September 20, 2019

LinkedIn Ads and Twitter Ads Explained

By Rob Drummond with Jonathan Wilson
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
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We all have our personal biases about LinkedIn and Twitter. I (Rob) am not generally a fan of LinkedIn. I don't like being on it as a user. Which biases my opinions on whether the ads are going to work. But something to remember is that both LinkedIn and Twitter have viable if fairly basic remarketing options.

The remarketing options are more limited than on Facebook or Google. On both Twitter and LinkedIn you can't set an audience duration, so you can't set a one-day audience or a three-day audience, like you might on Google or Facebook. You can only use 30-day audiences, and you can choose to either build a global audience of everyone who's been on your site, or people who've viewed specific pages.

The minimum audience size on Twitter is 100 users (editor’s note: at least in theory, in reality this may be higher). The minimum audience size on LinkedIn is 300. In other words you need that many people in your audience before LinkedIn and Twitter will run your ad.

Another common perception is that LinkedIn ads are very expensive. And on the face of it that is kind of true. But not always.

I (Rob) have been working with a client recently who serves a corporate audience. He's targeting people by job role, and they're clearly identifiable on LinkedIn. He's getting great results with the messenger ads, where you run ads that show up in people's inbox in LinkedIn. We're talking 41% click-through rates, and a cost per lead of about $3.50. Which is actually less than the minimum bid that you might pay for a click on LinkedIn.

So if you're going after a corporate audience, then don't dismiss it. Good results are possible!

LinkedIn and Twitter are also sensible ways to expand your Maze retargeting strategy, beyond Google and Facebook.

I (Rob) have found with Twitter that it's possible to get decent click-through rates, especially with a remarketing audience. I've found that it's quite hard to get people to buy. It's quite hard to get people to fill in forms on a website. They will click through to controversial blog posts, and that is quite a good use of the medium. People go to Twitter to read controversial posts. Controversial posts get retweeted, even if it’s an ad.

Twitter feels more of like a nurturing medium than a sales medium. I (Rob) started enjoying Twitter a lot more as a user when I unfollowed most of the marketers that I was following. So now I mostly follow comedians and random academics. The only “marketer”, in quotes, that I follow is Ken McCarthy, and he hardly ever tweets about marketing. He's tweeting about politics and other stuff, which is more important. So you should view Twitter as a nurturing and micro-branding platform.

LinkedIn Ad Formats

On LinkedIn there are a few different ad formats that you can use. You can create text ads, which in our experience are pretty expensive. They’re relatively easy to miss, and newsfeed ads seem to get much more traction.

You can also create lead ads on LinkedIn. Like on Facebook, LinkedIn will pre-populate the lead form with information that they hold about that person. Most people set up their LinkedIn profiles with their business information, not their personal information. So you generally get more business email addresses. On LinkedIn people generally use their business contact information rather than their personal info.

If you sell B2B, then LinkedIn is definitely viable, as long as you can target either an audience based on job role and interests, or if you have a sizeable remarketing audience.

If you're going to test LinkedIn ads, I would consider messaging ads in particular. (These ads are called ‘Sponsored InMail’). You can also use lead forms with the messaging ads as well. I've been finding that's been working pretty well.

I would also consider running video ads in the newsfeed. Like Facebook, LinkedIn is a visual medium. The ad format in the LinkedIn newsfeed is very similar to Facebook, so you have an image or a video, some text, and a link to either go to a website or to go to a lead form. These ads are called ‘Sponsored Content’.

To actually run ads on LinkedIn you need a business page. The business page appears as the identity of your ad, so pay attention to the name of your page and your page image. There's no way to run an ad from a personal profile, so you set up a brand or company page and run your ads in association with that page.

On Twitter it's the other way around. You can only run ads from your personal profile – there is no such thing as a ‘business page’. Although you and your business can both have separate Twitter accounts, which often is sensible.

You also need to have some activity on Twitter before they’ll let you run ads. They won't just let you set up a Twitter account and immediately start running ads. They actually want you to be an engaged Twitter user. I (Rob) don't tweet very much. I tweet once in a while and repost things occasionally, and that seems to be enough. But my ads are linked to my personal account, not to a business profile.

On Twitter you have fewer ad formats – you’re essentially promoting a Tweet. So you get an image or video, a headline, and the body of the tweet itself.


Twitter Ads in particular can be very affordable, if you use your ads as a nurturing medium, and if you get high click through rates on your ads. We’ve had click prices as low as $0.10. Even if those clicks don’t buy, it still populates your retargeting audiences on other networks. If your content is good you’re laying the groundwork for a sale that will come later on.

A good place to start is to find your most controversial blog post, and set it up as a Twitter remarketing ad, plug it into your maze, and see what happens. You're trying to get engagements, encourage conversation, get people through to your website.

That's what Twitter wants. They want people liking, retweeting and commenting on your post, and clicking on the link. So if you can give Twitter that, they’ll reward you with lower click prices.

If you’re advertising to cold audiences, then you need to be careful and watch your back. But with remarketing audiences, you can be a bit more carefree. You're not going to lose tremendous amounts of money. It's certainly worth a test.

A big mistake people make is treating all of these platforms like they're the same. You have to understand what is unique about Twitter? Or what is unique about LinkedIn? And how can you cater to that, rather than blasting the same message to every platform at once. Cater to each platform individually and you’ll see better results. 

Rob Drummond

Rob is a co-host of the Maze Marketing Podcast, and specialises in content creation, ad copy and email storytelling. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.

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