Social Media

LinkedIn Ads Best Practices: 10 Tips for Running Successful Campaigns

From experimenting with different ad formats to understanding your audience & targeting decision-makers, there are tons of LinkedIn ads best practices to study. Catch them all in this post.

Masooma Memon Masooma Memon on February 22, 2021 (last modified on February 19, 2021) • 13 minute read

Did you know that a whopping 80% of content marketers run LinkedIn ads?

Given the fact that LinkedIn is the leading organic social network for B2B marketers, it makes sense that’s also so popular among advertisers.

Just as other types of paid ads, Linkedin ads can be tricky to master. If you have been running LinkedIn ads for a while now without seeing the expected results, try following these LinkedIn ads best practices to get things right.

Ready to fine-tune your ads on the professional network of decision-makers?

Here’s what you’ll learn today:

  1. Start with understanding your audience
  2. Target decision-makers
  3. Keep an eye on segment breakdown
  4. Use text with your ads
  5. Play with the visuals too
  6. Retarget users with the LinkedIn Conversion Pixel
  7. Choose ad type wisely
  8. Use LinkedIn strategically alongside running ads
  9. Offer gated content
  10. Test and be consistent with your campaign

Before we dive into the details, here are some industry averages that we polled our community of experts about.

First, we asked them to share their typical cost per click on LinkedIn. The majority – about 24% – said their CPC was between $2-3.

typical cost per click on LinkedIn data graph

Next, we asked about their typical cost per thousand (CPM) on LinkedIn. We learned that less than $10 in CPM on LinkedIn was the most popular answer.

typical CPM on LinkedIn data graph

Now, to the meaty part:

1. Start with understanding your audience

As with any other strategy, your work on your LinkedIn ad campaign should also start with getting full clarity on who your target audience is. Doing so helps you personalize your ad message so it resonates with your audience.

Hence, it makes sense that “great performing LinkedIn ads begin with researching whom you wish to reach and what creative elements (visuals and copy) will best resonate with them,” in the words of Duckpin’s Andrew Clark.

“This platform offers some of the best targeting capabilities out there, in my opinion, as you can limit ads to specific job titles, professional interests, and groups,” Clark notes further.

“To successfully use these features, advertisers should have a thorough understanding of their audience’s watering holes aka places they spend their time on the platform or elsewhere on the web, in addition to the usual demographic information. The former part helps ensure you’re getting in front of the people already researching or talking about your field and in turn, are more likely to take your desired action.”

What’s more, “to get high conversions in a LinkedIn ads campaign, you’ll want to use a combination of audience segmentation and value,” shares Tiffany Lewis of More Meaningful Marketing.

“By understanding your ideal client(s) or target audience(s) better, you can make more informed decisions about the content type that they will see the quality in that is worth converting for.”

To get to work: “narrow down your audience as much as possible by industry, seniority, title, and company size to ensure that your ads are targeted to your ideal prospect,” advises Kirky Galt from Creative Real Estate Copy.

And remember, “if your target vertical isn’t well-defined, you’ll be wasting impressions and clicks on low-quality traffic and leads,” Galt says. “Once you’ve got the right audience, also make certain to deliver ads that are relevant to your prospect’s needs and speak their niche language.”

Related: 10 Ways to Improve Lead Quality with LinkedIn Campaign Groups

2. Target decision-makers

Often, your ad copy resonates with the right people. They might even think ‘hurray! This is what we were looking for.’ The only catch? The ad’s not targeted to the people who’ll call the final shots. So you end up convincing your target audience, but just not the right person who makes the decision.

The solution? “Instead of targeting end-users like most platforms, LinkedIn allows you for something far more powerful: target C-level positions,” International Consulting’s Yoann Bierling outlines.

If you really want an ad to have a professional impact, such as getting your product sold to a company, do not target team members, but decision-makers, with personalized ads, such as the ones allowed in conversation. Your chance of getting where you want to, by getting product sold instead of standard brand awareness, will be higher at a cost but lower effort,” Bierling continues.

Like Bierling, Growth Hackers Company’s Jonathan Aufray is also a fan of hyper-targeting decision-makers – sharing this as one of the LinkedIn paid ads best practices.

“From my experience, successful LinkedIn ads have one point in common: hyper-targeting. You want to make sure that you target the right people with the right message.

Let me give you an example:

  • You don’t just want to target people by position and countries. You can target them by role, company, industry, position, city, etc.
  • Then, craft a message and design a creative targeting them. For instance, you could target founders at SMBs in the healthcare industry in Los Angeles. Your creative would have a doctor in LA’s downtown and your message could say ‘Are you interested in making your health tech employees more productive? We are experts based in Los Angeles. Get in touch now to discover how.’

With such targeting, you will definitely have high engagement, positive RoaS, and ROI.”

Editor’s note: Track how well your LinkedIn ads are doing with this free LinkedIn Ads Overview Dashboard that gives you a summary of clicks by ads, CTR by campaign, daily impressions, daily clicks, engagement, and more.

3. Keep an eye on segment breakdown

Since we’re already talking about targeting your audience, Ironpaper’s Arielle Ru has another LinkedIn ads best practice.

“Constantly review the Segment Breakdown estimates in the right panel as you are building your audience,” Ru writes. “These percentages paint a picture of your audience build and can help you to further refine your inclusions and exclusions.

By tightening up audience segments, you can avoid wasting ad spend and skewing results by targeting the wrong audience.”

4. Use text with your ads

You’d think words don’t have much of a role to play in an ad. Think again. Persuasive copywriting can not only get your audience’s attention, but it can encourage them to take action too.

This is why Peter Schoeman of Thedogadventure.com shares this LinkedIn text ads best practice: “one great tip for running a high converting LinkedIn ads campaign is to use lots of text in image ads.”

In fact, Schoeman goes on to say, “One of my favorite things about LinkedIn Ads is that they do not have a rule restricting the amount of text that I could put in an image as Facebook does.

And my experience has been that big, bold text on your LinkedIn Ads actually can work well. One of my favorite ad design tactics is to use a colorful bold background with bold text. In the text, I normally like to Call out the job title of the candidates we are trying to attract; or highlight our proposal with a strong call to action (CTA).”

Matt Lally from TheGiftYak brings more actionable tips to the table: “Take your main brand color, create a vertical, horizontal, and square size with just that color.

Add your best 4-5 word direct response tagline that SELLS your product/service in bold white letters filling up the entire image. Nothing else, no logo, no secondary copy, and no imagery. In 2 weeks come back to Databox’s blog and tell us how easy that was!”

5. Play with the visuals too

Strong visuals including catchy pictures, short videos, GIFs, and so on work wonders in getting your audience’s attention. In fact, the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

The takeaway? Good visuals are the key to getting into your audience’s head.  As Giraffe Social Media’s Eleanor Baldwin puts it, “Pictures are key! It’s easy to spend a lot of time ensuring the copy is perfect and, whilst this is important, don’t underestimate the importance of using an engaging picture.”

Cindy Williams from Web Sharx speaks in favor of videos: “LinkedIn’s Native Video – Create attractive videos to capture customer’s attraction. Videos must be under 10 minutes.”

Related: 39 LinkedIn Video Tips to Boost Your Marketing Strategy

Whatever creative you work with though, “make it stand out” remarks How the Fxck’s Ben Goodey. “We’ve run a ton of LinkedIn ad campaigns and the highest converting one’s stood out in the feed. Fun images and popping colors spice of the feed and get people to stop and actually consider the offer.”

Related: 37 Marketers Share Their Favorite Marketing Design Software

6. Retarget users with the LinkedIn Conversion Pixel

Next on this list of LinkedIn ads best practices is a tip from Maulik Patel of Click Matix on retargeting.

“Install The LinkedIn Conversion Pixel as soon as possible,” suggests Patel. “You need to get the LinkedIn pixel on your site ASAP. Even if you do not have plans to run ads any time soon. Yes, the main ideas to have the pixel on your site are to retarget visitors to your site with ads; and to track conversions on your website.”

“But there’s another great reason to get your pixel up right away,” Patel adds. “That’s because once you have the pixel placed on your site, LinkedIn starts to give you free access to your site Demographics. They’ll show you what percentage of your site visitors fit into categories based on j company size, job titles, industry, seniority, and more.”

7. Choose ad type wisely

It’s also crucial you select your ad format wisely. Of course, knowing your audience helps. But there’s nothing like testing each format to see which resonates with them the best.

No wonder, My Mixify’s David McHugh comments, “My best tip for running a high-converting LinkedIn ad campaign would be to take advantage of and utilize all the different types of LinkedIn ads.”

McHugh explains, “There are three main ones, which include sidebar ads, sponsored ads that show up in the news feed, and InMail ads, which are simply direct messages you can send to people’s inboxes.

Each ad format has a slightly different interface where you can either prioritize text, images, or other types of content and messaging, so try utilizing all LinkedIn ads have to offer and see which types bring you the best results.”

One more factor to consider is “your advertising objectives,” ResumeLab’s Bart Turczynski notes. “Sponsored content, vs. InMail and CPC text ads, all get leveraged quite differently, so it’s imperative what you want to achieve, who you want to reach, and how. Otherwise, you can quickly burn through your budget with little results to show for.”

But if you were to start with one format for your LinkedIn ad before you go experimenting, you might want to give sponsored content a shot as Maninder Paul from Digital Connectors suggests.

“They are a native ad format and appear like a part of the regular LinkedIn feed. With this format, you can keep your message simple and concise with an appealing visual – image or video. It also allows you to have 3 strategic places where you can place your CTA (Your ad copy, visual, and the headline) which makes it versatile,” Paul elaborates.

Generally, however, “don’t stick to just one type of ad like the sponsored ones, because for all you know you might have more success with the direct message ads,” in McHugh’s words.

8. Use LinkedIn strategically alongside running ads

It’s also essential you take out time to use LinkedIn strategically. The idea is simple: increase your time on the app (so the algorithm favors you) and show your ad viewers that you have an active profile.

“Invest in having a strong brand outside of paid media,” echoes Omri Hurwitz from Omri Hurwitz Media. Clients that build up their brand through thought leadership, Podcasts, and PR, get much better results on LinkedIn advertising.”

That’s a fair point, isn’t it? And, before we move on to another one of LinkedIn paid ad best practices, here are two LinkedIn use recommendations from Plain Writing’s Derek Gillette:

  • “Make sure employees at the company were already writing and engaging organically on the platform
  • Make sure the company page was in pristine condition with messaging tied into the campaign (if possible)”

Related: 53 Social Media Pros Explain the Art of Posting on LinkedIn

9. Offer gated content

Gated content is content that isn’t accessible right away. For example, an eBook that’s gated requires you to get it by sharing your email address. Our experts suggest you need to offer such content in your LinkedIn ads.

“Even though the landscape of conferences has changed dramatically,” comments Kristin Ides Hope of Prismatic “targeting attendees with contextual gated content after an event with LinkedIn’s Lead Gen Forms still produces high conversion rates.

Make sure to have your speaker mention the availability of a white paper or another piece of content at the end of their talk.

Create a highly targeted audience through event attendee email lists, and use the Download CTA on the form. The CPCs are generally much higher, but you’re paying to speak directly to an audience that already has your solution top-of-mind.”

ModernMedia.io’s Anthony Blatner talks about offering gated content too. “The absolute best converting campaigns come from targeting a specific job title in a specific industry, and matching up the offer to speak directly to them. Start with a content offer (aka ‘lead magnet’) in a LinkedIn lead forms campaign and you’re off to the races!”

10. Test your ads and be consistent with your campaign

Circling back to the point we made we made above on experimenting with LinkedIn ad types now is this last tip on testing consistently. Rep Cap’s Mary Ellen Slayter says it right, “Don’t skip your pilots!”

Here’s the game plan: “Before launching a full-fledged campaign, always test your audience, creative and ad format. I like to do 7-day tests for each variant, spending $100 per day,” explains Slayter.

“Once you’ve found a winning combination, make sure you run the campaign for a minimum of 30 days, spending a minimum of $100 per ad. LinkedIn ads are effective, but because people don’t spend as much time on the site as other social media platforms, you need to give yourself more runway to build awareness and convert.”

Editor’s note: Keep an eye on your LinkedIn ad spent and ROI with this LinkedIn Ads: Ads performance dashboard. It shows you clicks, impressions, average engagement, and average CTR by ad alongside your ad spent – all on one screen.   

LinkedIn Ads: Ads performance dashboard

Don’t forget to “budget both a daily and lifetime spend, and make sure your daily spend is at least $50,” recommends Meara McNitt from Online Optimism.

“LinkedIn is a high-cost conversion platform – mentally prepare to spend at least $150 on leads. The more of your budget you can allot to LinkedIn the better if you’re looking for conversions.

Since LinkedIn has some of the most specific targeting options, it is worth investing in—but regularly check your Chart data to make sure you are reaching the right people, and adjust your targeting and exclusions if it isn’t.”


With these 10 proven LinkedIn ads best practices by your side, I’m sure you’d be able to benefit from your LinkedIn ads in no time. But remember: it all boils down to knowing your audience and experimenting with different ad types to find out what works best for you.

About the author
Masooma Memon
Masooma Memon Masooma is a freelance writer for SaaS and a lover to-do lists. When she's not writing, she usually has her head buried in a business book or fantasy novel.
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