How to Set Up a LinkedIn Retargeting Ads Campaign

Every business owner needs to generate leads and make effective use of them to grow their business. In many cases, businesses often struggle to find and keep new customers. This is especially an issue for small businesses looking to use marketing in a cost-effective manner, keeping customer acquisition costs low while generating real results.

In the contemporary marketing climate, there are so many options available for small businesses that it can be easy to feel a tool you are yet to use may be leading you up the garden path until it delivers concrete results. There is little doubt that SEO can provide great ROI, or that email campaigns can increase lead revenue, because these have been tried and tested. They are good approaches, but since they are such good approaches, your competitors are probably using them, too. That’s why, in order to stand out, you need to take a novel approach to gain the edge over your competitors. That said, when browsing through potential novel advertising tools you can use, it’s easy to feel uncertain.

Rest assured: a tool that you will not feel uncertain about is LinkedIn Retargeting advertising.

What are LinkedIn Retargeting Ads?

LinkedIn Retargeting ads is a special type of advertising, not because LinkedIn Audiences are perfect reciprocators of B2B campaigns or because they have 200% the buying power of the average internet citizen. It is special because it targets individuals that have already visited your website, whose information you already have, or who are already engaged with your business in some way. It is, therefore, perfect for capturing leads that are already interested in you and your business and cutting through the chaff of those who are unsuitable customers and, hence, a waste of advertising spending.

Remarketing isn’t a completely new concept, but it takes on new meaning in the digital space. It follows a basic line of argument: on average, only 2% of those who visit your website convert into paying customers. So, what happens to the other 98%? You can let them slip through your fingers and accept that they did not convert because they weren’t suitable customers, but this defeatism is not fully logical – visitors do not convert for a whole host of reasons, from slow network speed to too many clicks required to make the purchase. It is wrong to assume that a visitor who does not convert is not a suitable customer for your business and will not have use for your products. The more sensible take is to understand that they visited your site for a reason, and are, therefore, much better recipients of advertising than 99% of other targets because they have already expressed interest in some way.

Now, combine this powerful sea of the perfect people to whom you should be advertising with the value provided by LinkedIn’s demographics. Some 80% of LinkedIn members are involved in business decisions. This positions LinkedIn as the perfect digital location for remarketing to businesses if you are a small business with a B2B model, with suitability for some businesses that have a B2C model, too.

Should You Use Matched Audiences?

LinkedIn retargeting advertising falls under its concept of Matched Audiences. Matched audiences allows you to retarget visitors to your website, upload customer databases and market to contacts listed on them, and reach specific decision-makers at companies that you are targeting. LinkedIn has put a whole new spin on remarketing, making it a sleek, easy, and powerful process.

If you have questions about its effectiveness, there is some high-quality research provided by an extensive pilot program for matched audiences, involving over 370 participating advertisers and using over 2,000 active campaigns. They found that on average, customers using matched audience advertising enjoyed:

• A 30% increase in click-through rate using website retargeting
• A 14% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion using website retargeting
• A 32% increase in post-click conversion rates with account targeting
• A 4.7% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with account targeting
• A 37% increase in click rate with contact targeting.

On the whole, this means more return on your investment, which is arguably the most important metric in marketing. However, it’s important to think about your target audience. Are they on LinkedIn?

• 49% of university graduates use LinkedIn
• 45% of adults that make more than the equivalent of $75,000 per annum are on LinkedIn
• 34% of 18-29-year-olds use LinkedIn
• 31% of 30-49-year-olds use LinkedIn
• 21% of 50-63-year-olds use LinkedIn

These broad demographics stats demonstrate the power that matched audiences can have not just for B2B companies, but for B2C companies – with special potential for B2C SaaS that benefits young professionals or those looking to be involved in the professional sphere. Matched audiences are also perfect for the vast majority of B2B services or products; commercial client targeting; and hiring and headhunting attempts.

Getting Started

Before you get started, you will need to familiarize yourself with the key terms and phrases that are relevant to LinkedIn Retargeting. These are:

• B2B – business to business. Companies with a B2B model make money by selling products or services to other businesses.
• B2C – business to customer. Companies with a B2C model sell products or services to end-users.
Campaign Manager – this is LinkedIn’s center that allows you to easily and effectively manage your advertising campaigns.
• click per conversion – how many times your advertisements are clicked in order to generate one sale.
• conversion – the point at which a recipient of an advertisement or marketing campaign follows through and completes an action – typically making a purchase.
• CPL – Cost per lead – the advertising cost that it takes to generate a lead.
• CSV – this is a type of spreadsheet format used by the majority of spreadsheet software including Microsoft Excel.
• CTR – click-through rate – the percentage of people viewing an advert that click on it; a measurement of how successful the ad has been.
• Engagement – engagement in a digital context means interacting with an advert or brand in some way, but it has been used in advertising for over 100 years, so has some other definitions.
• Matched Audiences – this is LinkedIn’s name for its targeting tool suite.
• Remarketing – remarketing is the process of marketing to somebody who has already been marketed to or has interacted with a brand in some way.
• ROI – return on investment, the amount of time it takes for you to recuperate what you have spent on a particular profit-generating strategy.
• SaaS – a company that offers software as a service.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with these, you’ll need to understand that there are three types of targeting that Matched Audiences facilitates: website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting.

Website Retargeting allows you to target those who have already visited your website, as previously mentioned. LinkedIn provides the ability for you to mold the nature of your campaign to make it more powerful: you can define target audiences and also deliver advertising content that is relevant to specific pages that people visit on your site.

Account Targeting allows you to securely upload a list of company names that you want to target that is processed by LinkedIn and matched against the 12 million companies listed on their platform. Your advertising content is then shown to decision-makers at those companies, a form of hyper-precise targeting. This is not exclusively for retargeting ad campaigns, but it is very useful for such campaigns, as it allows you to advertise to a database of previously interested parties (be they leads that never converted or converted clients that did not re-purchase).

Contact Targeting allows you to upload a list of email addresses or contacts and target those with LinkedIn who are on your list. This is not exclusively suitable for retargeting, but its more obvious uses are for targeting those who have already expressed interest in you by signing up to a mailing list or engaging in direct correspondence with you.

Before you continue building your campaign, you need to decide which targeting methods are most suitable for your business’s efforts. It might be important to remember that advertising works best when different channels are synchronized, so once you decide which targeting is relevant for your business aims, try to think about whether you can combine it with other methods like email marketing.

Once you have done that, it’s time to start building your LinkedIn Retargeting Ads campaign!

Retargeting LinkedIn Members with Website Retargeting

Retargeting LinkedIn members who have already visited your website is a powerful tool. Your first step is to go to LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager. From there, you should be able to see a Matched Audiences option. Select ‘Use a Matched Audience,’ which should take you to another page.

You should then see the words ‘OK, now let’s target your audience.’ On this page, you create an audience to target, so click the button giving you that option. You will then be asked to name your audience. It is sensible to give the audience a name relating to the page that you wish to link them to – for example if you are targeting an audience that has visited one of your blogs explaining the benefits of a specific product, you could put the product name and the title of the blog page.

Retargeting LinkedIn Members with Website Retargeting

Then, insert the URL for the page that you wish to retarget and choose a retargeting option from the dropdown list. You’ll be faced with some options:

• Exact – this option will retarget any member of LinkedIn who has visited the exact URL that you give. This is a good option if you have a basic static website that isn’t tailored to the page’s visitor. Most sites with blog content will find this useful, as it allows hyper-specific retargeting of those interested in individual blog pages and hence individual bits of information.
• Starts with – this should be used if you want to retarget users that visited anywhere on the site that starts with a certain URL. This could be the entire website, but it could also be anybody that has visited your blogs section, or anybody who has gone to checkout but didn’t go through with the purchase for some reason.

create a website audience

• Contains – contains will retarget those who visit a URL that contains a specific string of characters, more suited to dynamic websites that use SQL. This is also a good option if you have many different pages that all display a similar message – for example if you want to target everybody who follows through with a purchase, you might put in “confirmed,” depending on your purchase confirmation URLs.

At this stage, it might be worth speaking to your website designer to get their opinion about which targeting is appropriate. They may be able to point you to some handy URL features your site implements that you were not aware of.

It is important to note that you can add other URLs, so you don’t need to create the same campaign over and over again. Each URL you add should be relevant to the goals of your specific campaign, however. If you want to push a certain product, you would target visitors who had browsed the product, visited blog pages about the product, or put the product in their basket, etc. You would not want to include anything relevant to other products, as this might be a waste of ad spending. It is important to ask yourself whether your decision is efficient and cost-effective, and to keep ROI in mind.

After you have entered all the relevant URLs for your campaign, click save. You will then be given an insight tag by LinkedIn, which is a piece of JavaScript that you need to put in your website’s HTML for LinkedIn to track visitors and allow you to retarget them. If you are unsure about how to do this, contact your website engineer or provider, who will either do it for you if it’s a custom site or show you how to insert JS snippets if you use Shopify, Wix, WordPress, or similar sites. If you are your own webmaster, the piece of JS is lightweight and designed to minimize latency, but you might want to compress the code if you have a particularly heavy site that needs all the speed optimization it can get. Unfortunately, you can only have one insight tag at a time, so multiple campaigns that require an individual insight tag each are not yet possible, as the tag fits inside your global footer.

body tag

Once you have placed the tag in your website’s code, you can check if you have done it correctly by going into the LinkedIn campaign manager, selecting Tools and then selecting Matched Audiences. Once you successfully insert the insight tag into your page, its status should change from “Unverified” to “Verified.”

selecting Tools and then selecting Matched Audiences

If you have inserted it into you page but it still says “Unverified,” check that you pushed the version of the site to go live. LinkedIn will only mark your page as “Verified” when it has had a minimum of 300 members, so depending on the popularity of your site, this may take a while. If your site is very popular and gets many visits, it can still take two days for LinkedIn to verify your insight tag. LinkedIn will not be able to start retargeting audiences until the tag status is verified.

Now you have the audience captured by the insight tag on your site, you can add them to your campaign. Go to campaign manager and navigate to your account. You can then open the relevant campaign and start to retarget segments. Once you click the Audiences tab, you can find the targeting segments of the site that you have already made (titled with the name you gave them before you created them). You can then include or exclude any audience segments you like! It’s important not to underuse the ability to exclude segments, as this gives you tighter control over who you are targeting and can save you from targeting people you feel are not worth it – a decision that adds to your efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The campaign will then start to advertise as soon as your segment reaches 300 people and achieves verification. This campaign can run indefinitely, or you can turn it off after you have achieved a specific goal.

Retargeting LinkedIn Members with Account Targeting

As previously mentioned, you can also retarget key figures in specific companies or specific relevant accounts (including business accounts) with account targeting.

The first thing to do is to go to Campaign Manager and navigate to the targeting page. Choose target by ‘the audience below.’ Don’t feel you’re in the wrong place because you have to choose a location – this is always needed by LinkedIn. If you want to target every member of a specific company regardless of their global location, simply include all continents in the world (though be aware that for LinkedIn, Latin America covers the whole of South America).

Retargeting LinkedIn Members with Account Targeting

It is at this stage that you can then refine your targeting by mentioning specific company names. Many people have a database of leads – if you’re one of these people, you don’t need to type out each individual company name; you can instead upload a list of companies. If you only target a small handful of companies, it might be easier to just type them in.

If you are uploading a list of companies, you can scroll down to ‘Use a Matched Audience.’ You should see an option saying ‘Target a list of accounts or contacts.’ You should then click the button underneath that says ‘Create an audience.’ Once you have done this, you will be prompted to give your audience a name. Pick a name that will help you clearly make use of the similarities that group these companies together. ‘Companies for Leads’ might not be as good as ‘Interested SaaS companies,’ for example.

Matched Audience

Once you’ve selected a name, you need to upload your database. If you are looking to do a retargeting campaign, the companies featured on this database should be ones that have already interacted with your business in some respect, whether it was with an inquiry, a purchase, or even a collaboration. There are a few restrictions on your database – it needs to be in the form of a CSV file and it should not have more than 30,000 companies or be bigger than 20MB. You should only include company names under the first column, with one company for each row (making sure the first column has a header that says ‘companyname’). If you need help converting your database to CSV, check out this guide or simply search for the type of file you need to convert with the words “convert to CSV” – you should easily be able to find free online converters.

Once you’ve uploaded your file, click next. It can take up to 48 hours to process, with longer lists taking longer. Make sure you save your progress. While LinkedIn is building your audience, you can check the status by selecting Tools in the top right corner of your Campaign Manager and selecting Matched Audiences.

Campaign Manager

When your list is available for use in a campaign, you will see it on the Matched Audiences dashboard.

To include it in a campaign, go to your account and open your campaign. Click the Audience button and go to “See Full List.” Then simply select the list that you wish to include in your campaign. There will then be other targeting options for you to use if you scroll down, ranging from member age to company industry to company size. These give you a lot of room for nurturing your campaign and tailoring it towards the targeting options that you think will help you to achieve your business goals. When choosing your targeting options, make sure you remember to think about efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

For example, if you are looking to advertise your SaaS product that helps sales representatives keep track of sales and generate leads, you could select Job Function and only target those who are in sales at the companies that you have selected. If you have some evidence that workers between 30 and 35 are looking to make their mark on a company and are, therefore, more likely to push new ideas, then you can also target that age range specifically. You might also believe that your product will stand out more to those who have had significant training in sales, in which case you can target those with 10+ years of experience or graduates from courses related to sales.

Retargeting LinkedIn Members with Contact Targeting

The final retargeting method that you can take advantage of is contact targeting. LinkedIn supports you importing email address lists that you have saved on the platforms Marketo, Oracle, Eloqua, or LiveRamp. These are the only platforms available at this time. Alternatively, you can simply upload a CSV file as you would do for Account targeting.

Go to your campaign manager and select Matched Audiences from the Tools menu to reach your dashboard. Then, navigate to the tab that says “Uploaded list audiences”. Once you have done this, you should be able to see an overview of all your target segments right there on your dashboard. If you haven’t uploaded anything, it should be empty. Click the blue “Upload a list” button next to “Connect to data integration.”

Uploaded list audiences

You should get some options – choose ‘Match based on a list of contacts” and then upload your CSV file. LinkedIn’s requirements for this are similar to their requirements for account targeting. All email addresses should be under the first column, with the header for the column saying ‘email.’ Remove all formatting, so everything is plain text of the same size – this will allow LinkedIn’s scanner to process everything with fewer errors. They recommend that you double-check spellings, so you do not have to go through the checks again.

upload your CSV file

LinkedIn requires at least 300 email addresses on this list, with a maximum of 300,000. Larger lists will be more effective and you will have better match rates, but it’s important that every email on the list is relevant to your campaign aims – if you are doing a retargeting campaign, each email on the list should be the email of an individual who has interacted with your business in some way at some point and should not be taken from email lists available for purchase on the web.

Once you launch the campaign, LinkedIn will begin to deliver once it matches at least 300 members. As with the previous targeting steps, this could take up to 48 hours to verify. You will be able to see contact lists in your Uploaded list audiences tab, which should now not be empty.

You can also connect to a marketing automation platform by connecting to data integration. Doing this is essential if you control all your marketing through a third-party platform to simplify the whole process and manage campaigns through different channels simultaneously. You’ll have to read through and agree with LinkedIn’s terms before you proceed, but once you do, you will be presented with both a public key and a secret key. This helps to make sure that all communications are safe and secure. If you do not know how to add these keys to the platform that you use, you can consult LinkedIn’s ‘Get Started’ guide to help you out, which covers the ten most popular marketing platforms.

Data integration can take up to a week for your audience list to be sent over, though the average time is 48 hours or less. Personal data like email addresses will be deleted within 90 days if you do not use it, so you may need to reupload data depending on your campaign operation. Once you are connected to a marketing automation platform, any updates to email lists must be done through that platform. You can also only use one third-party platform, as your keys cannot be duplicated.

Measuring Results: The Success Hub

Once you have launched your campaign, you will want to be able to measure its results. You can do this in two ways: by analyzing your campaign performance and by tracking conversions and leads that result from your ads.

Your campaign performance can be monitored from your campaign manager, which reports a wide range of metrics for every campaign that you have on the go. LinkedIn’s guide helps to walk you through the process of measuring your results this way. You first need to know which part of the funnel you are targeting – this is a helpful way of thinking about your business goals.

• Upper funnel – looking to build awareness
• Mid-funnel – looking to drive engagement
• Bottom funnel – looking to generate leads and convert them into sales

ampaign manager

If you’re in the upper funnel, you’ll want to look at your campaign manager and concentrate on clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and average engagement. These give you an impression of the number of views and amount of interest you are eliciting for your business – if the numbers are high, you are doing a good job and achieving your campaign goals.

If you’re in the mid-funnel, you should be looking for engagement, CTR, and some conversions. Anything that indicates people are viewing your page and interacting with it in some way is a good sign, and those metrics can indicate success on that side.

If you’re looking to generate solid leads, you should focus on how many people complete signups, download something, or, even better, make purchases. You should focus on conversions, conversion rate, cost per conversion, leads, and cost per lead (CPL). Your conversions, conversion rate, and leads should be as high as possible, while you want your costs to be as low as possible.

You need to set up conversion tracking and lead gen forms to measure bottom funnel metrics, so make sure you do those as soon as possible.

You can then download campaign data and customized reports in campaign manager. To download a report, sign in to campaign manager, click the correct account name and campaign group and select it; then click the export button at the top right of the page, select the type of report you want, and export it. These handy tools allow you to measure how far along you are towards your campaign goal, and potentially adjust your campaign if some things aren’t working. You can also use demographic insights so you can understand which audiences are responding well to your advertising and which audiences might need different attempts.