13 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid When Using LinkedIn Ads

linkedin marketing Dec 29, 2020

Being an ex-LinkedIn employee from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and managing over hundred of campaigns, I saw clients, advertisers and even agencies constantly making the same common mistakes all the time when they were launching LinkedIn ads. 

For big companies and corporates, they had a big budget so they could afford to make those sort of mistakes as it might only cost them only a small portion of their marketing money. But for SMEs, startups or even entrepreneurs, those mistakes could have wasted all their marketing budget and ended up thinking LinkedIn ads were not for them as they could not see any results while they had no idea what they did wrong.

Given the fact that LinkedIn ads are not as common and there aren’t really any good quality LinkedIn tutorials or blogs out in the market, small advertisers don’t have a way to truly learn and avoid these common mistakes that they should avoid. Therefore, instead of wasting their hard earned money continuously, it’s easier and more cost efficient to walk away and say no to LinkedIn ads. 

And this is what I am trying to fix. I am now going to show you 13 common mistakes that you can easily avoid when using LinkedIn ads. These mistakes were commonly made by beginners to experienced digital marketers and by fixing them, you can potentially see a completely different result that you can achieve from the platform. If any of the mistakes below sound familiar or rings the bells from your previous campaigns, feel free to comment below and let us know.


Mistake #1: No naming structure for your campaigns

Having a naming structure for your campaigns is extremely important. When you have multiple campaigns going on, the naming of them right away tells you which business lines, products, targeting, country or even ad formats each campaign is using and bringing you better results. 

A lot of the time I see advertisers, especially beginners just rely on the campaign names LinkedIn automatically generates for you when you select an objective of the campaign. And that only consists of the objective you selected and the date you created these campaigns on. Imagine if you create 10 campaigns with different targetings and they all got the same name. It would become a total nightmare when you try to analyse their performances. 
To avoid this common pitfall and save your time, I suggest using this pattern that I personally use when it comes to naming your campaign which is “Objective_Country/Region_Targeting_Ad Format”. By doing so, it clearly showcases everything you need to know from the campaign and it tells a clear picture in terms of what country, targeting or even ad format is performing when you analyse the result. For more naming ideas, here is another article talking about Expert Tips to Identify a Naming Structure for Your LinkedIn Sponsored Content Campaigns to think of a pattern that is best suitable for your case.


Mistake #2: Choosing recent or permanent location

I would say at least 90% of the self-serve advertisers would definitely make this mistake if they aren’t getting guided by a LinkedIn representative. This mistake can potentially push your ads to audiences that are not exactly from the countries or regions that you want to target hence, wasting your precious money. 

This mistake is so commonly made because it is quite noticeable unless you are told. You probably didn’t even know it exists.  When inputting the countries or regions you want to target, there is this little box just above your country names that says “Recent or permanent location” that you can miss easily. What it means is that it will target anyone with IP addresses that come from your selected countries or regions. If you are targeting the UK and someone from the US is there for work while your campaign is active, the US member can potentially see and click your ads too. 

Therefore that’s why during your campaign, you can see members from other countries that are seeing and clicking your ads while you didn’t even include them in your targeting. The clicks from these countries might not be a lot but eventually these are clicks that are being charged and money being wasted. To avoid this, I suggest you to select the “Permanent location” setting as it will only target members with their LinkedIn profile stating that they actually work at the locations and countries that you selected. 


Mistake #3: Didn’t separate different regions into different campaigns

Similar to other social media platforms, LinkedIn got different CPC ranges for different regions or countries. US is usually the most expensive country with CPC usually ranging from USD 10-15 while India’s CPC can be as low as USD 2-3. 

However, this might not be obvious to all advertisers and sometimes what they tend to do is to just group all countries together in one single campaign. By group countries or regions with completely different CPC and time zones together, there can be a few consequences: 

  1. You can potentially be using a higher bid price than you need and get higher CPC from APAC countries such as India. Because in one single campaign, you can’t have separated bids for different countries and if you use a normal India bid price, it will be too low for US and you might not get any impressions or clicks from the country 
  2. Countries with bigger population and more active on the platform like India can potentially dominate 80-90% of your clicks and leave other countries with very limited exposure
  3. LinkedIn ads run on UTC time meaning the system starts a new day of ads at UTC 0:00 which is 8pm in US time, 1am in UK time and 10am AU time. If your daily budget is limited, countries like AU just started their day and can potentially use up all budgets before your campaign can wait for the members in the UK to get up and see your ads. 

Therefore, to avoid all these from happening, we would try to split the countries up into groups that got a similar time zone as well as CPC ranges instead of putting everything just into one bucket. 


Mistake #4: Didn’t put India into a separated campaign

If you have any experience in advertising to India on any other platforms, you would know that they are extremely active in all kinds of social media and would literally click on anything they got their eyes on. It is always great to see high CTR and Engagement from them but when it comes to the quality of the clicks, usually not as good from my own experience. 

Hence, to avoid most of your clicks and money being absolutely consumed by the LinkedIn members in India, we would suggest to split them out on their own in a separated campaign. This is to mainly control the amount of money you invest into this country while leaving a sufficient amount for the rest of APAC countries that can potentially bring you more quality results and business leads.



Mistake #5: Too niche of a target audience

I understand all advertisers would like their targeting to be super accurate so that you would waste zero money on having irrelevant people seeing or clicking your ads. But on the other hand, the moment you try adding in too many requirements and over targeting, you can be:

  1. Ruling out the possibilities of other members who need or are interested in your company but just missed out on one of those requirements
  2. If your targeting is too niche and only get few thousands or even hundreds of members, you would not be getting the scalable effect that you want in acquiring hundreds of even thousands of lead in a short time
  3. Your company would only be know or aware in that small group of audience but not to the wider public
  4. Your audience can be easily saturated and see your content or ads again and again which can bring negative consequences to your brand for the long term
  5. Would be difficult to get sufficient data and not much room to optimise the targeting of the campaigns as we usually start wide then slowly narrow it down 

In terms of best practice, we suggest striking a balance of having an audience between 300K to 1 million for you to achieve best results when using LinkedIn ads. 


Mistake #6: Turning on audience expansion

Did you ever get leads from your campaigns that are not within your targeting criterias? If that was your case then very likely you must have left the audience expansion feature turned on in your campaign. 

Audience expansion is a feature from LinkedIn that tries to help you expand your targeting audience slightly based on the criteria that you set. Let’s say you are already targeting the CEO of HP, this audience expansion feature will help you to also target the CEO of Dell which is originally not under your setting. However, after managing over hundreds of campaigns and no need to represent LinkedIn right now, I didn’t really have that good of an experience from this feature.

So I suggest you turn it off to control exactly who you are targeting and where you money is being spent instead of relying on LinkedIn’s system. And just by turning this feature off, 90% of clients see an improvement in accuracy of the titles and people who became a lead or prospect from their campaigns. 

But if you are just trying to get awareness or engagement, I don’t see any problem in leaving this feature on as the more people see and engage with you ads, the better and more viral your ads and campaign can become. 



Mistake #7: Choosing the wrong ad format for your objective

LinkedIn has a number of ad formats and each one of them has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Pairing up the wrong objective and ad format together can bring you disappointing results. 

As a quick reference guide, you can use video and carousel ads for awareness and engagement related objectives as they tend to be more interactive than other formats. And when it comes to lead generation, message ad, single image ad and carousel ad with the help of lead gen form usually work best. If you want to dive deeper into specifics about each ad format and know what they are best for, here is my full Complete Guide to Choosing the Right LinkedIn Ad Format which is everything you would need to make a decision on the ad format. 


Mistake #8: Setting no daily budget

When it comes to setting up the campaigns, I always like to include daily budget. By including a daily budget, it allows you to start small to test which country/region, targeting and creative work best and performs before you go all in. 

I would suggest trying to set a daily budget that will get you at least 5-10 clicks per day so that after 7-10 days, you would have sufficient data to analyse the performance. Then you can slowly double or allocate more budget to the ones that are bringing you performances and optimise the ones that aren’t performing as well. Then let the campaigns run for another 7-10 days and repeat the whole process again if results are maintained and if your budget allows you to do so. 

But you may ask, how would you tell if your campaigns are performing well. As a basic reference, you can base on the benchmarks below and as long as your results are above the benchmarks, keep them going until you see performance starts dropping  off then optimise again.

  • CTR benchmark: 0.4-0.5%
  • Engagement Rate benchmark: 0.8-1.00%
  • Cost per Lead: APAC – USD 60-120, EU – USD 80-160, US – USD 100-200


Mistake #9: Running campaigns that are too short

LinkedIn is not the kind of platform that you just run ads for 3 days then turn off if you get no results. Because LinkedIn’s CPC is usually higher than other social media platforms out there, you would need double or even triple the testing time until you get enough data to tell you a clearer picture. 

And LinkedIn’s system will need at least 7-10 days of data before it can optimise toward your objective anyway. So the minimum duration of the campaign should be at least 3-4 weeks. 

But I also understand that as a marketer or small business owner, you want to control your costs and prevent wasting money on something that does not give you result. Hence, that’s why I suggested above to run a small daily budget but enough to get you at least 5-10 clicks per day. You can analyse your results every 7-10 days and make any optimisation needed on the countries/regions, targeting or creatives if performance is not good. And after doing that 2-3 times and still not getting the results that you hope for, you then can make a call to decide if LinkedIn is a suitable platform for you and your company or not. But do not make this decision just after 3 days of campaigns. 


Mistake #10: Launching a campaign with automated bid

Automated bid is the default option when you are creating your campaigns so it becomes the easiest and most obvious option for advertisers to select and launch their ads with. However, using automated bid in the wrong way can cost you in getting a way higher CPC than you should be paying for. 

Automated bid only works best when you have a big audience size (Above 300K) and after LinkedIn collected sufficient data(at least 7-10 days). If used right, automated bid can potentially help you gain a 20% lower CPC than what you usually get but it needs data to achieve this. 

Hence, I would suggest to go for the CPC bid option that you can input a bid to have a better control of the cost. Once you see the results are above benchmarks, you have a big enough audience size and run the campaigns for at least 7-10 days already, then you can try changing into using automated bid. But you still want to monitor the CPC closely after you make the change to see if it is able to lower your CPC. If not, it might be best for you to just enter your CPC bid manually for your campaigns. 


Mistake #11: Not getting work email when using LinkedIn lead gen form

For campaigns with lead generation objective, one of the most common complaints I hear from clients everyday is that some of the emails they acquired from LinkedIn lead gen form are actually not company work emails even though they have selected work email as a field in the form. 

This is especially important for B2B companies since personal emails add zero value to them as a business. The main reason this is happening is because some members on LinkedIn just don’t add in their work emails while creating their profiles. How LinkedIn lead gen form works is that if a member has both personal and work email within the profile, it can identify the work one and pre-populate it into the form. However, if the profile only consists of one personal email, LinkedIn will pre-populate the only email that it can find even though it might be a personal contact email address. 

To solve this and make sure you get as many work emails as possible from lead gen form, it is best to create an open ended custom question in the form asking for work email instead. So this field will not be pre-populated anymore and members need to manually input before they can complete and submit the form. From my experience, advertisers see a huge improvement on the quality of the emails they acquired and it actually does not impact the completion rate of the form too much. 


Mistake #12: Trying to ask for sales enquiry right away in your first ad

This is so true for all companies and advertisers that I worked with previously. You always want to see new sales, enquiries or business opportunities right away once you start any marketing campaigns. I mean who doesn’t. 

But just like how you make buying decisions every day, people need time and do research before they buy. Not everyone that sees your ads will have an urgent and immediate need for your product or services. They need to know who you are, why they need your products and services before doing all sorts of research before they can make a purchasing decision. And when it comes to B2B, this process can be even longer and more complex with a number of departments getting involved.

Hence, asking someone to buy your product or services the first time they see your ads is like asking someone to marry you the first time you meet them. It is very likely not going to happen. 

Therefore, the best alternative is to create a hook. A hook is a piece of content, whitepaper, e-book, webinar or case study that adds enough value so they are willing to give up their contact details in exchange for the material. The more value your content adds, the more prospect emails that you are able to collect. Then you and your sales and marketing team can further nurture and educate them to a point that they have enough trust in your products and brand, then you can turn them into actual sales and business opportunities. 


Mistake #13: Talk about features instead of the benefits and values of your products and brand

How many times have you seen an ad purely talking about boring product features and you just scroll right pass it? My guess is pretty often. 

Your audience does not care about the features of your product but instead, they want to hear about the benefits and values they can get from these features in their daily lives. When you are preparing the creatives and copies for your ads, try putting yourself into your target audience’s shoe. How would they benefit from your product? Which benefit would they care the most? What pain points do they have and how do you help solve them? 

Don’t push out messages or content that you want. Discover what your audience wants and demands then give them what they want based on their needs and challenges. I assure you this simple mindset shift of the angle of your creatives can be a game changer on the results and performances of your LinkedIn campaigns. For more ideas, you can take a look at this blog

Although it is not talking about LinkedIn but the ideas and concepts are definitely applicable to the platform. 



Creating and launching LinkedIn ads on your own can be challenging especially when there is no one there to tell you what not to do. But this is not the case anymore. You don’t have to do everything on your own now. 

Instead of wasting your money and finding out these mistakes the hard way, I am here to give you the insights and suggestions you need based on the hundred and thousands of campaigns I personally managed before. You don’t have to step into these common pitfalls that other advertisers wasted their money on.

By avoiding the 13 mistakes above when using LinkedIn ads, this will automatically give you a leg up on the competition to achieve great results while they are figuring things out. 

Need someone to have a look at your LinkedIn ads? Talk to us for a free audit!

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