Getting your LinkedIn Audience Right

LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn Ads

Advertising on LinkedIn has more in common with advertising on Facebook than AdWords. Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows its advertisers to target ads based on demographic and personal information, and not current activity such as search. AdWords is more about the task the user is currently engaged in, with a few other variables available to limit reach and limit the ads to a more potentially productive audience. LinkedIn lets the advertiser target their desired audience based on user information and activity on the site, the targeting options include:

  • Geography
  • Company Name
  • Industry
  • Company Size
  • Specific or Category of Job Title
  • LinkedIn Group
  • Gender
  • Age
Building an Audience on LinkedIn
Building an Audience on LinkedIn

Choosing the Right Audience

With so many targeting options available, matching your audience to your product, conversion type and creative is critical. LinkedIn Ads is a great opportunity for B2B advertisers with its ability to target potential prospects using a blend of personal and business information including job title, basic demographic information, business name, industry and even the LinkedIn groups they have joined.

How you use this information will be influenced by what outcome is needed from the ads and how this would integrate with your business' sales process, be it driving them to a conversion page or collecting leads on LinkedIn itself. In general however most campaigns will focus on a certain group of decision makers and influencers within a business, and lead generation is usually the objective.

Perhaps you have case study involving an industry leader? On LinkedIn you could advertise it to the company in second place. It is also easy to market to businesses based on their size to match the services you offer or the capabilities of your company.

Promoting cheap and effective tools to people who are likely to be under-resourced is easy once you identify where your prospects work based on their group membership. It is possible to build an industry or topic specific group on LinkedIn as a part of a list building or advertising campaign too, or just target one that already exists. LinkedIn Ads provides a great tool set for targeting highly specific audiences and the administrative overhead of managing the campaigns is almost the only reason to limit how far you take it.

Targeting Too Tightly?

There is a risk in trying to target too precisely. Even with the ability to all but reach individuals within a specific company, there are a number of potential pitfalls waiting. As good and comprehensive as the targeting options are, if the users on LinkedIn have incomplete or inconsistent information on their profiles, it won't help.

Incomplete Profiles and...

According to LinkedIn's own ad targeting tool, only 48,227,995 profiles at the time of writing state an age. Out of a possible 150,000,000. 57,828,901 are female, and 78,738,091 are male, leaving a not too insignificant number without a stated gender. While a lot of these profiles are probably not active, there are almost certainly a number that were left incomplete either intentionally or because the Personal Assistant who set it up did not have all the information needed to finish it.

Incomplete Profiles and Missing Information
Incomplete Profiles and Missing Information

A Multitude of Ambiguous Job Titles

Incomplete profiles are not the only issue in reaching some people through LinkedIn Ads. Ambiguity of job titles and function is another potential problem. A lot of job titles can be very specific, with clearly defined skill sets and responsibilities regardless of where they work. Unfortunately there are many others that say little about what the person actually does or what they can do.

Jobs within online marketing and other digital roles are especially prone to this. A title like Online Marketing Coordinator, Internet Marketing Manager or Content Specialist says very little about what the holder does from day to day, their technical expertise or their internal political clout. This problem is further compounded by the variety of titles that can be used to describe the same job function, especially in new or poorly defined fields.

There is Such a Thing as too Targeted

Just because it is possible to be very specific with targeting your ads on LinkedIn does not always mean it is the best idea. By being too specific or filtering too much you can miss the people you want to reach.

There is a lot of benefit in working with sales when using LinkedIn for creating B2B leads. Their knowledge of the industry, specific companies, job titles and insight into who and at what level the decision makers and influencers are is invaluable.

Like any other marketing campaign, the key to getting the most out of advertising on LinkedIn is to know who you are trying to reach, and how to motivate them to take action. Because the tools that LinkedIn provides give the advertiser a lot of control over who will see the ad, there is more opportunity both to tailor the message and to get it wrong.

About the Author: Anthony Contoleon

Anthony works as an SEM Manager in the tourism and travel industry. Most of his free time is lost to creating comics about the digital industry, writing blog posts and drinking coffee.

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