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Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn Sponsored Content And InMail

Chapter 1 Illustration
Chapter 1

What Ad Formats Does LinkedIn Support?

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Chapter 4

Advertising Costs

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Chapter 2

Sponsored Content

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Chapter 5

LinkedIn Advertising Strategy

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Chapter 3

Sponsored InMail

What are the types of LinkedIn ads? Which LinkedIn ad format is best? Create winning Sponsored Content and InMail campaigns on LinkedIn using these targeting tips from an ex-LinkedIn employee.

Chapter 1

What Ad Formats Does LinkedIn Support?

Illustration for Linkedin Ad Formats
  • Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMailCarousel AdsConversation Ads, Video Ads

Chapter 1

What Ad Formats Does LinkedIn Support?

Sponsored Content

These are native ads in the feed with images and videos. Sponsored Content is usually the best advertising format and typically performs best on all channels. This should be in your marketing strategy and all of your campaigns.

Linkedin Sponsored Content Example
Linkedin Sponsored Content Example

Sponsored InMail

Only on LinkedIn. Unique to regular email campaigns because you can send a personalized message with reduced clutter since people generally only receive a few InMail messages a day versus ~100/day for regular email. InMails are only sent to users once every 60 days to reduce spam as well.

Linkedin Sponsored InMail Example

Carousel Ads

This is great to tell a story with a few images or to promote multiple products in one ad.

Linkedin Carousel Ads Example for VMWare

Conversation Ads

New on LinkedIn. This has logic-decisions in it and works similarly to a chatbot. Useful for making the experience more personalized.

Linkedin Conversation Ad Example

Video Ads

Video ads are a great way to increase engagement and get your ads in front of a large audience. Generally best to keep videos between 15 and 30 seconds for best performance. It can also do 6-second bumper ads on YouTube, which can be great to combine a few of them to tell a story.

Linkedin Video Ad Example
Linkedin Video Ad Example HR Lead Generation
Chapter 2

Sponsored Content

  • How to create winning Sponsored Content on LinkedIn

  • Why does Sponsored Content not feel like an ad? 

  • What types of Sponsored Content to promote

  • What are the best practices for creating Sponsored Content on LinkedIn? 

Illustration for Sponsored Content
Chapter 2

How To Create Sponsored Content On LinkedIn

Sponsored Content is the main ad format to advertise on LinkedIn. It is also the main ad format on most if not all social media channels. They all have different names for it: Facebook and Instagram, for instance, call it Sponsored Posts. 

What is Sponsored Content?

They are really just native advertising. What do we mean by that? What is native advertising? Native advertising is an ad that does not feel like an ad. Say what!? The best example of native advertising is in fact Sponsored Content (or Sponsored Posts, as it is called on other social platforms). It’s a either an image, video, or even a GIF with ad copy (both subject and body), and usually a CTA. You can and should put your CTA in the image and some advertising platforms allow you to pick from their most common CTAs utilized which show up next to your subject text.

Linkedin Sponsored Content Example

We added a Download CTA within the image as well as using LinkedIn's preset Download CTA. This increases the likelihood of our target audience clicking our CTA by providing a variety of options. You can get more specific with the CTA copy in your image (like we did), but make sure the copy stays consistent with the preset (LinkedIn specific) CTAs.

Sponsored Content is the best way to capture your audience’s attention on LinkedIn. Why? Your promoted content will flow organically (“native” in marketing speak) within the LinkedIn feed. Why does this matter? Instead of seeing those pesky, traditional banner ads, people will instead see what you are promoting directly within their feed. If done correctly, what you are promoting won’t even feel like an ad. Read on to learn how.

Every social media platform has its form of Sponsored Content (Facebook ads calls it ‘Sponsored Posts,’ for instance). What is Sponsored Content? Native ads in the LinkedIn feed that allow you to target professionals with images, videos, and carousels fitting seamlessly into the LinkedIn feed. While crafting your LinkedIn advertising campaign in campaign manager, focus on the value it will bring your end-users to achieve a high click-through rate, increase brand awareness, and generate leads to maximize your ROI. Whatever your goal is, you’ll want to follow these steps to set up your Sponsored Content posts. Each post needs a subject, ad copy (body), creative (image or video), and a link out to your landing page or a lead gen form for each ad you want to create. We’ve created a free ad copy template to help organize your thoughts and get you started.

Linkedin Sponsored Content Example
Linkedin Sponsored Content Example

A sampling of some of the ads we've created for our clients.

Why does Sponsored Content not feel like an ad?

Context and placement. Because your Sponsored Content will already be showing up in the LinkedIn feeds of your target audience, it already feels less intrusive than your traditional 300x250, skyscraper banners, and the god awful full-experience banners. It will show up right next to the post that their co-workers just posted on LinkedIn, a post about a job opportunity, a post about a certain networking group, etc. Sponsored Content on LinkedIn feels less intrusive and fits in perfectly with LinkedIn’s feed.

Example of Social Media Ads on Linkedin
Example of Traditional Display Advertising

With social media ads, you can interact just like you would a regular post, by liking, sharing, and/or commenting. The example on the right shows traditional advertising banners.

What types of Sponsored Content to promote

Since Sponsored Content consists of creatives (images or videos), ad copy, and a CTA there are lots of options. We’ve run Sponsored Content campaigns for a variety of different advertisers in various industries. Here is a sampling of some great Sponsored Content examples to gain inspiration from:

What Are The Best Practices For Creating Sponsored Content On LinkedIn?

Concise: Keep your headlines (subject) under 70 characters and ad copy (body) under 250 characters to avoid truncation (the 'see more…').

 

Eye-catching images: Use high-quality and high-resolution images with a size of 1200x628 pixels.

Videos: Keep them short! The shorter, the better. We have limited attention spans. Drive home your unique value proposition within the first 5 seconds and then elaborate. Videos should be :15 or :30; at most :60.

CTA: Include a Call to Action so the professionals you’re targeting know how to pursue your business (i.e., Schedule a demo, free case study download).

Ad Copy: Share information that your audience will care about. What are their main pain points and goals? Too often, advertisers share about their product or service. Although helpful for awareness, your target audience likely has not heard of you yet, or even if they have, you are not Apple coming out with the new iPhone. Your messaging should reflect your audience’s challenges and how your product/service offering can assist them in overcoming their pain points and achieving their goals.

Repurpose: If you have existing blogs, case studies, eBooks, how-to guides, or social content that can enhance your Sponsored Content, use that rather than creating new content every time—quality over quantity.

Optimize for mobile: 57% of LinkedIn use is on mobile. Make sure your headlines (subjects) and ad copy (body) is short enough that people can view them on their phone without tapping 'see more.’

Chat with an ex-LinkedIn marketer
create-sponsored-content
sponsored-content-examples
Chapter 3
Chapter 3

Sponsored InMail

  • What is Sponsored InMail on LinkedIn?

  • How is Sponsored InMail similar to email marketing campaigns?

  • Why choosing Sponsored InMail over regular email might be better for your marketing campaigns?

  • InMails versus Sponsored InMails

  • When and where to use Sponsored InMail

  • How to frame your message for InMail

  • How to personalize your message for InMail

  • Examples of successful InMail campaigns

Illustration for Sponsored InMail

What Is Sponsored InMail On LinkedIn?

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail is essentially email marketing but on LinkedIn. What do we mean by that? InMails are messages within the LinkedIn platform. They are a way to connect to your audience with a more personalized approach. They also offer more room for additional copy to get your message out. Rather than sending to email addresses, like in email marketing campaigns, you’ll be sending your messages directly to LinkedIn members in their LinkedIn inbox.

How is Sponsored InMail similar to email marketing campaigns?

You have a subject, a body, a signature, and a CTA, as well as an image (if you choose to do so). It’s also more dynamic, meaning that you can insert a LinkedIn member’s first name, last name, company name, job title, etc.

Why choosing Sponsored InMail over regular email might be better for your marketing campaigns?

People generally disregard their email inboxes and receive so much spammy content. LinkedIn is a professional platform that they trust and you will be competing with far fewer marketing emails -- enabling your message to shine. You can also use LinkedIn targeting and reach verified profiles of people you are trying to target rather than sending emails to cold lists. Say goodbye to those cold email lists!

InMails Versus Sponsored InMails

Regular InMails (as you’ve probably seen) are those pesky messages you might receive when you connect with someone on LinkedIn. These usually entail something like “Thanks for connecting…!”, “I’d love to….”. You can only send an InMail to someone once you have connected with them or if you have a LinkedIn pro/premium account (in which you’d get 50 free InMails per month to your non-connections). 

Sponsored InMail is different from regular (organic) InMail that you send to members using your monthly allotted InMail credit. By putting ad dollars behind your InMail (which makes it 'sponsored'), it allows you to reach more of your audience with personalized messaging. If you’re looking to market an event, webinar, or just looking to get a little more personal with your LinkedIn marketing, look no further than Sponsored InMail. This allows you to deliver a targeted message to your prospects with no character limit and in a less distracting environment. 

While the lack of character limit gives you the freedom to provide as much information as you want, short messages generally perform better. Focus on personalization and customization rather than length. InMail is a fantastic way to promote an event, on-demand webinar, and/or podcast. It’s a more personalized approach than a sponsored content post and can offer extensive ‘value-add’ if you are targeting a specific set of prospects. InMail also has a 300% higher response rate than email, according to Hootsuite.

Adam’s tip: Most marketers will run an InMail campaign in conjunction with a Sponsored Content campaign for an omnipresent marketing approach. Ensure you’re touching all your bases and hitting prospects at the right time and place. Some prospects respond better to a personalized message and outreach.

Sponsored InMail Creation

A LinkedIn Sponsored InMail we created to promote the attendance for a cyber-security event on behalf of our client.

When And Where To Use Sponsored InMail

InMails are great to use in conjunction with Sponsored Content. Sponsored Content reaches your audience in short, snappy copy along with an image or a video. With InMail you can tell your message in a few paragraphs and dive into more detail. You can also get personal and insert their first name, job title, and/or company name if you’d like. Sponsored InMails are great for…

  • Events marketing

  • If you are trying to get people to register for a webinar

  • If you are trying to get them to schedule a demo or download a piece of marketing content

 

Sponsored InMail messages are created within LinkedIn Campaign Manager which is LinkedIn’s ad dashboard. Some facts about Sponsored InMail:

  • They show up with the little ‘sponsored’ sign 

  • They show up at the top of a LinkedIn members inbox (over the regular InMails)

  • Your Sponsored InMail has a subject line, a body, a CTA, and a 300x250 image on the right rail (optional) 

Best kept secret: A LinkedIn member can only receive one Sponsored InMail every 60 days. Why is this a good thing for you, the marketer (you might ask)? This limits the number of InMails your target audience will be seeing, thus making your message that much more important. It also helps to prevent the usual spam you receive with regular InMail messages.

How to frame your message for InMail

Before sending InMails, you’ll want to ask yourself: How can my target audience (the person you are reaching out to) benefit from this conversation? What are the pain points of my audience? What problems can I solve for them? While no character limit might tempt you to tell the grassroots story of your business, keep it short and sweet (under 500 characters).

Personalizing your message can dramatically improve your odds of receiving a response. Beyond personalization tokens (Hey %First Name%,), check out the users’ LinkedIn profile and mention their love of musical theater and the New York Mets (if appropriate). Or maybe don't mention their love of the New York Mets for fear of bringing up painful memories (ya gotta believe). 

How to personalize your message for InMail

The subject line is your opportunity to draw in potential leads, but you’ll have limited space. These 200 characters can make or break you, so choose wisely. Focus on creating an emotional response with your subject line.

Adam’s tip: You only get 1 InMail per each unique recipient every 60 days, so make it count! While this feature might seem restrictive, it’s actually a blessing because it limits the amount of spam that surrounds traditional email marketing campaigns.

Sponsored Content is the most widely-used ad format and generates the highest performing metrics based on your marketing goals. Sponsored InMail is just as useful, and allows you to cater your message to each potential lead. When utilized correctly, both Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail can take your LinkedIn marketing campaign to where it needs to be to generate the leads your business has been missing out on. For more insight into creating your LinkedIn advertising campaigns, check out our Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Advertising

Examples Of Successful InMail Campaigns To Give You Some Inspiration