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Guide to LinkedIn’s Audience Building

Table of Contents

If you run LinkedIn campaigns, one of the most ROI producing activity is to get your audience list right.

LinkedIn campaigns are profitable if the lifetime value of your customers is over $5K.

With over 850million+ professionals on LinkedIn, there is no other platform suited for B2B marketing.

On LinkedIn you can promte your content in 24 languages and across 200 coutnries and territories.

The Harvard Business Review recently reported, “The number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.”

As the B2B buying process becomes more collaborative, it’s less effective to focus on a few key decision makers.

Many businesses run LinkedIn campaigns that have CTA’s leading to a landing page.

This method of targeting and running campaigns is less effective and prone to budget wastage.

LinkedIn is best for educating your users. It works very well if your run ads that require a user’s details to be able to download a resource.

This is called gated content.

In this guide, we will discuss

  • How to best setup your Linkedin Audiences
  • What targeting method has higher ROI

Targeting by Job Titles

One of the most straightfoward ways to target LinkedIn audiences is to target them by job role.

LinkedIn doesn’t fully understand job titles and its control on how you title yourself is very loose.

It may be safe to say that LinkedIn will get job titles wrong over 35% of the time.

In some instances LinkedIn failed to include users by job titles by as much as 50%.

The most common reason is that you can define your own job title.

jobtitle on LinkedIn

Notice how the “Owner” field is a text edit.

This often leads to people adding incomprehensible titles to their profiles. Examples include “Office Ninja” , “Growth Hacker” or “Blockchain Afficianado”.

The other and more important thing to note is that the most common way for new advertisers to target on LinkedIn is Job titles.

Job titles

One of the most common reasons for this is that LinkedIn provides a few prepackaged lists.

These lists are predominantly build via targeting position or job seniority.

Built in Lists

 Pro Tip
The problem with targeting based on job titles is that since new advertisers likely bid via the same targeting, you pay a slighty higher cost per click.

We recommend targeting via a list of prequalified whitelist of companies.

You can further refine this via job seniority and function.

Setting up LinkedIn audiences

The most straighforward way of targeting audiences is to build a company or contact databased and match them on LinkedIn.

There are a number of ways to whitelist such companies. Tools like BuiltWith or Apollo will provide data on companies using a specific technology.

This is also called Matched Audieces in LinkedIn’s terminology.

 Pro Tip

How to build company/contact list?

List Building

  1. Head to LinkedIn advertising console.
  2. Click on Audiences on the left.
  3. Click Create audience
  4. Click Company/Contact
  5. Add a list name
  6. Select Contact List or Company List
  7. Download the template, update it and then upload.


Once you have uploaded the template, LinkedIn will start matching them with relevant companies and professionals it has in its database.

Contacts List

Note that you need to include atleast one of the following

  • Email address
  • First and last name
  • Mobile device id
  • Google user id

The more data you can provide the better.

Here is how the contacts template looks.

Contacts Template

Company List

For the company list, one of the following field is mandatory

  • Company Name
  • Company website
  • Company email domain
  • LinkedIn page URL
  • Stock symbol

company extract

If you can provide additional details, you have a higher chance of matching.

Additional details include

  • Industry
  • City
  • State
  • Companycountry
  • Zipcode

Just be mindful, that despite giving a lot of details, some of the companies will remain unmatched on Linkedin Lists.

You should audit your list matching to get a higher match rate.

For example, look at the image below

caution list matching

LinkedIn only matched 63 companies but failed to match 97 companies that it was provided.

The best course of action in these cases would be to provide it with more details of the companies you intend to match.

Remarketing List

If you have installed the LinkedIn pixel, you can also create a remarketing list of people that visit your website.

There are number of ways to create the remarketing list. Some of them are

  1. Comnpany page visit on LinkedIn
  2. Event
  3. Lead Gen form
  4. Single image
  5. Video
  6. Website

Note, that you need to own the website to be able to create a remarketing list for it. It requires your tracking pixel installed on the said website for it to function properly.

LinkedIn default lookback window is 90 days by default. However, you can choose upto 365 days to retarget your potential customers.


Lookalike List

You can also create a lookalike of your existing list to broaden your reach within LinkedIn.

There are only two rules when creating a lookalike list.

  • You need atleast 300 members in the original list to create a lookalike
  • You cannot apply audience expansion to lookalikes

Once you have created a lookalike, you can further segment this list in campaign targeting by limiting them by other characteristics like seniority and function.

Lookalike list can grow upto 15 times the original size.

Lookalike audiences will match based on member and company similarities, but it’s not a guarantee that any particular characteristics will be shared. Lookalike audiences do not use sensitive demographic attributes such as sex or age within the model.
 Pro Tip

There are other little caveats when creating lookalike lists. These are

  1. If you update an original list from which a lookalike has been created, your lookalike will update as well
  2. If you have a lookalike based on company or contact list, your lookalike WON’T update when you update the original list.
  3. If you delete your original list, your lookalike list will continue to operate as normal. However, automatic updating of lookalike list will stop.
  4. You cannot create more lookalike audiences from lookalike lists. Meta much ?

Campaign Targeting

It is better to refine your lists based on targeting goals rather than blanket targeting.

A great example is create the following segments on lists when targeting

  • A contact/customer list with job title CEOs/Managers
  • A contact/customer list with job title Directors
  • A contact/customer list with seniority “senior”

This will help create custom ad targeting, ads and messaging on these campaigns.

Ideally, you should have a unique value proposition and relevant content for each department that influences a buying decision.

Research shows that buyers are more likely to form a relationship with advertisers who provide valuable consultation, education, and tools.

This will also help you further refine which personnels drive most of the sales for your business.

Location also plays a critical role in helping segment users.

You can even customize your ads to have location based messaging. These work especially well when you are a service business.

Keep an eye on Audience insights once you have started running the campaigns.

engamenet audiences

A higher engagement level indicates both intent and interest.


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