The Top 5 Essential A/B Tests for High-Performing LinkedIn Ads

Wondering how to get the most out of your LinkedIn Ads?

The answer is A/B testing. This comprehensive guide walks you through the top 5 essential tests you should be running to optimize your LinkedIn Ads. From targeting your audience at the campaign level to tweaking creatives, copy, landing pages, and offers at the ad level, we’ve got you covered. Master these tests to maximize ROI, mitigate risks, and make data-driven decisions that will elevate your LinkedIn advertising game.

Main Takeaways

  1. Targeting at the Campaign Level: Your first and foremost priority A/B test. It sets the stage for who sees your ads and how effective they will be.
  2. Creative Variations at the Ad Level: Visuals can make or break your ad’s performance. Test different creatives to find what clicks with your audience.
  3. Ad Copy at the Ad Level: Words matter. Experiment with different tones, headlines, and calls to action to see what drives engagement.
  4. Landing Pages at the Ad Level: A more advanced but crucial test. The same ad, different landing pages. See what converts best.
  5. The Offer at the Ad Level: High-friction vs. low-friction offers can significantly impact your conversion rates. Test to find out which works best for your audience.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    • Brief Overview of LinkedIn Ads
    • Why LinkedIn Ads Are Important in B2B Marketing
    • Why A/B Testing LinkedIn Ads is Crucial
  2. How to Run an A/B Test in LinkedIn Campaign Manager
    • Steps to Set Up
    • Importance of Changing One Variable
  3. The Top 5 Essential A/B Tests
    • Targeting Audience at the Campaign Level
    • Creative Variations at the Ad Level
    • Landing Pages at the Ad Level
    • The Offer at the Ad Level
    • Why You Should Test These Metrics
  4. Metrics to Analyze
  5. Other Elements to Test at the Campaign Level: The Underdogs
    • Objectives
    • Ad Formats
    • Bidding
  6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  7. Conclusion: The Art and Science of LinkedIn Ads A/B Testing


Brief Overview of LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn is more than just a professional networking platform; it’s a bustling marketplace for B2B interactions. Unlike other social media platforms where the focus might be on lifestyle or entertainment, LinkedIn’s user base is comprised of professionals actively seeking opportunities, solutions, and content that can help them excel in their careers. This makes it a fertile ground for B2B marketers for several reasons:

Why LinkedIn Ads Are Important in B2B Marketing

Key Advantages of LinkedIn Ads

Key AdvantageBrief Description
Targeted ReachEnables granular targeting based on industry, job function, and more, reaching decision-makers effectively.
Quality LeadsGenerates higher-quality leads who understand the value of your offerings.
Thought LeadershipEstablishes your brand as an industry expert by providing valuable insights.
High Engagement RatesBoasts 50% more B2B engagement compared to other platforms.
Credibility and TrustCarries professional credibility, making ads more trustworthy.
Networking OpportunitiesEvery interaction can be a stepping stone to valuable business relationships.

Why A/B Testing LinkedIn Ads is Crucial

A/B testing is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have in the world of LinkedIn Ads. Here’s why:

Quick Table: Why A/B Testing is Crucial in LinkedIn Ads

Key FactorBrief Description
Cost FactorOptimizes budget allocation in the context of LinkedIn’s high CPC, increasing cost-efficiency.
ROI ImpactMaximizes return on investment by fine-tuning ad elements.
Risk MitigationActs as a safety net, allowing small-scale tests before large ad spends.
Data-Driven DecisionsProvides actionable insights for better marketing strategies.
Competitive AdvantageGives you an edge over competitors by using data-backed strategies.
Continuous ImprovementEnables ongoing optimization to adapt to market trends and platform changes.
User ExperienceEnhances engagement and conversions by understanding audience preferences.

Cost Factor

LinkedIn Ads are known for their high cost-per-click (CPC). A/B testing is crucial for identifying which ads perform best, allowing you to allocate your budget more effectively. This is especially important given the premium cost associated with LinkedIn Ads.

ROI Impact

A/B testing is essential for maximizing your return on investment (ROI). By fine-tuning various elements of your ads, you can increase engagement and conversions. This ensures that your budget is allocated efficiently, getting you the most bang for your buck.

Risk Mitigation

Running an ad campaign without A/B testing is a gamble. A/B testing serves as a safety net, allowing you to test different variables on a smaller scale before fully committing your budget. This approach minimizes financial risk and helps you avoid repeating mistakes.

Data-Driven Decisions

In the digital age, data is invaluable. A/B testing provides the data you need to make informed decisions. Whether it’s selecting the most effective headline or choosing the right call-to-action, these insights can make or break your campaign.

Competitive Advantage

A/B testing gives you a leg up on the competition. While others are making educated guesses, you’ll be making data-backed decisions. This edge can be the difference between blending in and standing out in a crowded marketplace.

Continuous Improvement

The digital landscape is ever-evolving. A/B testing isn’t a one-off; it’s an ongoing process that helps you adapt to new trends and algorithms. This ensures that your ads remain effective over time, not just for the moment.

User Experience

User experience is paramount in any ad campaign. A/B testing helps you understand what your audience values, allowing you to create more engaging and valuable ads. A better user experience often leads to higher engagement rates and increased customer loyalty.

How to Run an A/B Test in LinkedIn Campaign Manager

Steps to Set Up

Step No. Action Step
1 Log in to LinkedIn Campaign Manager
2 Choose Your Campaign
3 Duplicate the Campaign
4 Edit One Variable
5 Set Budget and Schedule
6 Launch the Test

1. Log in to LinkedIn Campaign Manager: Navigate to LinkedIn Campaign Manager and select the account where you want to run the A/B test.

2. Choose Your Campaign: Locate the campaign you wish to test and click on it.

3. Duplicate the Campaign: Click on the three dots next to the campaign name and select “Duplicate.” This will create a copy of your existing campaign.

4. Edit One Variable: In the duplicated campaign, change just one variable. We’ll discuss what’s crucial to edit in the following section.

5. Set Budget and Schedule: Allocate a budget and set a schedule for the test. Make sure it aligns with the original campaign for a fair comparison.

6. Launch the Test: Once everything is set up, click “Launch Campaign” to start your A/B test.

Importance of Changing One Variable

The cornerstone of A/B testing is the principle of changing only one variable at a time. This is crucial for several reasons:

  • Attribution: Changing just one variable ensures that any difference in performance can be attributed to that specific change. This makes your test results more reliable and actionable.
  • Simplicity: Keeping the test simple by altering only one element at a time eliminates the complexity of multi-variable testing, making it easier to analyze results.
  • Accuracy: When you change multiple variables, it’s challenging to determine which one caused the shift in performance. By sticking to one variable, you get more accurate data that can be confidently used for future campaigns.

The Top 5 Essential A/B Tests: Mastering Campaign-Level and Ad-Level Experiments

When it comes to A/B testing on LinkedIn, not all tests are created equal. This guide zeroes in on the top 5 most important tests you should be running to optimize your LinkedIn Ads. These crucial tests can be conducted at two distinct levels: the campaign level and the ad level. Understanding what to prioritize and where to test can make or break your advertising strategy.

1. Targeting Audience at the Campaign Level: The #1 Thing to Test Every Time

Campaign-level tests are broader and focus on the overall strategy of your advertising campaign. Targeting is the cornerstone of any successful LinkedIn ad campaign. That’s why it’s the first thing I test, every single time.

The Essence of Targeting on LinkedIn Ads

Targeting on LinkedIn Ads allows you to zero in on specific professional groups based on criteria like job titles, industries, and skills. It’s not just about broad reach; it’s about connecting with the right decision-makers to maximize ad effectiveness.

Targeting Audiences You Can Choose in LinkedIn Ads

Targeting Option Description
Job Titles Target based on specific job titles.
Seniority Level Target based on the rank in the company.
Skills Target based on specific skills listed on LinkedIn profiles.
Job Function Target based on the department, like marketing or sales.
Company Size Target based on the size of the company.

Why Testing Targeting is Non-Negotiable

Testing audience targeting on LinkedIn Ads is essential because it helps you identify which segments are most responsive to your campaigns. This ensures you’re not wasting your budget on uninterested parties and instead focusing on those who are likely to convert. By continually refining your targeting, you can achieve better ROI and more meaningful engagement.

The First Step: Look Beyond Job Titles

The first thing you need to scrutinize is your targeting type. The most commonly used targeting type is job titles. However, job titles can be a double-edged sword. While they offer a straightforward way to reach a specific audience, they also have limitations. Job titles are free-form fields, meaning you’re only reaching about 40-45% of your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) through this method alone.

The Underserved Audience

What about the rest? Well, you’re missing a large chunk of your audience—let’s call them the ‘Underserved Audience.’ These are potential customers who haven’t listed their job titles in a way that makes them easily targetable. In fact, you could be missing out on over 60% of your ICP because of this.

Next Step: Expanding Your Targeting Horizons

Once you’ve established job titles as your baseline, it’s time to get creative and start testing other targeting parameters. Here are some alternative targeting strategies you should consider:

  • Groups + Seniority: This combo allows you to target specific LinkedIn groups along with the seniority level of the members.
  • Skills + Seniority: This is a killer combo for targeting professionals like LinkedIn ad specialists like me who may not have a conventional job title listed.
  • Job Function + Seniority: This targets people based on their department, like marketing or sales, along with their rank in the company.

Split Testing for ICPs

  • Directors vs Managers: If you’re unsure who responds better to your offer—directors or managers—run a test targeting each group separately.
  • Sales Directors vs Marketing Managers: Both could be your ICP, but who responds better? Time to find out.

Other Factors Worth Testing

  • Geography: While not my go-to, it’s worth a shot if you’re looking to target by location.
  • Company Size: Are small startups more responsive than large corporations? Test and see.

Summary Table: Alternative A/B Tests to Run Beyond Job Titles

Alternative Test Description
Groups + Seniority Target specific LinkedIn groups and combine it with the seniority level of the members.
Skills + Seniority Target professionals based on their skills and their seniority level.
Job Function + Seniority Target people based on their department (e.g., marketing, sales) and their rank in the company.
Directors vs Managers Run a test targeting directors and managers separately to see who responds better to your offer.
Sales Directors vs Marketing Managers Test to see whether Sales Directors or Marketing Managers are more responsive to your ads.
Geography Target by location if that’s a significant factor for your campaign.
Company Size Test to see if small startups or large corporations are more responsive to your ads.

For those who want to dive even deeper into LinkedIn targeting strategies, don’t miss out on my comprehensive, totally free course, ‘LinkedIn Targeting Like a Pro.’ It’s packed with actionable insights on five key strategies you absolutely need to be testing. 

Setting Up Your Targeting Test

  1. Start with Job Titles: This is your baseline.
  2. Change One Variable: For your next test, try changing to skills + seniority.
  3. Run Side-by-Side Comparisons: This will give you actionable data.
  4. Analyze and Adjust: Look at the performance metrics and tweak your next campaign accordingly.

Once you’ve nailed down your targeting, don’t rest on your laurels. There are four other critical elements to test, and all of them are at the ad level. Let’s dive in.

2. Creative Variations at the Ad Level

Ad creatives are the visual and textual elements that make up your ad. This includes images, videos, headlines, and body text. They are the first thing your audience sees and are critical in capturing attention and driving action.

Types of Ad Creatives You Can Test

Creative Type Description
Image Ads Static images that convey your brand message.
Video Ads Short videos that can be more engaging than static images.
Carousel Ads Multiple images or videos that users can scroll through.
Text Ads Simple text-based ads that appear at the top of the LinkedIn feed.
Message Ads Direct messages sent to LinkedIn inboxes, offering a more personal touch.
Event Ads Promote LinkedIn events directly within the feed.

Why It’s Important to Test Ad Creatives

Testing ad creatives is not just a best practice; it’s a necessity. Different creatives will resonate with different segments of your audience. By A/B testing various creative elements, you can identify which combinations are most effective in terms of click-through rates, engagement, and conversions.

The Testing Process

Imagine you have three or four ads, all pointing to the same destination but each with a different creative flair. You could even have one ad with the same creative but different copy (Type 1 versus Type 2). The goal? To see which creative combo gets the clicks.

By continually refining your ad creatives through testing, you can optimize for better performance and ROI. This is especially crucial in a B2B setting where every click could potentially lead to a high-value conversion.

So, don’t settle for the first draft of your ad creative. Test, refine, and test again to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

4. Landing Pages at the Ad Level 

What Are Landing Pages?

Landing pages are the web pages where your audience lands after clicking on your ad. These pages are designed with a single focused objective, often to capture leads or drive conversions. They are the make-or-break point for turning clicks into customers.

Types of Landing Pages You Can Test

Landing Page Type Description
Lead Capture Designed to collect user information like email addresses.
Sales Page Directly sells a product or service.
Webinar Signup Promotes an upcoming webinar and collects sign-ups.
eBook Download Offers a free eBook in exchange for contact information.
Product Demo Provides a demo of a product or service and encourages sign-ups.

Why It’s Important to Test Landing Pages

Testing landing pages is crucial for understanding how effective they are at converting visitors. Even minor changes, like the headline or call-to-action button, can significantly impact conversion rates. By A/B testing different landing pages, you can isolate what works and what doesn’t, thereby optimizing for higher conversions.

The Testing Process

Picture this: the ad creative, copy, and everything else stays the same. The only difference? The landing page it points to. This allows you to measure the performance of each landing page without any other variables messing with your data.

By keeping all other elements constant, you can accurately gauge the effectiveness of your landing pages. This is invaluable data that can help you refine your overall LinkedIn Ads strategy, ensuring that you’re not just driving traffic, but driving qualified traffic that’s more likely to convert.

So, don’t underestimate the power of a well-optimized landing page. Test different versions to find the one that resonates most with your target audience. After all, in the world of B2B marketing, every click counts.

5. The Offer at the Ad Level

What Are Offers?

Offers are the value propositions that you present to your audience in your ads. They can range from high-friction offers like a demo or a sales call to low-friction offers like a downloadable guide or a free webinar. The offer is the bait that lures your audience into taking action.

Types of Offers You Can Test

Offer Type Friction Level Description
Sales Call High Directly invites prospects to a sales call.
Product Demo High Provides a live or recorded demonstration of your product or service.
Downloadable Guide Low Offers a free guide, often in PDF format, that provides valuable information.
Free Webinar Low Invites prospects to a free educational webinar.
Discount Coupon Low Provides a limited-time discount on a product or service.

Why It’s Important to Test Offers

The type of offer you choose can significantly impact your conversion rates. High-friction offers may seem risky, but they can yield high-quality leads. On the flip side, low-friction offers are easier to get but may result in lower quality leads. Testing different offers helps you understand what your audience prefers and what’s more cost-effective for your business.

The Testing Strategy

You can go for the jugular with a high-friction offer like a demo or a sales call. Or, you can play it cool with a low-friction offer like a downloadable guide. Most of the time, the low-friction offer will outperform, but don’t write off the high-friction offer just yet. It might cost more upfront, but if it converts well, your customer acquisition cost could actually be lower.

By A/B testing different offers, you can find the sweet spot between lead quality and acquisition cost. This is crucial for optimizing your LinkedIn Ads for the best ROI. So, whether you’re offering a whitepaper or a free consultation, make sure to test, analyze, and optimize. In the realm of B2B marketing, understanding your audience’s preferences can make or break your campaign.

Why You Should Test These Metrics

The reason you should be rigorously testing these aspects at both the campaign and ad levels is directly tied to your Click-Through Rate (CTR). One of the biggest challenges in LinkedIn Ads is achieving a high CTR. This is primarily influenced by your creative, copy, and offer. These are the elements you should be A/B testing to craft high-performing ads.

By focusing on these elements, you’re not just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks; you’re making data-driven decisions that can significantly improve your CTR. A higher CTR often leads to better engagement, lower costs, and ultimately, a more successful campaign.

Other Elements to Test at the Campaign Level: The Underdogs

While targeting is the cornerstone of your LinkedIn Ads strategy, let’s have a look at what these other, less important elements are that you can test at the campaign level. They might not be the main event, but they’re worth a look when you’re fine-tuning your campaigns.


What Are Objectives?

Objectives are the goals you set for your LinkedIn Ads. They guide your campaign strategy and provide a framework for measuring success. LinkedIn offers various objectives like “Website Visits,” “Website Conversions,” “Lead Generation,” and more.

Types of Objectives You Can Test

Objective Type Description
Website Visits Drives traffic to your website or a specific landing page.
Website Conversions Focuses on getting the user to take a specific action on your website, like filling out a form.
Lead Generation Collects leads directly within LinkedIn through pre-filled forms.
Video Views Promotes video content and measures viewer engagement.
Brand Awareness Increases the visibility of your brand or product among a specific audience.

Why It’s Important to Test Objectives

Choosing the right objective can significantly impact your campaign’s performance. For instance, if you’re looking for quality leads, “Website Conversions” might be more effective than “Website Visits.” However, objectives can perform differently based on various factors like targeting, ad creatives, and offers.

The Testing Strategy

Ever wondered if “Website Conversions” trumps “Website Visits”? Well, you’re not alone. I’ve been down this road and, more often than not, website visits take the cake. But don’t take my word for it; run the test yourself. LinkedIn’s data collection is evolving, and who knows, maybe “Website Conversions” will be the next big thing. But for now, consider this a secondary test.

Ad Formats

What Are Ad Formats?

Ad formats are the different types of ads you can create on LinkedIn. From single image ads to conversation ads, each format offers a unique way to engage your target audience.

Types of Ad Formats You Can Test

Ad Format Description
Single Image Ads A static image with accompanying text and a call-to-action (CTA).
Conversation Ads Interactive ads that engage users in a messaging-like experience.
Carousel Ads Multiple images or cards that users can scroll through.
Video Ads Ads that feature video content.
Sponsored Content Native ads that appear in the LinkedIn feed.

Why It’s Important to Test Ad Formats

Different ad formats can yield different results. For example, single image ads might be cost-effective for lead generation, but conversation ads could offer higher engagement rates. The format you choose can also depend on the complexity of your offer and the stage of the buyer’s journey you’re targeting.

The Testing Strategy

Single image ads are the bread and butter for most of us, but have you tried conversation ads? Sure, single image ads usually get you leads at a cheaper price, but you never know until you test it. However, this is more of a “when you have time” kind of test.

Bidding at the Ad Level

What Is Bidding?

Bidding is the process of setting the amount you’re willing to pay for a specific action on your LinkedIn ad, like a click or an impression. It’s a crucial part of your advertising strategy that determines how often your ad is shown and at what cost.

Types of Bidding Strategies You Can Test

Bidding Strategy Description
Cost Per Click (CPC) You pay for each click on your ad.
Cost Per Mille (CPM) You pay for every 1,000 impressions your ad receives.
Cost Per Send (CPS) You pay for each message sent via Conversation Ads.
Automated Bidding LinkedIn automatically sets your bid to get the most actions for your budget.

Why It’s Important to Test Bidding Strategies

Different bidding strategies can yield different results depending on your campaign objectives. For instance, if you’re looking to maximize visibility, a CPM strategy might be more effective. On the other hand, if you’re focused on conversions, CPC might be the way to go.

The Testing Strategy

Ah, the enigmatic world of bidding. While I have a go-to strategy, it’s worth shaking things up a bit. But let’s be real, this is not a high-priority test. Stick to your tried-and-true methods until you’ve got time to spare. So, there you have it. These tests might not be the stars of the show, but they deserve an audition. Give ’em a try when you’re feeling adventurous.

Metrics to Analyze

After you’ve set up your A/B tests and they’re up and running, the next crucial step is to analyze the metrics that matter. But which metrics should you focus on? Let’s dive in.

Metric Description Importance
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of clicks to impressions. High CTR often indicates relevant and engaging content.
Conversion Rate The percentage of completed goals (conversions) to clicks. Directly impacts ROI and shows how effective your call-to-action is.
Cost Per Click (CPC) The average cost you pay for each click. Helps in budgeting and understanding how much you’re paying for engagement.
Cost Per Conversion The average cost you pay for each conversion. Crucial for understanding the ROI of your campaign.
Impressions The number of times your ad is displayed. More impressions increase brand visibility but don’t necessarily mean more engagement.
Engagement Rate The percentage of interactions (likes, shares, comments) to impressions. Indicates how compelling your content is beyond just clicks.
Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) The revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising. A key indicator of the overall effectiveness and profitability of your campaign.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

This is the percentage of people who clicked on your ad after seeing it. A higher CTR generally indicates that your ad is resonating well with your audience.

Conversion Rate

This is the percentage of completed goals (or conversions) compared to the number of visitors. A higher conversion rate is a good indicator that your landing page is effective and that you’re targeting the right audience.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

This metric tells you how much you’re paying for each click. Lower CPC means you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Cost Per Conversion

This is how much it costs you to acquire a customer. Lowering this cost means your campaign is more efficient.

Quality Score

LinkedIn provides a Quality Score for your ads, which is based on the relevance and quality of your ad and the landing page it directs to.

Engagement Rate

This measures how much your audience interacts with your content. It can be a good indicator of how well your content resonates with your audience.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

This tells you how much revenue you’re generating for every dollar spent on advertising. A higher ROAS is a good indicator that your campaign is profitable.

Importance of Analyzing Metrics

Understanding these metrics is crucial for the ongoing optimization of your LinkedIn Ads. They not only help you understand what’s working and what’s not but also guide your future A/B testing efforts. By focusing on the right metrics, you can make data-driven decisions that improve your campaign’s performance over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How long should I run my A/B tests for optimal results?

A: It’s recommended to run your A/B tests for at least two weeks to gather sufficient data. However, this can vary depending on your campaign goals and the volume of traffic.

Q: Can I A/B test multiple variables at once?

A: While it’s technically possible, it’s not recommended. Testing multiple variables can muddle the data and make it difficult to pinpoint what exactly led to changes in performance.

Q: Is A/B testing only useful for large companies with big budgets?

A: No, A/B testing is beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Even with a small budget, you can gain valuable insights that can lead to significant improvements in your campaign.

Q: What should I do if none of my A/B tests show significant results?

A: If you’re not seeing significant changes, it might be time to reevaluate your testing parameters or even your overall campaign strategy.

Q: How do I know if my A/B test is statistically significant?

A: There are various online calculators and tools that can help you determine the statistical significance of your A/B tests. It’s crucial to use these resources to ensure your test results are reliable.

Q: Can I A/B test LinkedIn Ads with other platforms like Google Ads?

A: Yes, but it’s important to keep the user behavior differences between platforms in mind. What works on LinkedIn may not necessarily work on Google Ads, and vice versa.

Conclusion: The Art and Science of LinkedIn Ads A/B Testing

A/B testing on LinkedIn Ads is both an art and a science. It’s an art because it requires creativity in designing different ad creatives, copy, and offers. It’s a science because it demands rigorous, data-driven testing and analysis to understand what truly resonates with your audience.

From the importance of targeting at the campaign level to the nuances of ad creatives and landing pages at the ad level, A/B testing is your secret weapon for maximizing ROI, mitigating risks, and making informed decisions. And let’s not forget the metrics that serve as the backbone of any successful A/B testing strategy. They provide the data you need to continually refine your campaigns for better performance.

While targeting remains the cornerstone, don’t overlook the underdogs like ad formats and objectives at the campaign level. They may not be the stars of the show, but they deserve an audition.

So, whether you’re a LinkedIn Ads novice or a seasoned pro, remember that A/B testing is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. It’s the key to unlocking the full potential of your LinkedIn Ads, ensuring that you’re not just in the game but ahead of it.

Further Reading

If you found this guide on LinkedIn A/B testing valuable, don’t miss out on our other in-depth articles that dive into LinkedIn advertising and more. 

Check Out:

Philip Ilic

Philip Ilic

B2B Growth Specialist

Phil helps B2B SaaS companies with growth marketing and is a deep specialist in Linkedin advertising and paid social more generally (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). He runs a paid social agency called and is the founder of


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