The Ammo You Need for Success on LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn advertising provides, hands-down, the best business targeting of any platform on the planet, and it does it at near-infinite scale. Those pros are not without cons, though. They’re expensive (most audiences producing clicks for between $6-9).

With LinkedIn traffic costing so much, it’s imperative to avoid mistakes that will be costly and nail it from the start. Here’s how to get started right.

Bring Your “AMO”

The acronym “AMO” is how you can prepare for your LinkedIn Ads initiative. AMO stands for:

A – Audience
M – Message
O – Offer

A – Audience

Professionals can be targeted by many different types of filters on LinkedIn, but we like to break them into 2 parts:

  1. The professional him/herself
  2. The type of company they work at

For example, your target may be CFOs, but your service might be too costly for the CFO at a 2-person company. Here are some of the best ways to align that targeting:

The Individual

Job Title – Pretty straightforward, but be aware that LinkedIn doesn’t understand all job titles (since this is a free-form field, a member can write whatever title they’d like). Also, clicks may cost more here since this is often the first targeting option that marketers go to, so competition is higher.

Job Function + Seniority – Job Function is the department someone sits in, which is the broadest targeting option. It leads to larger audience sizes, and often times, cheaper clicks. For instance, you can select Marketing, Operations, etc. Seniority is how senior one’s title is within the organization, so we can use filters like Manager, Director, VP, CXO, etc.

Skills + Seniority – Skills are also quite broad as each individual can have as many as 50, but they’re much more specialized than Job Function. For instance, if you want to reach SalesForce admins, a Job Function of IT would include a lot of people that aren’t relevant, but using the skill “Salesforce administration” would be a perfect fit. Use Seniority just like above.

Groups + Seniority – Members join LinkedIn groups around very specialized topics of interest, which is amazing. For instance, let’s say you want to reach Javascript Developers, you could target front-end development titles and skills, but if a member goes out of their way to join a group about Javascript, it’s likely a real strength for them. Layer on Seniority as above to ensure you’re getting only those that are likely to make the purchase decision.

The Company

We have 3 great filters for targeting companies, (and one bonus one):

  1. Company Industry – Narrow your targeting down to specific industries that are a good fit for your potential customer.
  2. Company Size – The range of company size by number of employees.
  3. Company Name – If you’re going after a handful of specific companies, use this filter to laser-target them for Account-Based Marketing purposes.
  4. BULK company names (Bonus) – If you’re targeting (or excluding) more than just a handful of specific companies, you can use LinkedIn’s matched audiences features which allows you to upload a list of up to 300k specific companies. Great for large-scale ABM!

M – Message

The message is how the prospect actually interfaces with your brand. LinkedIn account based marketing has 3 types of ad units that you can access through a self-service account:

  • Sponsored Content
  • Text Ads
  • Sponsored InMail

Each one has different strengths and weaknesses that you can read about here but they each have both a text and an image component to them.


Some important things to keep in mind with your ad text are:

  1. Tell why what you’re offering is valuable

People on LinkedIn move fast. Get right to the point and don’t get cutesy with your copywriting, otherwise, your ads will suffer from low click-through rates because the message was lost on them. Always lead with WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) as you’re attempting to earn their attention, so if they don’t feel there’s any benefit, they’ll keep on scrolling.

  1. Include a call to action (CTA)

Don’t forget to be clear about what your prospect will get and how to get it. If the CTA in the ad doesn’t describe what they see when they get to your landing page, they will experience cognitive dissonance and will leave.

  1. Keep it short

This is important for each of the ad units. For Text Ads, you only get 25 + 75 characters anyway, but its important on the other ad units for different reasons.

For Sponsored Content, LinkedIn shows that you get 150 characters for the intro, however, that’s not always the case, and the consequences of going long are pretty severe. When it goes long, LinkedIn will hide some of the text behind a “…see more” message, which is tempting to click if you want to continue reading. The issue is that when someone clicks it, they don’t go to your landing page, and you’re still charged for the click.

Because of this, we recommend keeping text to below 128 characters and insert a link that will be shortened to 12 characters.

For Sponsored InMail, we have found that keeping the message shorter tends to perform better. Get right to the point, and be very personal because if it feels like a mass mailing, it will be ignored.


Images are important for 2 reasons. They:

  1. Draw your eye to the ad
  2. Make a message feel brand new

Draw the Eye

In order to draw the most eyeballs, the image needs to stand out. In order to stand out on LinkedIn, your image will want to contrast against the LinkedIn color palette of blues, grays, and whites, so if you use greens, reds, oranges, and purples, you’ll stand out.

Also, avoid stock photos whenever possible because there are so many stock photos on LinkedIn and don’t look visually interesting enough to garner attention.

Freshen Your Creative

The human mind is able to remember images much more easily than text. That means that if your prospect saw your ad last month, there’s a good chance that they’ll recognize it when they see it again this month. They will think, “No reason to pay attention to something I already saw.,” and move along while wasting your ad impression.

Instead, imagine that you’ve refreshed your creative with a new image since last time they saw that ad. Even if they’ve already read the associated ad copy, the image will look and feel like a new ad, and you’ll get another look.

O – Offer

By far the most important part of advertising is the offer, or what you’re going to give to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.

Keep in mind that when someone is surfing around on LinkedIn (or other social media, for that matter), they are not looking to interact with a vendor or be sold to. Instead, they’re looking to connect with people and catch up with friends.

If you put up an ad that essentially says “Click here to talk to a sales rep,” it won’t be an enticing enough offer to attract their attention away from what they were doing. From an ad-platform perspective, LinkedIn sees this ad that is getting clicked on less than your competition’s and it stops showing your ads. The technical explanation for this is your ads got awarded a low Relevancy Score and stopped winning impressions in the ad auction.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your offer is too light and you aren’t asking for anything in return (i.e. “Read this blog post,” or “View this infographic.”) you’ll be spending $6-9 per click on traffic that won’t have any reason to convert.

The ideal offer is one where you are offering a valuable piece of content in exchange for their contact information (We call this “gated content”). The more valuable the content, the higher the rate at which your traffic converts.

Here’s a graphic showing what types of content tend to perform well as gated content, depicting how offers in the mid-friction range tend to be in the sweet spot:

How to Select an Offer

First, find the biggest pain points or curiosities that your prospects have, and create content that either solves that pain or educates on their curiosity.

Throughout many rounds of testing, our team has found that the format that the gated content takes isn’t nearly as important as the problem it solves. For instance, if you take the same pain point, and distill the answer on that topic down into a 1-page cheat sheet, a 4-page guide, or a 35-page ebook, they will all convert about the same.

Spend the majority of your efforts finding that pain point that your content can solve.

After the Conversion

LinkedIn provides the precise reach for the exact professionals who will make your ideal customers, but it’s up to you how you take them from someone who has downloaded a piece of your thought leadership into a paying customer.

Ultimately, the right kind of nurture sequence combination of email, advertisement, and personal outreach over the right amount of time is something you’ll need to test into and is different for every company we’ve worked with.

Don’t be discouraged by poor sales performance at first, and continue testing, as this process is the key to social sales at scale.

You’ve got your “AMO” and you’re ready to start advertising on LinkedIn? We put together this free checklist for you that contains the 8 items you’ll need in order to get started.