The Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn Ads: How to Setup Your First Campaign

Beginner's Guide to LinkedIn Ads

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, 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 500 million professionals, LinkedIn is the leading social channel for B2B marketers.

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

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

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

Let’s get into it.

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 ways to start advertising on LinkedIn:

  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 talk with an expert at LinkedIn to get access to premium display advertising types.

In this article, we’re going to focus solely on self-serve LinkedIn ads, 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 three types of self-serve ads to choose from:

  1. Sponsored Content
  2. Text Ads
  3. Sponsored InMail

Type of LinkedIn Ads

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

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% of B2B buyers ultimately work with companies that are the first to provide them with useful content.

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

Highfive used LinkedIn Sponsored Content to launch multiple content campaigns targeting different audiences. They managed to increase their click-through rates by 131%, and achieve 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 setup 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’ newsfeeds 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 pay-per-click or per-thousand-impressions.

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 are a great way to 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% 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 fantastic advertising option for businesses in need of a more personalized approach to driving conversions.

What’s more, 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, and so your Sponsored InMail will 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% 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.”

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

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.

Here’s Oberlo’s LinkedIn company page in all of its glory:

Oberlo LinkedIn Company Page

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.

LinkedIn Company Page Feed

(Which reminds me: For more great content on how to start your own dropshipping business, make sure to follow the Oberlo LinkedIn page!)

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”!

LinkedIn Company Page

How to Advertise on LinkedIn

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% 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 “Get Started.”

LinkedIn Ads Get Started

Once there, click “Get started with self-serve.”

LinkedIn Ads Self-Serve

2. Choose Your LinkedIn Ad Format

On this page, you’ll need to select the type of LinkedIn ad you’d like to create. As I mentioned, we’re going to opt for Sponsored Content.

LinkedIn Ads Sponsored Content

3. Setup Your Ad Campaign

Now, you need to give your LinkedIn ad campaign a name.

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 specific audience that you’re targeting.

LinkedIn Ads Campaign Name

For Sponsored Content, you’ll also be asked what you want to accomplish with your campaign. There are three options:

  1. Send people to your website or content
  2. Collect leads using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
  3. Get video views

LinkedIn Ads Aim

In this example, we’ll opt to send people to a website.

Lastly, you’ll need to pick an ad format. Again, there are three options to choose from:

  1. Article, image or link
  2. Carousel
  3. Video

LinkedIn Ad Format

In this example, we’re going to create a simple image ad.

Once you’ve chosen your ad format, click “Next.”

4. Create Your LinkedIn Ad

Simply click “Create Sponsored Content” to create your ad.

LinkedIn Ads New Sponsored Content

First, name your ad. Once again, this is only for internal use, so feel free to add plenty of information.

Then upload your image by clicking the camera icon, and input the text you want to display in your Sponsored Content ad.

LinkedIn Ads Sponsored Content

Lastly, don’t forget to include a call-to-action and a link to your website or content if that’s your aim.

LinkedIn Ads Sponsored Content

When you’re done, hit “Next.”

5. Define Who You Want to See Your Ads

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.

LinkedIn Ads Targeting

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

LinkedIn Ads Targeting Options

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

Thankfully, the process of targeting your ads is the same for both Sponsored Content and Text Ads. You can also save your target audience as a template to make creating future campaigns easier.

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

LinkedIn Ads Audience Targeting

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

Once you’ve selected your target audience, click “Next.”

6. Configure Your Bidding Options and Campaign Dates

Before you select your bidding options, you need to select what you want to optimize your campaign for. LinkedIn provides three options:

  1. Awareness
  2. Website visits
  3. Website conversions

In this example, we’ll select website visits:

LinkedIn Ads Optimize Campaign

Now, 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.

LinkedIn Ad 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 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.

LinkedIn Ads Payment

Simply add your details, click “Review order” and once you’re happy, submit your campaign.

At this point, if you have any questions, the LinkedIn Campaign Manager helpfully displays a FAQ section underneath the payment form:

LinkedIn Ads FAQ

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

8. Measure and Optimize

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.

LinkedIn Ads Reporting

Congratulations, you’re now up and running with your first LinkedIn ad campaign!


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? Let us know in the comments below!

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