The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Ads: How to Get Started With Your First Campaign

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Getting new leads can be tough.

Getting new leads consistently, at an acceptable cost-per-lead (CPL) can sometimes feel impossible…

But, it must be done.

What’s more, the competition is fierce. The internet has leveled the playing field, and the rewards go to those who adapt fastest.

So how can you get ahead of the competition and consistently bring in new leads at an acceptable cost?

Enter: LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn Ads

With well over 645 million professionals, LinkedIn is the leading social channel for B2B marketers.

In fact, 80 percent of B2B marketing leads from social media come through LinkedIn and 92 percent of B2B marketers prefer to use the platform over all others:

how to advertise on linkedin

Bottom line: LinkedIn ads have become a vital tool for B2B marketers.

In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of ads LinkedIn ad examples, how to set up your first ad campaign.

First, Some LinkedIn Advertising Acronyms Explained

PPC – Pay per Click

Pay per Click is the name for advertising on online channels like LinkedIn where you pay when a visitor clicks on your ad on the platforms. PPC on LinkedIn is a very powerful B2B sales tool as LinkedIn ad targeting allows you to choose the positions, industries, company size, etc. of the people you want to see your ad.

LinkedIn Impressions

LinkedIn impressions are the number of times a post or LinkedIn advertisement showed up on LinkedIn member’s newsfeed as they scroll down the page. It doesn’t necessarily mean that each person will see the update as this would be impossible to report on but it gives an indication of the potential reach of your LinkedIn advertising.

CPC – Cost per Click

Cost per Click is the maximum budget you’re willing to pay for each click on your LinkedIn ad. This means that if you bid a maximum of $4, you’ll pay up to this price for your ad, but anything above and your ad will not present for. The more competitive keywords are, the higher the cost will be to rank on LinkedIn.

CPM – Cost per 1,000 Impressions

For display advertising on LinkedIn, you can set a maximum budget you’re willing to pay for each 1,000 times your display ad is shown, no matter the number of clicks you receive. This is a great strategy if you’re looking to push brand awareness through the platform.

CTR – Click-Through Rate

This is the ratio of clicks to impressions for your LinkedIn Advertisements. The higher the CTR, the better, as it means that more people who see your ad are clicking on it. You can lower the cost of LinkedIn ads by improving your CTR. Having a CTR higher than 3 percent for text advertisements is seen as good in most industries.

Types of LinkedIn Ads

Whether you want to target job seekers, influencers, contractors, or executives, LinkedIn provides plenty of ways to find your target market.

There are two LinkedIn advertising options open to you:

  1. Self-serve LinkedIn ads: With self-serve ads, you can create and publish your own ads through the LinkedIn Campaign Manager.
  2. LinkedIn partner solutions: Larger business can partner with a LinkedIn expert to get access to premium display advertising types.

In this article, we’re going to focus solely on the self-serve LinkedIn advertising option, to get you up and running as fast as possible.

These self-serve ads give you the ability to target users on all devices by factors such as location, company, title, job function, school, gender, and age.

Plus, LinkedIn emphasizes how cost-effective self-serve ads can be — starting from as little as $10 per day.

There are eight types of self-serve ads to choose from:

  1. Sponsored Content
  2. Text Ads
  3. Sponsored InMail
  4. Video Ads
  5. Display Ads
  6. Direct Sponsored Content
  7. Dynamic Ads
  8. Lead Generation Forms

Type of LinkedIn Ads

Let’s take a closer look at self-serve ads.

1. What Are LinkedIn Sponsored Content Ads?

Sponsored Content allows you to promote posts on your Company Page to a targeted audience on LinkedIn. These native advertisements sit in the LinkedIn feed alongside content that LinkedIn members have curated for themselves.

LinkedIn Ads Sponsored Content

You can use Sponsored Content to amplify your promotions, SlideShare presentations, blog or video content, etc.

What’s more, Sponsored Content allows you to pay-per-click (PPC) or per-thousand-impressions (CPM).

If you’d like to know more, check out LinkedIn’s advertising specifications and guidelines for Sponsored Content.

Why Use LinkedIn Sponsored Content Ads?

Unlike other LinkedIn ads that are displayed at the top of the page or in the sidebar, the strength of Sponsored Content comes from its native placement inside your audience’s newsfeed.

This is prime real estate for marketers.

You’re also able to use larger images and more text to entice users to click on your Linkedin ad.

LinkedIn Ads Sponsored Content

Do you have a content marketing strategy in place?

Because 74 percent of B2B buyers ultimately work with the companies that provide them with useful content first.

Furthermore, 7 out of 10 professionals describe LinkedIn as a “trustworthy” source of professional content.

One of the best LinkedIn Sponsored Content examples is from Highfive. The video conference software company launched multiple content campaigns targeting different audiences. They increased click-through rates (CTR) by 131 percent and achieved a 10x boost in organic impressions on LinkedIn compared to other social channels.

2. What Are LinkedIn Text Ads?

Text Ads are quick and easy to set up and manage. These ads allow you to drive traffic to your website or LinkedIn company page. LinkedIn Text Ads are displayed in the sidebar of users’ news feeds and LinkedIn messenger.

LinkedIn Text Ads

Text Ads are displayed in sets of three, usually under the titles “Ads You May Be Interested In,” or “Promoted.” And it’s important to note that they only run on desktop devices.

LinkedIn Text Ads

LinkedIn Text Ads also allow you to PPC or CPM.

If you’d like to know more, check out LinkedIn’s advertising specifications and guidelines for Text Ads.

Why Use LinkedIn Text Ads?

Text Ads grab the attention of professionals browsing the site because they’re always visible in the sidebar — even when users scroll down their news feeds.

You can also create multiple ad variations per campaign. This makes it simple to test images and copy to optimize your ads for effectiveness.

Dan Slagen, the former Head of Paid Marketing at HubSpot, said, “With LinkedIn Text Ads, we’ve been able to generate a click-through rate that is 60 percent higher than our average across other social networks — and at the same time, the quality of leads coming through LinkedIn is greater than through other social media channels.”

Next up:

3. What Are LinkedIn Sponsored InMail Ads?

Sponsored InMail allows you to send personalized messages to targeted LinkedIn users through LinkedIn Messenger, and the ads appear in the same way as regular InMail. These messages include a customizable subject line, body text, and a call-to-action button.

LinkedIn Ads Sponsored InMail

Advertisers pay for Sponsored InMails on a cost-per-send model, and you can target users on all devices with Sponsored InMail.

If you’d like to know more, check out LinkedIn’s advertising specifications and guidelines for Sponsored InMail.

Why Use Sponsored InMail?

Sponsored InMail is a more personalized approach to driving conversions Each LinkedIn user can only be sent one Sponsored InMail message within a 45-day period. This ensures that users aren’t bombarded with too many ads, so your Sponsored InMail is more likely to stand out.

Plus, Sponsored InMail messages are only sent to users when they’re active on the site. This means they go straight to the top of each user’s inbox, which improves their chances of being seen.

LinkedIn Ads InMail


VistaVu Solutions used Sponsored InMail ads to reach their audience and achieved an awesome 23.8 percent conversion rate on InMails.

Marketing manager Nicole Baron, said, “We knew we needed to reach the niche audience that supports the oilfield services industry. LinkedIn’s ability to hyper-target this specific segment and find key people in the industry was a huge draw for us.”

4. What Are LinkedIn Video Ads?

LinkedIn video ads are Sponsored Content which is, predictably, in video format. LinkedIn recommends three goals for video ads: 

  1. Build brand awareness among a professional audience
  2. Drive qualified leads to acquire new customers
  3. Measure the effectiveness of your video campaigns over time

Why Use LinkedIn Video Ads?

Video marketing is an effective tool. 85 percent of all internet users in the U.S. watch video content at least monthly, and more than half want to see more video content from the brands they follow. 

But video ads require more resources than a static or text-based ad. Those who do find budget to produce videos also differentiate their brands from the competition. 

Airline KLM used LinkedIn video ads to stand out from their competition in a very crowded market. Appealing to the business traveler, they created a campaign with a 33.85 percent video view rate — more than a quarter above the average benchmark.

5. What Are LinkedIn Display Ads?

Log in to your LinkedIn account and look at the right rail. You’ll notice a section called “Promoted.” These are LinkedIn display ads. 

LinkedIn display ads can also be at the top, like a banner ad. In this example, Promo is advertising their video marketing services. 

You can also use display ads to drive more LinkedIn group membership and promote your business’s LinkedIn page to attract more followers, like this example from online professional training platform Simplilearn

When you run display ads, LinkedIn gives brands the power to set parameters for the type of people who see the ads.

Why Use LinkedIn Display Ads?

Target marketing allows you to create very specific messaging to appeal to a very specific customer group. When you use LinkedIn display ads, you control who does and doesn’t see your ad. This way, you can create hyper-targeted campaigns that are more effective than generalized messaging that targets a huge audience. 

You also get control over your budget, locking in a fixed cost per impression (CPM) based on financial, reach, and engagement goals. 

You can also display ads to complement other LinkedIn ad types. GE, for example, did exactly that with a combination of display ads, Sponsored InMail, and Content Ads. Their campaign had a 5.75 percent interaction rate, 1,300 unique content downloads, and 13 percent open rate for Sponsored InMails. 

6. What is Direct Sponsored Content?

Direct Sponsored Content is when your business page publishes a LinkedIn article. It’s different from the standard Content Ad because it doesn’t show on your company’s organic LinkedIn page, instead, it’s only sent to those you’ve chosen to target. 

Why Use Direct Sponsored Content?

This lets you get super targeted and specific without having to share the message with your entire audience. You can also play around with the content with a small test batch of an audience before launching into a full campaign. 

7. What Are Dynamic Ads?

LinkedIn’s dynamic ads change depending on who’s seeing it. They’re hyper-targeted, using profile and other related data to deliver personalized messaging.

You can use dynamic ads for a few purposes: 

  • Grow page followers
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Generate leads with downloadable content and marketing automation

Why Use Dynamic Ads?

88 percent of consumers state they’re more likely to buy from a brand that offers a personalized experience. And it doesn’t get much more personalized than dynamic ads. 

8. What Are Lead Gen Forms?

LinkedIn lead gen forms are in-platform ads where users submit information, typically in exchange for content. 

Here’s an example of a LinkedIn lead gen ad from DocuSign. The initial ad is shown in users’ news feeds, promoting a downloadable guide for creating business processes:

Clicking “Download” takes users to a form where they enter their email, phone number, and company size. DocuSign can use these emails and phone numbers for future marketing, and the company size for data collection about their audience. 

How to Create a LinkedIn Company Page

There are several requirements you must meet before you can create a LinkedIn company page. You must:

  • Create a personal profile with your real first and last names.
  • Fill out your profile and gain a profile strength of “Intermediate” or “All-Star.”
  • Be an employee or the owner of the company, and your position is listed in the ‘Experience’ section of your profile.
  • Have connections with other users on your profile.
  • Have a company email address added and confirmed on your account.
  • Use an email domain that is unique to the company.

Now, if you already have a profile on LinkedIn, it’s likely you’ll already meet most of these requirements. And even if you’re new to the platform it shouldn’t take more than a week to catch up.

Once these requirements are met, creating a company page is very straightforward.

Simply head to LinkedIn’s create a company page, add your company name, preferred page URL, and click “Create Page”!


Why Use LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms?

Lead gen forms are a great way to build your email list, which you can use in LinkedIn retargeting, email marketing, and other targeted campaigns. 

LinkedIn lead gen forms are a low-effort way for users to engage with your brand. Using their profile data, the forms automatically fill in the fields for them. All the user has to do is submit the information. Any time you can reduce friction, you make it easier for the user to convert. 

Do I Need a Linkedin Company Page to Use Linkedin Ads?

No, you don’t need a LinkedIn company page to use LinkedIn ads. But unless you’re a consultant or freelancer, it’s in your best interests to set one up and grow your audience prior to using LinkedIn ads.

This way, you’ll be able to test offers and posts organically to see if they resonate with your audience before eating into your advertising budget.

Having followers on your company page also contributes to social proof. So consider building your organic audience to at least a few hundred followers before sponsoring content.

To do this, you could create an offer for new followers and post it on your LinkedIn company page. Then tell your existing community on other channels about the launch of your new page, and the offer that’s waiting for them.

And if you have employees, ask them to interact with your company page to give it a boost.

From then on, share your best content on LinkedIn and harness the social aspect of the network.

How to Create a LinkedIn Company Page

There are several requirements you must meet before you can create a LinkedIn company page. You must:

  • Create a personal profile with your real first and last names.
  • Fill out your profile and gain a profile strength of “Intermediate” or “All-Star.”
  • Be an employee or the owner of the company, and your position is listed in the ‘Experience’ section of your profile.
  • Have connections with other users on your profile.
  • Have a company email address added and confirmed on your account.
  • Use an email domain that is unique to the company.

Now, if you already have a profile on LinkedIn, it’s likely you’ll already meet most of these requirements. And even if you’re new to the platform it shouldn’t take more than a week to catch up.

Once these requirements are met, creating a company page is very straightforward.

Simply head to LinkedIn’s create a company page, add your company name, preferred page URL, and click “Create Page”!

How to Create LinkedIn Ads

Now that you know what types of self-serve LinkedIn ads are available and you’ve set up your company page, let’s dive into how to advertise on LinkedIn.

In this article, we’re going to focus on Sponsored Content.

Here’s why: Every single week, content in the LinkedIn feed is seen 9 billion times. Plus, of the 250 million monthly active LinkedIn users, only 3 million share content on a weekly basis — that’s just over 1 percent of monthly users.

Translation: This means that just 3 million users are getting 9 billion impressions every week!

Crazy, right?

Here are 8 steps to successful advertising on LinkedIn:

1. Get Started With the LinkedIn Campaign Manager

To start, go to, and click “Create ad.”

Once there, select the account you want to use. Then choose “Create Campaign.” 

2. Set Up Your Campaign

Click “Create campaign.” 

Here, you’ll need to set an objective. Choose from awareness, consideration, and conversions. 

3. Name Your Campaign

Now, you need to give your LinkedIn ad campaign a name, as well as assign it to a campaign group.

This is only for your reference, so provide plenty of information. That way, if you have lots of LinkedIn ads in the future, you’ll be able to easily tell the difference between them.

I’d recommend including the name of your offer or promotion, and a quick summary of the audience you’re targeting.

4. Choose Your Audience

Like Facebook advertising, LinkedIn provides marketers with a wealth of options to target very specific users.

This is awesome.

The more specific your target market is, the more you can tailor your messaging to them. This results in a higher conversion rate because your ads will be extremely relevant to the users who see them.

You can target your LinkedIn ads by:

  • Location
  • Company name, industry, and size
  • Job title, function, and seniority
  • School, fields of study, and degrees
  • Gender and age
  • Years of experience
  • Company connections and followers
  • Member groups

It’s important to note that you don’t have to use all of these options — but again, detailed LinkedIn ad targeting leads to more relevant ads and a higher return on investment (ROI).

Choose from your own saved audiences, preset LinkedIn audience filters, or custom parameters.

Scroll down for LinkedIn’s advanced audience targeting, which gives you more control. 

You can also save these audiences for future campaigns. 

Once you’ve selected your audience, the LinkedIn Campaign Manager will summarize the details in the sidebar:

Here, you’ll be able to see how large your estimated target audience is and make any necessary changes.

Below the ad format choices, you can also use LinkedIn Audience Network settings to choose your ad placement. This will surface your ads on other websites, apps, and platforms outside of LinkedIn, for consistent, cross-channel messaging.  

5. Designate Your Ad Format

Choose which ad format you’d like to run: single image, carousel image, video, text, spotlight, or follower ad. 

6. Configure Your Bidding Options and Campaign Dates

Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to understand the different ways of paying for ads.

There are three ways to pay for LinkedIn advertising:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) (also known as cost-per-click or CPC) means that you’ll be charged each time that someone clicks on your ad.
  • Cost-per-thousand-impressions (also known as cost-per-mille or CPM) means that you’ll be charged a certain amount each time your ad is viewed by 1,000 people.
  • Cost-per-send means that you’ll be charged for every Sponsored InMail message you send.

When choosing an advertising payment model, consider the intent behind your campaign.

For example, if you’re trying to drive traffic to a landing page it’s best to go with pay-per-click, but if you’re running a branding campaign, cost-per-thousand impressions might be better.

Now, it’s unlikely that your first ad campaign will produce stellar results. Successful advertising campaigns almost always require a great deal of testing and optimizing.

For this reason, it’s best to set a small maximum daily budget, to begin with.

That way your initial losses will be smaller if the campaign doesn’t perform well, and you can optimize your campaign to get more bang for your buck before increasing your daily budget.

Next, you need to set your bids.

Thankfully, LinkedIn will suggest a bid range based on your daily budget and the competition for your ads — the more advertisers trying to reach a similar audience, the higher your bid will need to be.

Finally, you need to select when you want your campaign to run. You can choose to start your campaign immediately or schedule a start date.

You can also schedule a date to end your campaign and choose a total budget for your campaign so that you don’t overspend.

Once your bid options are selected, click “Next.”

7. Add Optional Conversion Tracking

If you’re tracking conversions, you’ll need to add the conversions before moving on to the next step. 

Conversions can be: 

  • Add to cart
  • Download
  • Install
  • Key page view
  • Lead
  • Purchase
  • Signup
  • Other

You’ll need to add a site-wide Insight Tag or event-specific pixel to the landing page URL to track these conversions. 

8. Add Your Payment Details and Review Your Order

To complete the setup of your LinkedIn ad and start your campaign, you need to input your payment details.

Plug in your info, click “Review order” and once you’re happy, submit your campaign.

At this point, if you have any questions, the LinkedIn Campaign Manager has a FAQ section next to or underneath the payment form (depending what device you’re on):

LinkedIn usually has to approve your ad before it goes live, but once that’s taken care of, you’re off to the races!

How to Track LinkedIn Ad Conversions & Performance

Successful ad campaigns are always a work-in-progress. Plenty of trial and error is usually necessary.

So, make sure to experiment and ensure your campaign is performing well before you put a large budget toward it.

To do this, track your progress in the LinkedIn Campaign monitor dashboard.

Here, LinkedIn provides a range of metrics that you can view in various charts to help you measure and optimize your campaigns — including impressions, clicks, conversions, and spend.

To make sure you have access to the information you need, you’ll have to set up conversion tracking for each of your campaigns. You can access this in the campaign manager under the “Account Assets” menu. Conversions can mean more than just a purchase — form submissions and following your business page might be the conversions you’re after. 

The LinkedIn Insight Tag also has a wealth of information. Add the JavaScript code to your website to start tracking visitors and conversions that come from LinkedIn, it works similarly to the Facebook pixel.

Monitor the data closely over time, looking for trends and actionable insights that tell you what’s working and, more importantly, why.

How Much Should LinkedIn Ads Cost?

Linkedin advertising costs can drastically differ depending on campaign type. If you’re running a text ad using PPC, your LinkedIn Ads will cost more than a display campaign through CPM. Depending on your budget and keywords competition, clicks could cost between $2 and $6.  

Furthermore, if you set a max budget of $10 per day for five days, your LinkedIn Ad cost could be up to $60, as LinkedIn ads can charge up to 20 percent higher daily due to the fact that ads aren’t reported in real time.

There are ways to reduce LinkedIn spend while increasing CPC through CTR. Having a higher CTR normally adds up to lower CPC, freeing up more budget for further clicks. Test often in order to improve CTR over time and really understand your user’s intent.

LinkedIn Ads Best Practices

Always Start With Goals

Goals keep you on track and ensure you have an objective way to measure progress and success. When it comes to LinkedIn ads, first think of the business goal you’re supporting. 

Consider how your LinkedIn advertising campaign will support that goal. Then create goals for your LinkedIn ads so you know when you’re on track or when you need to adjust your approach to get back on track.

Mind Your Copy

According to LinkedIn

  • Headlines should be concise, under 150 characters
  • Descriptive copy should be less than 70 characters, and never more than 100
  • Calls-to-action should be direct and clear 

Use Large, High-Quality Images

LinkedIn also has specific recommendations regarding images, suggesting larger images 1200 x 627 pixels instead of thumbnails. On average, this content gets a 38 percent higher CTR. Stay away from overly staged stock imagery and develop custom photos and graphics unique to your brand. Check LinkedIn’s requirements for image ad sizes for the most updated information on specs.

Test, Test, Test

You can run A/B and other tests with LinkedIn ads, and it’s important to take advantage of this. Not only does this ensure optimal ad performance, but you can also learn a ton about your audience based on their behavior. 

Summary: How to Get Started With LinkedIn Ads

Whatever your business objectives, LinkedIn’s different types of ads and targeting tools provide an incredible opportunity for B2B marketers.

So make sure you harness the power of this platform to consistently bring in new leads at an acceptable cost and grow your business.

Start by understanding your business objectives and exactly who your target customer is. Then choose an ad format, select your audience, and dive in.

How do you plan to use LinkedIn ads to grow your business?

Want to Learn More?