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Relevancy Is Key to Reaching Professionals With LinkedIn PPC Ads

  |  November 18, 2011   |  Comments

Reach your audience on LinkedIn with these tips on targeting, ads, and bids and budget.

LinkedIn's PPC placements can help advertisers reach professional and B2B market segments. LinkedIn.com boasts over 120 million members and is the top website for professional social networking.

To best reach your audience and get great results, I've compiled a few best practices and tips.


LinkedIn provides traditional targeting like geography, gender, age, and then specific professional targeting focusing on company, job title, or groups users have joined. Break out specific audiences by campaign, and start with only one or two professional targeting filters at a time.

  • Groups give you insight into a user's interests and affiliations, regardless of other job settings. Target any number of groups by searching in the campaign target audience section.
  • Users' job seniority can also be targeted, from individual contributor to C-level or senior managers.
  • Job function enables you to loosen the targeting criteria a bit and select users within a specific job function such as "accounting," "creative," or "marketing."

How to use the professional targeting filters: for example, you can target IT managers by using "job function" (IT) and "seniority targeting" (manager) in one campaign. Use "title targeting" related to "IT managers" in another campaign and compare results.


Keep ads as relevant to the target audience as possible. Here's how:

  • Limit the number of ads to no more than two ads per campaign to keep impressions controlled so you can determine which ad is best performing.
  • Wednesdays are typically a high-volume day for traffic and page views, therefore, consider doing any optimizations or launching new campaigns by Wednesday. The volume then starts to drop off before the weekend.
  • For ad images, test images of professional men and women, preferably smiling and looking forward or to the right toward the ad copy. Unless the brand logo is very well known to the target audience, images with business professionals perform very well when tested against brand logos.
  • Offers can also be included in LinkedIn Ads. Like most online marketing, LinkedIn users also respond well to free offers targeted to the professional audience.
  • Headlines are important and should speak directly to the titles you're targeting with a selling point in each of the ads.
  • Engage your audience using questions or key selling points.

It's common for the CTR of your ad to decline if you continue to display the same ad week after week. A best practice is to refresh your ads at least once per month with new ad text or images.

Bids and Budget

LinkedIn uses a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand (CPM) ad bidding system. Minimum CPC is $2 and the minimum daily budget is $10. At a high level, LinkedIn only wants to show ads considered relevant to the targeted audience based on audience engagement with an ad. If the audience shows a high level of interest and clicks on the ad, the system will continue showing the ad. If the ads are not clicked, the system will begin to show them less over time.

The ad auction determines the winning advertiser and charges one penny over the second highest bid, based on their quality score and the ad's max CPC. This also determines if an impression is shown and the ad's position. A few tips to help get you the best performance out of your campaigns:

  • Watch CTR. The best way to control quality score is the CTR at the campaign level. LinkedIn considers a good CTR to be 0.025 percent or above. If a campaign CTR is lower than this, the system will penalize the campaign by serving less impressions. This happens within the first 10,000 impressions, so the system could penalize your poor performing campaigns quickly.
  • Pause poor performers. The system only takes into account the live ads, so if a poor performing ad is paused, then it is removed from the equation. This will allow the campaign to continue pushing the top performing ads.

Utilizing best practices for targeting, ads, and bids can help to make the most out of your LinkedIn ads. Since keywords are not used, it's important to use these tips to ensure your campaigns and ads are relevant to the target audience.


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Lisa Raehsler

Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.

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