LinkedIn Ads Basics for B2B Marketers

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As B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital channels for research and decision-making, LinkedIn has emerged as a powerhouse for connecting businesses with their target audience.

The social channel has nearly 1 billion active members, and with 4 out of 5 users driving business decisions, that makes LinkedIn prime real estate for B2B marketers and advertisers.

This article unpacks the nuances of the modern B2B buyer journey, sheds light on the potential within LinkedIn Ads and delivers practical insights for campaign setup and optimisation. Move beyond conventional lead generation and explore a comprehensive approach to advertising.

The B2B Buyer Journey

It’s no secret that the B2B buyer journeys of today are complex and involve multiple touchpoints and multiple stakeholders. To put that in perspective, here are some statistics: 

Understanding the Total Market

We tell our clients to aim higher than traditional “lead generation” with LinkedIn ads. Why? Two key reasons: 

  1. In case you haven’t heard, the MQL (marketing qualified lead) is fast becoming obsolete. Gone are the days of measuring the value marketing brings based on the number of contacts they generate. Just because someone downloaded an eBook doesn’t mean they are ready to talk to sales. MQLs also don’t account for the dark funnel, where the most important buying decisions are often made. There’s a growing shift towards “conversation-ready” lead nurturing, i.e. understanding all the members of the buying committee and knowing when and how to engage them.  
  1. The 95-5 rule suggests that at any given time, 95% of your target audience is not in-market for making a purchase decision, and only 5% of your total target market is in the buying cycle. This is where demand generation comes in. It’s a long-term, education-focused marketing strategy to engage your “out-of-market” buyers. By gaining the attention of potential customers and nurturing them over time, you are in a stronger position to command brand association when they do eventually enter the buying cycle. 

Implementing a Full-funnel Approach

Once you’ve established the scope and dynamics of your total market on LinkedIn, it’s time to strategise how your ads can drive the desired outcomes across each stage of the buyer journey. 

Top-of-funnel (awareness) stage

Arguably, this is one of the most critical stages, as this is often when initial impressions of your brand are formed.  

What prospects are thinking: This is where potential customers are becoming increasingly aware of an unmet need or a problem they face. They are in the process of researching issues they face and haven’t yet grasped the exact solution that can fulfil their needs. 

How you can engage them: This is your opportunity to show up early and engender trust through educational and informative content. Your content should address common pain points that prospects face. 

Available LinkedIn Ads objectives: Awareness 

Recommended LinkedIn Ads formats: 

  • Video Ads: Video drives 5x more engagement on LinkedIn than other types of content. Using video ads, you can captivate your audience through rich storytelling that highlights their challenges and showcases how your brand is uniquely positioned to solve them. 
  • Single Image Ads: As the name suggests, single image ads use a single graphic to convey a compelling message. We love this example from Gong that showcases a powerful stat to pique interest.  
  • Thought Leader Ads: Thought leader ads are a lesser spoken-about format that involves sponsoring posts by your company’s thought leaders. According to LinkedIn, thought leader ads with an awareness objective have a 1.8x higher CTR (click-through rate) than single image ads. 
  • Boosted posts: One of the more straightforward ways of promoting your content is boosting posts from your company page to reach a wider audience. The general best practice is to boost posts that are already performing well so you can increase your share of voice. 

Middle-of-funnel (consideration) stage

At this stage, prospects may or may not have encountered your brand and are deep in the research phase.  

What prospects are thinking: Prospects are now comparing different solutions and evaluating which one aligns best with their needs. They seek in-depth information and are open to engaging with brands that can help them make informed decisions. 

How you can engage them: Here is where you can offer in-depth and insightful content such as whitepapers, case studies or insightful blog articles that showcase your brand’s expertise and offer an informed perspective related to the solution the prospect is seeking. 

Available LinkedIn Ads objectives: Website visits, Engagement, Video views, Messaging 

Recommended LinkedIn Ads formats: 

  • Single Image Ads: Single image ads are one of the top-performing formats on LinkedIn, effectively catering to different objectives. At the consideration stage, single image ads can be a pivotal tool for drawing the audience’s attention to your product or service’s key benefits.
  • Carousel Ads: Carousel ads are great for breaking up a longer message into bite-sized swipeable cards that tell an engaging story. Slack makes good use of the carousel format to communicate its unique selling points.
  • Text Ads: Despite their limitations in terms of real estate space, text ads are highly cost-efficient and can nicely complement your other richer ad formats by retargeting tightly defined pools of prospects based on what stage of the funnel they are in with concise message snippets to keep your brand top of mind. 

Bottom-of-funnel (conversion) stage

At the bottom of the funnel, prospects are getting ready to decide and are actively seeking the best solution that meets their criteria.  

What prospects are thinking: They are now evaluating the finer details – pricing, features and the overall value proposition. They may have additional concerns and need reassurance that the identified solution can address them.  

How you can engage them: This is your opportunity to alleviate any concerns and nudge prospects in favour of your products or services. Blueprints, testimonials, or limited-time offers (if applicable) are all great ways to guide them towards making a purchase or requesting a demo. 

Available LinkedIn Ads objectives: Lead generation, Website conversions 

Recommended LinkedIn Ads formats:

  • Lead Gen single image ads: With native lead gen forms that have the option of auto-filling fields, you can also leverage LinkedIn’s single image ads for bottom-of-funnel activity. This Tealium example demonstrates how single image ads with an embedded CTA can effectively address potential challenges prospects may be thinking through as they near the purchase decision.  
  • Conversation Ads: Conversation ads offer a highly tailored and interactive messaging experience with multiple pathways based on user responses for a dynamic exchange. This format is ideal to drive users to take specific actions such as content download, sign up for demos, event registration, etc. 

To accurately track actions potential buyers take on your website after clicking on your ads, ensure you’ve configured Website Actions on LinkedIn, which you can use for future retargeting and gaining more granular insights on your ad performance.   

Nailing your target market and ad formats is half the battle won; you also need breakthrough copy and creatives so that your ads resonate with the audience, especially considering that 80% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn ads in their marketing strategy. Here’s a quick checklist of must-haves for raising the bar for your LinkedIn ad creatives: 

  • Succinct and thought-provoking introductory text (the caption) that prompts users to click or engage further. 
  • Captivating, on-brand visuals that complement the text and evoke the desired emotion.  
  • A clear and compelling call to action that guides users to the next steps. 

Targeting More Precisely with Intent-based Data 

Many different tools allow you to enrich your audience segmentation and targeting on LinkedIn. Here are some methods that we’ve tried and tested for our clients: 

  • Website behaviour: With LinkedIn’s insight tag, you can match LinkedIn members who visited your website and retarget them or create lookalikes. It also unlocks more granular demographic data on these audiences, including job titles, seniority levels and company names. 
  • CRM integrations: By connecting your CRM (e.g. HubSpot) to LinkedIn, you can directly push lists of your target accounts to LinkedIn and target them with relevant ads. These lists get automatically refreshed as you update any criteria, and you can pull the engagement data back in HubSpot to construct holistic profiles of prospects as they progress through the funnel. 

Test, Measure and Optimise

As with other forms of performance marketing, it’s essential to run tests to compare different approaches, be it for audiences, objectives, formats, creatives or CTAs. Measure performance and establish an effective feedback loop between sales and marketing to understand what’s moving the needle on a business level. By adapting strategies based on data-driven insights, your LinkedIn ads can consistently resonate and drive meaningful engagement with your target audience. 

Setting Up Your LinkedIn Ads Account 

Whether you manage your LinkedIn ads yourself or have an agency help you, we always recommend that you own the ad account. It is your money paying for the ads, and the data they generate belongs to you, so it should belong to your company.

If you are ready to set up your own LinkedIn Ads account, we’ve compiled the key steps and links below for you to set it up: 

  • Login to your personal LinkedIn account. 
  • Click ‘For Business’ on the top bar and then click the ‘Advertise’ button. This will bring you to LinkedIn Campaign Manager. 
  • Now you can create an account, choose your billing currency (you cannot change this later) and associate your ad account with your company LinkedIn page (you will need to be a Page admin to do this). 
  • Your ad account will be on hold until you add a payment method under Account Settings > Billing Centre. 
  • The next step would be to configure LinkedIn Insight Tag. Here’s all you need to know about Insight Tag. Our recommended way to set up Insight Tag is via Google Tag Manager; follow the steps outlined here to use Google Tag Manager as your tag management system for LinkedIn.  

With this, your basic ad account setup is done and you’re ready to unlock new opportunities with LinkedIn advertising. 


A successful LinkedIn ad strategy aligned with the modern B2B buyer journey requires a nuanced approach. By understanding the stages of the journey, creating engaging content, leveraging precise targeting and continuously optimising your campaigns, you can position your brand as a valuable partner throughout the buyer’s decision-making process. Ultimately, it’s still about connecting on a human level to build meaningful relationships. 

Need help advertising on LinkedIn? We’d be happy to answer any other questions you have. Drop us a line

Services you might be interested in:

About the author

Picture of Aneesha Subramaniam , Marketing Operations Specialist

Aneesha Subramaniam , Marketing Operations Specialist

Aneesha is a versatile growth marketer with over eight years of experience in integrated marketing strategy, media planning, performance marketing, demand generation and CRM for a wide range of B2C and B2B brands.

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