Hoping to expand the reach of your firm’s LinkedIn posts? LinkedIn advertising might be the perfect solution. As the business community’s most-active social network, LinkedIn has incredible potential to deliver content to highly targeted audiences. From sponsored content ads to personalized dynamic ads, LinkedIn offers a range of formats to serve various purposes.

This article focuses on sponsored content ads — ads that appear “natively” in your news feed. Here is an overview of the six steps for creating LinkedIn sponsored content ads.

  1. Determine the ad objective
  2. Build the target audience
  3. Choose the ad format
  4. 4Set the budget and schedule the campaign
  5. Design the LinkedIn ads
  6. Track and measure results

Before you get started, you’ll need a Campaign Manager account, which will connect to your company page and be your hub for all your advertising campaigns. In addition to creating and managing campaigns, you can add users, manage billing and track performance from this portal.

Step 1: Determine the Ad Objective

Choose from LinkedIn’s seven campaign objectives by determining the action you want your audience to take. According to LinkedIn, “Choosing an objective helps us customize your campaign creation, deliver the best ROI for your stated goal, and show you relevant reporting.”

Step 2: Build the Target Audience

Keep in mind that most of LinkedIn’s account data are provided by users through their profiles and the way they engage on the platform. LinkedIn leverages this user-generated information to allow advertisers to deliver ads to their own specifications. Building target audiences basically creates filters to include or exclude people from your list, based on a range of criteria.

Quick Tips

  • Don’t be overly broad. It’s better to create multiple campaigns with custom messages for each audience versus lumping everyone into one campaign and delivering a generic ad.
  • Don’t be overly narrow. Creating an audience that’s too narrow means your ad won’t reach many people.

You initially set the geographic region for your target audience, and then build your audience based on the attributes of the professionals you want to reach. Attribute options include, company, industry, age, gender, school, degrees, job title, seniority and member interests (based on actions and engagement), to name a few.

For instance, you can create an audience for in-house counsel at companies in the financial services sector with more than 500 employees. After creating all the filters, here’s what the audience segment looks like.

The pane on the right side shows the expected reach, cost, number of impressions, assumed click-through rate and estimated clicks. Use this information as a guide to narrow and expand your reach, fit your budget, and estimate your spend.

Step 3: Choose the Ad Format

The single image ad is the most-common type and will show up in the audience’s news feed. Carousel image ads are similar, but use two or more images, while video ads are a great option for the news feed if you have a short video to share. The other four types are delivered outside the news feed to various areas of the platform.

Quick Tip

  • If you want your ads to appear only on LinkedIn and not on other partner apps and websites, you have to deselect the “Placement” checkbox.

Step 4: Set the Budget and Schedule the Campaign

You can either set a daily or a lifetime campaign budget. Using the estimates LinkedIn provided when you built your audience, determine a reasonable amount that fits into your advertising budget and will yield reasonable results. Once you’ve defined your start date and end date, you can select the bidding strategy. The recommended option is to automate your bids using LinkedIn’s artificial intelligence (AI), which ensures that you’ll get the most-relevant clicks without going over your budget.

If you decide to edit either the budget or the delivery schedule, the campaign can be modified from your Campaign Manager dashboard while it’s in progress.

Step 5: Design the LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn allows you to either create a new ad or choose from a previous post that you’ve already shared. Selecting an existing post is as simple as checking the box beside the desired post. Even though you’re “boosting” the same post, you’ll still see metrics for the ad separately from the organic reach.

If you choose to design a new post for the ad, you’ll need:

  • Introductory text — approximately 150 characters that appears above the post image
  • Destination URL — the landing page where people go when they click on the ad
  • Ad image — with an aspect ratio of 1:1.91 and file size smaller than 5 MB
  • Headline — up to 200 characters of text below the image
  • Description — up to 300 characters below the headline

You can test multiple versions of ads within one campaign to compare performance.

Quick Tip

  • Only change one element in an ad, and keep everything else constant so you can learn which factor produced a better result.

Step 6: Track and Measure Results

Your Campaign Manager dashboard provides key metrics such as impressions, clicks, average click-through rate and total spend. Comparing the performance of ads during the campaign may provide clear insights into which ad performs better. While the campaign is live, you can pause the underperformer and let the best ad run.

You can also compare multiple campaigns against each other to judge which content and messaging produce high-performing ads. An analysis of the campaign data can also help inform your overall content strategy.

For additional tips on setting up LinkedIn ads, posting LinkedIn Stories or managing your firm’s LinkedIn company page, send me an email at mtrudeau@jaffepr.com.