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LinkedIn audience advertising toolsLinkedIn has introduced new features to improve its audience targeting capabilities.

Users can now view the campaign forecasting panel in the Campaign Manager, allowing them to see the make-up of their target audience within the dashboard. Users can customize the panel to surface specific professional characteristics, such as top industries, years of experience, or company sizes for your audience. That means marketers will be able to see who their campaign will reach in detail.

By uploading contacts to Matched Audiences, marketers can serve ads to specific prospects and obtain demographic insights to deliver the content and creative mix that will resonate with audiences, LinkedIn notes.

With the improved targeting capability, Elite Digital Group put its ad in front of executive decision marketers. That increased its number of marketing qualified leads 11.3% month-over-month with a comparable ad spend and improved its close rate to almost 5% from LinkedIn leads, with more deals still in the pipeline expected to close.

“This level of insight to improve your targeting in a B2B campaign really doesn’t exist elsewhere,” says Tanner Stolte, account executive and media buyer at Elite Digital Group, an early user of the new audience forecasting tool.

Boolean Logic for Greater Precision

LinkedIn introduced Boolean logic to improve targeting precision. Including and/or in queries allows marketers to improve targeting by combining characteristics such as job function, seniority, and titles in a single campaign. That’s a boon for recruiters.

“Boolean search logic is one of the easiest, and most effective, qualifiers for large data sets, and it’ll be a handy addition to utilize within your LinkedIn campaigns,” comments Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today.

Media monitoring services use Boolean search terms to deliver accurate results and exclude irrelevant results. Glean.info is one of the few media monitoring services that enable regular expressions, or REX statements, that permit more precise searching. REX statements can specify initial caps as in Orange, the French mobile phone service, or all caps as in acronyms (especially useful if your acronym is also a common word). It can also specify multiple repetitions of a key word in an article or social media post.

Enhanced Demographic Reporting

LinkedIn enhanced its demographic reporting to help marketers understand who view their content or who complete calls to actions, such as are watching their video ads, filling out lead generation forms, or opening sponsored InMail messages. The additional data can show management what kinds of professionals become quality leads or engage with the brand’s content.

Earlier this year, LinkedIn improved advertising with lookalike audiences, audience templates, and Microsoft Bing search data. Lookalike audiences combine the traits of your ideal customer with LinkedIn’s member and company data to find audiences similar to existing customers, website visitors and target accounts.

Audience templates provide predefined audiences with characteristics, like member skills, job titles, groups and other features, to save marketers set up time. And in addition to targeting audiences with their interests expressed on LinkedIn, marketers can target audiences based on content they engage with through Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Taken together, the enhancements significantly improve LinkedIn advertising. Brands will be better able to reach specific audiences when boosting organic PR, marketing or recruiting campaigns.

The biggest disadvantage of LinkedIn may be its costs. Businesses may find LinkedIn more expensive than other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn proponents argue that it’s worth it. The professional network offers a desirable audience, including executive decision makers, who mull purchases of B2B products that are have higher price tags than run-of-mill consumer products. Of course, the challenge is persuading decision-makers to complete the call to action and ushering them into the sales funnel.

Bottom Line: LinkedIn continues to enhance its audience targeting and reporting features. B2B brands that stay abreast of the latest platform upgrades can extract greater value from the professional network.