LinkedIn Sponsored Content: The Beginner’s Guide (2019)

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

Whether you are a Digital Marketing specialist or an entrepreneur who wants to boost his business’ profitability, advertising in LinkedIn could be a great option to reach a more professionally-oriented and industry-specific audience. And although the social platform offers a variety of ways to promote your products or services, today we will focus exclusively on one of the most popular ones: LinkedIn Sponsored Content. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

What is LinkedIn Sponsored Content?

Well, Sponsored Content on LinkedIn is pretty much self-explanatory – as you scroll down through your LinkedIn feed, you will see a lot of publications, among which some that are labelled as Promoted – and that’s basically what makes them different from organically – published posts – someone, a company or an individual, is paying for this specific content to reach someone like you. Why? I mean, there is really no need to explain why a business would make an ad – to make you buy a product, register for a program, attend an event…the opportunities are endless. Just what any other ad would do. 🙂

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

What are the benefits of LinkedIn Sponsored Content?

Now that we know that this type of digital advertising has pretty much the same purpose as practically any other advertising on the Internet (and in the real world), you are probably wondering – why is it better than, let’s say, Facebook or Instagram ads? And here comes the fun part.

Take a look at your personal LinkedIn profile. You probably have it completed with information such as:

  • Your area and sector/s of experience;
  • Years of experience;
  • The companies you worked at previously (and the company you are working at now)
  • Where you studied and the degree of education that you have;
  • Your licenses and certifications, as well as volunteer experience;
  • Your skills and endorsements;
  • The languages that you speak;
  • The projects you’ve worked on.

Now that we’ve summed this up, think about your profile from an advertiser’s perspective – how cool would it be to profile your perfect audience to such a detail that you know exactly where they studied, what is their current company, and what skills they have? Exactly. That’s what Sponsored Content does that other platforms don’t (and it’s pretty awesome, to be honest).

This type of advertising allows you to drilldown your ideal audience to such an extent that you describe them exactly the way you want them to be – and LinkedIn does the work for you. (Of course, with the limitations of the platform, as it is quite professionally-oriented and does not contain as personal data as Facebook does).

Your First Campaign – Setting an Audience

Once you’ve got your account all set up and running, you are ready to start creating your first campaign.

LinkedIn Campaign Manager

First, you will need to choose the name of your campaign and its objective – I usually select Website visits, but you can go with Lead Generation as well – however, with this option the Campaign Manager will ask you to use LinkedIn’s native lead generation form. Unless you don’t have any setup for registering conversions on your own website, this might be a good option, but if you do – then it’s not necessary at this first stage.

Tip: Select Website visits unless you are not currently registering conversions on your website through your own submission form. Remember – once you’ve selected an objective, you can’t change it later.

linkedin Audience language and country

The next step is to start defining your audience.

  • Country: choose your target country – you can select specific cities or regions in order to refine it better. If you want to target various geographical areas at once, I do recommend to choose 4-5 key countries instead of spreading your message to the whole wide world (unless you have unlimited budget, in which case, wanna share some? 🙂 just kidding). In my opinion, selecting by key cities is even better if you are on a more limited budget. You can also exclude users from non-desired locations.
  • Profile Language: this is very important as you can only choose one (so choose wisely). For example, if you want to advertise in Spain, do you want to reach a target who has their profile in English or in Spanish? This will depend on your case, but it’s something to keep in mind while refining your target.

Tip: Choose 4-5 key countries or up to 20 cities to better refine your audience and test it out. You can always change it later on if your current audiences it not bringing results.

Now that you’ve set up your desired countries and languages, it is time to play with the multiple possibilities to optimize your target.

linkedin audience criteria

This is where the fun begins, and these are some examples of possible targeting criteria:

  • Company Size – are you targeting people from big companies, SMEs, or autonomous professionals? You can filter by company size and even exclude options that don’t fit your target (at my company, we usually exclude autonomous professionals or small companies because of the peculiarities of our product). For example, you might not be interested in the option Myself Only if you are a B2B company, but of course it will depend on the case.

LinkedIn Company size criteria

  • Company Industries – are you interested (or not) in potential leads or clients from specific industries? Maybe you want to reach people in the FinTech sector? Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t always have super specific sectors, but you can choose the most similar ones like Financial Services or Banking and see how they are performing (and of course, adjust if needed).

LinkedIn company industries

Tip: Don’t forget to exclude sectors that you are not interested in to ensure that you won’t be wasting your money on someone who isn’t your target.

  • Company Names – this targeting criteria gives you the option to target your audience by directly selecting company names – for example, you can combine it with job functions and target only Managers or Directors who work in, let´s say, Google or Microsoft. Keep in mind that these audiences are usually smaller as they are quite specific, but they can work really well in some  cases.

Tip: LinkedIn matches a company name with the corresponding Company Page of this organization in LinkedIn – if you want to target a specific business that doesn´t have a Company page in LinkedIn, you won´t be able to do that.

linkedin company names

  • Job Titles – another interesting option is to target by Job Titles, Job Functions or Job Seniorities – just keep in mind that these three options are mutually-exclusive as they are quite similar. If you need a more specific target I would recommend the option Job Titles, but if you want a wider audience you can either go by Job Functions or Job Seniorities – you can play with these options and select the one that best adapts to your needs.

Job Titles, Job Functions & Job Seniorities

Tip: Keep in mind that the targeting criteria for Years of Experience means years of experience in general, not in a specific sector, as it might be confusing sometimes. 

These are only a few examples for refining your audience, but of course you will need to perform constant A/B testing to see which ones work better for your business. If you have a small budget, you might need to go directly to the point with a more specific target.

However, if you are more flexible with your budget, I would recommend starting with a wider audience and once the campaign has collected enough data to draw conclusions, use the performance data to refine it:

LinkedIn analytics and performance data

Budget and Ad Format for LinkedIn Sponsored Content

The next step of the process is pretty straightforward. First, you will need to select an ad format – it could be a simple text ad, a single image ad, a carousel, a video…for the purpose of this post, we will choose a Single Image Ad.

LinkedIn Ad FormatNext, you will need to set your budget and a schedule for your campaign – you can either set a daily and a total budget, or set a daily budget and let the campaign run for an indefinite amount of time until it runs out of budget. You can also set a start and end date, which is especially recommendable 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 because 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.

linkedin budget and schedule

Bid Type

Next, you will need to choose a bid type. If your budget is limited and you want a better control over its spending, choose Maximum CPC bid – it will let you select the highest bid that you are willing to pay for an ad click. If you have a bigger budget and want LinkedIn to optimize it for better conversions, select the Automated bid – just keep in mind that you might pay a higher amount of money for a single click than usual.

bid type linkedin ads

The maximum CPM Bid is for per thousand impressions of your ad, which is a possible option if you didn’t enable the LinkedIn Audience Network beforehand – a network of partner apps and websites where your ads might show.

linkedin audience network

Conversion Tracking

Next, you can set up conversion tracking – it is optional and helps you measure conversions coming from your LinkedIn ads. However, I will explain how to do that in one of my next posts as it is a little bit more complex.

conversion tracking linkedin

Creating a New Ad

Now, you are ready to create your first ad! Click on Create New Ad, give it a name (your audience won’t see it so it’s really just for you to locate it better).

However, your introductory text is important as it will be the message that your audience will see – keep it short, catchy, captivating, and don’t forget to include a Call-to-Action. Paste the URL of your landing page, upload the banner, give your ad a nice headline and you are ready to go! The majority of your users won’t see the description but you can always ad it as a nice finishing touch to your campaign.

linkedin sponsored contentn

Tip: Don’t forget to perform A/B testing with different banners, introductory texts and headlines to see which one works better!

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That’s all, folks! If you have any questions, you can find me on LinkedIn or send me an email at animitevabg@gmail.com

See you in my next post,

Ani

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