When setting up LinkedIn paid ads, one of the first and most important things you do is select a target audience. This will determine which users see your ads in their feeds, and can ultimately make or break your campaign. Of course, every marketer knows the importance of getting your target personas right, but there are several nuances to getting it figured out on LinkedIn. So I’ll go over some tips and tricks that will help you nail your ideal target audience on LinkedIn.
First Things First—What Are Your Social Campaign Goals?
Before you select a target audience for your campaign, it’s crucial that you set some goals and figure out what you want your ads to achieve. If you’re promoting a new eBook, for example, you’ll want your ad to drive downloads. With that in mind, think back to who you wrote the eBook for—in other words, who do you want downloading the eBook? This will be your primary audience, and likely different from a more broadly targeted campaign with a goal of getting more followers for your company page.
Selecting an Audience—Which Criteria to Prioritize?
Once you start a LinkedIn ad campaign, this is what you’ll see when you reach the targeting portion. There are a lot of different targeting criteria to choose from, with even more niche targeting options for each when you dive deeper. All these options make it easier to target very specific audiences, but at the same time, it can also set you back if you aren’t careful. Of all the different options to choose from, the following is a list of criteria that has the biggest impact:
Location, Age and Gender
You know what they say, “it’s all about location, location, location.” With LinkedIn’s ad targeting, you can filter users by state, city or country to help you keep your ads close to home or target certain regions. Be careful not to be too broad or too specific, however, as you don’t want to cast a net that’s too wide or too small. Rather than targeting the entire West Coast, for example, try focusing on the Pacific Northwest or even major cities in California.
Likewise, I’m including age and gender in here because they’re both pretty standard demographics for marketers. If your industry is dominated by decision makers who happen to be men in their late 40s through 60s, by all means, use that to your advantage and focus in on the audience that will have the biggest impact.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but company industry is an extremely helpful targeting criteria when it comes to getting your ad seen by the right people. If you want your ad to be seen by marketers, for example, it’s crucial you select the marketing and advertising industry as one of your options. You can even target users across several industries, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s important that you don’t cast too wide of a net, as it will ultimately dilute your audience.
Company size can be an extremely helpful targeting point when it comes to making sure your ads are seen by the right people. For example, if your company sells commercial inventory software for large grocery store chains, you’ll likely want to target companies with more than 200 employees, as smaller, singular stores aren’t on your radar. This will shrink your overall reach, but drive better results.
Job Function (Not Necessarily Job Title!!!)
While you might think it’s super helpful to limit your target audience to users with a specific job title (and sometimes it is), it’s not always the most efficient option. Take the job title “Purchasing Director” for example. There are plenty of other jobs that perform the same duties as a Purchasing Director, but may have a variation in the name (e.g., purchasing manager, buying specialist, procurement manager, etc.). If you miss one of those titles, you miss out on the thousands of potential users who would’ve qualified. By targeting based on job function instead, you can limit your search to users whose job functions revolve around purchasing, and not have to worry about leaving any users out.
In addition to Job Function, Job Seniority is another sometimes-overlooked targeting criteria that helps ensure you’re reaching the decision makers within a company. After all, you want to reach the people who are losing sleep over pain points and those more likely to seek solutions to their problems. When targeting your LinkedIn audience, try searching for “Manager,” “Director,” “Owner” and “Partner” to reach users who are more likely to act on an offer or conduct research.
Another tricky way to ensure you reach a niche group of users—especially in B2B circles—is by targeting users who’ve included certain skills and work certifications in their LinkedIn profile. For example, if you’re looking for IT managers, you can target users who say they’re ITIL certified to help you find more highly qualified prospects that are good fits for your ad.
Once you finish selecting your targeting criteria and schedule your ad to publish, make sure you check back frequently to monitor your results. In addition to testing multiple sets of copy and different images, try experimenting with different audiences as well. Figure out what works and what doesn't work, and use that knowledge for your future campaigns.