LinkedIn Advertising 101

Table of Contents

Organic vs. Paid: what's the difference?

If you're new to LinkedIn advertising, it's essential to know that there are two types of content placements: organic posts and paid ads. 

Organic posts 

When you create a post on LinkedIn, it appears in the activity feeds of your connections and their connections. These posts go out for everyone to see, but they also get pushed down in peoples' feeds over time. 

Paid social media ads

You can pay to make sure you appear at the top of your audience's news feeds when they log in. As with organic content, people will be able to like and comment on these posts, too (unless comments are turned off).

Pros and cons of organic posts versus paid ads

Organic posts are free but tend to drive fewer leads. Paid posts can be expensive, but they generate more qualified leads for your salespeople. 

  • Paid ads offer options for targeting, allowing marketers to reach specific audiences based on company size, industry, etc.
  • Paid ads offer a lower cost per lead than other marketing forms, including cold calling or email campaigns.

Why it’s necessary to use a mixture of organic and paid

Your marketing strategy should include a mixture of organic and paid posts. Organic posts allow for greater flexibility because you to reach a large audience without restricting the targeting options, which is beneficial to your B2B lead generation efforts. They’re also vital for building brand awareness and enhancing credibility. Paid ads allow for better targeting and more substantial leads.

What is LinkedIn advertising, and how does it work?

LinkedIn ads consist of sponsored updates, sponsored messaging, and display ads. There are nuances to optimizing each ad type, which we will get into a bit later…but first, let’s cover some basic definitions and some of the simple understanding you’ll need to start LinkedIn ad campaigns.

An example of a sponsored ad - Image Source

According to LinkedIn, "creating and running a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn is similar to creating and running a successful advertising campaign anywhere else—only better." They say this because the advertising options on LinkedIn are more targeted than on other social media sites. However, they also note that "You will need to think differently than you would for traditional media."

"Creating and running a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn is similar to creating and running a successful advertising campaign anywhere else—only better." - LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Sponsored Messaging

Formerly known as Sponsored InMail, this ad type goes directly to a user’s inbox. There are caps on these messages, and they come in two forms: a message ad or a conversation ad. To make sponsored message ads successful, personalization is paramount. It’s also best to keep copy short and incorporate some visual elements to increase the likelihood of capturing LinkedIn members’ attention. 

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Sponsored Content

Sponsored content ads appear as posts in the news feeds of LinkedIn members and typically include a business logo, headline, image, and link to your website. They’ll also say “sponsored” to let the user know it’s an ad. 

Sponsored content is a type of native ad that can be seen whether you're on your mobile feed or desktop. The ads come in three different forms: carousel, single image, or video. They look and feel much like organic content on LinkedIn; however, LinkedIn marks these ads with a “promoted” label to distinguish them from other posts and connect them with companies in which the user may be interested.

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Text Ads

Text Ads have been around for a while, appearing alongside LinkedIn’s desktop feed. They are ideal if you are looking to have repetition in advertising a particular demographic group again and again. They can also be a cost-effective way to reach a wide audience and increase brand awareness. Grab attention with this ad type by addressing a certain user particularly, like, “Seeking HR Professionals for Hire” and having a strong CTA such as, “Apply Now.” 

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Display Ads

Display ads are shown on targeted LinkedIn pages such as Jobs or Companies. They can be text or images that redirect users to any destination you like, such as your site or a particular blog post, etc. 

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Dynamic Ads

LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads are able to talk to the user directly thanks to personalization. For example, the ad based on your profile pops up and features your own personal details such as your photo and job title.

Some users are turned off by this ad type because it is so individual, calling attention to data privacy concerns. A/b test this ad type judiciously and make your copy is upbeat to best combat a negative connotation.

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Why should I include LinkedIn as a platform in my paid media strategy?


  • You can choose your target audience by job title, company, industry, or seniority level—which helps you narrow down your market.
  • Ads on LinkedIn are typically cost effective compared to other forms of traditional advertising, such as locally driven print or radio campaigns. 
  • In the digital space, conversions on LinkedIn tend to be a bit pricey…but they are often worth it due to a much higher quality of lead for B2B businesses. The close rate of leads from LinkedIn tend to be the highest compared to close rates for any other paid social platform. 
  • The social context puts your ad in front of potential buyers who are already connected with and know your brand. This means less time is spent building awareness from scratch.


  • Updating ad content regularly and monitoring the performance of each piece is time-consuming. You need to be committed and willing to invest in order for it to work.
  • Your tone will need to be specific for LinkedIn—you need to know your audience very well to maximize your return. 

Who should use LinkedIn advertising?

The short answer? Anyone and everyone. As our friends at LinkedIn like to say…there is no longer B2B or B2C, as all marketing is truly B2P or “business to person.” This is obviously a somewhat tongue-in-cheek phrase, but the sentiment is valid that more marketing tactics do not vary so widely as we once thought between business-to-business or business-to-consumer products. As millions of people continue to work remote, and the lines between work and home become much more blurred, the focus for us as marketers should be on finding the right person wherever they are online. 

“The lines are all blurring together and the reality is…marketing on LinkedIn is really business to person, or B2P. In today’s landscape B2B or B2C signifiers are somewhat limiting.” - Melissa D'Arienzo

Are there specific benefits for B2B marketers?

What makes LinkedIn unique for B2B marketers is its targeting options: allowing businesses to reach specific audiences based on their company size, industry and other business data. However it is becoming increasingly common to see personal and playful content being shared on LinkedIn, making the rules of engagement more lax than they once were.

Although LinkedIn is not as popular as Facebook or Twitter in terms of users and reach, it is one of the most effective platforms for business-to-business (B2B) marketers looking to reach a specific type of buyer with relevant information. 

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How do I create a LinkedIn advertising campaign?

Whether you're running an ad campaign through LinkedIn's self-serve interface (Ads Manager), or working with an agency that manages your accounts for you, the process is basically the same. 

You'll start by selecting your audience demographics—age range, gender, industry/job title—and then define your budget for the campaign and your maximum bid. After that, you'll need to set a timeline for your campaign and choose a call to action (CTA).

Next, upload your ad, enter some creatives and content if you're promoting a LinkedIn Page update or event, and complete the process by paying for the campaign.

On the other hand, if you're promoting a LinkedIn Company Page or job posting, simply click "Promote this" from the associated pages’ menu bars to get started.

Regarding setting your budget, there are a few steps and things to remember. Start by choosing whether you want to set your budget by the day, week, or month. Then choose how much you want to spend. There are limits, but LinkedIn will notify you if you exceed them.

How methods can I use to manage LinkedIn campaigns?

Once your ads are created, there are three main ways to manage and optimize your LinkedIn ads: manually, via LinkedIn, or through a third-party marketing platform.

Via LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s campaign manager interface is a straightforward way to manage your LinkedIn ads. There are no other steps to take once you've set up and completed your ad. LinkedIn will take care of the optimizing and managing aspects. You're limited only by your daily budget in this method, but it's fairly time-consuming to manage

Via a marketing platform

Managing your LinkedIn campaigns via a marketing platform like MarinOne means all your data is handled through one interface. The management of ads is more simple this way and does not require any special knowledge or training. Our guided walk-throughs help users get started right away on the interface, and your dedicated  account managers are ready to assist with any questionsl. Using an integrated platform means you don't have to rely on IT or an agency to set up or manage your LinkedIn advertising campaigns for you. 

MarinOne unifies industry leading optimization tools with flexible reporting and bidding to help advertisers maximize the impact and reach of their LinkedIn marketing investment. And MarinOne serves a hub that links marketing activity with true business impact from an advertiser’s CRM, allowing optimization to revenue, not just form fills. By connecting downstream customer data with  advanced automated bidding, MarinOne can significantly improve the performance of your campaigns.

LinkedIn Audience Targeting


Location is a the only requisite targeting option when starting a LinkedIn ad campaign. The location or area can be as broad as an entire country (or multiple countries) or as specific as one city or zip code.  LI uses the location indicated in a user’s profile or their IP address to determine where they are physically. Exclusions are an effective layering technique for this targeting option as you can make very specific indications of who you need to reach through this method. For example, say you target all of a metropolitan area or county, but you want to disclude a residential area in favor of where most businesses are located. Exclusions would be a good way to make that delineation. 


This is where LinkedIn is quite dissimilar from other social networking sites, as demographics are not a predominant factor in targeting segments. The two main options regarding demo are gender and age. And age is an estimation in many cases of the LinkedIn algorithm as the user may not have indicated an age, but rather the LinkedIn AI is making an estimation of their age based on what the member put in their profile, like years of experience.


You’re given a variety of educational targeting options in LinkedIn, including targeting by fields of study, schools and types of degrees. With options based on a person’s major field in their degree, it's easy to find a specific segment based on this data. 

Member schools lets you target by the college or university where a member completed courses. Membership by rank lets you create an audience according to an individual’s ranking at their learning institution.


Targeting by company is particularly useful when you want to reach a specific list of ABM accounts or reach a distinct industry. The options LinkedIn offers here include industry, size of company, name, followers of a certain company, and company connections. 

"Tip: Create several campaigns that vary according to the size of the company and customize your messages and offer (content) for that audience. This strategy allows us to be much more relevant, which should improve the performance of our campaigns." - Magnetica Advertising

Job Experience

This may be one of the most useful targeting options on the LinkedIn platform. Several types of LinkedIn ads exist that allow you to target your audience based on their job or experience. You can, for instance, target people based on what they do in their job which is grouped into a standardized profession, such as “accounting” or “construction.” When paired with other exclusions you can create great niche segments that are still broad enough to reach a range of individuals in jobs with a relevant interest in the service or product you are offering.

Job seniority lets you target users by things like their rank or influence. Job title segmentation allows you to target members by what they list as their current title. Member skills will help you find people with relevant skills by keyword search. These keywords would match what the member has listed in the skills section of their profile, those mentioned in their profile text, and inferred skills based on machine-powered profile analysis.

The last targeting field under the job umbrella is years of experience. This option lets you target users based on the years of experience they have accumulated over time. LinkedIn also excludes gaps in experience and doesn’t count overlapping experience, meaning that you don’t have to worry about covering two fields with one job posting. 

LinkedIn Advertising Tactics

LinkedIn ads can be a great lead generation tool, but you should track the return on investment of your campaigns to see what's working and what's not before investing too much time and/or money in them. That said, here are a few best practices to get you started:

  • Start with a small budget: As with any new type of ad campaign, start small to test whether or not this is going to work for your audience.
  • Include a clear CTA: Your CTA should be simple and compelling. For instance, if your top goal is to get people to sign up for a demo, you could use "watch a product demo" rather than "learn more about our company." You can also experiment with personalized CTAs that provide value to the user. 
  • Keep messages short and snappy: Don't lead with too much information when writing your ads. Walls of text are unappealing and obscure the CTA, which defeats the purpose of advertising in the first place. Stick to one concise sentence that highlights the value of clicking on your ad.
  • Add more engagement elements: Use images, videos, and GIFs to make your ads more engaging for users.
  • Use a mixture of organic and paid: By having a harmonious marriage between your organic and paid media content, the brand equity and consistency of your messaging will have a greater impact with users, increasing the likelihood they will retain and remember your key value proposition.

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  • Be consistent: Stick with just one call to action in all your ads so users know exactly what the offer is before they click on it. If you're advertising different products or services, vary your headline instead so users see some variety.
  • Use lead forms for lead gen: If you're advertising B2B products or services, use LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms to collect contact information from users who are interested in your product/service. You can then directly follow up with these users to nurture the relationship over time. Remember that the end goal of LinkedIn advertising is to drive sales. Therefore, you will need to retarget these leads with ads or messages inviting them to buy your product or service.
  • Use targeting options: Target people similar to your existing customers, lookalike audiences based on broad user data (e.g., location, industry), and specific user attributes (e.g., job title, company size). Keep in mind, when using lookalike audiences based on specific user attributes, create a custom audience first.

LinkedIn Content Trends

The experience with Coronavirus has brought some macro trends that are influencing how advertisers interact with customers on LinkedIn in 2022. We’ve listed below a few of those trends that you definitely need to be aware of while determining next steps for your LinkedIn strategy.

Economic Recovery

The first is a boom in economic recovery, with a positive momentum in GDP & the Labor market. According to a recent analysis performed by LinkedIn, ecommerce has had a 73% increase in workforce need, digital content creators have increased in number by 44%, and the demand for more digital marketers at large is up 33%. Economic health for each market also seems to have a direct correlation to vaccine rollout, which varies significantly from country to country.

Digital Transformation

In 2021, e-commerce grew three times what it was before the pandemic, which has paved the way for new industries like telehealth. As one example, this new method of virtual medical communication did exist before the pandemic, but as Covid-19 made it a more critical need, it has now revolutionized healthcare overall. As administrations found that patients actually enjoy the option to visit their local doctor remotely, all signs indicate  that option is here to stay.

New Workplace Norms

Employers are more and more often providing their employees with the option to work remotely, while some companies are promoting or even requiring a return to the office or a public workplace. Statistics show however that many working professionals prefer being able to work from home as it gives them a sense of increased flexibility. This means we are at a critical point for the future of acceptable workplace culture and this is going to impact how leadership attracts and retains talent.

A Call for Increased Diversity

LinkedIn as an organization is also seeing content and statistical trends that support more diverse workplaces is an ever-growing priority for many c-suite executives. As the global workforce tries to recover from the pandemic that's been going on for a few years now, roles like "chief diversity officer" seem more needed than ever before. In fact, CDO is currently the fastest growing c-suite role being posted on LinkedIn. On top of this, three out of the most in demand skills of LinkedIn’s top twenty for 2022 are around diversity, inclusion and belonging.

"Chief Diversity Officer is the fastest growing c-suite executive position on LinkedIn in the world at this moment." - Jessy Jacques

Companies Must Create a Culture of Trust

Last but not least, the most important trend for companies to consider that LinkedIn has observed in their global content analysis is the requisite for organizations to be trustworthy and genuine. With the pace at which damning information can be circulated globally, and the ability for said information to become the undoing of an organization, it is imperative that businesses know who they are as a corporation. If the mission, vision and values of your business are unclear, the likelihood your representation in the public eye could take a negative turn increases exponentially. And both consumers and potential employees expect companies to practice what they preach as well. With virtually anyone having the ability to “expose” something internal that may not align with your external messaging, conducting your business unethically has a much higher risk than it once did, even if no laws are being broken. The power of the individual to call companies out for bad leadership or other poor business practices is strong.

How Marin can help with LinkedIn ads

With MarinOne, you can design and launch a successful LinkedIn campaign in minutes. Key features include:

  • Custom ad groups to align targeting with your marketing goals
  • A/B testing for lower cost per lead and higher conversion rates
  • Access to a best-in-class customer support team that provides reporting, training, and recommendations to help improve ROI 
  • Complete ad and post management from one easy-to-use interface
  • Ad optimization and automation
  • Offline conversion tracking associated with raw queries to provide better insight into whether keywords make sense to be added based on their post click success.
  • Spend and performance forecasting
  • Budget management and pacing tools
  • Automated reporting and data visualization
  • Unified reporting and campaign management allows you to manage your LinkedIn campaigns alongside campaigns for all other publishers

Marin is the only platform designed from the ground up to connect B2B marketers' campaigns across all paid social media platforms seamlessly. Plus, because our system learns from every campaign run on our platform, your ads will deliver even better results the longer they run. 

If you’re interested in trying Marin for yourself, check out our free 30 day trial.

Click here to learn more about Marin for LinkedIn, including additional resources, case studies, and demo videos.

Not convinced LinkedIn ads are the right fit for your business? Check out our case studies with other organizations to get more detail.

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Marin is the only platform designed from the ground up to connect B2B marketers' campaigns across all paid social media platforms seamlessly.