of the process is selecting your ad format.

Currently, you can choose from 8 different ad formats:

how to create linkedin ads - choosing ad formats

How to create LinkedIn ads: Selecting the right ad format for your goal

It is important to keep in mind that, depending on the objective that you chose, you will have different ad formats available.

So, if you can’t see a specific ad format in this section, go back to your objective and check what you’ve selected.

If you want to learn more about each particular ad format, and when to select which one, you can visit my article The 8 LinkedIn Ad Formats & Best Ways to Use Them.

7. Set up your Budget and Schedule

Next of our guide on how to create LinkedIn ads, you will need to set a budget and schedule for your campaign.

how to create linkedin ads - budget and schedule

How to create LinkedIn ads: Setting up budget and schedule in your LinkedIn ads manager

You can select from the following options:

  • Daily budget – this option allows you to set a daily budget without limiting your total budget. However, I would be really careful with this one because, if you forget about it, your campaign will just run indefinitely without ever stopping, and you might go over your budget if you have one.
  • Lifetime budget – in this case, you are setting the total budget for your campaign, and it will be up to LinkedIn to decide how much to spend daily. I am not a huge fan of this option either, since you don’t have much control over your budget management – but if that’s what you prefer, go for it!
  • Daily and lifetime budget – in my opinion, this option is the safest if you want to avoid going over your budget. It also gives you much more control over it, and you decide how much to spend per day depending on your results.

You can also set a start and end date, which I only recommended if you are promoting an event or something that has an end date.

Tip: If you have a specific budget but no time pressure (for example, you are selling your product instead of promoting an event), I wouldn’t recommend setting an end date.

If the campaign runs out of time before running out of budget, it will not serve its total budget – unless you don’t necessarily want to spend it whole. And don’t worry – actual daily spend may be up to 20% higher but the total budget will never be exceeded.

8. Select your optimization goal and bidding strategy

A bidding strategy determines how you spend your budget to reach your goal – by default, LinkedIn will try to get the best results possible for your budget.

However, setting a specific performance goal will help algorithms undertake the best strategy in order to achieve it.

linkedin bidding strategies

Currently, there are 4 main bidding strategies that you can select from for your campaigns:

  • Maximum delivery (automated) – with this strategy, LinkedIn will automatically control your bids to try and get the most results possible around your optimization goal.
  • Target cost – this strategy allows you to set a maximum cost for a certain goal. For example, if don’t want to spend more than 10 dollars per lead, you can control this from here.
  • Manual bidding – manual bidding is perfect if you want to have more control over your spending and costs per click. It is the safest option for me.
  • Enhanced bidding – when you enable the option “Enable bid adjustment for high-value clicks”, the Manual bidding strategy converts to Enhanced bidding. With this strategy, LinkedIn’s algorithms will automatically increase your bid if they consider the click to be particularly valuable.

You can also select your bidding strategy around different optimization goals, such as Impressions, Clicks, Landing page clicks, Video views and more.

An optimization goal simply means that LinkedIn will use this information to see what is your particular priority – whether to drive more website visits, more ad views, or landing page clicks. They are typically aligned with your Campaign objective.

9. Conversion tracking

The next step of our guide on how to create LinkedIn ads is to set up your conversion tracking.

how to create linkedin ads - conversion tracking

How to create LinkedIn ads: Conversion tracking

To be able to configure conversion tracking, which is optional for most Campaign Objective but necessary if you want to track Website conversions, you need to install the Insight Tag first.

You can check my article 5 Quick Steps to Setting Up LinkedIn Conversion Tracking to learn everything that you need to know for installing the tag and setting up your conversions.

10. How to create LinkedIn Ads

And now that you are all set up, it’s time to create your LinkedIn ads! Click on Next (remember that your objective and ad format cannot be changed once you move on to the next page), and you are ready to set up your ads.

Depending on the ad format that you’ve chosen, you might need to provide more ore less information, but overall, it is quite straightforward.

As for the creatives itself, for the sake of not making this article indefinitely and boringly long, I advise you to go to my blog post about LinkedIn ad formats.

And this is it for today! Thank you for reading my article on how to create LinkedIn ads, and I hope to see you in the next one!

Do you want to become an expert in LinkedIn advertising? Get my ebook “The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Advertising!”

And now, let’s answer some of the most popular questions on how to create LinkedIn ads:

How do I create LinkedIn ads?

To be able to create LinkedIn ads, you need a personal profile, a Company page for the organization that you are going to advertise, and a Campaign Manager account. Once you've signed up for all the necessary accounts, you will be able to create your ads from your Campaign Manager.

How much do LinkedIn ads cost?

The costs of LinkedIn ads vary depending on your ad format, target audience, target country, bidding strategy, and the competitiveness of your niche, among other factors. For example, costs in the USA can vary anywhere between $5.20 per click, up to $19.20 per click.

Which is the best LinkedIn ad format?

Different advertisers may find success with different LinkedIn ad formats, so it is always a good practice to try all of them. However, the best ad format that tends to generate the most results is Single image ad (Sponsored Content).

Are LinkedIn ads worth it?

Yes, LinkedIn ads are worth it for many businesses. Although they tend to be more expensive than ads on other channels, they are able to reach an extremely unique, precise, and specific target audience of high-quality leads.


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