Social Media

LinkedIn Ad Targeting Tactics: How to Reach the Right Professionals

By Christine Warner on October 9, 2019

Knowing what audiences want is no longer a mystery. Today, marketers are able to use social listening and analytics software to discover what consumers crave and enjoy. And with retargeting added to the mix—one of the most powerful LinkedIn ad targeting tactics—brands can better reach people who've engaged with their content or ads but have not yet converted, as well as those who are already in the sales process.

No matter what product or service you're advertising, most sales funnels require multiple touch points before the conversion. As the customer journey is hardly straightforward, with countless platforms and content sources, retargeting is an invaluable tactic to keep your brand engaged in the online experience of your audiences.

Here's how to target LinkedIn ads to drive conversions and build your audience.

Getting Started With LinkedIn Targeting

Retargeting usually results in engagement. Research by Leadpages finds that the majority of people (58.6 percent) would react to a retargeted ad by clicking, despite feeling annoyed, indifferent, or genuinely happy to see a good deal.

The audience creation criteria available through LinkedIn incorporates member data, matched audiences, account targeting, look-alike audiences, and Linkedin's Audience Network. Marketers can decide whether to build custom audiences based on member data or select from already created audience templates.

This approach is based on data that users make publicly available: location, company connections, company industry, company size, company name, company followers, age, gender, fields of study, schools, degrees, job function, job seniority, job title, skills, years of experience, groups, and interests.

Beyond profile data, you can opt to target specific company accounts to reach those employees. To expand your reach to new audiences of qualified professionals, use LinkedIn's look-alike targeting option. Target people who are similar to your current audience and, therefore, more likely to convert.

LinkedIn's retargeting options are website retargeting, matched audiences, and contact targeting. Website retargeting lets you tag website visitors to continue serving ads to them. The matched audiences option involves uploading contacts into LinkedIn or integrating them with your CRM platform. And contact targeting is similarly uploading leads or contacts.

Man at computer

Photo source: Bench Accounting on Unsplash

Reaching the Right Professionals

The ample LinkedIn ad targeting options let you clearly define who you're trying to reach based on their personal and career information. In contrast to other social networks, the level of detail regarding each member's professional life ensures that you're reaching a qualified audience. Members view LinkedIn as a place that helps build their professional reputation and career opportunities—they're incentivized to make their skills and experience publicly available, and therefore they're readily available for targeting.

Given the professional nature of the platform, people visit LinkedIn with the expectation of receiving professional content and updates. This means they are more likely to be receptive to B2B marketing messaging and ads. This assumed mindset makes LinkedIn even more primed for business marketing.

LinkedIn's audience is also incredibly influential—61 million users are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions. LinkedIn users are less active when it comes to sharing, though, especially compared to more instantaneous social media networks like Twitter and Facebook: Just three million users out of 500 million post content weekly.

This is actually a positive thing for advertisers who know how to target LinkedIn ads, as its users are there to consume versus share.

Continuing the Nurturing Process

To keep reaching LinkedIn audiences, it's important to leverage the retargeting options available. Integrating your own consumer data through Contact Targeting or Website Retargeting is a great way to continue to nurture leads, as well as the LinkedIn Audience Network that lets you target the same people outside of LinkedIn.

There are varying theories on messaging frequency, but the principle is the same no matter the social network: The more times someone is exposed to a marketing message, the more likely they are to take action.

Closing in on the Conversion

Within LinkedIn's broad range of targeting criteria and tactics, which is the most impactful? Well, to reach the most qualified users, start with who you know—your current customers.

LinkedIn's Look-alike Audience options lets reach users who are similar to your current customers — this means you can direct your efforts toward users who have an higher-than-average likelihood of converting. You may also want to do the same for your lists of hot leads to help them on their way to converting. Similarly, Contact Targeting lets you upload email lists of prospects to nurture them on social platforms in addition to direct email outreach.

Whatever your current LinkedIn advertising strategy might be, make sure that you make the most of custom targeting options. The best way to reach prospects is to create models based on current customers and retarget those who have already indicated an interest in your brand. Doing this through retargeting and look-alike audiences is basically building a persona for each of your customers—instead of relying on generalizations. This accuracy can lead to more effective advertising on (and off) LinkedIn.

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Christine Warner

Christine Warner is a freelance writer and digital marketer with agency, brand, and non-profit experience developing integrated campaigns and content platforms for diverse brands such as Uber, Samsung, Walgreens, Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Dignity Health. Her digital marketing specialties include content marketing strategy, customer relationship management, brand product marketing, digital media planning, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Digital for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she oversees the digital marketing efforts for the various non-profit communities and ministries throughout Southern California. As a freelance writer, she contributes regularly to various lifestyle and marketing publications. You can check out her writing portfolio to browse all her work.