Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Lead Generation Tool

LinkedIn is widely regarded as a go-to social media platform for recruitment purposes; streamlining the application process for job seekers, the sourcing/screening process for recruiters, and facilitating direct communication between the two. There is also a pervasive misconception that LinkedIn’s value begins and ends at these recruitment-centric applications. In practice, LinkedIn is also a powerful platform for lead generation purposes.

LinkedIn is rated as the most effective social platform for generating B2B leads, far outpacing Facebook, Twitter and all other social media in terms of its efficacy. Since members on the platform are self-volunteering to maintain a record of relevant professional data points, the targeting capabilities for LinkedIn are incredibly powerful when placed in the hands of savvy marketers. This robust targeting information also holds a high degree of accuracy compared to other lead gen channels, since the onus for maintaining an accurate and current profile rests squarely on the members themselves.

LinkedIn Advertising Products At-a-Glance

  • Sponsored Updates: Much like Boosted Posts on Facebook, LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates product allows marketers to serve content directly within the newsfeeds of target members—interspersed amongst other, organic posts from members’ existing connections and followed-companies. The elements of a Sponsored Update include a brief message of up to 600 characters (truncated at 150), an outbound link, and an image displayed below the post. Unlike Facebook, there are no stipulations in terms of the amount of text you can include within the image portion of your Sponsored Update. You will need a company profile as a prerequisite to advertise on the platform, but marketers have the ability to drive traffic off-platform, to their own websites and landing pages, as well.
  • Sponsored InMail campaigns: LinkedIn’s native private messaging tool can be leveraged to send targeted emails, known in LinkedIn lingo as ‘InMails,’ directly to member inboxes. Marketers define their targeting parameters and draft the email content to be delivered to their pre-defined audience, including static and rich media, such as an image or video, within the body of the InMail itself, a custom call to action, and a small display ad unit to the right of that content.We are currently in the second generation of the Sponsored InMail product, an incarnation which now boasts a ‘100% deliverability’ guarantee, meaning that the delivery to your target list is staggered to be sent to members only when they are physically active on the platform. Additionally, LinkedIn mandates that recipients of Sponsored InMails can only be served paid content once, by any company, within a 60 day period—meaning that you essentially “own” that contact for 2 months once targeted.


LinkedIn offers the same robust targeting parameters for each of its ad products, allowing marketers to reach both broad and well-defined audiences depending on their needs. Your query can either include, or exclude, the following dimensions as you build your ideal target audience, and stack criteria to get even more granular in your results:

  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Company Size
  • Location
  • Job Title
  • Job Function
  • Job Seniority:
  • Member Schools
  • Fields of Study
  • Degrees
  • Member Skills
  • Member Groups
  • Gender
  • Age

Navigating the LinkedIn Advertising Services: Self-Serve VS Managed

LinkedIn offers two core types of ad services on the platform: Self-Serve and Managed. The central difference between these two approaches is whether or not you will need to work with a LinkedIn representative to implement a campaign.

At the time of writing, only Sponsored Updates are available through the self-serve platform, meaning marketers have the ability to define their own audience, budget and creative without input from a LinkedIn rep. You are also responsible for the monitoring and optimization of your campaign for increased performance.

The Managed offering, on the other hand, comes with the assistance of a dedicated team at LinkedIn to help you set up, monitor and optimize your campaigns. However, this assistance comes with a caveat in the form of a minimum spend and engagement duration, to the tune of roughly $25,000 over 3 months ($8000 per month) to start. Sponsored InMails are currently only available through the Managed offering, but Sponsored Updates can also be included as a portion of your spend—and are typically encouraged as part of the media mix.

Sources inside LinkedIn indicate that the Sponsored InMail campaigns will become available as a self-serve product in late 2016.

Tips for Success

Sponsored Updates

  • Use the Image as Branding Real Estate: Since LinkedIn does not limit your use of text overlay within your image, take advantage of this flexibility by including relevant information directly within the image itself.
  • Give it Time: The gut reaction is going to be to monitor your LinkedIn campaign like a hawk—especially with average recommended CPCs between $6-$10—but give it the time it needs to ramp up. Allow your ads to run for a minimum of 2-4 weeks, isolating potentially confounding variables before you make adjustments.
  • Leverage Landing Pages: As is the best practice with any segmented campaign, take the time to create a custom landing page for your Sponsored Updates to drive to, that speaks exclusively to the content of the Update. Remove all extraneous website navigation elements, and include a single CTA, so visitors don’t lose focus and keep their eyes on the prize. Finally, and most importantly, install a mechanism for lead capture on your landing page in order to turn anonymous clicks into actionable leads, and make it a roadblock to attaining whatever content is behind your CTA.

Sponsored InMail

  • Use a Peer as Your Signatory: LinkedIn allows you to assign the sender address, also known as a signatory, to either your company, or to an individual. Avoid having your message glossed over as another piece of sale-mail, and define a signatory that will be viewed by the recipient more as a peer, or a resource, as opposed to someone who wants them to spend money. This will add both credibility and personality to your send, increasing your odds for engagement.
  • Edge Out the Competition: Since LinkedIn limits the number of paid InMails a member can receive to one per 60-day period, the first company to get in front of that person essentially owns that channel for the next 2 months. Prioritize contacts who are of high-value to your competitors, and monopolize their inbox real estate.
  • Hit ‘em Twice (Or More): Take it one step further by hitting your highest priority contacts with multiple sends, end-to-end, to not only keep your brand top of mind, but to continue to lock down their inbox for 120, or 180 days.

Have any questions about how to better leverage LinkedIn for lead gen? Feel free to let us know!