Strategies to Focus Your Audience
LinkedIn boasts a network of nearly 740 million members worldwide. (1) Member data is very accurate because members are motivated to keep their profiles up-to-date for career opportunities. As marketers, we can target many attributes listed on member profiles, but knowing where to start can be daunting. We have compiled 5 audience categories to help identify your ideal audience from the many attributes offered on LinkedIn.
Audience Category 1: Job Experience
It’s easy to make your audience too broad. Targeting anyone with a marketing job function includes a range from recent college graduates to CMOs, and these groups don’t always belong in the same audience
An easy way to start building an appropriate audience is to use the narrow function. The narrow function layers any audience attribute with either Job Seniority or Years of Experience. This avoids casting your net too wide but still targets a large enough audience to gather valuable data.
Narrowing your audience with Job Seniority allows you to target expertise levels. LinkedIn identifies these categories based on a user’s job title.
If you’re unsure of the seniority level that you want to target, another option is to narrow the audience based on Years of Experience. Here you may select any range from 1-12+ years of experience, allowing you to select an audience regardless of job title.
Using one of these attributes is a great way to further refine an audience that’s already working or build a foundation for a new audience that’s too broad. We do not recommend using more than 2 layers in addition to your geo-targeting to avoid hyper-targeting.
Audience Category 2: Member Traits
Target members based on inferred characteristics from their actions on the platform using LinkedIn’s Member Traits. (2) This feature is relatively new, and currently includes a variety of options from Open to Education and Frequent Traveler to Job Seeker.
Member Traits can be used on their own or combined with another attribute to narrow your audience. Here are a few examples of how we have used these traits:
- Open To Education: Members under this trait have engaged with education-related content on LinkedIn. Depending on the size of your location, this can be used alone or in combination with another attribute such as Interests to find members who may be want to explore the subject that you’re advertising.
- Job Seekers: These are members who are looking for a new job which can be quite broad. Match with Job Function or Company Industry to look for members in a specific field.
- Career Changer: These are members looking to switch industries or fields. This is typically a smaller audience than many other traits so adding any other targeting may make it too narrow.
- Device Preferences: This is very useful if your landing page is optimized for a specific device or if you want to test different pages with different devices. You can even segment based on Android vs. iPhone users and Mac vs. Windows users. (3)
Audience Category 3: Lookalikes
Lookalike audiences allow you to reach people whose characteristics are similar to existing audiences. They are built based on a matched audience you provide, and can be up to 15 times larger than your original audience. (4) Lookalikes can be built from website visitors using a pixel or using a list upload. Once you have established your marketing funnel, build audiences based on different stages in your funnel to find additional audiences that are more likely to convert at each stage.
Use these tips to build a strong lookalike audience:
- Layer targeting onto lookalikes such as Degree or Job Seniority to include the population you’re most interested in. Be careful not to make your audience too narrow.
- When uploading a list, make the list as large as possible since not every entry will be able to be matched. You can include up to 10,000 contacts on your list.
- Updating a list and re-uploading it will not automatically update your lookalike audience. You will need to create a new lookalike each time you upload a new list. (4)
Learn more about lookalike audiences and how to build one here.
Audience Category 4: Education
LinkedIn offers targeting based on education level including Degree, Field of Study, and School. However, degrees, majors, and school names vary between profiles and schools, so this targeting may not encompass the entire audience that you are looking for.
The best way to ensure you’re reaching the entire audience of an area of study is to layer Degree with Field of Study. When you search “Bachelor’s Degree,” every type of degree will pop up, from Bachelor of Arts to Bachelor of Medicine. But selecting the general “Bachelor’s Degree” option will include everyone who has a bachelor’s degree listed on their profile. This is true for Master’s Degrees as well, except it will not include members with an MBA. You can then narrow your selection by selecting the field of study you want to target.
As an example, we can look at members who studied engineering. If we only select “Bachelor’s of Engineering” as a degree, we’re excluding any school that gives out a Bachelor’s of Science as their engineering degree. Instead, select “Bachelor’s Degree” and then narrow your audience by selecting all the engineering fields you want to target.
Education targeting is great for finding an audience with a specific skill set or expertise who may not have updated the Skills section of their profile. Starting with Field of Study targeting is a strong first step to focus your audience on a subject area or skill.
Audience Category 5: Testing
Even if you think you already know your ideal audience, it’s a good idea to continue testing. Using the targeting options we’ve discussed such as Job Seniority or Years of Experience is a great place to start refining your existing audiences.
Run identical campaigns where the only difference is a single targeting attribute. For example, test Years of Experience by segmenting one campaign with 1-6 years and the other 7-12+ years. Each audience should only include one persona, so separating your audiences to have one for entry-level employees and a different one for manager levels will ensure you can personalize your ads and track the performance of each separately.
LinkedIn has some of the most accurate data on its members and is constantly evolving its advertising options. Use these strategies to find the audiences that work best for your business and always find ways to test new strategies.