What to know before advertising on LinkedIn

Social media advertising has become one of the biggest revenue generators and online traffic drivers in consumer and B2B marketing. Facebook advertising alone raked in 26.2 billion dollars last year, according to TechCrunch. As a digital advertiser, it is important we have working knowledge of how advertising works on some of our most popular social networks. Having tried (and saw successes from) Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube advertising, we realized there was a network we hadn’t explored: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn advertising is quite different than using Facebook or Twitter, from the interface down to targeting. Here are a few things we’ve learned while running advertising tests on LinkedIn. Please note that the following are simply recounts of the experience we had running ads on LinkedIn. This is not meant to deter you from advertising on the LinkedIn, as you may have a different experience. As best practice, conduct your own tests while keeping the following in mind.

LinkedIn may not be the best traffic driver.

The goals we set for our ads were to acquire emails and put our brand in front of potential clients that may be lurking on platform. We used the Sponsored Content ad type, optimized for clicks. We tested ad copy, custom graphics against images with human elements, and tried different targeting options to cover all bases. Ultimately, we saw very few clicks compared to impressions, garnered very few sessions on site and saw even less on site conversions on pages with normally high conversion rates.

CPC/CPM* can be quite high, while ROI is low.

We had a total budget of $270 to be split between 3 campaigns. Normally, we like to keep our CPC at $1 or less. We’ve seen low CPCs on several different advertising networks and use that partly to determine the success of our ads. On LinkedIn, our CPC was quite high, with the most expensive click being $4.36. Cost per impressions were even higher, capping at $23.89. As mentioned above, we saw very little return for the budget we spent, partially due to the high CPC/CPM. Out of 11,000+ total impressions, we saw only 61 total clicks and 7 total on-site conversions.

Targeting can be limiting.

Targeting works on an ‘and’ basis, meaning the user who gets the ads checks off ALL of the targeting options. For example, if you’re trying to reach people who work for a nonprofit or have graphic design skills or are seniors in college, LinkedIn will only show your ads to users who hit all three options. The more targeting options you include, the smaller your audience.

Spending can be erratic.

Daily observation during the duration of the campaigns showed ads not spending for hours then rapidly spending a huge chunk of the budget in minutes. Also, the entire budget was not spent during the intended time period (7/26 – 8/4). It was unclear how the daily spend operated, as we saw the ad spend cap daily at about 20% more than the allocated minimum spend. For example, we set the daily minimum spend at $10, we’d see daily spend (seemingly) stop at $12. This is unusual as we normally see a gradual increase in spend on other platforms.


According to Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn is used by 94% of B2B marketers, with 41% saying it’s the most important platform they use. LinkedIn boasts a 82% effectiveness rating and is said to generate more leads than Facebook and Twitter, according to Inside View. Unfortunately, we can not boast about our results this time around.

We’re not counting LinkedIn out completely, though. As advertisers, we think businesses should test their ad content on all social media networks so see what works best. There are many different factors that go into whether ads perform well or not, so we cannot put blame on the platform alone. There is a reason why many B2B advertisers love the platform and we intend to crack that code.

As with any advertising platform, there will be some pitfalls along the way. It’s best to give each platform a small test to get an idea as to how and what works. You can always adjust your strategy and find a way to make it work for you.


*CPC = cost per click. CPM = cost per mille (“mille” is Latin for “thousand”)

Jasmine Cordew