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All 8 Types of LinkedIn Matched Audiences (+Best Practices)

LinkedIn Matched Audiences is a set of tools that was first introduced by LinkedIn in 2017 as a new way for businesses to connect with their target audience.

It works by combining professional data with your own first-party data to re-target web visitors coming from your LinkedIn Ads. However, it also allows you to leverage the potential of your contact database by uploading lists of current accounts or contacts on LinkedIn.

This way, you will be able to re-engage them with relevant advertising.

linkedin matched audiences

Today, we will learn all about the 8 types of LinkedIn Matched Audiences that you can use within your campaigns, what are the main differences between them, and how you can take advantage of their full potential.

We will also see a step-by-step guide on how to use them to re-target and re-engage your audience once they’ve been impacted by your LinkedIn ads.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into our LinkedIn Matched audiences!

Keep in mind that you need to have your conversion tracking enabled before you start configuring any audience. Otherwise, it won’t work!

The 8 Types of LinkedIn Matched Audiences

As we mentioned previously, matched audiences on LinkedIn serve the purpose of helping you re-impact users who have already interacted with your business one way or another.

linkedin live events

You can impact users who:

  • Visited your website or landing page after clicking on your ad;
  • Completed a Lead Gen form;
  • Converted on your website, for example filled out a form on your website;
  • Are leads or existing customers within your CRM database.

The idea behind is to send a more personalized message to your audience to help them convert further down the funnel.

For example, if they visited your website, but didn’t perform any key action such as filling out a contact form, you can design a specific campaign that invites them to complete this action.

Another example in which you could use LinkedIn Matched audiences is if you already have a list of existing customers.

In this case, you can leverage the power of these tools to offer these customers additional products, or to create a lookalike list to detect other potential customers with a similar profile.

For all these reasons and purpose, LinkedIn offers 5 different Matched Audiences options – so, let’s take a look at them:

1. Website Retargeting

The first and arguably most important type of LinkedIn Matched Audiences is Website Retargeting. With website retargeting, you can collect cookies of users who are arriving to your website from clicking on your ads.

Once you’ve gathered enough cookie volume, you can detect your website visitors so you can send them a more personalized message.

Retargeting tends to be highly affective – after all, launching personalized campaigns to people who already know your business because they’ve visited your website, as opposed to an audience that’s completely new and don’t know anything about you, makes a lot of difference.

Website retargeting is very easy to set up, but it requires a minimum volume of users – 300 unique visitors per audience. The reason why is because LinkedIn’s algorithms won’t be able to optimize your campaign efficiently otherwise.

To configure retargeting on LinkedIn, go to your Campaign Manager -> Account Assets -> Matched Audiences.

linkedin matched audiences

Now, click on Create Audience -> Website:

linkedin matched audiences - website retargeting

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Website retargeting

Practical Example

To work with a simplified example, let’s say that you have an online shop that sells 2 products:

  • Laptops – with the brands HP, Sony and Dell.
  • Mobile phones – with the brands Samsung, Apple and Google Pixel.

Let’s say that you are running generic campaigns about laptops, but also specific campaigns about each brand. One for HP, one for Sony, and one for Dell. The same with mobile phones.

Each LinkedIn campaign will bring a certain number of clicks and respective website visitors.

For example, you had 5000 people who were interested in buying a laptop and clicked on your generic campaign. On top of that, more than 1000 users clicked on your Dell-specific campaign.

If they didn’t end up buying any product, they might need to be re-engaged with a second impact. Frequency is key in advertising. After all, people don’t usually buy a product from the first ad that they see.

Usually, a second, more personalized impact will be essential for conversion. Or a purchase. And the way to do that is by website retargeting, one of the most effective forms of LinkedIn matched audiences.

Specific vs generic audiences

One might think that the best way to do that is by creating a specific audience for each brand. Or for each product, depending on your specific case.

This way, you can ensure that later on, you will be able to distinguish visitors who are only interested in buying a Dell (for example), from users interested in any other laptop. And although you will indeed need to do that, this is not the full picture.

One important thing that you will need to keep in mind for your Website Retargeting Audiences is that they build very, very slowly.

matched audiences

And you won’t be able to use them at all before reaching 300 members.

The reason why is because a few things need to happen at the same time for a cookie to be registered for retargeting:

  • First, the user who is coming to your website needs to be signed in his LinkedIn profile
  • Second, he needs to click on your ad and browse the exact page/s that you configured for your audience.

This makes the matching quite difficult. As a result, it might take a lot of time to build up your audience to a minimum of 300 users.

For this reason, I recommend that you set up both specific and generic audiences. For the online shop we are currently working with, it could look like that (obviously, everything is invented for the example):

Generic Audience – All Laptops

all laptops example

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Website retargeting

This generic audience will include all the URLs related to all your laptop products. Because you will have many different laptop campaigns driving traffic to multiple URLs, the cookies will be gathered much faster.

However, this also means that targeting by brand will also be difficult with this audience. The reason why is because you will not know which users are interested in which specific laptop brand.

You can include as many URLs and landing pages as you want. Because generic pages usually receive more traffic than specific ones, it will build up much faster. And you will be able to use website retargeting in your campaigns sooner!

Specific Audiences – HP, Dell, Sony

Now that we have set up generic audiences, it is time to configure specific ones. Specific matched audiences builder slower than generic ones.

However, they also allow you to make much better and highly-segmented retargeting.

You can get as specific as you want. In fact, the more audiences you build, the better! So, don’t be afraid to play with your options. You can make audiences by brand, product, service, or anything else distinctive to your business:

sony example audiences

hp laptops example

Now that you have all your generic and specific audiences configured, it is time to wait! Unfortunately, you can’t do much to speed up the process.

Tip: Keep in mind that reaching 300 members is usually not enough to use the audience in a campaign. Because LinkedIn only shows ads to active users, it will probably shrink once placed within the campaign. 

It will also shrink when you start configuring your LinkedIn ad targeting. So, make sure to have a volume of at least 2,000 users!

2. Company audience retargeting

When it comes to LinkedIn Matched audiences, website retargeting isn’t the only way you can retarget your audience. The second option we have is Company audience, which allows you to retarget users who have either:

  • Visited your Company page on LinkedIn;
  • Clicked a Call to Action button in the header of your LinkedIn page;

This option is great to re-impact users who have already interacted with your business organically (not from paid campaigns), and I highly recommend that you configure it as soon as possible.

This way, you will start collecting data right away so you can gather enough volume to launch a LinkedIn Campaign. To configure this audience, click on Company Page from the Create audience dropdown:

LinkedIn Matched audiences: Company page retargeting

Then, select one of the above-mentioned options from the dropdown, give your audience a name, and define the time period for which you want to collect data.

90 days is the recommended timeframe by LinkedIn because it is long enough to collect a good amount of data, but not too long because users who interacted with your LinkedIn page a year ago might not remember your company anymore.

3. Events audience retargeting

The third type of LinkedIn Matched audiences is events retargeting.

It is relatively new and at the moment, it only allows you to re-engage with people from your LinkedIn live events, which are events that your company can organize to stream directly on LinkedIn and to show up on users’ feed in real time.

Having said this, you can use events retargeting to impact people who have marked themselves as “attending” your live events, even if not all of them assisted.

linkedin matched audiences event retargeting

LinkedIn Matched audiences: Live events

To set your events audience, click on Event from the Create audience dropdown:

Then, select the events that you want to create an audience of, give your audience a name, and click on Create so it can start processing as soon as possible. Once the audience has started processing, it can take up to 3 days before you can use it in a campaign.

4. Video audience

Our list of LinkedIn matched audiences continues with another type of retargeting, this time in the form of video. In other words, you can create an audience out of people who have engaged with one or more of your videos.

To create a Video audience, select Video from the Create audience dropdown within your Campaign Manager:

Next, you will be asked to give your audience a name. You can also adjust how engaged they were by selecting a percentage from the dropdown:

LinkedIn Matched audiences: Video retargeting

Once you’ve selected your level of engagement and timeframe of impact, you can simply select the video campaigns that you want to build an audience from, and then click on Create.

As in the rest of our LinkedIn matched audiences, the platform might need 3-4 days to process all of the data before you can use this audience in a campaign.

5. Contact Targeting

The second type of LinkedIn Matched audiences is Contact Targeting.

The Contact Targeting option allows you to upload your very own lists of email addresses to match against LinkedIn members.

In other words, LinkedIn’s algorithms will take your list of emails and search within its own database of LinkedIn members to see if they coincide.

If an email from your own database matches with an email from LinkedIn’s database, this means that the user has used the exact same email to register both on LinkedIn and on your website.

However, if the same person uses one email to create a profile in LinkedIn, and another one to register on your website, LinkedIn will not be able to identify it, so there won’t be a match. And you won’t be able to re-impact this person on the social media platform.

Contact Targeting enables you to show tailored advertising to your current lists and databases of leads, potential customers, and even existing customers. Of course, always keeping in mind that they should be using the same email on LinkedIn as when they registered on your website.

To upload your contacts from your CRM (or another platform in which they are located), go to Campaign Manager -> Account Assets -> Matched Audiences. From the Create audience dropdown, click on Company / Contact:

linkedin matched audiences - contact targeting

Now, download the contact list template. After that, just follow the example in the Excel file to paste the emails of the contacts from the original source. It is actually quite simple as it’s just email addresses:

linkedin matched audiences excel template

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Contact targeting

Make sure that your file remains in CSV format as it won’t upload in any other format. Once you’ve uploaded your  list, give it a name, and click on Create. It will take up to 24 hours to process, and another 24 hours to start delivery.

Audience size

Once uploaded, LinkedIn will remove invalid emails and will start the matching process.

Now that you’ve uploaded your list of contacts, you are ready to use it in your campaigns to re-engage your current database with tailored and personalized advertising.

matched audiences - processed

Later on, you can use this audience to create lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences, which we will explain in detail in the next sections, allow you to build audiences that have similar traits and behavior as your existing audiences.

They will help you discover users with a higher potential to buy from you because they have a similar profile to your current database.

Keep in mind: upload lists tend to shrink a lot because the emails that you provide don’t always match with the emails in LinkedIn’s database. For example, if you upload an email list of 20,000 people, don’t be surprised if it suddenly shrinks to 10,000 or even less.

Especially if you are using old lists and many people have changed their email addresses since then. (Or maybe because they have a new company address).

For the Contact Targeting option, LinkedIn also offers various Data Integrations with other platforms such as Marketo, LiveRamp, Eloqua, Salesforce Advertising Studio, Microsoft Dynamics 360, and others. Click here to learn more about Data Integrations with LinkedIn.

6. Account Targeting

This option is very similar to the Contact Targeting one, and you need to follow the exact same steps to get there. From the Create audience option within Matched audiences, you should again select Company / Contact.

The only difference is that instead of downloading the contact template, you will need to download the account template:

account list template

This type of LinkedIn Matched Audiences allows you to upload CSV lists of company names and domains to match against LinkedIn pages.

Once you’ve pasted the information into the template, all you need to do is to give it a name and upload it. Just as in Contact Targeting, it might take up to 24 hours to process, and another 24 to start serving.

Tip: Keep in mind that you list of company names should closely match LinkedIn’s database. For example, if you want to target The Coca Cola Company, you will need to find the exact name of the company’s page on LinkedIn. In this case, the name of the page is exactly as you would image:

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Account targeting

However, in some cases, companies might write their name in a different manner. If there is even a slight difference, LinkedIn might not be able to match it. 

7. Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences allow you to create a new audience segment by building upon an existing matched segment – such as account lists, contact lists, or website audiences.

LinkedIn uses lookalike audiences to discover users with the same traits as your contact databases. This significantly increases your chances for finding your ideal customer.

For example, if you have a list of existing customers, you can upload it to LinkedIn, and then create a lookalike audience based on it.

With this information, the algorithms will be able to find LinkedIn membres that are similar to your customers, thus making a list of users who are more likely to purchase from you. To build one, simply click on Lookalike from the Create audience dropdown:

LINKEDIN matched audiences - lookalike

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Lookalike targeting

However, I am not going to get into detail here because I’ve already made a dedicated article on this topic: Understanding LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences. I definitely recommend you to check it out!

Lookalike audiences can be quite powerful to use if you have enough volume.

8. Lead Gen form retargeting

The fifth type of LinkedIn Matched Audiences is Lead Gen form retargeting.

However, in order to understand what it is and how it works, we need to introduce Lead Gen forms first.

linkedin matched audiences - lead gen form retargeting

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Lead Gen form retargeting

A Lead Gen form is a native form that you can use within your LinkedIn campaigns with the purpose of capturing high quality leads in a quick and easy way.

Typically, when a user clicks on a LinkedIn campaign, they are taken to a third-party website so they can finish the conversion there. However, with Lead Gen, users don’t have to leave LinkedIn at all as these forms open within the platform.

There are a lot of benefits for both companies and users. For example, users don’t have to fill in their data manually as LinkedIn extracts it automatically from the members’ profile.

content marketing - surveys

For companies, this also means cheaper CPLs as more people are likely to leave their data since they don’t have to fill out a long, annoying form with too many fields. Users also trust LinkedIn a lot than many other websites, which is another conversion factor.

Having said all of this, Lead Gen form retargeting allows you to re-impact people who opened your Lead Gen form but didn’t click on the Submit button.

This way, you can try to convince them with a more personalized message so they can finish the conversion.

You can also retarget people who have already submitted the form to help them move further down the funnel.

To set up this type of LinkedIn Matched audiences, simply click on the Lead Gen form from the Create audience drop down:

lead gen form

Then, you can create your audience of people who have interacted with your forms:

As we already explained, you could either re-impact people who have submitted a form, or people who opened it but didn’t submit it. You can also select the timeframe of their engagement – from 30 days to 365 days in the past.

This means that you can select people who interacted with any of your campaigns in the last 30 days, or impact a bigger audience over a longer period of time.

I would recommend something in the middle – the chances are that leads who interacted with your ads a year ago might no longer remember you or be interested in your business.

How to include Matched Audiences in a Campaign

Now that you’ve created your audiences, you are ready to leverage their capabilities by using them in your advertising campaigns. They can be used a segmentation criteria in your LinkedIn ad targeting.

You can add them to your Sponsored Content campaign by clicking on Audiences and selecting the website audience that you wish to use. For example, if you want to impact your contact targeting list, you should select “List upload”.

If you want to retarget your Lookalike audiences, select “Lookalike”, and so on. Keep in mind that your audience should have enough volume – at least 300 users, and they need to be processed in order to be used in a campaign, which takes about 3-4 days:

LinkedIn Matched Audiences: using them in your campaigns

The more campaigns that you make, the better – as they bring additional traffic to your website and help you build your audiences faster.

As you can see, you also have the option to upload your lists on the spot; however, you will still have to wait for them to be processed before activating the campaign. So it’s better to do it beforehand.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! Any feedback is welcome.

Hope you enjoyed the content, and thank you for your time!

Featured Image Credit: instapage.com


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