April 1, 2024

How to Create Optimized LinkedIn Ads in 2024

In this blog, I will break down the whole process of setting up your ad account to launching your first campaign.

Ian Binek

CEO & Advertising Lead

Why You Need Optimized LinkedIn Ads

When I audit LinkedIn Ads accounts, I always find $100s and $1000s of wasted ad spend.

The reason for this is usually because small settings are left unchecked, audiences aren't created, and audiences are way too broad.

By tightening up the targeting of your LinkedIn Ads then you will drive better performance, all while saving ad spend.

Quick note: In this video, we will not be covering the creation of a top tier piece of creative in our campaigns. This blog is about setting up your account and campaigns so that they are optimized for the best performance in 2024. Ad creation and best practices will be in a future blog post. Subscribe to stay tuned.

Setting up Your LinkedIn Ads Account

To access the LinkedIn Ads manager, simply click "Business" in the header while on your LinkedIn Profile.

Then by selecting Advertise, you will be on the ads manager.

From here, you can create a new ads account and associating it with a company page.

LinkedIn is rolling out ads that don't necessarily have to be tied to a company page - but this is relatively new at the time of this writing so we recommend to still associate your ads with a company page.

At this point, your account is created!

Installing the LinkedIn Insight Tag

Before I create a campaign, it's crucial to setup the LinkedIn Insight Tag (LinkedIn Pixel).

This is needed to retarget prospects with ads later on in the marketing funnel.

You can do this by selecting Analyze on the left hand side of the Ads Manager and selecting one of the installation methods.

I usually use Tag Manager to install this tag and it only takes 5 minutes.

I will be creating more content on Google Tag Manager if you are curious what this installation process looks like.

Alternatively, you may drop this script in the <head> of your website's HTML, as well.

Setting Up LinkedIn Ads Conversions

There are two kinds of conversions you can create in LinkedIn Ads.

They are both Last Touch Attribution - but you can select Each Campaign and Last Campaign.

By creating a thank you page conversion for both of these will help you paint a clear picture of where your ads are interacting before converting.

Also, by doing this, you have a clear understanding of the ads that eventually do get prospects to convert.

Other things to consider while setting up conversions is conversion value.

It may make sense to assign different conversion values for each of these goals depending on their value to your company.

Setting Up Matched Audiences

It is so important to set up matched audiences before running your LinkedIn Ads campaigns.

These audiences will be variations of website visitors, company page visitors, image ad interactions, and others.

I recommend creating audiences based on the 30, 60, and 90 day time frames to keep audiences of varying ages at the ready when it comes time to retarget.

It's tedious, but by doing this you won't run into any retargeting issues later.

Setting Up Campaign Groups

When we start working with new ads accounts we always like to structure the campaign groups into different parts of the marketing funnel.

This means that we usually create a campaign group for Top of Funnel (TOF), Middle (MOF), and Bottom (BOF) ads.

By doing this, I can efficiently organize the account, while also being able to track performance at the various stages of the marketing funnel.

I don't assign objectives to the groups simply because it limits the kinds of campaigns you can run afterwards.

Creating TOF LinkedIn Ads Campaigns

The rest of this article is going to be breaking down how to create your first LinkedIn ads campaign for a cold audience.

This means that the audience doesn't know who you are.

Choosing an objective

The first thing that LinkedIn asks for is to choose an objective.

Generally speaking I only choose between Website Visits and Lead Gen campaigns.

The others always yield lower performance, or aren't optimized for what I want to see from my campaigns in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Contrary to popular belief, I don't like website conversion ads because I find that the cost per click (CPC) is much higher for these kinds of campaigns for whatever reason.

Naming Your Campaign

Although this has virtually no impact on your campaign's performance, having a clear campaign nomenclature is so important to stay organized.

I like to use the Objective - Audience - Bid Strategy - Ad Format

By doing this, I am able to quickly go back and forth between campaigns and know what their primary differences are.

I have written about the 3 primary marketing levers that all marketing campaigns have - and as a rule of thumb, the levers that are being pulled are the ones that I want to call out in the campaign title.

Optimizing Your Campaign's Location

An often missed optimization occurs at the location targeting level.

When you choose your location, whether it's US or perhaps a region like the southeast, it's really important to click into the location and select "Permanent Residence."

If you don't do this, then your campaign will have people squeeze through the cracks of your targeting and waste your ad spend.

This means that you will have people from outside of your territory seeing your ads and thus stealing ad spend from prospects that do fall in your territory.

Depending on the importance of your geo-targeting, this could have very large side effects.

Starting your audience creation based off on a list

After the geo-targeting is set, it's time to dive into the meat and potatoes of your targeting.

I like to start with a list when I create LinkedIn Ads campaigns.

Lists can be generated to match your ideal customer prospects (ICP) that way when you upload a list to LinkedIn, you know that each of these people could actually buy your product/service.

Another thing you can do with a starting list to create a predictive audience.

This is nice if you're list is incomplete and you want to target more people like it.

LinkedIn will find people that match your ICPs firmographic and demographic data and show ads to them.

This being said, I always recommend testing the List and the Predictive audience side by side before making any final decisions on which to optimize and build off of.

Selecting Firmographic Data

After you have uploaded a list, it's time to segment that audience down more by making sure the function, job titles, and perhaps groups are layered on.

I always like to layer these firmographic limiters on my list to hyper target my list and make sure that I am very optimized in terms of audience targeting.

For example, if my list was companies that I know fall in my industries that I serve, and that I want to target VP's of marketing, then I would want to make sure that I either target the VP of Marketing Job Title or the Marketing Function attributes to ensure we are hyper focused.

Using Member Groups to Segment Further

When I make a campaign, I always want my audience to be small.

As a rule of thumb, if LinkedIn mentions that my audience is too small and won't show ads predictably everyday, then I know I am on the right track.

The reason for this is that we are only concerned about accounts we know that fall in our ICP.

We don't care about spending every day - we only want to spend on our ICP when they are active.

So when my audience is ~10k or less then I am happy.

Again, this all depends on the ICP and who we are trying to get in front of.

One way that I use to hyper-target in case my audience isn't small enough from Job Function targeting is to use Member Groups.

You can target people that are in certain groups - so if you are targeting real estate agents then targeting/segmenting your audience based on people being in these groups could be a valuable way to narrow your audience.

How to know what your audience size is

On the left hand side, you will see a forecast of your audience size.

As mentioned, it's better for this to be small - think less than 10,000 people.

This will help keep your ads hyper targeted and in front of decision makers.

Turn off Audience Expansion

As a general rule, never use audience expansion.

Most advertisers are B2B companies with very refined lists of prospects to go after.

It doesn't make sense to allow LinkedIn to spend your ad budget on accounts it thinks will click your ads - when LinkedIn has no idea who is in your ICP.

So as of 2024, we always recommend turning off Audience Expansion.

Choosing Ad Formats

Once you have completed the audience targeting, it's time to select an ad format.

The best ad formats for awareness LinkedIn Ads Campaigns

Generally speaking we like to use Single Image, Video, Document, and Lead Gen ad formats for the cold audiences we are targeting.

The best ad formats for retargeting LinkedIn Ads

We like to use Single Image and Carousel ad formats for the retargeting audiences that we create.

The best ad formats for bottom of funnel LinkedIn Ads

Last, we use Single Image, Text, and Spotlight ad formats for our bottom of funnel - hyper targeting ads.

The importance of choosing the right LinkedIn Ads format

Different ad formats help your audience in different ways

As a rule of thumb, we like to educate our audience in the cold audience and make them problem aware.

Next, in the retargeting funnel, we like to make them solution aware by sharing case studies and testimonials.

Last, in the bottom of the funnel, we like to stay top of mind and place a clear call to action (CTA) in front of our audience so that when they are ready to buy - we are there.

Why you should turn off LinkedIn Audience Network

It is well documented within our ad accounts and by other LinkedIn Ads experts that the audience network is not an efficient usage of your advertising budget.

Your ads will show on platforms, websites, and apps that have low intent and generally are a nuisance for the end user.

The clicks that come from these ads are usually an attempt of the end user trying to "X" out of the ad - and instead they accidentally click your ad.

This is really bad for two reasons.

  1. The user now doesn't like you.
  2. LinkedIn associates that behavior to your landing page being "bad" and therefore will begin to penalize your ads. This means your CPC will likely increase from clicks from ads on the native LinkedIn ads platform.

Choosing an Ad Budget

Choose a budget that makes sense for you.

Simply take your ad budget allocated for the month and divide it by the number of days in the month.

Then use that as your daily pacing.

Choose Manual Bidding for Your Campaign

I always recommend choosing Manual Bidding to start your LinkedIn Ads campaign.

It is going to help you control your bids while also allowing you to keep CTR high and CPC low.

At Optimize, we do always test Maximum Delivery as a bidding strategy AB test early on - however, we generally find that Manual Bidding always performs better.

Choose Conversion Actions

Always associate conversion actions to your campaign.

This will help LinkedIn track your performance for all of your campaigns.

Referencing earlier on in the article, we discussed that using Each and Last campaign conversions is a best practice.

Creating Ads

As mentioned earlier, we are not going to be walking through the ad creative process in this tuturiol, but we are going to rapid-fire share a few recommendations.

  1. Always use a clear naming convention (ad format nomenclature) - I recommend using a number with whatever the variation/test of the ad is.
  2. Always use 1080x1080px, 1080x1920px, and 1920x1080px images for each type of your ads - this will ensure the appropriate size is shown on the appropriate device screen
  3. We recommend only running 2 variations of your ads at any given time - this allows you to more efficiently AB test and uncover what creative works best.

Publishing the Campaign

Once your ads are set, it's time to review and publish your campaign.

Be sure to review your budget and spend before publishing.

Wrapping Up

At this point, you have created a highly optimized LinkedIn ad campaign that will be targeting your ICP and spending your marketing budget efficiently.

Don't think your ad account is optimized? Send us a message on LinkedIn or Email to have us audit your account!

Until next time.

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