How to Run LinkedIn Advertising on a Small Budget

How to run LinkedIn ads on a small budget is a little tricky. Know the types of ads and expected performance before creating and committing to a budget.

4 min read

How to Run LinkedIn Advertising on a Small Budget

LinkedIn is the go-to platform for professionals to connect with peers, industry leaders, and companies to grow their career and skills. 

According to a 2023 Hootsuite article, LinkedIn has 675 million users each month from around the world. 

That means that for any business looking to acquire talented team members, grow their name and brand awareness, or get in front of potentially qualified clients, LinkedIn is essential

Your company has amazing potential to get in front of new audiences, but growing an audience and sphere of recognition can be difficult. Especially with so many other users and competing content. 

Advertising can help, but knowing how to budget is key.

Average cost of advertising on LinkedIn

Before running an advertising campaign, know that LinkedIn is the most expensive social network by cost per click. 

On average, a click on an ad costs between $5-20 depending on the ad type and your target audience. The average click rate is 1.5% - 4%, and can be tied to whether your brand is relatively unknown (1.5%) or has a strong brand following (4%).

Realistically, it’s hard to advertise and see any results without spending at least $100-$250 for a campaign.

Who should be advertising on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is first and foremost a platform for professionals looking to be more productive and successful. For B2B marketers, it can open up a whole new stream of business simply because of who is using the network and how they use it. 

Ads can engage and attract professionals who matter most for B2B development on LinkedIn:

  • Senior-level influencers: 180M
  • Decision makers: 63M
  • C-suite executives: 10M

Before advertising on LinkedIn, consider the following: 

  • Who is the best target audience to connect with on LinkedIn?
  • What ad type performs best for that target audience?
  • How does you engage with a connected audience after the ad?

Targeting audiences on LinkedIn

The first step for any advertising campaign should be to become certified in Inbound Methodology. Next, build a target audience based on your buyer personas. 


More than other social platforms, inbound methods like social selling and content marketing are highly effective on LinkedIn, and the data proves it. 

The professionals on LinkedIn engage with longer form content (1900 - 2000 words long) more than short posts or quick messages. Taking what works from organic content helps to inform what should work better in ad copy and promoted content as well. 

Once you’re certified and have your buyer personas, hop on the LinkedIn ads manager and start building out your audience. LinkedIn targeting uses input data from users to build its targeting options, which allows for pretty granular criteria, like: 

  • Location
  • Title(s)
  • Experience (job seniority)
  • Job function
  • Company
  • Company industry
  • Etc. 

Select 3-5 criteria when building an audience to avoid an expensive and under-performing ad campaign. 

Recommended types of LinkedIn ads and when to use them

There are three main types of ads on LinkedIn:

1. Native ads

Sponsored content applies ad spend to a post, image carousel, or video that would otherwise be published to the company page. When it appears in a users feed, it looks and feels like just another post.

  • Pros: This can be effective for staying in front of an audience that is somewhat aware of your brand. Perhaps they subscribe to the company blog or follow the company profile on LinkedIn, or attend the same conferences or events.
  • Cons: A user often scrolls through the feed quickly, and can easily scroll past content that is out of context. CTR will be lower if you are relatively unknown to your target audience.

2. Text ads

Display ads combine one visual, a headline, and ad copy to attract users and send them to a landing page. Text ads typically appear in sidebars when a user is online as opposed to in the feed.

  • Pros: Lowest cost per click of all LinkedIn ad types at $3-7 range
  • Cons: Harder to capture interest of a user. Low click through rate (0.02%)

Make sure your text ad is specific to attract a better audience engagement. Below is LinkedIn's example of specific/better (left) and general/worse (right).

linkedin text ad example

3. Message ads

InMail sends a targeted message right to a user’s LinkedIn inbox. It’s the preferred method of advertising for those using account based marketing, or target account strategies, to start a conversation with prospective leads sooner. Best practices require a very niche target audience, and tailoring the message to speak to their pain points or interests.

  • Pros: Open rates average at 50%, meaning recipients are very likely to at least see your message. From there, 3%-4% click on the offer included (Hint: always include a link or offer in your message ad)
  • Cons: It’s the most expensive ad option on LinkedIn, costing upwards of $20-$50 per click.

How to calculate projected performance for LinkedIn ads to create a budget

Running an ad with a small budget is best achieved by building the ad campaign around one buyer persona. And use LinkedIn’s other targeting options to limit your criteria to an audience as outlined below based on the type of ad you choose.

The reason for a target audience of this size is two-fold, based on average click through rates and cost per click for LinkedIn, as outlined above.

Example: Native Ads

  • Recommended for audiences >200 people
  • If your audience is 2000 people, between 30-80 who see the ad will click on it, and it will cost $90-$800 for the campaign.

Example: Text Ads

  • Recommended for audiences >5,000 people
  • If your audience is 10,000 people, the ad might get fewer than 100 clicks but cost less than $500. Keep in mind, text ads only show on a desktop browser, not on mobile or in the app.

Example: Message Ads

  • Recommended audience of <5,000 people
  • If your audience is 500 people, those who receive a Message ad, about 250 recipients will open it and 7-10 people will click on it. If it costs $20-50 per click, your budget should be $140-$500.

Reach more professionals with retargeting tools

During times when budgets are tighter than usual, it’s crucial that businesses target the right audience to see the best ROI.

LinkedIn recently came out with new retargeting and Audience Network Tools that help businesses reach audiences that are already interested in you based on their interactions with previous ads.

One retargeting feature looks at the video views and lead gen forms. If a user watched a video for a certain duration or submitted a form, a sponsored ad will be served to them.

With the new capabilities, businesses can reach an even bigger audience by serving sponsored ads on third-party platforms to those who are the most active in the LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn advertising is expensive but worth it

LinkedIn is the primary source of social traffic to B2B blogs, so users are expecting helpful and resourceful content at the other side of every post, topic, and ad. Once they’ve landed on a resourceful page on your website with user-friendly content and aligned calls-to-action, visitors are more likely to covert than from other social channels.

The key to advertising on LinkedIn on a small budget is: promote content and be intentional and specific with your messaging. With higher cost per clicks than other platforms, you can’t afford to be a generalist, but being specific and engaging will make each dollar count.

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