Show Resources:

LinkedIn Learning course about LinkedIn Ads by AJ Wilcox: LinkedIn Advertising Course

Engagement Retargeting Announcement

What should you offer from your LinkedIn Ads? – The LinkedIn Ads Show Episode 10

A Guide to LinkedIn Ads Targeting Options – The LinkedIn Ads Show Episode 11

Contact us at with ideas for what you’d like AJ to cover.

Show Transcript:

You’ve been testing LinkedIn Ads and results look great. And now you want to scale up. Here’s your playbook for scaling efficiently.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. I once had a boss who said that you can scale up, or you can optimize costs down, but you can’t do both. Thank goodness, he was dead wrong. We’re going to show you how you can scale and keep slash improve your efficiency. Okay, into the news section. I just realized that I haven’t covered the release of engagement retargeting in the news. I blabbed about it on LinkedIn, but I never even mentioned it on the podcast. If you listen to Episode Three, where I was talking about roadmap, I let you know this was coming out. And I also let you know that this is the feature that I was most excited about. But then I didn’t even mention it in the news. Okay, so here’s the story. When it was announced on June 3 of 2020, about a quarter of users had it rolled out and then it rolled out about a quarter every week. So by the time you’re listening to this podcast, everyone here should have it. And what this is, it’s the ability to retarget lead generation form openers, and lead generation form submitters. We’ll talk here in a minute why this is monumental. It can also retarget video viewers, anyone who watched at least two seconds, anyone who watched 25% of it 50%, 75% and completion. And it’s important to understand this is both from an include and an exclude, meaning you could create a funnel that’s like, if you watched 75% of my video, exclude those people from my original audience. And now I want a retargeting audience that all it does is show ads to the people who watched at least 75% and maybe I’m showing them the next one in the sequence.

So of course, including is cool, but excluding to me is always cooler. The other cool part about this is it there’s a 100% match rate. If you’re on LinkedIn, LinkedIn knows who you are, and they’re tracking what content, what forms you’re interacting with. And so it’s not like website retargeting where traffic hits your landing page and you lose half of your audience because they don’t accept cookies. This is 100% of the people who open your form, submit it, or watch any portion of your video end up becoming as part of your retargeting audience. Super, super cool. I am ecstatic about this. We really haven’t done much with LinkedIn video ads, because when we’ve compared effective cost per click, and effective cost per conversion, video always tends to be, not always, in most cases, LinkedIn ads video tends to be more expensive than static. And so we’ve just said, well, without retargeting, why would we care? Why don’t we just launch static ads instead? Now that we have retargeting. I’m gonna start recommending LinkedIn video ads quite a bit more often. It’s this level of control. It was one of the table stakes that I needed before I could start actually recommending it. And you’ll see in the show notes, a link to the announcement that I actually helped with on

At the same time, they also announced the LinkedIn audience network partners. Now in the future, we’re going to have a whole episode about LinkedIn audience network. And I get a lot of questions about this. But what was so cool to me about the announcement here is for the first time, LinkedIn actually shared some of the sites that are off of LinkedIn that your ads can show up on. Now they have, as far as I know, over 1000 of these sites that are super handpicked, they are nuts about quality over there. They never want your ads showing up on a Breitbart and ending up hurting your brand. But they’ve never actually mentioned any partners. And quite frankly, I don’t really frequent the sites that the ads are showing up on so I didn’t really have much of an idea. Like I mentioned in the last episode, I’ve been privy to some of these sites, just from private conversations with LinkedIn product managers. But under NDA, I wasn’t allowed to share them. Okay, so now they gave us three examples that I can share. They mentioned the Flipboard app, which a lot of people consume news on tablets. They also mentioned, and Microsoft news. And these make a lot of sense there, Microsoft properties, tight control owned by Microsoft, yada, yada. And then of course, they have a bunch of other hand picked ones that they haven’t announced yet. But the second, they’re public, I’m going to add them into the news section. So keep staying subscribed. And if I can get real with you guys for a minute, just some real talk here. I’m spending about four hours of prep and researching on each episode. And that’s what the whole team supporting me with editing and publishing. Thank you, Matt and Lindsey, I know you guys are listening. I’m also running the whole agency and writing a book and I have four kids and a lovely wife who all like it when I’m around. So I’m having a tough time keeping up with the pace and I would love to hear your feedback on these two things. And I don’t want you thinking, “oh, AJ doesn’t want to hear for me”. Absolutely. I’m talking to you, I want your feedback on these things, because I really can’t, I can’t make these decisions without your input. Okay, So question number one, do we dwell too much on details? For instance, would you be happy with it if I were just to say, and if your click through rate is over 1% on sponsored content, that means that it’s a good time to switch to auto bidding, you’ll end up saving money. Instead of what I might normally say, which is, here’s the background on the differences between CPC bidding and auto bidding. And here’s why each bid level affects your campaigns the way it does, etc, etc. Number two that I’d like your feedback on is length. Right now I basically plan out a pretty in depth topic and I talk for as long as it takes to cover the subject. Sometimes it’s as low as 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s over an hour. And I’ve heard feedback from some of you that people like 20 ish minute podcasts, and this is a little bit foreign to me. Because I personally really love long podcasts, but would you like them to be shorter? Would you like them to be more specific in topic? So Email us at You’ll see that down in in the show notes and let me know seriously i’d absolutely love to hear from you on this because if you want less depth less details, if you want shorter than honestly these would take me a lot less time to create but you know, in depth is kind of my style if you haven’t gathered already, so please let me know.

Okay, highlighting reviews. Michelle Araiza writes “the ultimate LinkedIn Ads podcast for the modern marketer”. “AJ is the LinkedIn Ads pioneer and breaks down the topics very well for beginners. He’s tested every LinkedIn Ads feature and honestly shares his experience and best practices. This podcast is a marketers must for staying relevant in digital marketing.” Now, Michelle, I happen to know she runs demandgen at an awesome San Francisco cloud tech company. She’s a stellar marketer in her own right, so Michelle, thank you so much for the kind review. It’s that much more meaningful coming from you. And I do try really hard to honestly share. Sometimes what I share is hot takes sometimes I know LinkedIn doesn’t actually appreciate my advice that I’m giving people. But I feel really strongly that you guys deserve to honestly know the things that the platform can’t tell you. Yeah, we’ve spent $135 million so far on LinkedIn ads, and we figured out a lot of potholes because we’ve stepped in them. We found a lot of cool hacks, things that worked unexpectedly, and that’s what I’m seeking to share with you. And so I hope that’s really appreciated.

Then alo marketing writes “love AJ!” “AJ podcasts are full of great information that you can put into action. I have enjoyed all his podcasts and look forward to listening to more.” Alo marketing, I checked them out their local agency in New Jersey and Alice I stalked you on LinkedIn and just wanted to personally say thank you for that awesome review. Then Michael A Manzur writes, “wow powerful show with actionable practical tips”. Now I know Michael, he’s a he’s an incredible LinkedIn ads marketer in South Florida. And he knows the South Florida market. He knows the Spanish speaking and English speaking markets really well there. You’re going to be hearing a lot more from Michael, I’m sure soon. And I want to feature you, so please leave your reviews on whatever podcast player or service that you’re using. I would love to hear your feedback. And a little bit more real talk here. I feel like a total douche reading reviews that praise me as like being amazing. So do share whatever you want. I want honest reviews, and I will read them word for word. But if you can make me sound a little bit more humble, I’d turn less red while I’m reading them.

Okay, with that being said, let’s hit it. We’re gonna use an example here of scale, saying that if you have a target audience of 10,000 people, which I’m using this for a nice round number. If you’ve listened to other episodes, you may know that I really like audiences between about 20,000 and 80,000 people in them, but nice round number here of 10k. So you have an audience of 10,000, let’s say 1,000 of them are active on LinkedIn each day. So that’s a big assumption, but let’s say about 10% of them are going to be on LinkedIn at least once a day. And if you’re having success, and you want to scale, there are three levers that you can pull. Assuming you can’t impact how active your audience is on LinkedIn, that would be the fourth lever, if you could turn that up. But the other three levers that you can control, we’re going to go through each one in order of priority. Your first lever here for scaling up is to increase your audience size. Now, there are two different ways you could do that. You could either number one, target the same persona in just new ways. So you’ve got the same target audience, you’re just finding different ways of targeting that same person, and this is the preferable way. The other way is to actually expand your audience to target more personas. So the lowest hanging fruit here is to target the same persona, but just target them in different ways. If you listen to Episode 11, on the in depth types of targeting, you’ll get more detail here. But basically, the way that LinkedIn can put people into buckets for you, as an advertiser to advertise to, is totally based off of how complete their profile is, and how much they share. And so as you use different types of targeting, you get access to potentially different people who still really fit your ideal criteria. For instance, if you’re targeting just by job title, LinkedIn only understands about 30% of job titles. And that means that you’re only reaching about 30% of your audience, which seems like a big opportunity if you’re going man I wish we had about I don’t know the other 70% of our traffic,

then you might want to expand into something like job function with seniority. And job function is your department, which is really broad, but it is significantly cheaper on a cost per click basis and can get you a ton more impressions more volume of clicks. So if you can fit your audience nicely into a whole department with their seniority, then that’s a great one to use. We also really love using groups a lot of times with seniority. Skills with seniority. We like taking existing audiences and creating look alike audiences from them. And that can help us reach new audiences and test them in their own right. There’s also account based marketing, if you bring your specific list of companies. Now I realize you’re probably already targeting the same companies through your native targeting. So this may not actually act as an expansion to your campaigns. But who knows, maybe this is a new set of companies that you’re not reaching elsewhere, and this could be a good way to expand. Also, when you’re doing account based marketing, you don’t necessarily just need to go after the people who feel your pain. So if you’re selling a software, and an individual contributor is the one who uses it. They’re the ones who understand the value of saving the time or the hassle or whatever you provide. If you’re targeting just by specific companies, you can be a little bit more liberal, you can target the individual contributor, you can target their manager, maybe even all the way up to the C suite. You can target finance, who’s probably going to be signing the contract. You could if it’s a small company, you could target the company owner, who’s probably going to be involved in that decision, too. So if you’re doing account based marketing, you can be a little bit more broad about your roles in an effort to just give that buying committee a big digital hug. If you have email lists from somewhere else, especially if those emails are possibly not found within your existing target audiences. You can scale by uploading lists. This is a great way. And last episode, I think you can hear the like the cringe in my voice. But this is a possibility, there is that checkbox called audience expansion and in my mind, I’m going nooooo, don’t mention it. I usually say uncheck that. But really if managing your LinkedIn ads campaigns is a huge pain for you, because you’re managing so many other channels and you just don’t have time to get strategic, then hitting that one checkbox can give you access to new audience, even though it won’t be efficient, it won’t be transparent, but it is a possibility.

Okay, so for an example here, our audience size of 10,000, maybe we were targeting them by job title. And if we add on a skills plus seniority version, now this new audience has 30,000 people in it. And of course, there will be some overlap between your 10,000 campaign and your 30,000 campaign. And that’s totally okay. You don’t get punished in any way for overlap. But even if there’s 100% overlap, you still tripled your audience reach and this will help you expand. You may be thinking these are the same people, but we’re just targeting them differently. But my argument here is yes, you are targeting theoretically the quote unquote same people it but now we’re doing it in different ways. And by doing This we are making up for where LinkedIn doesn’t have the profile data, maybe they haven’t filled out their profile all the way. And we can still reach the right people. And by using this strategy, we’ve been able to double or even triple our audience sizes, which is fantastic. And this tells us that despite just using different targeting methods, we’re actually reaching new audience members as well. Because if we’ve maxed out one type of targeting, and we add new on and we can double or triple our level of spend, we know we’re reaching new people that we weren’t reaching before. The other way I mentioned of expanding your audiences is to target more personas, you’re expanding the roles that you’re going after. So for instance, if you’re only going after individual contributors, if the seniority called senior that LinkedIn lists, maybe it makes sense to move upstream a little bit, so maybe you want to start targeting manager seniority or director seniority, maybe those who are decision makers, maybe they can engage in your product as well. Same type of thing with company sizes. If you’re focused specifically on let’s say company sizes 500 to 1,000. What if you move down market a little bit? What if you did the 200 to 500, or maybe even larger, you’re going for 1000 to 5000. You can expand that way, and really increase your audience size. If you’re already targeting specific industries, you can target more industries, or even just remove the industry filter altogether and hit the relevant roles in all industries. Maybe you can even target other roles entirely within the companies. So if you’re targeting just engineers, for instance, just developers, maybe you can target like IT managers or someone else, obviously, as long as they’re relevant. Okay, so the example here is maybe your 10,000 person audience is mostly individual contributors. And then when you added in manager seniority, it jumps up to 20,000. And so now you’re reaching 30,000 people which tripled your audience size. So as long as this makes sense As I never recommend spending LinkedIn money on audiences who aren’t going to be a great fit for you, but if it does make sense to go after other roles, a wider variety of companies, then this can work great. It’s important to understand that expanding your audience should scale linearly. And that means that as you increase your audience size, your costs per should not increase, or at least not significantly. We had a client that we followed exactly the same process, and we were able to nine x their budget. And as we multiplied their traffic and leads by nine, our cost per lead actually dropped a little bit. So this is what you should expect. You’re reaching new audiences who should hopefully be just as excited about your product as your original audiences were.

Okay, your second lever, let’s say you’ve totally maxed out your audience. It doesn’t make sense to target any more of them or target them in any other ways. Now, your net lever is going to be getting a higher percentage of your existing audience to take action. And really, this means increasing your click through rates. So if you have an audience of 10,000 people, and let’s say 1,000 of them are active on each day, you can have a sponsored content ad that’s performing above average. So let’s call it .5%, half of a percent. And that means that you’re only getting five clicks per day from that campaign. So what if we could launch an ad that gets double the click through rate, we’re getting a 1% click through rate. Now, all of a sudden, it’s the same audience, we’re doubling the traffic that it’s sending. And this will also scale linearly. In fact, it scales better than linearly, because as your click through rates go up, your cost per click will likely come down, at least somewhat. I mean, usually we see if a click through rate with doubles, we can usually get you know 30 cents to a $1.50 off of each click. And so if you have control over the ad copy, maybe you’re changing motivations in the ad copy, maybe you’re changing imagery to get people to, we call them a thumb stoppers, get people to stop scrolling, and pay more attention to your awesome ad copy. Maybe your offer isn’t very attractive and no matter how many ads you write, you can’t get people to click on that at a higher rate. Maybe it’s time for a new offer. We’ve found in a multitude of ad copy tests that with any given offer, we can sway performance by 5% to 15% by changing imagery, changing ad copy, just trying to capture them a little bit better. And this is usually something that ad managers have at their disposal. Usually you can write ad copy. I mean, sometimes I know it has to go through legal and approval and all that. But a lot of times this is something that marketers can do very rapidly to test and find out ways that you can get your click through rate higher. Generally, I don’t care about click through rates all too much. Because as long as I’m spending my budget, and I’m only paying when someone clicks, then why would I care about how many people actually saw it before they clicked? Well, this is one of those circumstances, if you’re looking to scale, you’re going to try to max out these audiences. And now you’ll have to pay a little bit more attention to, to click through rates and impression counts, which is something that PPC, advertisers don’t really get into all too much. We’re usually a lot more focused on click through rate cost per click and cost per conversion. To sum this one up, this is a great way to expand, but sometimes you can’t control, Maybe you’ve done all of the ad copy testing, you can around your existing offer, and maybe you’ve improved performance by 5% to 15%. But you can’t go more than that, then it’s probably a good chance that you’ll need to create a new offer, which I realize is a big deal. It’s a big undertaking to create a whole new offer, if you don’t already have a content team working on something like that. Okay, after a quick sponsor break, we’ll dive into the third way you can scale your campaigns.

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Great, let’s jump into the third lever that you have to pull to scale your LinkedIn Ads account spending strategically and efficiently. This third lever is to show more impressions, which basically means you’re going to bid more. Okay, so for an example, you have this audience of 10,000. 1,000 of them are active on LinkedIn every day. If your bids are too low, they’re too restrictive. They may be making your ads only eligible to be shown to let’s say, 200 of the thousand people who are acting So if you go and raise your bids by 50 cents, or $1 per click, that makes it a little bit more worth LinkedIn’s while to to show your ads. So now they may show you to 500 of the 1000. Keep in mind that there is a point of diminishing returns, and you will find it as you continue to increase your bids. So I’m going to walk you through a very real example here. Let’s say we want more volume, and our bids are at a $7 CPC. Now we know that we’re going to pay really close to our bid. So let’s say we’re paying about $6.90, we go and raise our bids to an $8 CPC. So we’ve raised it $1. And now our ads are being shown to 500 out of 1,000 people, and now we’re paying probably $7.90. So again really close to our bid. But now we’re still not getting as much traffic as we want. So we increase our bids to $10 per click. And now our ads are being shown to 950 out of 1,000 people Now our cost per click are really close to $10. Let’s say it’s $9.80. So the result here is now we’re paying $3 more per click than when we started, and it gave us nearly double the traffic. But if we have a conversion rate of 10%, that means that your cost per lead just went up by $30. And maybe this is worthwhile for you so we can keep going. Now, you don’t know that you’ve pretty much maxed out your audience, because in this example, I’m telling you that you know, we reach 950 of the thousand people. But LinkedIn doesn’t tell you how active your audience is, they don’t tell you the number of total impressions possible from your audience. So let’s say you’re saying, wow, I just really need more traffic. So you go and increase your bids to $14 per click, so you increased by $4. And now you’re probably paying somewhere close to about $13.70. Well, now you’re bidding so aggressively that LinkedIn gave you all thousand people, so you get access to all thousand to show them an impression. But now you’re literally paying twice as much per click, you’re now paying almost $14 per click where you started out paying only $7 per click before. So now your cost per lead doubled, and you only got 50 more impressions than when you were bidding $10 or $4 less per click. So certainly that’s not worth it. And it’s helpful to find that line of diminishing returns. And I don’t have a great formula for you here. You know, we usually gut check it will we’ll be watching our effective cost per click. Over time as we were making these changes, and we’re also watching our impression volume. And if we see our cost per click spiking up, but impression volume not changing, then we know we’ve really maxed out that audience. And this works no matter how you’re bidding if you’re bidding by cost per click, cost per impression, or even auto bidding. You can chart your effective cost per click over time, and you can chart your impressions there with the performance chart button. We never want to cross this diminishing returns line. That is unless you have a massive budget, and it’s worth it for you to pay a lot more to get a proportionally smaller audience. If you pull this third lever of increasing your bids, it’s really super easy to scale. As long as you’re not near that line of diminishing returns. It’s super easy to just go and increase bids and watch your traffic jump up, but certainly realize that this negatively affects your efficiency. So if you’re trying specifically to stay below a certain cost per lead, or cost per conversion, or some kind of other action, realize that the more you scale this up linearly, it’s going to change your cost per click. Because of this, I think this lever is one that I will only pull when I have exhausted the first two levers. I’ve expanded my audience every way I can. And I’ve also done a lot of testing on my ad copy to try to improve that way before I ever bid up. Or hey, maybe this is the first lever you pull when you’re VC funded. Hey, oh! Just kidding. What I want you to get out of all of this is that scaling up doesn’t have to cost more, you don’t have to lose efficiency. You’ll want to start out by maxing out your audience targeting and personas first. Then as soon as you’ve scaled them up as far as they’ll go without increasing bids, then you can work on getting your click through rates up. And as you know from Episode 10, coming out with a new offer can work wonders here for improving your click through rates. Remember, if you have a bad offer, there’s only so much lipstick you can put on that pig. There’s only so many ad copy variations you can try without realizing that it’s really hard to get people to click on something that’s not interesting. And then only then do you want to increase your bids and make sure to increase your budgets at the same time because you never want to hit your budgets during the day. Remember my rhyme if you hit your budgets during the day, you paid too much for clicks along the way. It rhymes so it must be true. So follow these steps and you’ll reliably and profitable Be able to scale your LinkedIn ad successes as high as the network will support. Okay, so here are the episode resources for you.

Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.

We talked in the news section about the engagement retargeting announcement, you’ll see a link to the Search Engine Journal article that details why that’s so cool. You’ll also see links to Episode 10 on offers that we’ve mentioned and Episode 11 about targeting. If you are new to LinkedIn ads or just need to get up leveled, check out the course that I did with LinkedIn You’ll see a link for that right in the show notes. It’s either cheap or free, and it covers about the first hour and a half of what I cover when I train teams one on one and I charge $500 an hour. This course is either $25 or free. I can tell you which one I’d suggest Pull out your phone right now look at the podcast and make sure you’ve hit that subscribe button. If you like this content, of course, I don’t want you forcing yourself to listen if this is boring, but I’d love to be in your ear holes for future episodes. And then please do rate and review this podcast. It’s going to help other LinkedIn Ads marketers find it. And of course, I’ll get a chance to shout you out, too. If you have any feedback for the podcast, any questions, any topics that you’d want us to cover? Email us at And of course, please do answer my two questions that I threw out there in the news section. I would love to hear from you on this to decide how we work with the show up here in the future. Okay, with that being said, I’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives!