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How To Target Competitors’ Audiences and Analyze Their Strategies Through Linkedin Ads?

When strategizing your next LinkedIn ad campaign, it is highly beneficial to keep an eye on your competitors and how they are approaching their own marketing on the platform.

Did you know that you can build successful campaigns and target lists based on the audiences of your main rivals? Not only is this doable, it’s incredibly easy – and LinkedIn fully equips you with the tools of the trade to guarantee success.

Our LinkedIn advertising agency have put together a thorough guide that shows you how to do this, as well as the audience-targeting best practices to rake in your competitors’ leads with your next campaign.

Researching Your Competitors’ Audiences on LinkedIn

Naturally, to learn more about your rivals’ audiences, you’ll need to keep an eye on their LinkedIn posts (both their organic content, as well as their ads). This poses insight into how they present their offerings and how their followers engage – the latter, of course, being the audiences you wish to target.

Researching Content

One of the many benefits of LinkedIn is it allows users to keep tabs on what their competitors are up to. This can often provide priceless insight into how to stay one step ahead of them. 

The first step is to create a list of your company’s main rivals and search for their company pages on LinkedIn. It is worth following these pages to be able to see their content on a day-to-day basis. Now start searching for their most recent posts.

Next, you’ll need to analyze these posts insofar as understanding the type of audience they are aiming their content at. Look at things like:

  • Hashtag usage.
  • Brand messaging.
  • Product positioning.
  • Comments.
  • Who is commenting regularly.

Now ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are these commenters influential (i.e.: prominent industry leaders)?
  • What are their skills and experience?
  • How are they relevant to your industry?
  • Are they in any LinkedIn groups? If so, which ones?

How to see your competitors’ ads on LinkedIn

  • How to Find Competitor Ads:

Next up, you’ll need to study their LinkedIn ads. All business pages on the platform have an ‘Ads’ section that can be located under the ‘Posts’ tab.

post linkedin

No Ads? Here’s What It Means:

If your competitor doesn’t have any ads, it’s a good chance for you to step in. With less competition, your ads might stand out more.

Ad Styles Matter:

Take a look at how the ads are made. Are they using just text and images, or something more like videos? This gives you an idea of their goals – are they trying to get more website visits, or maybe they want more people to watch their videos?

The Message in the Ad:

Read the ad copy. Is it aimed at specific job titles or industries? This can clue you in on who they’re targeting with their ads.

Hashtags and Strategy:

Hashtags can be a sign that they’re promoting posts that did well organically. What these posts are about can give you ideas for what might work with your audience.

What’s the Offer?:

Look at what the ads are offering. This can tell you which part of the buying process they’re targeting – are they trying to get new people interested, or are they aiming at those ready to make a purchase?

Landing Page Insights:

Check out where their ads take you. The design and content of the landing page can reveal a lot about how they want to turn visitors into customers.

Analyzing these ads will provide you with everything you need to know about the solutions which their audience is seeking, how they present their products/solutions, the type of headlines they use to grab their audience’s attention, the type of CTAs (call to actions) they’re using, and where their audience is within the sales funnel.

While this doesn’t pinpoint an exact audience, it does provide enough clues to start building one of your own.

Seeing How They Target Their Audience

A key way of understanding who your competitors’ target audience is is by following their pages on LinkedIn. By doing this, it is often possible to see select target signals when their ads appear on your feed.

Because LinkedIn is algorithm-based, you’ll want to engage with your competitors to ensure their ads regularly appear within your feed (e.g.: liking, commenting, clicking, etc.). This lets LinkedIn know this brand is of interest to you and therefore its algorithm will make sure you see everything they post.

Also, clicking on the three dots in the right-hand corner of their posts gives you the option to click on ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’, which will provide you with why you’re included within their audience focus.

This could be because of location or interests, and clicking on each ‘reason’ will provide further details, which also sheds some light on how they’re going about their targeting. 

Do this with as many of their ads as you can and you will begin to see a pattern within their targeting approach. All of this help you on your mission of building a target audience based on your competitors’ audiences.

How to Target Your Competitors’ Audiences

If you want to display your ads in front of your competitors’ audiences to get ahead, these 6 steps will show you how to do just that.

  1. Target Via Job Experience

Reach your rivals’ audiences by targeting them based on job experience and certain roles.

Job Functions

By now, you should have noticed if your competitors are targeting their ads and organic content via certain fields. If they are, you are well-advised to take advantage of LinkedIn’s useful feature, job functions. 

This is a simple setting that allows you to reach platform users within the industry/industries relevant to yours. To use this feature, you’ll need to head to your Campaign Manager and keep a regular eye on the forecasted results to ensure you stay in control of the audience size (being mindful that it’s recommended that you have an audience size of no less than 30k when using Sponsored posts).

Member Skills

If you find that targeting via certain fields isn’t effective enough, take a look at member skills to hone in on a tighter audience by targeting via roles and industries. 

Again, the research you’ve conducted on your competitors’ content will shed light on what skill/s to add to your own campaigns. If you’re unsure of what ones to add, Campaign Manager will recommend some.

Job Titles

Depending on certain factors, your competitors may be targeting via job titles. Now that you’ve conducted your research, you can target your ads to the job titles that came up within your analysis. You will need to add more than one job title or your targeting will be inefficient. 

As with member skills, Campaign Manager also provides suggested job titles, which you can include too.

Job Seniority

If you’re finding that your targeting is too small and confined, broaden it a little by looking at job seniority. This means your ads will hit a wider spectrum of potential audiences (entry-level, mid-level, senior, training, etc.).

Be mindful that this targeting area alone will be too vague, but coupled with other areas, such as skills or job function, you will begin to build an audience of relevant, high-quality leads.

Years of Experience

Again, alone this targeting area will not create an efficient enough audience, but combined with the other options listed above, you’re fine-tuning your targeting to near-perfection. 

Once you’ve done this, you can use Campaign Manager’s forecasted results to check whether your audience is wide enough before launching your ad. 

  1. Targeting Via Company

Naturally, a useful LinkedIn marketing tactic is to target your ads at certain companies, as well as via the signals mentioned above.

Company Industries

This type of signal allows you to go broader with your targeting than that of other options, such as individual roles, by targeting via sector.

While this signal can be ideal for marketers wanting to target via sector, it is worth being aware that there is a downside to this. LinkedIn is quite limiting here because it will only apply one industry per company, which can be unhelpful if you wish to target multiple sectors. 

You can find out whether this option will work for you when testing your campaign by creating a replica of the campaign and testing this particular signal.

Company Category

When building a target audience, you always want to hone in on decision-makers, as they hold the lead generation key. This is where the company category signal can help.

The signal allows you to target the most relevant companies (including those on the Fortune 500 list), so coupled with other signals, you have the opportunity to create an audience of powerful potential clients.

Company Names

During the competitor research process, you may have noticed commenters who work for the same companies, and if so, you can use this signal to target users with those companies listed in their employment history (current or past) – and again, Campaign Manager will offer further recommendations here.

Company Connections

This signal helps you target LinkedIn users based on your competitors’ audiences’ first-degree connections, which can open up the targeting scope for further influential candidates.

Bear in mind that LinkedIn will only allow you to target influential members of businesses with more than 500 employees.

Company Revenue

For certain companies, a revenue threshold may be a targeting factor, providing it exceeds that threshold. You will find the outlined thresholds listed in Campaign Manager to help you target companies connected to your competitors who exceed that.

Company Size

Depending on the type of companies you wish to target (solopreneurs, mega-corporations, and everything in between), LinkedIn offers a company size signal to further focus your targeting.

Company Growth Rate

You may find that your competitors are targeting companies based on their growth rate, and by using Campaign Manager, you can target your ads at companies with growth settings between negative and 20% growth rates.

3. Interests & Traits

Moving away from targeting via professional experience, LinkedIn offers the feature of targeting that is based on platform activity. 

Member Interests

Campaign Manager offers an Interests & Traits tab. With interests, there are two different category options: general and products. General interests allow you to target users based on the type of content they like on LinkedIn (even if it’s not industry-relevant). Products interests allow you to target users based on their product interests.

Member Traits

Member traits allow you to target potential audiences based on their behavior while on LinkedIn. This means honing in on users who may be using the platform to conduct certain activities, such as searching for a new role, looking to expand their education, or who may have recently been promoted.

Member Groups

LinkedIn groups play an important role in targeting, as they allow marketers to seek users with certain interests, goals, backgrounds, etc. This is especially useful if a group is run by your competitors themselves.

4. Education

Educational backgrounds can also play an important part in targeting, and during your research, you may have noticed educational nuances within users interacting with your competitors’ content. 

Member Schools

Naturally, this allows you to target members who may have a mutual academic organization. This can be anything from targeting graduates to targeting those on a single course from said organization.

Degrees

Campaign Manager has a feature called ‘degree options’ that allows marketers to target users via their college or university achievements. By using this, you can see the global audience size of each achievement and then use the forecasted results provided by Campaign Manager to assess an audience size based on this and your other targeting selections.

Fields of Study

If targeting via degrees or academic institutions is too narrow, you can open the spectrum up to fields of study, as well as get an estimation of the total LinkedIn members with this attribute. 

5. Retargeting

While it isn’t possible to target your competitors’ audiences for a retargeting campaign, you can remarket to your current audience. This can be significant later on down the line when you’ve used your current campaigns to generate leads away from your competitors (or at least encouraged them to engage with your content).

Contact Upload List

Here you will need to upload the list of contacts who have subscribed to your marketing efforts to your Campaign Manager.

It pays to keep tabs on who subscribed via what effort so that you can outline those of whom did so via LinkedIn.

Company Page & Website Retargeting

Your retargeting list can also include users who have engaged with your company’s LinkedIn page or your website (via your LinkedIn marketing).

6. Demographics

Finally, adding a demographics signal can be the cherry on top of your audience-building, being mindful all the while that demographics targeting can sometimes negatively impact your ads from reaching audiences based on other signals. 

Because LinkedIn doesn’t focus on the typical demographic information, such as age and gender, instead it draws its own conclusions about these factors based on other info a LinkedIn member has on their profile. This can sometimes lead to inaccuracies when targeting via demographics.

To prevent this from happening, perform split testing (create two identical campaigns – one with demographics targeting and one without) and see which one performs best.

Conclusion

So, as you can see, LinkedIn provides ample ways of audience-building simply based on your competitors’ content.

While it can be time-consuming conducting this research to build an audience, doing so (plus making the best of Campaign Manager) will ensure the fruits of your labor are abundant.

If you’d like to learn more about how we help B2B SaaS and Tech companies grow their MRR through LinkedIn advertising, contact us online or send us an email today at info@getuplead.com to speak with someone on our team.

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