How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn Text Ads

Closeup image of a stack of classified files

Ever since LinkedIn rolled out sponsored content ads, text ads have taken the back burner. Why run ads with a limited number of characters and a tiny image, when your ads can appear directly in the feed, with more copy and a larger image?

On the surface, text ads may have about the same amount of appeal as classified ads in a newspaper. While cheaper than a full-page spread, they’re much less visible.

Well, you may be missing out on some cost-effective leads by not testing text ads. Here are a few tips to use text ads effectively in your ad account.

Start with the Specs

Generally, text ads appear just above the feed or in the right sidebar. Below, see some examples of how LinkedIn can show these ads:

LinkedIn text ads require the following specs:

  • 100×100 image (yes, that’s tiny!)
  • Ad headline of up to 25 characters
  • Ad description of up to 75 characters

Ads can appear in the following sizes: 300×250, 700×17, 160×600, 728×90, or 496×80. Also, LinkedIn appears to automatically add an extra CTA to text ads in some formats (see the “Learn more” link in the examples above).

With so few characters, accompanied by a barely visible image (which doesn’t even show up in all placements), every element of the ad is crucial for getting the user’s attention. Let’s talk about copy first.

Balance Clear CTAs with Brief Copy

When writing copy for text ads, remember that you can’t cram in every possible detail about your offer. What’s your main goal? Provide enough information to convince the user to click through to your landing page.

Think of short headlines that succinctly communicate your offer or speak to what the user will get out of it. For instance, “Earn an MS in 12 Months” resonates with people considering a Master’s degree, while selling a short timeframe as a benefit point.

Use action verbs in your copy (Earn, Save, Learn, Apply, etc.) to clarify what you’re asking the user to do. If your offer entails specific numbers (such as percentage or dollar amounts), mention those in your ad. For example, “First Time Users Save 10%.”

In the description, mention additional details and selling points (such as “GRE not required”). Also, make sure to represent your brand somewhere in the ad, whether mentioning it in the copy or including your logo.

Beyond the copy you write, the image you use will also be crucial to getting people to look and click. Let’s review some tips for text ad imagery.

Choose Simple Images with Bold Colors

Look at the following set of text ads. Which images stand out the most?

Fordham University uses a clear, simple graphic of their “F” logo, with a contrasting red/white color scheme that draws your attention. NYU uses a photo of a face, which also can draw in a user’s eyes.

However, the middle ad uses a graphic containing multiple lines of text, which you can barely read. You should generally avoid using text in these tiny images, unless you’re incorporating a simple one-letter logo, like Fordham. The 100×100 pixel size contains too little space for users to comfortably read copy.

When choosing images, select bold color schemes to stand out, while avoiding overly complex graphics. Remember that you’re competing against much larger images in the feed for user attention, so the graphics you choose will play a major role in attracting eyes to your copy.

In addition, A/B test different images to see what performs best. For instance, you could see how a stock photo of a face resonates versus your logo.

Start with Realistic Performance Expectations

Let’s face it: text ads are the least visible ad format on LinkedIn. Very few people end up clicking these ads. However, if someone does pay enough attention to click on your text ad, you know that your image and copy made enough of a difference to stand out to that individual.

When running text ads, establish different expectations than you have for sponsored content ads. First of all, CTR will be low, likely EXTREMELY low. You may see CTRs in the 0.01%-0.02% range; of course, these metrics can vary based on your targeting and creative. Just remember that low CTR is normal, due to the less obvious placements where these ads appear.

On the upside, CPC for text ads often tend to be cheaper than for sponsored content. In one high-volume B2B account I manage, text ad CPCs average 37% less than sponsored content CPCs using similar targeting. Minimum bid thresholds are lower too, starting at $2, as opposed to $4 and upward for US-based sponsored content campaigns. In turn, CPA can often be lower.

Due to the lower costs, text ads can also efficiently drive targeted B2B visitors to higher-funnel pieces of content, such as blog articles, videos, or downloadable whitepapers. With the proper UTM parameters in place, you can then build retargeting audiences in other channels based on the LinkedIn ad traffic.

Start Testing!

If you’re stuck in a rut with LinkedIn Advertising, maybe text ads are the next place for you to test. Brainstorm some copy, design some images, launch a campaign, and see how it performs.

Have you tested text ads on LinkedIn? What tips or questions do you have? Share in the comments below!