How do I used LinkedIn Targeting as part of my marketing strategy?

LinkedIn is known for making connections. A veritable pioneer in virtual networking, LinkedIn stands out from other platforms in its glossy professionalism and the sheer volume of unique demographic data it yields.

While some platforms collect birth dates and IP addresses, LinkedIn’s user data is rife with affiliated businesses, detailed education data, and thorough lists of skills and interests. Organizations themselves have just as rich a digital presence on the platform for this very reason; and for financial institutions, this makes LinkedIn a potential goldmine for marketing.

Beyond target consumer data, LinkedIn benefits from a great deal of trust and engagement. Users on the platform report having more trust for content in their feeds, more trust for the maintenance of their privacy and data, and more trust in the quality of the digital environment than many other platforms – meaning that LinkedIn users are more likely to trust the marketing and advertising they see. And due to the nature of the networking powerhouse, there’s just as much reason for businesses to trust user data: Everyone (and every company) on the platform is highly incentivized to keep all of their information detailed and up to date.

LinkedIn Targeting 101

Luckily, LinkedIn makes it easy to use its targeting feature, but they do offer a warning: Don’t go crazy creating too niche an audience. While there is enough to data to segment by to create ultra-specific parameters, getting too narrow can significantly limit your reach. Here’s how they suggest using their campaign manager to maximize your marketing power:

  1. Use LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager tool to create your campaign.
  2. Pick an objective. This is a feature of LinkedIn’s targeting tool that makes choosing an audience extra easy. You can opt for awareness, consideration, or conversions, which will influence who you’re targeting.
  3. Define your target audience.

This is where it gets interesting. You can target using typical favorites: Location, language, even known contacts from your databases and marketing automation platforms (thanks to their Contact Targeting feature – we’ll get to that later.) But LinkedIn has five major themes that allow you to create highly tailored audience segments:

  1. Job experience
  2. Company or institution
  3. Education
  4. Interests
  5. Demographics

Let’s start at the top: with Experience. This theme allows you to target your audience based on job function or title and seniority, which often puts you directly in front of big decision-makers and buyers. Using this theme to combine a specific job junction with seniority would give you access to both the expertise you’re looking for as well as the clout. The Campaign Manager will even suggest other, related job titles or functions that might pair well with the one you’ve already selected.

The Experience theme also includes years of experience. Combining “years of experience” with a specific job skill, for example, can give you a skilled expert of your choosing. Layering seniority with years of experience typically yields even more influence over major company buying decisions than seniority alone. This section also lists specific job skills. These are particularly helpful to target when you’re selling something that many job titles or functions might take interest in.

The Company theme is particularly helpful to those who are using LinkedIn Targeting for B2B marketing. Using this theme, you’re able to target up to 100 companies or institutions at a time, enabling you to choose companies of specific sizes or values. Because not all institutions have their own LinkedIn business pages, you can also use exclusionary features for this theme – meaning that if you want to target smaller companies whose leaders may be on LinkedIn but without their own company page, you can simply exclude large companies.

Then there is the Education theme, one of LinkedIn’s many marketing advantages. Universities, colleges, and other educational organizations can all be segmented here, but so can specific degrees and programs. Layering the aforementioned seniority parameter with a field of study, for example, can find you highly qualified decision makers at universities and institutions.

One of LinkedIn’s most helpful data sets is its Interests theme, which is based on content that members engage with, the B2B topics they search using Bing, and the groups they are a part of. This is an excellent option for awareness objectives and categories not better targeted through the other themes. Just a few LinkedIn groups with large audiences include “Finance Club” and “Banking Careers.”

Lastly – and maybe in this case leastly – there is the Demographics or Identity theme. LinkedIn determines age and gender using names and users’ graduation dates, which makes this theme the least reliable. When it comes to B2B marketing, there is little need for this theme.

Expanding your target audience

LinkedIn offers a few options for making your chosen audience a bit larger, thanks to Audience Expansion and Matched Audiences. Put simply, audience expansion delivers your marketing content to members who are similar to the target audience you’ve created. This is a good idea when said audience is already high-performing – LinkedIn simply helps you scale your strategy.

Matched audiences, on the other hand, uses contact targeting, account targeting, and website retargeting. Contact targeting connects LinkedIn to your contact managing platform, seamlessly connecting to your existing contacts, while website retargeting uses your website visitor’s interests to serve them relevant content on LinkedIn.

Regardless of which themes and parameters you use, LinkedIn allows you to save your audience as a template for other campaigns, should you simply want to recreate your audience again or tweak it slightly for A/B testing. After you choose your final audience, the LinkedIn campaign manager will suggest specific ad formats, like text, single image, carousel, video, or dynamic. We did mention LinkedIn makes this simple, right?

After selecting an audience and running your campaign, you’re able to use the Campaign Manager for demographics reporting so you can see who is responding to your offers.

A Word of Wisdom

LinkedIn encourages experimenting with your audience to get it just right. Much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you want to create buyer personas that are clear and well-defined but not so restrictive that your reach falls flat. When you’re starting out, they recommend choosing only two additional targeting options beyond location. Bottom line: A good place to start is with an estimated audience count of 50,000 or more.

Ultimately, LinkedIn’s engagement, user trust, professional nature, and unique demographic data make it particularly well suited for B2B marketing, especially among financial institutions. Handcrafting the ideal audience – and being able to contact change-makers at organizations and accounts so directly – gives their targeting capabilities a particularly powerful punch.


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