05 Jul 2024

Predictive power: LinkedIn audience targeting explained

LinkedIn’s audience targeting just got a facelift. Earlier this year, LinkedIn decided it was time to retire lookalike audiences from their ad targeting toolkit and hopped on the AI bandwagon, joining other social platforms in incorporating more machine learning into their ecosystem. This latest revamp is all about precision, nuance, and making your lead generation efforts work smarter.

But what do these shiny new features actually mean for your lead gen campaigns? Our Paid Media team has the low down…

What you’ll find:

  • How LinkedIn audience targeting options have changed
  • Predictive audiences
  • Expansive audiences
  • The benefits of predictive audiences
  • How to optimise your lead campaigns
  • Summary

LinkedIn audience targeting has changed

So, what’s new? LinkedIn now recommends features like Predictive Audiences and Expansive Audiences to make your targeting smarter and more intuitive. These updates promise to streamline how you reach potential leads, ensuring your campaigns are hitting the right notes.

According to LinkedIn: 

“These options can help you scale and reach similar audiences and identify buyers most likely to act.”

LinkedIn predictive audiences vs lookalike

Remember the good old days of lookalike audiences? We’d input audience lists into the platform and LinkedIn would match them to ‘lookalike’ users to help us reach accounts with similar interests, traits or profiles. This meant we could target LinkedIn users with similar traits to our current customer base, who were (hopefully) more likely to be interested in what we’re selling.  

What’s changed?

Enter Predictive Audiences. This feature collates data from your lead gen forms, contact lists and conversions, blends them with LinkedIn’s own AI and voilà! You get custom audiences predicted to perform like your best leads. 

This feature makes use of a large amount of data (including ad clicks and conversions) to analyse patterns, behaviours, and traits to forecast which members are ripe for your campaign.

It’s a heady cocktail of your data + LinkedIn’s insights, shaken (not stirred).

By tapping into predictive insights, you can anticipate your audience’s needs before they even know they have them, positioning your message at the right place at the right time. No more copycat audiences – this is all about pinpointing those most likely to convert.

What’s the catch?

Bear in mind that to create a Predictive Audience, you can only select one data source, and it must have 300 or more members. Plus you’re limited to 30 predictive audiences per ad account and they can’t be shared across accounts. For small businesses with niche audiences or large corporations with numerous audiences, this could be a bit of a squeeze.

Audience expansion on LinkedIn

Expansive Audiences is LinkedIn’s way of saying, “Think bigger!” It automatically broadens your audience reach based on professional demographics and your existing customer targeting parameters.

This tool opens doors to new prospects who share similar characteristics with your core audience but might have been flying under your radar – helping you cast a wider net without losing focus.

Screenshot about new LinkedIn audience targeting options

The benefits of AI-powered predictive audiences

Why should you care about Predictive Audiences? Because, frankly, Predictive Audiences might just be your new secret weapon. By leveraging LinkedIn’s own algorithm, data and machine learning, it has the potential to refine your targeting over time as the AI sharpens its insights.

In fact, early tests saw a 21% Cost Per Lead (CPL) reduction in campaigns using predictive audiences and lead gen objectives.

Here’s what you stand to gain:

  • Target precision – Predictive Audiences could identify high intent audiences on a larger scale so you can zero in on those ready to act
  • Better conversions – by identifying leads who are more likely to engage, your interactions become more meaningful and your ROI improves. It’s about working smarter, not harder
  • Enhanced efficiency – Predictive Audiences streamline your campaign setup, saving you time and resources
  • Broader reach – tap into LinkedIn’s vast 950 million global database to find more of the right people

And ultimately, you don’t have a choice. With LinkedIn pulling the plug on lookalike audiences, jumping on the predictive bandwagon isn’t just a smart move – it’s your only move.

What does it mean for your lead gen campaigns?

So, how do you make the most of these new options? 

Here’s our insider scoop on optimising your lead campaigns with LinkedIn’s latest targeting features:

  1. Content that speaks their language

With the shift to Predictive Audiences, the quality and relevance of your content are more critical than ever. It’s not exactly rocket science – engaging content that’s tailored to your predicted audiences is your golden ticket to conversion.

What you should do:

  • Dive deep into research – understand your target audience’s needs, interests, and content habits inside and out
  • Tailor your content to resonate with your newly identified Predictive and Expansive Audiences
  • Speak their language – address their pain points, and make your message compelling
  • Build a library of topical content to A/B test and find out what resonates best
  • Quality content isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Make sure your content is polished and professional
  1. Data-driven decisions

Use LinkedIn’s analytics to understand your audience better. Dig into the metrics, track performance, and tweak your targeting based on the data. 

What you should do:

  • Track and tweak – keep a close eye on performance metrics and adjust your targeting accordingly
  • Monitor LinkedIn engagement – see how your audience is interacting with your content and use these insights to refine your approach
  • Keep a close eye on Audience Expansion campaigns to improve relevancy and efficiency
  1. Relentless execution

Don’t set it and forget it. Optimisation is an ongoing journey of tweaks and improvements. Stay ahead of the curve by continually fine-tuning your campaigns.

What you should do:

  • Run A/B Tests – experiment with different approaches to see what hits the mark
  • Continually optimise – never rest on your laurels. Keep refining your campaigns to capture and convert leads efficiently

The bottom line

Are lead gen strategies about to get a whole lot smarter? With the fast growing adoption of AI and machine learning, the playing field is changing. However, the fundamentals of lead gen remain the same. 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Quality. Relevant. Content. 

That being said, when it comes to paid campaigns, minor tweaks can make all the difference. And as the B2B space gets more competitive, maximising ROI is vital. 

A PPC audit will deconstruct your campaigns piece-by-piece to eke out efficiencies and determine how to boost your return on investment. Get in touch with our team for a free consultation. 

Author information

With 15 years of hands-on SEO and digital marketing experience, agency director Ash is the driving element behind our digital team. Ashley heads our digital execution team, delivering innovative strategic and tactical marketing initiatives and campaigns; helping propel our clients’ growth and success.

Learn more about Ash

Our content manager Emily has over 6 years of experience in digital marketing and is behind the creative thinking and SEO content strategy that fuels our client projects.

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  1. https://www.linkedin.com/help/lms/answer/a423698 
  2. https://www.elixirrdigital.com/2024/02/07/how-predictive-audiences-are-transforming-b2b-targeting-on-linkedin/ 
  3. https://nogood.io/2024/02/28/linkedin-lookalike-audiences/ 
  4. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/changes-linkedin-lookalike-audiences-its-impact-avi-kapoor-k3fsc 
  5. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-phases-out-look-a-like-audiences-five-ways-prepare-zxgtc 
  6. https://www.linkedin.com/business/marketing/blog/linkedin-ads/predictive-audiences-b2b-targeting