5&Vine’s Startup Marketing Guide to LinkedIn Ads in 2021

How your Challenger Brand can win with LinkedIn.

If you read our recent round up of 2021 growth trends, you’ll know that diversifying your advertising helps in fuelling reliable growth. While your startup might already have ads running on Facebook and Google, have you considered LinkedIn?

Throughout this guide we will break down the ins and outs of publishing ads on LinkedIn and how your Challenger Brand can create high-performing LinkedIn ads in 2021. By the end, you’ll have the answers to the following:

  • Should I promote our startup on LinkedIn?

  • Is LinkedIn marketing effective?

  • What do I need to know about LinkedIn marketing?

  • What are the best LinkedIn marketing hacks?

  • How can my startup generate leads on LinkedIn?

Is your startup ready to start using LinkedIn ads?

Given the nature of the platform, LinkedIn ads are best suited for a B2B audience. Did you know that LinkedIn’s audience has twice the buying power of the average web audience? Particularly if you’re offering SaaS or healthcare or fintech solution, LinkedIn is ideal for connecting with a professional audience and increasing top-funnel leads for your startup.

It’s also, on the whole, a pivotal time for the platform when it comes to ads. In Q4 of 2020, LinkedIn’s ad reach grew by 25 million people (up by 3.5% compared to the previous quarter), and ad exposure on LinkedIn can increase purchase intent by over 30%. Since 2019, it’s been reported that LinkedIn is the primary driver for growth in the B2B ad market.

Using LinkedIn for targeted marketing and advertising

One of the main reasons LinkedIn ads are so effective for B2B startups is their options when it comes to targeting. Alongside basic data such as location or language, the platform offers five other targeting options:

Company: Including company name, industry, followers, growth rate or size.
Demographics: Including the age and gender of your target audience.
Education: Including the degrees, fields of study, or schools they’re members of.
Job Experience: From job function and seniority to job title, skills, and years of experience.
Interests: Including the groups they’re a part of and the traits they have.

With LinkedIn ads, you’re sure to get your creative in front of the right professional audience.

We put this into practice with our healthcare client Dialogue, by helping them get in front of HR decision-makers on LinkedIn.

5&Vine client Dialogue targets downloadable guides specifically to HR professionals on LinkedIn.

Choosing the right LinkedIn ad types

The type of ad you choose will play a huge role in the success of your campaign. Having an experienced agency like 5&Vine to help guide you to the right ad formats and testing plans will enable you to achieve results on-time and on-budget. if your audience hardly checks their inbox but regularly scrolls through feed, invest in sponsored messages over InMail.

As a platform, LinkedIn offers several ad formats and placement options:

Sponsored Content

These are posts that look like regular posts on a feed, but with a dedicated CTA button and a label to indicate it’s promoted. Similar to content on Facebook, these can be formatted as single images, carousels or video. Typically, videos will have a much higher click through rate than native and banner ads. It’s more expensive to produce a video but the return makes it worthwhile.

5&Vine client Bright uses video Sponsored Content to promote their Bright Pass for WFH team wellness.

With Sponsored Content, you have the option to enable lead gen forms to collect qualified leads right in the platform. This feature allows you to pre-fill your ads with your prospect’s information from their LinkedIn profile so you can acquire a lead from the ad itself. All they need to do is click on the “submit” button and they’re set.

We helped 5&Vine Challenger client Bright promote wellness in the workplace via an e-book. We ran Sponsored Content ads with a lead generation form to download the e-book. It was a helpful way to ensure we were collecting the exact information we wanted about new leads.

5&Vine client Bright leveraged lead gen forms to promote their e-book to a professional startup audience and collect top-funnel leads.

Since there’s minimal effort required from your target audience, lead gen forms can move prospects down the funnel and convert them into qualified leads quickly. Lead gen forms can live in Sponsored Messaging too, which we’ll dive into next.

5&Vine client Bright uses video Sponsored Content to promote their Bright Pass for WFH team wellness.

Sponsored Messaging

Also known as sponsored InMail, message ads work as the name suggests. It’s a native ad delivered directly to your target audience’s LinkedIn Messaging. Because of their setting and context, Sponsored Messaging is more direct and personalized, making it extremely effective for targeting a specific, niche audience.

Sponsored Messaging comes in two ad formats: Message Ads and Conversation Ads. Message ads drive stronger engagement and response rates than traditional email marketing. They deliver a targeted message featuring a CTA button.

LinkedIn Message Ad Example.

Conversation Ads allow you to deliver multiple offers and types of content in a single message. You can drive prospects to multiple landing pages or Lead Gen Forms, depending on what is most applicable.

LinkedIn Conversation Ad Example.

With all Sponsored Messaging, it’s important to ensure your offering is clear. You should leave no time for your recipient to guess what you’re trying to do. We like to keep it short and get to the point as quickly as possible.

Text ads & Dynamic ads

Pay-Per-Click Text Ads are those that appear on the right-hand side of a desktop screen. You’ll notice they include a small image along with a short headline and blurb. They may be less prominent than sponsored content but can still be effective depending on your campaign goal.

Pay-per-click Text Ad example on LinkedIn.

Dynamic Ads are similar to text ads in the way they work, except they’re more personalized. Instead of having the text appear the same for all users, dynamic ads will address the user by name and include their profile photo, as you can see in the example below. Company Spotlight Ads, Follower Ads, Content Ads and Job Ads are some of the more frequently seen Dynamic Ads on LinkedIn.

With both Text Ads and Dynamic Ads, there’s not much room for creativity. They also, unlike Sponsored Content, look like ads. For that reason, it’s less important to try and naturally blend in with the feed and more to stand out with the words that will catch your target’s attention. We advise creating a number of variations for each headline and ad copy so you can pick the best combination based on performance.

LinkedIn growth hacks

As with any social media platform, LinkedIn offers a suite of options when it comes to advertising. These are some growth hacks you can employ to help reach your goals. In our experience, we suggest the following:

  • Analyze competitor ads before developing your own
    Similar to the Facebook Ad Library, you can easily search competitor ads. Navigate to any competitor’s page, click “Posts” and filter by “Ads” to uncover their LinkedIn strategy.

  • Provide value from the start and capture important info with lead gen forms
    Make it easier for your prospects to turn into leads by using LinkedIn’s lead gen forms alongside your Sponsored Content and Sponsored Messages. The best way to leverage this tool is to offer something of value to your target that can be accessed by completing the form – be it a guide, e-book, or webinar.

  • Demonstrate executive thought leadership
    On LinkedIn, it can be easy to pay attention to paid ads for your business only, but another huge opportunity awaits in organic thought leadership. Have the founder or executive team of your startup actively sharing content from your business so, alongside your ad presence, you have valuable insights that deliver on your brand’s promise.

The 5&Vine team leverages founder Rahul Raj’s LinkedIn presence as part of our organic content strategy.

  • Leverage your team to help amplify your goals
    Even small teams can make the biggest difference in getting eyes on the content you’re promoting and campaigns you’re running. Ask your team to like and reshare the executive thought leadership content so that it’s appearing on more feeds.

It’s time to start generating leads on LinkedIn

Armed with the right approach, LinkedIn advertising offers a plethora of opportunities to connect with the right audience and grow your business.

With so many options available to you, take the time to familiarize yourself with the steps above and, when you’re ready to push your strategy to the next level, consider reaching out to an experienced agency. Not only will they help you with your marketing strategies and growth goals within your budget, but they’ll identify the gaps and opportunities you might have missed.


Ready to challenge the
status quo and win?

👋 I'm Rahul, founder and CMO at 5&Vine. Reach out to schedule an intro call about your marketing challenges and let's assess how 5&Vine can help your brand win.

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