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Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn Sponsored Content And InMail

Our marketing guide focuses on LinkedIn's Sponsored Content and InMail advertising, providing proven strategies and tips specifically tailored to this platform. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for business professionals, and understanding the nuances of these advertising options is crucial to effectively reach and engage valuable potential users. Sponsored Content offers prime ad placement but may struggle to captivate viewers, while InMail advertising has its own set of pros and cons. At Llama Lead Gen, our team of former LinkedIn marketers has compiled their expertise to help businesses leverage the strengths of LinkedIn advertising.

Our comprehensive LinkedIn Sponsored Content and InMail marketing guide is a valuable resource for business leaders, marketing directors, and social media managers. It offers easy-to-digest chapters that explore the opportunities and intricacies of these advertising options, along with examples of successful campaigns. By capitalizing on the knowledge shared in this guide, businesses can optimize their LinkedIn advertising efforts and enhance their brand positioning on this influential platform.

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Reach Your Ideal B2B Audience on LinkedIn

Want to reach decision-makers at scale? With LinkedIn Sponsored Content, you can effectively target the right people and showcase your value proposition to key stakeholders. Schedule a call to get started.

Chapter 1 Illustration
Chapter 1

What Ad Formats Does LinkedIn Support?

Chapter 4 Illustration
Chapter 4

Advertising Costs

Chapter 2 Illustration
Chapter 2

Sponsored Content

Chapter 5 Illustration
Chapter 5

LinkedIn Advertising Strategy

Chapter 3 Illustration
Chapter 3

Sponsored InMail

Chapter 1

What Ad Formats Does LinkedIn Support?

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

What Ad Formats Does LinkedIn Support?

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

Llama Lead Gen optimized our LinkedIn sponsored posts, InMail, and lead gen campaigns for B2B lead generation. This led to a 50% boost in lead quality and a 20% increase in quantity. Valuable insights on LinkedIn targeting and campaign types also benefited other projects.

Lauren Fellure

Co-Founder @ LyteYear

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
Sponsored Content

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
Sponsored InMail
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

Chapter 4

Advertising Costs

  • How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on LinkedIn? 

  • What is the Cost of LinkedIn Sponsored Content? 

  • What facets would make a particular ad campaign cost more? 

  • What is the Cost of LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

  • InMail bidding options

Sponsored Content and InMail Guide 4-02.
Advertising Costs

How Much Does It Cost To Advertise On LinkedIn?

Most LinkedIn ad costs are based on a cost per click (CPC) model. This is generally the standard when it comes to any PPC advertising campaign across social media channels. You do have the option to charge by impressions (CPM - cost per thousand impressions); however, this is disadvantageous when targeting on LinkedIn because of the high costs associated. Let’s break down LinkedIn ads costs for both Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail. For an in-depth analysis, check out our guide on How To Budget For Your Digital Advertising Campaigns.

What Is The Cost Of LinkedIn Sponsored Content?

You can run a Sponsored Content campaign for $1,000 a month. This is the minimum you should run a campaign on LinkedIn because LinkedIn has higher costs than Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, and other channels. Why? LinkedIn is the premier B2B social network so if you are an advertiser looking to reach “x” professional, your best bet is likely on LinkedIn because there is already added intent baked into the platform - people are there to be more productive in their jobs. We usually suggest starting out with a smaller budget ($1,000/month) to start out with because with any good advertising campaign you’ll want to test out your messaging, creatives, form fills, CTAs, landing pages, etc. You don’t know until you test and learn from the data, A/B tests, and optimizations. We’ve run thousands of ad campaigns and each one is unique based on your target audience and what content you are offering will resonate with them so start small with a test and learn budget and ramp up efficiently once you learn from the data. 

Media Plan Example for Linkedin Sponsored Content

A media plan we put together for a client's LinkedIn advertising campaign.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to think about your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, would I click on this Sponsored Content ad? What would make me want to engage and take whatever action the CTA is?

Before you think about the bidding options, you’ll want to set a daily budget (and sometimes a total budget) for your ad campaigns. Having a daily and total budget allows LinkedIn to serve your ads consistently throughout your campaign flight (your campaign start and end date). The daily budget will depend on what you are willing to spend on your total budget. We usually like to break it down as such: if your total budget is $1,000 and we want to run the campaign for 1 month, we would simply divide your total budget by the number of days in the month to get the daily budget. In this case, our daily budget should be $33.33 ($1,000/30 days). 

A great way to target on LinkedIn is by utilizing the matched audiences feature. Matched audiences allow you to re-market to an audience that has already seen your advertisements and/or have visited your website. A common misnomer surrounding matched audiences is that this targeting feature costs more -- it does not. You can even create lookalike audiences, where LinkedIn will match your uploaded lists back to similar LinkedIn members' profiles. This is a great way to expand your reach and impression share, while still keeping your targeting focused.

Linkedin Targeting Matched Audiences Example
LI Lookalike Audience Creation.png

What facets would make a particular ad campaign cost more?

There are a variety of factors that go into this, but among the main ones are: seasonality, who you are targeting (engineers are always going to cost more than teachers), and what other competitors are bidding in the auction. Which brings us to bidding… We often get asked, “What is the maximum amount I should be bidding?”. This is a flawed question because the amount you bid will be highly dependent on what other advertisers are bidding. For Sponsored Content, bids are wide-ranging. We’ve seen anywhere from $6 to $37. This is mostly dependent on who you are trying to target. 

Linkedin Ad Campaign Budgeting Example

A campaign where we targeted engineer decision-makers had a much higher recommended bid price since other advertisers were also targeting engineers. It's always best practice to choose 'Enhanced CPC Bidding' rather than 'Auto Bidding' so you have more control over your spending. We've performed tests and this also performs better than letting the system optimize for you.  

What Is The Cost Of LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

Sponsored InMail is much more affordable because it works on a CPS (cost per send) model, which is unique to others which runs on a CPM or CPC model. With InMail campaigns, you can expect to bid anywhere between $0.30 and $0.60 per InMail send. Depending on your ad budget you can expect anywhere from a few hundred sends to a few thousand.

InMail bidding options

CPS (cost-per-send) is unique to LinkedIn and a very cost-efficient way to bid. Generally, CPS for InMail campaigns are $1, and we often get them to under $0.50 per send. It's a great way to target a highly customized and personalized message to your intended target prospect without breaking the bank.

Chat with an ex-LinkedIn marketer
LinkedIn Advertising Strategy
Chapter 5

LinkedIn Advertising Strategy

  • Tactics to generate leads on LinkedIn

  • After someone clicks on your ad, what’s next?

  • How many leads do you think we can generate?

  • What is the assumed CPA for generating a new lead from these ads?

Illustration for Linkedin Advertising Strategy

Tactics To Generate Leads On LinkedIn

Lead generation forms

Within the channel itself, after clicking on an ad, a pop-up would appear with all of the target’s profile information already pre-filled. All they have to do is click submit, and within 2 clicks, we have that leads’ contact information. Why? Ease of use; frictionless experience. Can do this across all platforms besides YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter.

Linkedin Lead Gen Form Example


Leading them to your website or landing page after clicking on an ad and leading them to a form fill to ultimately get their contact information.

After Someone Clicks On Your Ad, What’s Next?

Marketing automation

How are you going to convert the traffic you are directing to your website? There are a variety of ways to do this. Chatbots, slide-ins, top bars, popups, and exit intent forms fills are some of the most popular ways to capture leads on your website and offer up free content to further engage your target audience.


Promoting a lead magnet to your audience when they arrive on-page is topical and relevant to what they are researching. Everyone likes to receive ‘free bonus content’ and it helps to nurture them through the marketing funnel we create, while establishing your brand as a thought leader and industry expert. 

Drift Chatbot Marketing Automation Example
Drift Chatbot Meetings Booked
Drift Chatbot Reporting

Chatbots can significantly increase your ROI. We created a few chatbots that promoted top content pieces for a B2B SaaS company.

Email nurture sequences

After we receive a lead, what are we doing to get them on a call? Generally, it takes 7-8 touches per lead to get them on a phone call. We can set up an email nurture sequence to nurture each lead down the funnel we create to inform, educate, and eventually get them on the phone with one of your sales reps.

We suggest using all of these tactics in conjunction, which will increase the likelihood and chances of that lead/prospect turning from an MQL to a closed/won opportunity. Here are some examples of email nurture sequences we've created