The 4 Secrets of LinkedIn Audience Targeting You Need to Know

Are you missing out on LinkedIn’s B2B advertising opportunities? Discover the 4 secrets of highly-targeted, intuitive LinkedIn campaigns that work towards your overarching advertising goals

20 Madeline Ralph

LinkedIn has evolved its advertising capabilities greatly over the last 12 months and it is now an effective B2B advertising option. With an insight into LinkedIn’s targeting secrets and some insider understanding of how the campaign auctions work, you can deliver a successful campaign for your business’ advertising goals

1) Find out who actually visits your website (it’s free!)

By simply placing the LinkedIn Insights Tag on your site, you can access a professional demographics report of your website within LinkedIn Campaign Manager. And that’s before you even need to think about parting with precious media budget. You can view the job titles, seniority level, company size, location and more, of your historic site visitors to gain a real view of the types of professionals visiting your website. It’s an invaluable starting point for setting up LinkedIn audiences and can guide your content and messaging for future campaigns.

When your campaigns are firmly underway, you can re-visit the demographics report and find out whether a particular campaign was successful in driving traffic from your desired audience. You may find out that your content resonated with an unexpected audience, which could open your eyes to a new audience you hadn’t previously thought of.

2) Targeting? Go broad

When it comes to LinkedIn, the same Paid Social targeting tactic prevails: start broad. Don’t get lured in by the infinite targeting variables and end up with a restricted audience that misses a potentially valuable pool of people. Think of it as ‘sophisticated mass marketing’: you are appreciating that a conversion decision (purchase, sign-up etc.) could be influenced by someone other than just the final decision maker at a company. In addition, you are taking into consideration that not everyone’s LinkedIn profile will be standardised for job title and skills targeting – there is a certain level of inaccuracy that broad targeting protects you from.

LinkedIn won’t even let you start targeting with a matched audience list of less than 1,000 users but the recommended is much higher at around 100,000 – 300,000 users. This size allows LinkedIn’s data-hungry algorithm to function and start to figure out exactly who should be seeing your content. Once your campaigns have gathered significant data, you could even separate out a high performing audience and allocate a separate budget.

3) Understand how the targeting gets technical

Before you draw up an ideal audience list based on LinkedIn’s audience targeting options, it’s worth understanding how LinkedIn matches up your request for “female marketing managers” or “18 to 24-year-old entrepreneurs” to an actual individual’s profile.

Firstly, age and gender are inferred. LinkedIn doesn’t ask for this data when you setup your profile (it is a professional network after all), therefore it guesses based your name, graduation date or years of work experience. As you can imagine this approach can’t be 100% accurate therefore I’d suggest avoiding age and gender targeting unless it is business critical.

Secondly, when targeting someone by ‘skills’, LinkedIn takes into consideration not only the skills you have submitted on your profile but also anything relevant mentioned in your history of job titles and descriptions. As a result, this targeting is already much broader than you think. And as for any adventurous job titles (looking at you “PPC Ninja”), these are simply standardised and grouped in with other similar job titles.

LinkedIn logo under magnifying glass

4) Don’t get left with the audience no one else wants

When starting out with a LinkedIn advertising campaign, it might be appealing to place low, cautious bids. However, it’s more than likely that someone else is advertising to the same audience as you on LinkedIn and when there’s a limited number of ad spaces available, only the highest bidder will reach their first-choice audience. Therefore, you could be left with the audience no one else wants.

Setting reasonably high bids is also important to allow for steady delivery of your adverts and build a consistent range of data that you (and LinkedIn) can use to optimise. Steady delivery and being ‘always on’ is particularly important for your first 10,000 impressions, during which a ‘content relevance score’ is determined and will affect what you pay to win auctions in the future.


In summary, LinkedIn can be an effective platform for targeting professional audiences, with its diverse targeting options and insightful reporting tools. You can combine accurate audience targeting with an efficient bidding strategy and holistic reporting to maximise your B2B advertising success.