How to Create LinkedIn Ads: The Basic Steps

LinkedIn advertising

Linkedin Ads is a great medium for targeted advertising for business-to-business (B2B) marketing or where the market for your small business can be segmented by profession, job title or company.  Now with over 130 million members, the LinkedIn professional network allows small businesses to get their message across to a highly targeted audience.

Good conversion rates and leads can be generated from LinkedIn Ads – as long as you have the right tools and the right people to tailor your message correctly. There are plenty of blogs and articles that can teach you how to create a great online ad campaign to achieve a high return on investment (ROI), but this blog post gets down to the very basics of creating Linkedin Ads.

What do you need to do first? How do you set up a Linked Ad? What are your options?  This blog post will address these questions and more by spelling out the basic steps to get your LinkedIn Ads up and running.

Step 1 – Getting started with LinkedIn Ads

You must have a Linkedin profile to start.  From there, you can go to Linkedin Ads by clicking the link located at the top left hand corner of the page:

LinkedIn Ads login

You can also create a Business Account if you have created a company page.   By doing so, you can add additional people to control and monitor your campaigns.  This runs separately from your individual LinkedIn Ads account, so you can choose to run a campaign for yourself and then run a company campaign. These are also billed separately.

There is an additional registration required to create your LinkedIn ‘Business Account’ as indicated in the following image:

LinkedIn Ads - business accounts

Step 2 – Create a LinkedIn Ad campaign

To create a LinkedIn Ad campaign you need to understand the basic terms used by LinkedIn:

Ad campaign: Covers up to 15 Ad variations and a single target audience.

Ad Campaign Name: If you intend to segment your audience, name your campaign accordingly for easy tracking and easy metrics beyond the campaign, e.g. as seen in the image below – ‘Performance Conversations for Networks/Groups’ ([Training Workshop Name] for [Targeted Group]):

LinkedIn Ads campaign

Ad Destination: You can link the Ad straight to a page on your website or to a page created from your LinkedIn account. If you are going to send visitors to your website, ensure the link in your Ad takes them directly to the related page – do not send them to your homepage and expect them to look around for the right information. That is an easy way to instantly lose a possible sale.

If you have created a page from your Linkedin Company Page, you can also send people who view your Ad to the address of that Company Page. For e.g. a job advertisement you’ve posted, or a service that your company offers.

In addition to the above terms, you need to understand the LinkedIn Ad structure.  This covers items such as image for your Ad, headline and description:

  • Image for your Ad must be 50×50 pixels.  
  • The headline must be no more than 25 characters. Unlike Google Adwords, the headline for your LinkedIn Ad does not have to be “keyword specific”, so you can use a title that will catch your audience’s eye.
  • The description must be no more than 75 characters (but you have two lines to be creative with these limited characters). With character restrictions, you must get to the point but grab attention at the same time.  Some common tips are:

–  Tell them what you’re selling – get to the point

–  Appeal to an emotion (fear, stress, relief, excitement)

–  Use a Call to Action (e.g. Register today).

To round off your LinkedIn Ad you need to complete the ‘From” field with either your own name or your company name.

Step 3 – Targeting your LinkedIn Ad

This step is what gives you the most value so be sure you know exactly who you are trying to target.  Your options for targeting with LinkedIn Ads include location, company, job title, group, gender and age.  You can make your targeting as broad as you want (all members from one location – Australia) or as defined as you want (only members from Brisbane, Australia AND who work for the Queensland Government AND who are in a Senior Position AND who are a member of the AHRI Network group).

On the top right hand corner of your screen you will see your Estimated Target Audience. The more defined you get, the more this number shrinks, but don’t see this as negative. If your goal is to gain awareness of your brand, keep your target broad. If you are looking to generate conversions and believe you’ll have a high click-through-rate (CTR), then save yourself from advertising to unnecessary audiences costing you unnecessary clicks (and money). The more defined your targeting, the more likely you’ll be able to convert your LinkedIn Ads to sales because your Ad will actually mean something to your audinece.   To everyone else – your Ad is just another ad with no relevance or significance for them.

Step 4 – Setting the budget for your LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads is a paid advertising platform.  You have two basic options in terms of what you pay for: 

  1. Pay per click (CPC): You only get charged when someone clicks on your Ad.
  2. Pay per  impressions (CPM): You pay for the number of times your Ad displays for a visitor to LinkedIn (on the basis of ‘per thousand impressions’).

This choice is dependent on your goal. Linkedin will always suggest a click bid range for you. The minimum is $2.00 per click.  The Bid Range is based on competition. The higher you bid, the more likely your ad will be shown over competitors who may not be willing to pay as much. Don’t worry about over-spending. That’s where the Daily Budget comes in, allowing control over your clicks so that you can stay within your online advertising budget.  You need to choose whether you want to run your campaign continuously or until a specific date.

(Side note: there is a one time activation fee of $5.00 – this is then credited to your LinkedIn Ads account and used as the initial credit towards Clicks/Impressions)

LinkedIn Ads - Budget and cost per click

Step 5 – Let your LinkedIn Ad run for a period…and evaluate

Keep an eye on your campaigns every day. It is important to monitor how your Ads are going so you can make adjustments if necessary. If your Ads aren’t getting any clicks – edit or delete them. If you’ve identified which variations of your ads are working the best – disable the others. If you’re reaching your daily budget every day and not getting any conversions to sales – lower your bid per click and/or alter your daily budget. Watch your campaign to ensure it is working for you and what you are trying to achieve.

LinkedIn Ads can be a profitable medium for small business marketing if you target your Ads appropriately and evaluate your results continuously.

Why Use LinkedIn Ads for Small Business Marketing?

Targeting a group on LinkedIn

Targeting a group on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Ads have a number of distinct advantages for small business marketing, particularly for businesses in the professional sector.   We decided to use LinkedIn Ads to raise awareness of, and participation in, one of our new training workshops.   This approach was designed to complement our normal email marketing campaign for our human resource consulting business.

Linkedin Ads is much the same as most click-based advertising programs, and just like Facebook Ads, you can segment your target audience.  What makes this targeting more valuable and relevant is that you can target your audience based on their current professional status or career interests.  In contrast, Facebook Ads tend to focus more on lifestyle interests, while Google Adwords enables targeting geographically by search terms/keywords.

LinkedIn Ads: The Advantages

The advantages of LinkedIn Ads revolve around targeting/segmenting features and cost structure.   The key advantages for us were:

1.  Ability to target professionals and business people

We could select a target audience based on Location (capital city, state, country), Gender and Age and then segment them further by selecting Companies they work for, Job Titles or even a Group they had joined.

target marketing on LinkedIn


2,  Option to run your campaign for different target audiences

We focused on three different target audiences in this campaign – (1) people in Senior positions (as our workshop focuses mostly on managers and team leaders),  (2) those that worked at specific Companies and (3) those who belonged to certain Linkedin Groups (usually professionally based).

3.  Ability to create up to 15 variations of an ad

Initially we had two variations – each had the same copy but with different images. Eventually we added more variations to include Call to Actions. We ended up with 12 variations in total.

4.  Relatively cheap for a highly targeted service

As with most click-based advertising, you have the power to set your daily budget and how much you are willing to pay for each click. While Linkedin Ads do have minimum amounts that you could set ($2.00 per click and $10.00 daily budget), these were relatively inexpensive considering how targeted you could make your audience, ensuring that only the most relevant people are viewing your ads.

Related to this last advantage is the capacity to view in advance the numbers that make up any specific targeted audience – so you can very quickly see whether the target audience is too large or too small.  The following illustration shows that one of our earlier choices of audience resulted in an estimated target audience of 281,994.

estimated target audience for LinkedIn Ads

Linkedin Ads: The Disadvantages

Two distinct disadvantages from our first experience of LinkedIn Ads were:

1.Actual reach

 With the option to target your audience as broad or as narrow as you wish – we found that the more we wanted to tailor our campaign, the less people we could reach.  While this sounds like common sense, it still felt restricting – we were not able to fine tune our targeting as much as we would have preferred to because the estimated target audience was in the low hundreds.   This disadvantage could be a function of the location and population mix.  The same audience choices in aUSenvironment would have resulted in much larger numbers.

2.  Relatively low click through rate (CTR)

There were tens of thousands of impressions of our ads in the 2 weeks that we ran this campaign but we only received a .022 CTR (22 clicks per 1,000 impressions).  This could be influenced by the nature of LinkedIn and the regular behaviour of the audience (high resistance to online ads?).  Another influencing factor would be the quality of our ads – title, description and the image.

What we learned from this experience of LinkedIn Ads

Our key learning related to the nature of the image, the click behaviour of specific audience types and the impact of ad changes mid-stream in a campaign.  Here are the key findings:

1. The image used makes a difference

In choosing an image, the audience clicked on the company logo image more often than a content-related image.  This stat could be influenced by the fact that our logo is recognised in the marketplace after 15 years in operation.

Images for LinkedIn Ads

2. The more senior group (higher organizational ranking) generated the most clicks.

 By contrast, the campaign that targeted “Groups” was the least successful.   What would influence this latter result is the nature of group membership (focused on discussion, not ads) and the perceived relevance of the ad to the focus of the group discussion.

 3.  Creating different variations in the middle of the campaign did not help at all and may have possibly harmed our campaign. Clicks almost immediately halted after releasing variations and very few clicks in total were gained from the new ads then from the original ads.

Why use LinkedIn Ads?

LinkedIn Ads provide a particular form of targeting because of the professional/vocational focus of the membership.  We were able to learn a few things in our first campaign on LinkedIn.   There’s a lot of trial and error with any form of click-based advertising.   Patience is required along with a good analysis of your campaigns.   Constant review and matching of all elements – heading, description, image and audience – are essential for success with LinkedIn Ads.

Expand Your Business Through Your LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn for small business marketing

 LinkedIn for small business marketing LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network with 130 Million members and thus provides a great opportunity for small business marketing.  It represents a powerful network of educated, affluent and influential people. 

Unlike Facebook and YouTube, which were established primarily for entertainment purposes, LinkedIn was created to develop business/professional connections.  Once again, this background and purpose shape the etiquette and usefulness of this social networking site.

LinkedIn is used for multiple purposes by different groups of people.  Employers seek out potential employees, job applicants display their work/professional knowledge and experience and business people seek to expand their professional and industry networks and locate business partners.  Increasingly, employers are looking at the “Internet Footprint” of potential employees and LinkedIn has a pre-eminent status in this evaluation.  Some organizations actually acknowledge that LinkedIn is their sole or primary source of job candidates.

For small businesses and Internet marketers, LinkedIn is a superb way to build a brand/profile that is professional and grounded.  At the personal level, LinkedIn enables you to enrich your Internet profile by bringing both your offline and online knowledge and experience to the fore.  It provides, like Facebook, the opportunity to integrate the personal and professional.

Here are some indicative facts about LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn is ranked the 13th most visited site on the Internet (12th in the USA) – it ranks in the top ten sites in countries like Netherlands, India and Ireland
  • LinkedIn has a Page Rank of 9/10.

These stats highlight the power of LinkedIn as a medium for marketing and establishing a real professional presence on the Internet for yourself and/or your business.

If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will typically appear on the first page of Google results for a search on your own name or a search on a small business that you are part of.  For example, if you search on the name of my small business, Merit Solutions Australia, you will see a number of individual LinkedIn profiles and the company’s LinkedIn profile on the first page of results.

From a search engine perspective, LinkedIn provides an excellent forum to capture attention and generate traffic for your website, company or products/services.

LinkedIn membership: the audience for small business marketing

LinkedIn is a superb site for building your online social network and creating new business connections. Here’s some interesting information about people on LinkedIn that is relevant to small business marketing:

  • LinkedIn is 59% male and 41% female
  • 78% of LinkedIn members have a college or postgraduate qualification
  • 69% of the people on LinkedIn live in theUS
  • Average household annual income for LinkedIn users is over $100,000
  • LinkedIn visitors spend about eight minutes on the site per visit and tend to browse the site from work rather than home
  • 3 out of 4 LinkedIn members use the site for things related to their business – developing relationships, new business and business news
  • Compared with the overall internet population,

LinkedIn profiles show that:

– LinkedIn users are disproportionately well educated and affluent

– LinkedIn has a very strong representation of key business decision makers

– 18 to 24 year olds and people over 65 years are under-represented

– representation of other age groups is similar to the general Internet population.

[Sources (used with some statistical license):  & ]

Small business marketing on LinkedIn

As an overall observation, it is important to remember that heavy selling and overt, continuous promotion on LinkedIn breaches the etiquette of this professional network and will result in complaints and being ostracized. Besides if you are using this site to promote yourself and/or your business, it is essential that you present a professional demeanor and respect the rights of other people on the site.  In a previous post, I listed ten top tips for small business marketing on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a powerful social network for small business marketing as it provides a superb opportunity to develop your professional profile, create connections and build your customer base within a highly ranked, expanding business network.

10 Top Tips for Small Business Marketing on LinkedIn

 Here are 10 top  tips for building your LinkedIn presence together with tactics and strategies for marketing your small business.  LinkedIn is growing in status and size, so a presence on this site is becoming increasingly important for small business owners.

#1. Make the most of your LinkedIn Profile

Your profile is the core of your presence on LinkedIn – it is what people will visit to connect with you or to view what you have to offer.  LinkedIn understandably provides a comprehensive profile area – covering aspects such as current and past positions, education, specializations, experience and websites.  Make good use of the summary area which allows you to personalize the information by adding applications (”add sections”) that enrich your profile presentation.  The additional information area is where you add your websites, interest, groups/associations and awards.

The website descriptors are “my website”, “my blog” , etc.  – choose “other” instead and add a keyword rich title for your website(s).  Here are some other suggestions for your profile:

  • hyperlink wherever possible using anchor text
  • use keywords in description areas such as summary, specialties and experience
  • add an image for your profile (critical for this professional network)
  • create a personalized URL for your LinkedIn public profile (option provided), e.g.
  • consciously determine your public profile settings to ensure you display the aspects you want to be visible to the public.

#2. Create your small business profile

LinkedIn, like Facebook, provides the opportunity to create a Company Page.  You can build your small business profile on this page and add your blog feed and other content.  As discussed in a previous post, a key aspect of your small business page should be your Company Status Updates.  This operates like Twitter but enables you to include a website image and description.

#3. Build your network

A key strategy for LinkedIn marketing is building your network.  Your connections are a reflection of who you are and your small business brand.  You can connect with customers who know you, business associates, employees/contractors, professional colleagues, potential joint venture partners and contacts from other social networks such as Squidoo, Facebook and Twitter.  You can really get to know your “friends” through their work experience, background and current business pursuits. 

You can grow your network by direct invitation to individuals, active participation in relevant LinkedIn groups or through people finding you via the LinkedIn search option (reinforces the importance of your keywords!).  LinkedIn, like Facebook, suggests connections based on your key interests, business associations and existing connections.  Your role is to consciously develop and shape your network.

#4. Create a group and participate

Another key LinkedIn marketing strategy, once you have developed your LinkedIn network, is to create a group.   You can build a group around your brand, particular product/services or professional affiliation.  However, you need to be active in your group to stimulate participation by others.  This could involve starting discussions, sharing news, creating sub-groups and posting relevant valuable information and resources.  When people join your group, this will be visible to their own network via the news feed.

#5. Use Slideshare to upload content such as presentations and videos

SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. You can:

  • share presentations & documents with your LinkedIn network
  • upload portfolios, resume, conference talks, PDFs, marketing/sales presentations and display them on your LinkedIn profile
  • use a range of formats such as ppt, pps, pptx, odp, pdf, doc, docx, odt, Keynote, iWork pages
  • embed YouTube videos in presentations or add audio to make a webinar
  • upload your videos.

If you have a account, you can import your existing presentations into LinkedIn.  If you don’t have one, you can signup from LinkedIn to share your presentations worldwide and get more views/traffic.  You can add the SlideShare presentations to either your profile or your home page.  Your SlideShare uploads show up on the LinkedIn pages of your connections (if they have added the SlideShare application).

You can use SlideShare on both Linkedin and Facebook.  You can synchronize these with SlideShare so you have a three-way leverage.  If you upload anything to any one of the networks — SlideShare, Facebook or LinkedIn – it shows up instantly on all three.

#6. Promote your LinkedIn profile

You can promote your LinkedIn profile on your website, blog or Squidoo lenses by adding the LinkedIn button or text link.  Alternatively, you can use one of the many social media icon sets to encourage readers to connect to you and your small business on LinkedIn.

#7. Use LinkedIn applications

LinkedIn has a range of applications that you can use to brighten up your profile.  These include Portfolio Display, Blog Link (sync with your blog posts from Blogger, etc), WordPress (sync your WordPress posts), Reading List by Amazon (share the books you are reading), Company Buzz (Twitter activity about your company), Polls (create a poll for market research) and Tweets (display your tweets and view and comment on your connections’ tweets).

#8. Provide and seek recommendations

Recommendations are central to the purpose of LinkedIn as they contribute to your credibility and can reinforce your brand in the eyes of potential consumers/customers.  They strengthen your personal profile and give you increased visibility.  An integral principle of social media marketing is reciprocation, so you should both give and seek recommendations to build your profile on LinkedIn.    Your recommendations will appear on your profile page and can often say as much about you as they do about the recipient – as they disclose what you see, and value, in other people.  As with any social networking site that you are trying to build a presence on, it is important to maintain your contribution with regular sharing.

#9. Ask questions and and respond to others

When you join a group it is very useful to ask, and respond to, questions and to be active in discussions.  In this way, you can display your expertise, engage others and connect with potential customers who share your interests and/or perspectives.

#10. Create LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn has ad placements that you can purchase, either by way of cost per click (CPC) or cost per impressions (CPI or CPM).  You can target your audience by:

  • Geography
  • Job function or seniority
  • Industry and company size
  • Gender and age

You should keep in mind the demographics of LinkedIn when using the site for paid advertising.  It pays to read the FAQ’s to learn about ad placement, advertising conditions and recommendations for writing ads.

LinkedIn is a valuable way to build your small business brand, make new connections, increase the online visibility of your small business and develop relationships with customers

Company Status Updates on LinkedIn: A Boost for Small Business Marketing

Merit Solutions Australia


On the 6th October 2011, LinkedIn introduced Company Status Updates for Company Pages that were launched about a year ago.  LinkedIn Status Updates provide a new, powerful avenue for small business marketing online as LinkedIn is the largest online professional network in the world with over 120 Million members. 

This new status feature gives further access by small businesses to a professional network of people who are affluent, highly educated and influential in terms of purchasing decisions.  LinkedIn is ranked 12th by in terms of global traffic to the site and has a Google Page Rank of 9 (out of 10).

As illustrated in the image above, Company Status Updates provide the facility to attach a URL (web page address) which automatically displays a related image and “page description” drawn from the target website.   Readers can easily “Like” the update, comment on it or share it with their social networks (thus making the status entry viral).

Company Status Updates on LinkedIn enable small business owners to develop their brand by sharing news, videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, available jobs and product launches.

LinkedIn is a rapidly growing network and this new feature will provide a real boost for marketing small businesses online.