Targeting on Linkedin: The Segmentation Approach

Using first-party data to target effectively on LinkedIn

50 became 500 very quickly. Thanks to all the new people who have signed-up across email and LinkedIn.

Using first-party data to target on LinkedIn

When I hear - “LinkedIn hasn’t worked for us”, my mind immediately defaults to wondering how their LinkedIn ad account was set up.

Specifically, what went on with the targeting.

Yes, like all channels, LinkedIn doesn’t work for every company but you have to give yourself a chance by playing to the strengths of the channel. For LinkedIn, it’s the first-party member data.

How to use LinkedIn first-party data to your advantage

The member data is excellent. Employed members attach themselves to a company which provides pinpoint data of:

  • Industry

  • Company Size

  • Employee Growth Rate

In addition, members outline what they do and attach skills to their role.

  • Job title

  • Job function

  • Seniority

  • Listed skills

  • Years of experience

Then you have some powerful contextual targeting options

  • Group memberships (high-intent as member completed an action)

  • Interest targeting (low-intent as engagement based)

This is already a lot of data that you can use to target accurately with your ads. You can set up your LinkedIn audience using two approaches:

  1. Large audience campaigns: Don’t segment, have big campaigns and learn from the demographic reporting after.

  2. The Segmentation Approach: Segment your audiences into multiple campaigns and learn in real time.

Number 2 wins for me every time.

Retargeting is another targeting option and for me the most powerful, however this is a topic in itself and something I’ll discuss in a future newsletter.

The Segmentation Approach

Spending time before to segment your audience provides you with a much better chance of success because you can do seven extra things.

  1. Make sure your key segments get an adequate share of impressions

  2. Tailor messaging to each specific audience segment

  3. Improve quality score with each audience (The better the score, the lower the bid price)

  4. Learn what’s working and double-down

  5. Learn what’s not working and shut-down or optimise

  6. Control the amount of times segments see your ads(ad frequency)

  7. Create unique tracking for each

B2B SaaS companies are often used as examples for LinkedIn ads so I’m going to go with something different.

The weirdest example I could think of is a very random company I heard about a while back that hires goats. Yes, you heard me… Hire Goats, it’s a thing.

Hire Goats audience segmentation on LinkedIn

Let’s say we’ve got a brief from Hire Goats, they’ve asked Tuned Social to build a LinkedIn campaign, they have a B2B offering that hires goats to graze the green space in places of work.

Taking the US as an example, geographically we’re excluding the cities of course.

Then the knee jerk response for most people is to build something like the targeting in the image below. An all-encompassing large campaign with all the job titles and industries thrown-in together.

This is an example of a campaign with no segmentation. If this went live, it would have to be a very general message and it would be difficult to learn anything from it. The audience size is 950,000+ members, which is great. But this audience needs to be segmented.

You’d start by taking the top three industries that Hire Goats wants to go after, in this case let’s say they’ve said their top 3 are:

  • Hospitals/Health Care

  • Finance

  • Construction

This leaves a total audience of 320,000. Now you can split this 350,000 into even smaller segments and you can target specifics.

See below: Persona > split to roles > split to roles in certain indsutries.

Now you’re sure you’re reaching your specific targets, for example groundskeepers of hospitals will definitely see your ads.

  • You can now create messages for them.

  • You can now talk to their painpoints.

  • You can now control how many times they see an ad.

  • You can now see performance for them directly.

  • You can now turn off this campaign if they’re not as interested as you first thought.

  • You can now stop wasting budget

I know what you’re thinking… This is much more work and yes it is, but only at the start. It’s the best way to win on LinkedIn and that initial investment will bring you better results.

Also, the way you segment is completely up to you. You don’t just have to use industries and job titles. A lot of companies segment by company-size so that they can segment, SMBs, large corporates and multi-nationals or by growth-rate etc.

Should you always go niche?

So this begs the question, should you always go completely niche with your campaigns? The answer is both yes and no. My opinion is to have both.

First, isolate your ideal customer profile, segment this ICP to create a sustainable amount of segments for you, as with the example above. This way you can make sure you are hitting the right targets and allocating budget that will obtain a sufficient amount of impressions for each.


Run a broader more all-encompassing campaign with the leftover audience. In the case of Hire Goats - it would look like this

  1. Core industries - 3 Indsutries - 15 segments (350,000 people) - 50%+ of the budget

  2. Other industries - 1 campaigns - multiple industries - (600,000 people) - what’s left of budget

How many segments do you create for your campaigns?

Only as many as you can deal with.

For some advertisers this will be 5. This is typical for a marketing manager who’s short on time and where paid-social is only a piece of their role or of a very niche product with a narrow ICP.

For some advertisers this will be 500. This is more typical of a company with a very wide ICP who have a paid-social manager specifically managing paid-LinkedIn campaigns.

But you should only build segmentation that’s mindful of your future workload.

Whatever floats your goat… (sorry)

That’s it for this week…

If you’ve gained value from this newsletter, you can help me by sharing with your network.

You can directly reply to this email if you:

  • Have any questions on the content

  • Would like to discuss your own ICP targeting and segmentation

  • Want me to build a LinkedIn led social strategy for your business

See you next week.