Radical LinkedIn B2B #PPC: Targeting Competitor's Employees

For quite some time, LinkedIn Direct Ads were the butt of PPC marketers' jokes, sporting terrible ROI, high CPC, and abysmal CTR.

As predicted, LinkedIn, pre-IPO, rolled out features that many had been waiting on for quite some time: the ability to target users by specific companies and extremely highly focused job titles matriculated with granular industries.

There will be many uses of this targeting matrix for B2B, the most obvious of which is HR (human resources) for the purpose of recruiting.

This post is a step-by-step LinkedIn PPC targeting tutorial to finger competitors' employees in a tight grid of job titles, geographic location, and places of employment.

LinkedIn has followed Facebook's lead by giving advertisers more intimate access to its business-centric user base. As of this writing, there are 43,160,796 LinkedIn members just in the United States, fertile territory for B2B marketers.

Getting Started

Log in to your LinkedIn account and head over to LinkedIn Ads, which are newly renamed, "Direct Ads." The ability to target such specific job titles and places of employment is new, radical, and what we've been waiting for.

Go through the basics. Name your campaign, choose the destination URL, create the first ad and as many variations as you like.

There's the standard duplicate function so it isn't necessary to start from scratch each time. We're looking for web developers so I'll mock up an ad seeking WordPress Ninjas who dabble in Ruby on Rails.

LinkedIn Ad Campaign


Now choose a location. The geolocation grid is a little disappointing because states aren't cut up into small enough chunks.

In Minnesota the only DMA we can isolate is the Minneapolis St. Paul area. Not to worry. Targeting the whole state is fine in this case.

LinkedIn PPC Targeting

Now comes the real fun. Though the Ajax box isn't nearly as smart as the "Interest" tools in Facebook Ads, it's cool enough. A little experimentation along with LinkedIn's suggested job titles yields a wonderful spectrum of job titles.

LinkedIn PPC Suggested Job Titles

LinkedIn PPC Select Job Titles

More Competitive Targeting

Let's get more competitive here. A Google search for [Minneapolis, Minnesota Web Development” gives us a bunch of cool ideas.

Think about it. The more a company optimizes their for discoverability in Google, the more vulnerable they are to this competitive tactic!

Google SERP Minneapolis, Minnesota Web Development

After pulling out the firms revealed in the first few pages of Google SERPs, I type in a few I know like The Nerdery, formally Sierra Bravo. Then intuition kicks in and I aim clearly at big brands that surely have programmers, like "Best Buy" and agencies like, "Carmichael Lynch," "Periscope," and "Risdall Marketing Group."

Their developers are fresh meat for my ads. I hope the developers at these companies are well paid and happy!

LinkedIn PPC Company and Job Title

LinkedIn Groups

Another targeting option in the new LinkedIn Ads platform is LinkedIn Groups, which we believe can be very powerful. Get creative and remember that the geotargeting will apply.

LinkedIn Groups

OK, That's It!

Save your ad and move along to the next campaign. Although this campaign will move slowly as a result of the relatively small sampling of LinkedIn users, exactly the right demographics are targeted.

If you bid high enough, your competitors' employees will literally see this ad the next time they visit LinkedIn. All the same caveats apply to any other type of PPC, including multivariate message, picture, and landing page testing.

Happy hunting in all your B2B PPC LinkedIn Targeting endeavors.

About the author

Marty is author of "Killer Facebook Ads" (Wiley/Sybex 2011) and CEO of aimClear, an online marketing agency that has managed Facebook ad campaigns generating over 10 billion impressions internationally. Client credits include MarthaStewart.com, Siemens, Second Life, Budget Direct, and other global brands.

He’s written extensively for respected Internet marketing trade publications and been quoted in many others. aimClear Blog has been cited as among the Technorati Top 10 Small Business Blogs, Cison Top Ten Social Media Blogs, PRWeb’s 25 Essential Public Relations Blogs You Should Be Reading, and listed in the AdAge Power150.

A fixture on the international conference circuit, Marty speaks regularly at Search Engine Strategies (SES). Marty founded and produces the aimClear Full Day Facebook Marketing Intensive Workshop.

He has been described as “not your typical agency type.” A “social media maverick” and “more innovator than follower.” aimClear has become internationally recognized for its work in demographic research, especially as pertains to search, Facebook, and LInkedIn.

Marty and his aimClear team specialize in paid and organic search and social online marketing. aimClear’s services include blended search and social demographic research; search engine optimization (SEO) technical and semantic audits, analytics monitoring, and consulting; pay-per-click (PPC) audits, setup, testing, and ongoing management; online reputation management (ORM) dashboard configuration and ongoing monitoring; social media marketing consulting and data-driven community management; public relations; and copywriting.