LinkedIn’s new Matched Audiences feature just blew Facebook Custom Audiences out of the water for B2B

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This week, LinkedIn released a new feature to its advertising product for which advertisers have been waiting on pins and needles.

Facebook and Twitter advertisers have enjoyed the ability to target people by email address for advertising since 2013, and AdWords advertisers got Audience Match back in 2015.

As of April 24, LinkedIn advertisers now get access to this feature as well, and it’s called “Matched Audiences” in LinkedIn parlance.

The significance of this release, though late to the game, should not be understated for B2B advertisers. Here’s why.

LinkedIn always wins on audience

B2B marketers often lament the low match rates on both Facebook and Twitter Ads against the corporate email addresses they collect regularly. Sahil Jain, a fellow Marketing Land contributor, finds B2B lists regularly match less than 15 percent of the email addresses within. This is because so few Facebook and Twitter users register accounts with their work email addresses.

For B2B advertisers, a low match rate means ad volume from this targeting is doomed to be low. Advanced advertisers consider their Return on Effort (ROE) for taking the time to test a new feature. Many of these B2B advertisers explain to me that they never even bothered to set up email match on Facebook Ads because it would drive so little volume that it wasn’t worth their time to set up.

All of this changes significantly with LinkedIn Ads’ new feature.

A quick, informal poll with a few other advertisers indicated that the vast majority of us have both our personal and work-related emails registered within our LinkedIn profiles. (Check here to see what emails LinkedIn has for you now). For those curious about why you might have a work email there, I found that the reason I had mine was that whenever a work colleague sent an invitation to my work address, and I clicked through and authenticated to my LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn automatically made that association between our accounts.

That makes LinkedIn the network that is most likely to have both your personal and work emails. Worried about a low potential match rate? Don’t be. By my estimate, the less than 15 percent that you’re used to with Facebook could average more like 75 percent, conservatively, on LinkedIn.

Advanced email match strategies

There are some awesome use cases for this new feature for LinkedIn advertisers. I’m going to share some of the advanced strategies I’ve used over the course of the pilot:

  1. Add all of your current customers’ email addresses into a Matched Audiences segment. Add this list as an exclusion for all of your demand generation campaigns. No need to spend budget on those who’ve already become customers.
  2. Add all of your current customers’ email addresses into a Matched Audiences segment to use as a product updates messaging channel. Due to the fact that you’re showing interesting messages to the most relevant audience, you can expect to see astronomically high CTRs (3%+) so you can bid CPM on these and get the clicks for massive discounts (I’ve seen <$1).
  3. Add all of your leads that never closed into an audience and advertise to them, and be sure to exclude current customers from #1 above. Advertise to keep your brand top of mind for those who at one point considered doing business with you. As soon as they become a customer and are added to the customer list, they’ll automatically be excluded from this dynamic audience.
  4. Add all leads that haven’t closed to an exclusion list for all of your campaigns. This will allow you to save all of your spend for those who haven’t yet interfaced with your brand, granting you additional exposure with fresh audiences.
  5. Have an employee or founder who is big-time stuff in your industry and has lots of pertinent connections? Consider exporting their LinkedIn connections to CSV and upload that as a Matched Audiences segment. This will allow you to show ads only to those with whom the company already has a connection. Use the employee/founder’s name in the ad to get ridiculously high CTRs. (Like #2 above, consider bidding CPM to get steeply discounted clicks.)
  6. Have a large list of email addresses for the media? Use them in a PR segment meant to drum up interest from the media in your company. Stories written about your company result in free leads and links that help your company’s SEO efforts. The same strategy can be used to impress potential investors for capital infusion!


Of course, as with any feature, there are some limitations to be aware of:

Match rate feedback

When you upload a list of email addresses for targeting, LinkedIn matches them against the email addresses it has in its database. Unfortunately, there is no feedback upon uploading on which email addresses did not properly match — only a percentage displaying how many did match.

Minimum audience size

As with the rest of LinkedIn’s new targeting options, the minimum audience size is 300 people. This is unfortunate for those with smaller lists because it may preclude being able to run until the list has grown larger. You may need to upload a list with 500+ email addresses to ensure you have over 300 matches.

No list management

Mistakes in list uploads live in the account forever because there’s no list deletion or management of any kind.

How to implement

Now that the functionality is rolled out to all accounts, here’s how to take advantage of it.

Go into the campaign in your Campaign Manager that you’d like to apply the email targeting list to. Then click on the “Audiences” tab to see the following at the top of the list of targeting facets:

linkedin ads account based marketing audiences

Click on “Create an audience” under “Target a list of accounts,” and you’ll be greeted by the following dialogue box where you can name your email list, select the option, “Match based on a list of email addresses,” and then upload your CSV.

LinkedIn Ads Email Match

CSV requirements

In order for the sheet to work, it needs the following:

  • Format must be .csv.
  • Sheet’s first column must be labeled as “email” with one email address per row underneath.

Once you hit “Next,” you’ll be greeted by the Account Lists screen. Navigate back to your campaign targeting, and find the “Target a list of accounts” option like in the screen shot below. Your list is now created, so click the “See full list” option to find a list of the audiences you’ve created. Select the one you want to use, save the campaign, and the targeting will be applied.

Notice that it can take up to 48 hours to process your list, so don’t be worried if the list shows a size of <300.

Also, should you want to apply a negative (exclusion) list, simply select “Include” and change it to “Exclude” on the list targeting option, which will ensure that no email address in that list will be allowed into your targeting.

LinkedIn Ads Matched Audiences List

LinkedIn released this feature with several other monumental updates. Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll discuss advanced strategies for the new account-based marketing feature.

Tweet me @WilcoxAJ with any additional strategies in how you’re using the new targeting feature. I’d love to geek out with you!

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

AJ Wilcox is a long-time digital marketer who fell in love with the LinkedIn Ads platform back in 2011. Since then, he’s scaled and managed among the world’s most sophisticated accounts worldwide. In 2014, he founded which specializes in LinkedIn Ads training, consulting, and account management, and recently became the first and only official certified LinkedIn partner for ads fulfillment. He’s a ginger, triathlete, and his company car is a gokart. He lives in Utah with his wife and 4 kids.


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