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LinkedIn PPC for B2B: How it works and how to make it work for you

Posted by Mark Debenham - November 13, 2015

If you’re looking for more B2B leads, LinkedIn is the place to go. It’s also the most popular social networking site among IT buyers researching new products.

In this blog we look at how LinkedIn Sponsored updates work, when to use them, and some tips to get the CIO clicking on your posts.

How do they work

If you’re already posting updates on your company’s LinkedIn page (or are planning to start doing so), then LinkedIn Sponsored Updates are an excellent way to increase the visibility of your posts and reach a new, specific type of prospect.

Each time you post an update, it appears on the newsfeed of LinkedIn users who already follow your company’s page. By sponsoring that update, you’re amplifying its exposure as it will also appear on the newsfeed of users who don’t follow your page.

You can specify what type of user you want your update to be promoted to by using a combination of targeting options.

You can target by a user’s location, job title, company size, industry, skills, and age, to name but a few. Those same filtering options can also be used to exclude certain types of users.

LinkedIn will give you an estimate of the audience size for your Sponsored Update.

How about the cost?

Once you’ve tweaked your combination of targeting options, you’ll be asked to bid on the campaign. You can either pay whenever somebody clicks on the post (cost per click – CPC) or on the basis of how often your update is shown (cost per 1,000 impressions – CPM). You can set a daily budget, as well as a total one, ensuring you don’t overspend on the campaign.

With the CPC model, you pay if somebody clicks on any of the following in the post: company name, logo, post title, or the link.

You don’t pay if they take a social action such as commenting on it, or Liking/Sharing it.

What makes them so great

The audience targeting options mean you can create a highly-tailored campaign, so you know you’re reaching just the right professional at exactly the right company.

For example, if you wanted to attract new customers and chose to target London-based IT Directors at companies with over 200 employees, you can specify exactly that in the settings.

The ability to exclude certain types of LinkedIn users is an excellent way to keep costs down, as it reduces the chances of you paying for clicks/impressions on those who aren’t appropriate targets. Examples include competitors and your existing customers.

The updates show up in a user’s newsfeed (marked as ‘Sponsored’) alongside activity from their contacts and companies they already follow, ensuring they’re easier to spot than an ad that appears on the side of the screen.

When do they work best?

When you know the type of prospect your business needs to reach. The targeting options really let you pinpoint the type of person you want to engage, and, as the data is pulled from a user’s LinkedIn profile, you can ensure they’re from the right type of organisation.

When you need to bypass the gatekeeper. With executives from every Fortune 500 company, average household incomes of £80,000, and over 50% being at senior management level, LinkedIn users are affluent, experienced, ambitious and influential. They are the decision makers in their businesses.


When you need to reach IT buyers. Research from Clarity Quest Marketing says IT buyers are 50% more likely to engage with vendors on LinkedIn than any other social network, and 2 in 3 are happy to connect with sellers on LinkedIn.

Some tips to make LinkedIn Sponsored updates work for you

Keep the audience settings targeted. Set a combination of targeting options (specific job, location, industry etc) and ensure that the post is highly-relevant for this type of audience, as well as the page you’re linking through to. The more targeted it is, the higher your click-through rate is likely to be, and the higher the conversion rate once they are on the page you’re directing them to.

Only include one call-to-action and one link. You want to ensure that the people clicking are likely to convert and take the next step, once they click the post to reach your landing page. The easiest way to do that is to have one clear call-to-action and keep the number of clickable distractions to a minimum. By having just one link, you’re giving prominence to that call-to-action and prioritising clicks that are likely to actually convert.

Keep your copy short and within character limits. Your update will be vying for attention alongside a host of user connection and company activity that your target user already subscribes to, so you don’t have long to make your point. Also, you can’t expect somebody to engage with it if the most engaging parts of copy are truncated, so you need to know the character limits. It varies depending on the device’s screen size. Generally speaking, it’s 300 characters on a desktop, 160 on a tablet, and 35 on a mobile.

Include an image and make it bespoke. Pick the right one and it’ll help your update stand out on a user’s newsfeed. LinkedIn lets you attach a specific image (the max size is 350 x 265 pixels) and it’s worth taking advantage of this feature, otherwise your post will automatically pull in an image from the page you’re linking to and it may not render exactly as you’d want it to. You can also include a video in your update, though it won’t be embedded in the post.

Test to find the best. Ultimately, you won’t know whether a sponsored update is going to be effective until you put it out there and see how well it performs. Create a few different versions (experiment with the text and images) and see which version performs best.

Download Social PPC: How to go from Zero to Hero


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