Video tips
Aug 11, 2021

The Complete Guide to Getting Started with LinkedIn Ads

Want to learn how to run a LinkedIn ad? This simple guide tells you everything you need to know about LinkedIn advertising for your business.

If you’d like to get more eyeballs on your business, it’s time to show up in spaces where your audience frequents.

Imagine walking into a room to find the world’s largest group of influential people, gathered in one place.

That room is LinkedIn.

With over 690 million users, who have twice the buying power of the average web user, LinkedIn affords you the chance to not only expand your audience reach but to double lead potential. These are just two of the many business objectives to achieve with LinkedIn ads, which we’ll cover in our beginner-friendly guide below.

By sharing the right ad format with the right user, your company may reduce ad spend, and start interactions with people who are in the position to pay for your product or service.

Think of this way:

Would you rather advertise school stationery to the general public who may or may not be interested in what you offer, or would you target the parents of young scholars, who will be paying for the stationery?

It’s not a tough call.

In our guide below, you’ll learn:

  • How to create your first LinkedIn ad
  • How to choose ad formats that suit your business
  • How to track your conversions
  • How to set your budget, and
  • Some best-practice steps recommended by LinkedIn itself

Create your LinkedIn company page

To start running ads on LinkedIn, you must have an existing brand page but if you haven’t created one yet, you can set it up here: create a new LinkedIn page

Choose a page type
  1. Enter your company’s name and website URL.
  2. Select the industry your business belongs to.
  3. Select your company size and type.
  4. Upload your company logo and a brief description of what your business does.

Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has made numerous platform updates to ensure that it accommodates different types of businesses and professionals. This helps to ensure that only the most relevant ads are seen by people who would likely be interested. This is also why your company page information should be completed, accurate, and specific.

Start your LinkedIn ad campaign

Once you’ve created your page, you’ll have to sign up as a new advertiser in order run ads. You can sign up here.

On the campaign page:

  1. Enter your account name
  2. Select the currency you will be using, and
  3. Enter the URL for your company’s LinkedIn profile.

Set your LinkedIn ad campaign objective

What result do you expect from people who see your ad?

  • To introduce people to your company, select brand awareness.
  • Choose consideration for responses, views, or website visits from your ad.
  • Select conversions to collect contact details or job applications.

If you aren’t entirely sure of what your ad objective is, you can still change this after completing the rest of your ad details. Here’s how each objective works:

Brand awareness

When grouped in this category, your ad will be seen by people who want to learn more about your industry, product or service.


Website visit allows people to head to your website directly after clicking on your ad (seen on their LinkedIn page updates).

Engagement includes a follow button for users to subscribe to your company updates, watch your videos, like, share or comment on posts you share.

Video views are pretty self-explanatory. It will be shown to people who are more inclined to watch videos related to your industry.


Lead generation prompts potential customers to complete a contact form that has already been prepopulated by LinkedIn. This reduces the amount of effort required to complete a form and all that’s left for your customer to do, is hit send.

With website conversions, you can track the number of times people have visited your website after seeing your ad. This insight not only helps you see where your customers are coming from, it also informs your next campaign strategy. For example, if you discover that more people on LinkedIn are visiting your page, you may want to increase your LinkedIn marketing budget to reach a wider audience on this platform.

To advertise a job, it’s best to use the job applicant objective. This way, your post will be seen by people who are interested in your industry, and open to work opportunities.

Designate your LinkedIn audience

Data collection insights from users on LinkedIn informs the platform of who should see your ad but LinkedIn allows you to include and exclude some people. Here are some things to consider when designating your audience:

Target locations

It’s not enough to say that you have a new position available at your company. In which location, should the applicant be based to apply, and which location would you prefer not to receive applicants from? You can narrow your inclusions and exclusions down to city level.

Define your ideal customer

Create your criteria for the type of person you’d like to address.


Reach people based on the companies they mention on their profile, whether they work for the company, own the company or share industry information related to the company.


Choose to show your ad to people of a certain age group and gender identification.


Find your audience based on institutions enrolled at, qualifications held or field of study.

Job experience:

Select your audience based on job roles, titles, seniority, and years of experience.

As you complete your audience criteria, LinkedIn will determine how many people, matching this profile, will see your ad, in a certain amount of time (days or weeks). You can also see this information on their real-time results calculator, on the campaign page.


Including more than one location will increase your audience reach and excluding locations will reduce your audience reach. Even though it seems more beneficial to reach a large general audience, it’s better to target a potentially smaller group with a genuine interest in what you offer.

Using LinkedIn audience templates

If you aren’t up to creating your audience criteria, you can choose a pre-populated audience template, already created by LinkedIn.

While using an audience template is the easier option, we’d recommend defining your audience as a single unique inclusion or exclusion will impact the results of your ad.

Select your LinkedIn ad format

Sponsored Content

These ads are promoted versions of the posts you’d usually see on your LinkedIn feed. Sponsored content is displayed on both mobile and desktop, to targeted users only.

Sponsored content ads are best for:

  • Increasing page followers
  • Increasing ad engagement and reach
  • Promoting events and launches

Single image ad

  • One image – recommended size: 1200 X 627
  • Title: 70 characters or less
  • Description: 150 characters or less

Carousel image ad

  • More than one image can be displayed in one ad – recommended number of images: 3 to 5 cards.
  • Title: 70 characters or less
  • Description: 150 characters or less

Video ad

Videos can be anywhere from 3 secs to 30 minutes long and have a 600 character text limit for an introduction, as well as a title option. Read more about video specifications here.

Conversation ads and messaging ads (In-mail)

Reach out to active LinkedIn users with a personalized direct message. All sponsored conversation ads have a minimum of two call-to-actions and a maximum of five. Body text for conversation ads is capped to 1000 characters and users are notified once they log into their accounts or via email if they’ve opted in to receive profile notifications from LinkedIn.

Message ads have a body text limit of 500 characters and are said to drive a higher click-through-rate of nearly 50%, according to LinkedIn. They also recommend using hyperlinks in message ads, which they’ve found, increases the click-though-rate by up to 21%.

In-mail ads are best for:

  • Recruiting new employees and networking.
  • Lead generation
  • Promoting educational content such as webinars, workshops, offers, downloads.

Dynamic ads

These ads are created using personalized profile data and are promoted on desktop.

Spotlight ad

  • Promote a new product or upcoming event.

Follower ad

  • Increase company page engagement by asking users to follow your LinkedIn page.

Text ads

This is LinkedIn’s version of responsive text ads, which you pay for per click or impression. Text ads are also displayed at the top of the home page but not on mobile.

Text ads are best for:

  • Driving web traffic
  • Recruiting new employees
  • Reaching B2B audiences

Set your LinkedIn ad budget and schedule

LinkedIn currently has three budget options:

  • Daily budget
  • Total budget
  • Lifetime budget

Lifetime budget is a new feature that is not available to all users yet but will soon replace the total budget feature. Lifetime budget allows you to run a campaign within your specified campaign period and budget limit.

The difference between the total budget and daily budget

Choosing the total budget option limits your ad to the maximum amount that you are willing to spend on the entire campaign, while the daily budget option allocates an estimated amount to spend every day for the duration of your campaign period (or continuously, if you haven’t set an end date).

By going with the total budget, you control the amount you spend but limit your ad reach since your budget could be spent well before your campaign ends.

When opting for daily budget, your actual budget could amount to up to 50% more of the daily limit you’ve set. When using the daily budget option, LinkedIn recommends setting your budget to at least $25 for your ad reach to be effective, even though the minimum daily limit is $10.

In other words:

When choosing the total budget, you say:

This is the amount of money I have, what can I get with it?

When choosing the daily budget, you say:

This is my ad, I’d ideally like to spend this amount, but prioritize my ad objectives.

When choosing a lifetime budget, you say:

This is my campaign, this is how long I’d like it to run for, and this is how much money I have. Please keep my campaign running until the end date.

Choose your bid type

LinkedIn ads run on a bidding system.

What does that mean?

Imagine that you’re at a virtual auction, competing for space on the platform.

The higher your bid, the better your placement.

You are not only paying to reach your target audience, you are competing with other companies who want the same spot. This is why your total budget may be spent before the end of a campaign, and why your daily budget may exceed the limit you’ve set, once your campaign has launched.

How bids are measured

If CPC, CPM, CPV and CPS sound like just another tongue twister to you, you aren’t alone.

These are all cost measurements that match your campaign goals and allow you to calculate your return on investment.

Here’s what the abbreviations mean:

  • (CPC) Cost-per-click
  • (CPM) Cost-per-mille – the cost per 1000 impressions
  • (CPV) Cost-per-view
  • (CPS) Cost-per-send

Bidding options offered by LinkedIn

You have four options to choose from with LinkedIn when it comes to your bidding style preferences

Automated bids

  • Use machine learning to bid according to your budget and results.
  • No manual bid adjusting required.
  • Measure your results by CPM, without spend limit.

Target cost bids

  • Run a campaign within your specified budget.
  • Never exceed your daily spend limit.
  • Measure your results by CPM, CPC, or CPV.

Enhanced Cost-Per-Click

  • Target people who will most likely click on your ads.
  • LinkedIn adjusts your bid to optimise clicks and conversions.
  • You’ve opted in to use system-generated bidding.
  • Your ad spend may exceed the lifetime budget you set.

Maximum cost bids

  • Specify the maximum amount that you’re willing to spend to achieve a certain result.
  • Ensure that your bid is high enough to compete with other advertisers.
  • Adjust your bid throughout your campaign duration to ensure competitiveness.
  • Maintain full control of your bid through manual processing.
  • Measure your results by CPC, CPM, CPV, or CPS.

Here’s a comparison of each bid’s function, cost measurement, and benefit:

TIP: Learn how to track conversions

If your ad objective is to gain conversions, you can track exactly how many website visits, came from LinkedIn.

Setting up Linkedin Conversions:

  1. Choose a conversion name. This is the name of the page that the person will land on.

  2. Choose an action for your visitor to complete. These are the available conversion options:

  • Add to cart
  • Download
  • Install
  • Key Page view
  • Lead
  • Other
  • Purchase
  • Sign up
  1. Enter your estimated conversion value. This helps you calculate whether the amount you’ve paid is worth the results you’ve gained.

  2. Set a window period to count various conversions. Window periods can be set from one day after a campaign starts to 90 days after launch.

  3. Select how you’d prefer each campaign interaction to be credited. There are two ways to attribute interactions:

  • Single touch: this is when conversions are credited to the most recently created campaign within the conversion window period.
  • Each touch: this is when conversions are credited to every active campaign with the same objective that runs during the window period. LinkedIn recommends using single touch since it reduces the risk of duplicating conversions.
  1. Choose your conversion method:
  • Site-wide insight tag: this allows you to track website interactions from LinkedIn by installing a one-time tag on all your website pages.
  • Event-specific pixel: install code to a preferred page, each time you’d like to track conversions.

Build your ad

Finally, the fun part – creating your ad. Upload your creative according to the ad format you’re using.

LinkedIn will provide recommended guidelines with each format you use. If you’re creating a text ad, for example, you’ll have the option to include a thumbnail that’s up to 100x100 pixels. The headline and description limits will be shown in the field, and any field with errors or exceeded text limits will be highlighted in red.

Lastly, enter your billing details and you’re good to go!

While setting up your ad, remember that the best converter is great content. Create and customise your own professional marketing videos, using our free business video maker, which is already tailored to LinkedIn’s best-practice guidelines below.

LinkedIn Best-practice tips

How many people should you advertise to on LinkedIn?

Although the minimum audience size per ad is 300 people, LinkedIn recommends using a minimum audience reach of 50 000 users for your ad to be effective. While factors such as creative execution and timing will also influence your reach, the recommended audience size for sponsored content and sponsored messaging is 300 000 people, while text ads should range between 60 000 and 400 000.

Reach out to people who’ve already engaged with your ads

After running an ad, you can use LinkedIn matched audiences, to follow-up with people who have previously engaged with your ad. Using matched audiences is a great way to secure leads with people who are already interested in your brand. This tool also allows you to import a contact list of email addresses to reach out to via LinkedIn.

A/B test your ad to different audiences

To meet your campaign goal effectively, test how different audiences respond to the same ad. To create a new audience:

  1. Duplicate your existing campaign
  2. Edit audience attributes
  3. Run your ads separately

Create ads that speak directly to your target audience

Once you’ve defined your audience and tested responsiveness, use your audience insights to create compelling ads that speak directly to your target market. Consider the ad format that this audience would prefer and which words would most resonate with them.

Keep videos short

Unless you’re Buzzfeed, airing a 40-minute live stream where elastic bands are being placed on a watermelon – yes, they did that – try to keep your videos as short and engaging as possible. According to LinkedIn, the most successful videos are less than 15 seconds long. You can create videos as short as 4 seconds long for various industries from automotive to education, here.

Also, create your videos in a way that allows viewers to interpret your message without hearing the sound since most people will be watching your video with the sound muted.

LinkedIn recommends trying customer testimonials in video format as this is a great way to enhance brand credibility.

Always feature a clear CTA (call-to-action)

Be clear about the action you’d like your audience to take after seeing your ad. Even if you are uploading a video, utilize the headline text to ask your audience to watch the video, and the title text, to tell them what the video is about.

When to switch to automated bidding

According to LinkedIn, the right time to switch to automated bidding while running a maximum cost bid is when your manual bidding adjustments have resulted in 85% of your daily budget being spent. In other words, if you’re spending more per day, your ad is reaching more people and will likely perform better with an automated adjustment.

Inbox your audience as a member, not as a company

Consider sending your audience a private message. LinkedIn also states the open rate of sponsored messaging is 16% higher when sent from a member profile, instead of a company profile. They found that the conversion rate of ads sent by members is 10% higher than sponsored messaging sent from a company.

Continuously change ad formats

Of course, you should stick to what currently works for you but as tools are introduced to the platform and old features are phased out, continue exploring the new and different ways to reach your audience on the platform. While every ad format may not suit your industry or business, you won’t know how successful a new tool can be until you’ve considered its potential.

Make an emotional connection

While professionals want to learn about the measurable results that your business can offer, they are all still human beings who are drawn to the stories behind the brand. Be willing to appropriately weave the challenges and triumphs of running a business, into your story as this could set you apart.

To get the maximum results from your ad spend, think of smart ways to share interactive creative that isn’t expensive. Use rich media like videos to share your brand story, showcase a demo, or to promote a new event. Click here to get started on your new ad: let’s do this!

Reach people based on the companies they mention on their profile, whether they work for the company, own the company or share industry information related to the company.

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