LinkedIn Matched Audiences - Everything you need to know
August 4, 2023
No marketer can ignore LinkedIn. The social media platform had the third-highest ROI in 2022.
Additionally, for B2B targeting, it's the only social media platform that lets you segment over 900m professionals by job role. You may have had a good run with organic content but paid ads can help you bring in more business in a matter of weeks.
But LinkedIn can be expensive (higher minimums) and you need to be spot-on with targeting if you want to generate ROI.
For one, you need to be clear about what your ideal customer profile (ICP) is and what it isn’t. And you need to know your way around LinkedIn audiences and the custom audience feature called LinkedIn Matched Audiences. It can help you choose the right ad formats, CTAs, and bids. You probably know how beneficial custom audiences can be if you’ve used Facebook custom audiences or Google customer match feature.
Additionally, LinkedIn has many targeting options which allow rather interesting combinations. All you need is creativity and a thorough understanding of LinkedIn matched audiences.
In this guide, we go into the nuts and bolts of LinkedIn's custom audiences feature to help you plan your next campaign. We will cover:
• What are LinkedIn matched audiences
• Why use LinkedIn matched audiences
• How to build custom or matched audiences on LinkedIn
- Audience attributes
- Audience templates
- Matched audiences
- Lookalike audiences
- Audience Expansion
• Best practices for building LinkedIn custom or matched audiences
• LinkedIn Matched Audience Case Studies
Let's get started and learn how to increase your ROI through LinkedIn Audiences!
What is a LinkedIn Matched Audience?
A custom audience is a defined group of people with purchase intent or at least some interest in your brand. They may have liked your company page, shared your content, completed a lead form or engaged with your brand and ads in some form. Custom audience segments are specific segments of your already existing audience.
A custom audience on LinkedIn works in a similar way to Facebook or Google. You can build audiences from website traffic, email lists, social media or mobile app subscribers, events (online and offline), lead forms, etc.
You can use any first-party data source to build an audience and save it for future use.
You can then A/B test multiple offers for your products and services. For example, converting abandoned carts. You can create a campaign on LinkedIn to only show your ads to the people included in your custom audience and exclude those who have converted already.
It can take a couple of campaigns to find out the match rate - the percentage of your matched audiences matched with LinkedIn accounts. But you can be sure that LinkedIn match rates are much higher – especially for B2B.
After all, LinkedIn users are more likely to use their work email to register their accounts compared to other platforms. That means much better reach for your ads and better quality leads.
Why use LinkedIn matched audiences?
LinkedIn Matched audiences allow you to go beyond demographics in targeting leads and customers. Here are some of the key benefits:
Targets users most likely to buy:
Custom audiences are based on interest, purchase history, and other intent parameters. This means a higher probability of engagement and conversion for brands.
Shortens the sales cycle:
Personalising your ads to prospects at various stages of the sales funnel can help close sales faster. This is especially crucial for B2B brands.
Increase repeat sales and lifetime value:
Custom targeting can help customers differentiate you from the competition, and keep coming back for more. For businesses, this means more revenue as well as brand recognition.
LinkedIn matched audiences allow you to build and scale campaigns rapidly. LinkedIn’s Audience Network also gives you access to an extensive partner network. All you need is a well-defined ICP and accurate contact data.
It takes more than one interaction for a prospect to convert into a paid customer. Retargeting people who have already interacted with you can drive engagement and boost sales.
Optimise ad formats:
Thanks to real-time reporting and analytics, you can choose the best ad format based on your campaign objectives. For example, sponsored content may be more suited to the top of the funnel.
How to build a LinkedIn Audience?
To build a LinkedIn audience, you can group people by:
- One or more attributes
- Using audience templates
- Creating Matched Audiences
- Creating Lookalike Audiences
- Using Audience Expansion
Let’s take a look at each option in detail:
A) Audience attributes
There are multiple attributes one can choose from including:
First-degree connections, followers, industry, companies by name, size, or revenue.
Years of experience, skill set, job seniority, job titles, or job function.
Institution of study, fields of study, degrees.
Groups, Interests, or Traits:
Type of content specific users engage with or LinkedIn groups they may be members of.
Age and gender
Steps to select audience attributes:
- Sign in to Campaign Manager
- Select a "Campaign Objective"
- Choose a location for your target audience (mandatory)
- Specify job titles, skills, and industries to target
- Select criteria for job experience, job seniority
- Select criteria for member groups, member interests, and traits
- Click on Save
You can add multiple attributes (using OR, AND) when building a LinkedIn audience. LinkedIn will give you an estimate of the number of people your ads might reach.
But adding too many attributes could result in a small audience and you need a minimum of 300 to run a campaign. You can build multiple audiences, each with one or two criteria to get around this.
B) LinkedIn Audience Templates
LinkedIn offers pre-built templates that make building audiences easier and faster. Each template comes with a description so that you can choose the best one for your needs.
Click on LinkedIn Audiences in the Audience section. For more options, click on "see more audiences". Some examples you might see include "Members with a Bachelor’s Degree", "Expertise in Biotechnology", and so on.
Steps to build audiences with Audience Templates:
- Sign in to Campaign Manager
- Select the Campaign Group name you want from the Campaign Groups tab.
- Click on Create and select Campaign
- Click Next
- Choose the Campaign Objective
- In the Audience section, click the Audiences button and select your option
- Click "Audience Templates"
- To select a Template, click on it
- Click on "Select Audience" and then click "OK"
- Click on "Save as Template" and then click "Save"
C) LinkedIn Matched Audiences
With Matched audiences, you can retarget website visitors, email subscribers, and/or company pages. You can also exclude segments. LinkedIn Matched Audiences offers two options for targeting including:
This allows you to match audiences based on website page views, clicks, or website traffic in a timeframe – any activity you define as important.
Company or Contact targeting:
This lets you create audiences from CRM contacts, email lists, offline campaigns or other data lists.
Steps to Build LinkedIn Matched Audiences:
- Sign in to Campaign Manager
- Click "Plan" to the left of the screen
- Next, click on "Audience"
- Under Audiences, you’ll see two tabs – Matched and Save. Make sure Matched is selected.
- Click "Create Audience"
- If you already have your audience set up, click "Account Assets" in Campaign Manager and select "Matched Audiences" from the drop-down.
- Next, click on "Matched Audiences" and click "Create Audience"
- You’ll need to enter a name in the "Audience Name" field
- Depending on your data source, choose "website" under "retarget by" or "upload a list"
If you want to add Company or Contact lists:
- In the "Upload a List" pop-up box, click the "Select List" button to upload your source file.
- Click on "Company List Template" or "Contact List Template" depending on the data you have.
- You should see a spreadsheet open up with pre-defined input fields.
- After adding your data, click the "Select list" button to upload it.
It can take up to 48-72 hours for an audience to be created. If the audience has been uploaded, you should see a number next to the Uploaded List Audiences field. If you don’t see it right away, try refreshing the page. Also, check the Match Rate and Size columns.
If you see "Audience Too Small" under "Match rate" after 48 hours, you need to add more contacts to your list and upload it again - the minimum is 300.
D) Lookalike Audiences
Lookalike Audiences lets you scale your campaigns by adding new users similar to your matched audiences. It looks for common attributes and other targeting criteria you specify to find "lookalikes". You can create a lookalike list based on your existing customers or high-quality leads.
Steps to create a Lookalike Audience
- Sign in to Campaign Manager
- Click on Plan > Audiences
- Select a "Source"
- Scroll to the "Audience Name" you want to create a lookalike audience for
- Click the icon (three horizontal dots) next to the Audience Name
- Select "Create a Lookalike Audience"
- You should see a confirmation pop-up within seconds
E) Audience Expansion
Audience Expansion also adds new people similar to your existing audience. But it is far more generic in matching user attributes compared to LinkedIn matched audiences. This is because it includes users outside of the targeting criteria you may have specified like location, company, etc.
We would suggest experimenting with this option to check if it actually benefits your campaign or targets people that may not fit your ICP.
Steps to activate Audience Expansion:
All you have to do is check the "Enable Audience Expansion" box at the bottom left of the Audience section in Campaign Manager.
Things to remember when uploading data to LinkedIn Campaign Manager:
- Make sure you follow LinkedIn’s formatting guidelines when uploading contact (CSV) data or use Audience Templates instead.
- The minimum size for custom audiences is 300
- Processing can take up to 72 hours before you can start running campaigns
Automate Custom Audiences and scale your campaigns
Why spend hours sorting and uploading lists when you can integrate data from your CRM or other sources in real time? Driftrock can sync every new customer or lead record automatically to LinkedIn. It saves time and efforts better utilised elsewhere!
Driftrock syncs CRM records with custom audiences automatically allowing you to run campaigns across the customer lifecycle. It can:
- Sync audiences automatically every 3 hours, daily or weekly
- Exclude existing customers, bad fits or unsubscribers without having to manually filter and delete
- Scale lookalike audiences across segments and campaigns
- Nurture leads and increase conversions through retargeting
- Stay data and GDPR compliant
Best practices for creating LinkedIn audiences:
Adding multiple lists all at once can increase audience size but it’s not the best use of your data or marketing dollar. The key is to layer metrics and attributes to improve targeting throughout your campaign.
Here are a few strategies you can use to build a LinkedIn matched audiences:
Video is proven to perform much better than text or image ads on social media. Metrics like video view rate, view duration, or replay rate can therefore be used to filter engaged users and build quality audiences.
For example, you can form matched audiences of people who have watched 80% of a 5 min video or have shared, commented on, or liked it in the past 30, 60, and 90 days. In due course, you can also scale them with lookalikes.
If you have enabled an Insight tag on the website, you can analyse the search history of website visitors to assess purchase intent. This is a better approach than retargeting every single visitor to your website.
Not every one of them may be ready to buy. And intent analysis can help you create the right audience.
For example, fitness clubs can group people clicking on yoga ads into a separate audience, pilates into another, and so on.
Customer lifecycle-based audiences:
As marketers, we tend to focus a bit too much on customer acquisition.
However, building LinkedIn matched audiences with existing or past customers can be useful for re-engaging past customers or up-selling existing ones.
For example, to revive inactive app users, you can filter people you haven’t used the application for the past 90 days or more.
Review the Audiences page in Campaign Manager to identify the best targeting attributes based on your campaign objective.
Layer targeting attributes carefully:
Make sure you don’t add too many attributes from the start. LinkedIn recommends a target audience of at least 50,000 for Sponsored Content and Text Ads. For InMail Ads, you need a minimum of 15,000.
To increase audience size and maintain a decent match rate, narrow down gradually based on the insights you gain over time.
A/B test your audience:
There can be hundreds of audience variations but only one way to tell what might work. A/B testing involves tweaking the audience attributes slightly and then running similar ads to determine the winner.
LinkedIn Matched Audiences Case Studies
Here are a few notable success stories to glean ideas from:
A) BMW Malaysia
BMW Malaysia is a fully-owned subsidiary of German automaker BMW AG. The company targeted corporate executives for their latest car model.
- To introduce BMW 330Li M Sport to the Malaysian Market and target their Ideal Customer Profile
- To generate conversions in the form of bookings for test drives from this target audience
- BMW chose to target users by job function, job seniority, interests, and company size among other parameters. This is because they were aiming at a niche clientele.
- The company layered multiple targeting criteria excluding existing customers. They wanted to test this approach and use the insights for future campaigns.
- They used LinkedIn lead gen forms with both sponsored content and InMail ads to rapidly build up their custom audience, keep match rates high and retarget efficiently.
- Acquired 160,000 leads that closely matched its premium ICP
- 42% Lower Cost Per Impression and 21% lower Cost Per Lead
B) Cisco Canada:
Cisco is the leader in IT and networking. They help businesses of all sizes transform how people connect, communicate, and collaborate.
- Generate more and better quality leads
- Reduce Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
- They strategically focused on IT decision-makers and narrowed the campaign audience by job role, title, and seniority
- Additionally, they showcased a white paper that featured crucial Cisco technology for the manufacturing industry
- The company also leveraged LinkedIn Matched Audiences for future campaigns
- 56% lower cost per acquisition compared to other marketing channels
- 50% lower cost per contact acquisition
Zycus is a sourcing and payment technology provider for customers across multiple industries.
- Improve brand awareness among their ICPs (Director, CXOs & VPs)
- Improve lead quality and lead data for sales team
- The marketing team used Matched Audiences to refine and scale their existing audience. They excluded existing customers and build a lookalike audience.
- They segmented the audience by job title and function, focusing on relevant messaging and content.
- They used Lead Generation Forms to capture data automatically through pre-filled information while also increasing data accuracy and lead quality
- Decreased their average cost per lead (CPL)
- 150% increase in converting yearly MQLs
- 7.4X ROI on ad spend
Exact provides accounting, ERP, and other business software to SMEs in the EU.
- Exact wanted to increase business growth through an increase in brand awareness and lead generation
- Leveraged sponsored content to drive awareness and lead generation
- Retargeted website visitors through Matched Audiences feature
- Used Native LinkedIn lead gen forms to capture new leads and decrease friction
- Build lookalike audiences for higher conversions
- 20% more leads, driving 255 direct conversions and 308 assisted conversions
- 100% lower Cost Per Lead (CPL)
- Improved traffic and engagement on the website – session time, bounce rate, etc
E) UI Path:
UI Path is a New-York based Robotic Process Automation (RPA) company
- To continue its unprecedented growth rate, UiPath required additional leads for its Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions
- The company also identified a chance to provide an outstanding experience to website visitors who had expressed interest but hadn't become customers in earlier acquisition campaigns.
- Used Matched Audiences to re-engage non-converted website visitors, utilising LinkedIn's Conversation Ads format
- Used targeted and customised CTAs within conversation ads, encouraging potential customers to explore research on RPA, learn more about them or get in touch for a tailored offer
- 67% lead rate for the campaign
- 25% higher CTR to landing pages
F) Saxo Bank:
Saxo is a fintech company offering trading and investment services to clients across the globe.
- To drive brand awareness and engagement across new markets
- Saxo decided to build lookalike audiences based on its existing customer base.
- They used a combination of sponsored content and video to drive engagement.
- 34% view rate, well above the past average of 28%
- 26% completion rate compared to 21% earlier
Increase your ROI through LinkedIn Matched Audiences
Using CSVs and native ad manager tools for building custom audiences is not the best use of a marketer's time! Moreover, it is difficult to scale with this manual approach and can lead to data and privacy compliance issues.
You need to be extra cautious as even the smallest of errors can prove costly. Automating your custom audience sync with Driftrock saves you time and resources. Increase ROI from your lead generation and marketing campaigns!