LinkedIn advertising is a powerful channel for any B2B company looking to reach relevant audiences based on their profession. But if you don’t get your targeting right, it can end up costing you a lot of money.
Here’s how you can upload audience lists to LinkedIn to target users of any software (or specific technology) that’s relevant to your business. This nice little trick is a unique way for you to reach a B2B audience that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach with the same precision. And by targeting users of a specific software you’ll have very unique knowledge about the audience you are targeting.
“Software” in this context can be anything from which content management system a company used to build its website and which analytics and tracking tools they use, to something like what live chat software is being used or what CRM software they have.
The possibilities are endless, and ultimately give you a great way to target audiences that are not readily available on an advertising platform like LinkedIn.
Before getting started, here’s a quick run-down of what you’ll find in this post:
- Finding the right software that can improve your targeting and messaging
- How to extract a list of companies/websites using this software
- How to get the list uploaded to LinkedIn
- Tricks on how to use it in your LinkedIn campaigns
Let’s dive in.
Which software is relevant to use for targeting?
The first step will for some be the hardest: finding the right software, where targeting their users make sense for your company. As noted above, this is easier if you’re selling a SaaS product already.
If you sell something like Umbraco—a content management system—it’s obviously very powerful to be able to target companies that use your competitor’s software and create ads that speak to the key differences and unique selling propositions (USPs) between your software and theirs.
What if you’re not a SaaS company? Well, then you have to get a bit creative…but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. If you’re working as a marketing consultant and you’re expert at growing Magento webshops, then having a list of companies using Magento can be very useful (and profitable).
If you find companies that use software to create heat maps or to make A/B split tests, then you know they are very focused on conversion rate optimization and the user experience on their website.
If they use an expensive CRM tool, you know that they invest a lot in their sales department and you can try to sell them sales training (if that’s what you do).
Once you’ve found the right software, it’s time to find the users and create a list that you can upload to LinkedIn.
The following screenshot use a real example from Umbraco, targeting companies that use competitive offerings such as Sitecore. The Unbraco team knows that Sitecore (and other similar products) costs more than Umbraco and believes it can deliver the same value at a lower price point—so that will be the focus of the ads.
At the same time, companies that stop using Sitecore often do so because they are looking for more flexibility and freedom in their development; so the Umbraco ads and landing pages will reflect those concerns as well.
How do you find these companies?
Without an actual list of those companies that use the software that you’ve picked, you won’t get far. And this part is the secret sauce in this entire trick, the technique that makes it all possible.
And just a fair warning: to get this list you’ll either need to spend a lot of time or you’ll have to pay for it. While you could scrape your way through thousands of websites to look at which software they use, it’s way easier to pay to get a tool do the job for you.
There are many such tools out there, but the one chosen for this guide is BuiltWith. While there are alternatives like Wappalyzer or SimilarTech, BuiltWith has a reputation for the highest accuracy and total number of websites in their index.
The bad part is obviously that you’ll have to pay—the price is $495 for a month if you want unlimited data. The good part is that you can buy access for just one month and cancel at anytime. Since there’s no limit to how much data you can export in a month, you can extract all the data you want before your subscription runs out.
Once you’ve gotten a paid user, you’ll be able to extract reports on users of almost any software that you can think of. Here’s a quick example tutorial with screenshots.
The first step is to generate a list of websites that use the chosen software (in this example, Sitecore). Using Builtwith, this is really straightforward.
First, create a report for the software and choose whether you want to target all sites using the software or narrow it down by a specific country, technology spend, or amount of traffic they receive.
Once the report is created, you can export it either as Excel or CSV. Even though you’ll want to end up with a CSV for LinkedIn, you may want to choose the Excel format here as it’s easier to clean (which will be needed before it can be uploaded).
Once you have the report it’s time to clean it up and get it ready for LinkedIn.
Upload the list to LinkedIn
With the list of companies generated, it’s time to prepare it for uploading to LinkedIn. As you’ll see, there’s a lot of information in the list now, so it needs to be cleaned and reformatted to a CSV to be ready for upload.
Clean the list
Luckily this part is pretty easy to do. For lists to be uploaded to LinkedIn, they must be in CSV format (the only supported format) and with two relevant values:
- Company name (key value)
- Company website (increases match rate)
If you want to make sure that your CSV is formatted correctly you can download the LinkedIn Account Targeting template.
Clean your list in either Google Sheets or Excel and leave only company website and company name. Make sure it follows the template from LinkedIn and you’re ready to upload the list.
Upload it to LinkedIn
While LinkedIn doesn’t require you to provide both company name and company website, it is very important to have company name as that seems to be the key value LinkedIn uses to match.
Unfortunately, our Builtwith list does not include a company name on all websites found. You can still choose to upload these, but beware that the match rate on these will be very low (our tests showed significant increase in match rate when company name was provided).
For your list to be uploaded, you’ll need a minimum of 1.000 accounts and a maximum of 300.000. So, if your list is less than 1.000 or larger than 300.000, you’ll need to do make further edits. For the audience to be eligible for ads you also need at least 300 matched members, thought that’s rarely a problem.
If you have a few big companies on your list, you’ll see that the amount of members associated with them is enough to reach much more than 300.
How to use your audience in your campaigns
After uploading your list, it can take LinkedIn up to 24 hours to process and match your records, as well as an additional 24 hours to have it ready for campaign delivery. In other words, don’t be surprised if it takes three-four days before your audience is ready (now you’re warned).
Once your audience is ready for use (it really does take three-four days most of the time, so be patient), you’ll be able to see the match rate of your audience.
You’ll be able to select that audience for your campaigns, and your ads will be targeted at people who work in these companies.
But that’s not quite good enough – you don’t want to target everyone working at a company. You want to target the right people.
Don’t just use the same old ads
Once you’ve settled on a software product (either one or more in the same category) and you’ve uploaded your list to LinkedIn audiences, it’s time for you to take advantage of what you know about the audience you’re targeting.
- What can you say about those who use this software?
- What will catch their attention?
- How can you convince them to buy your product?
This will naturally depend on your situation, but the main thing here is to not just use your generic copy that you use for other campaigns. Tailor your ads and landing pages to fit this audience specifically. Take advantage of your insights and make it relevant to the audience you’ve chosen.
If you know that the software they use is very expensive, you’ll know they’re not scared of investing in expensive software. If you have cases where your product created great results for other users of this software, that’s something to highlight.
The last step before starting the campaign is to segment your audience based on their job role or title. Let’s say you only want to target decision makers. Then you should segment by job title and only include those individuals with a title like CxO, Head of, Senior, Executive, VP, or whatever corresponds to the position you’re trying to target.
Now you’re ready to get started
Whew – that took a bit of work. But you’ll see that it was worth it.
Now you’ll have campaigns that are targeted highly relevant audiences with tailored ads and landing pages.
The team at Umbraco has been doing this trick for a few months now and is seeing the results of those efforts with new and highly-qualified leads coming in.