LinkedIn matched audiences: How to get started

LinkedIn matched audiences: How to get started

Learn what you can do with LinkedIn matched audiences, how to set up lists, and tips for incorporating them into your campaigns.

LinkedIn can be a difficult platform to master, but with the right combinations of targeting and messaging brands can see success in generating results.

Matched audiences allow you to reach people who have engaged with your business in some way and go after lists of “dream companies” that you’d like to work with. 

This article provides an overview of how you can get started with matched audiences along with tactics for using them in your campaigns.

Types of matched audiences

LinkedIn allows for a variety of first-party and third-party methods to build audiences. Here are the available categories at the time of writing this article:

  • Contact lists: Targeting individual people.
  • Company lists: Targeting anyone who works for a particular organization.
  • Pixel-based retargeting: Reaching anyone who visited select pages on your website.
  • Engagement-based retargeting: Based on in-platform activity, such as:
    • Single image ad engagement.
    • Video ad views.
    • Lead form opens/submits.
    • Company page engagement.
    • LinkedIn event RSVPs.


The absolute minimum size for a matched audience is 300 to be eligible to serve. This means 300 individuals need to be matched in the platform after uploading and processing the list.

You’ll likely see some drop-off with the platform not being able to match every individual in your original document.

The platform will show a match rate after the list has finished syncing, allowing you to double-check your fields if the match rate seems abnormally low.

However, just because you can target as few as 300 people doesn’t mean you should. Larger audiences generally see more efficient CPCs and CPAs, with a threshold of at least 50,000 individuals being ideal. 

For company targeting, LinkedIn recommends including a minimum of 1,000 companies.

For contact targeting, LinkedIn recommends a minimum of 10,000 email addresses. If more than one email address matches with the same user, that person will only be included once.

The maximum file size for either type of list is 20MB or 300,000 records.

When uploading a list, use the templates that LinkedIn provides. You can use just the email field for a contact list or the company name field for a company list if wanted, but the more columns you can include, the more accurate you can expect the matching process to be.

Additionally, you’ll have to wait for LinkedIn to finish processing a list before you can target it in your campaigns. Generally, lists will be ready within 48 hours, but occasionally they can take longer.

Finally, some CRMs and automation platforms allow you to sync lists directly. This compatibility, if available, can reduce the lift necessary to get a list in place while also allowing you to keep it refreshed.

Get the daily newsletter search marketers rely on.

Processing…Please wait.

See terms.

Layering targeting

Matched audiences can be used in combination with LinkedIn’s other available targeting. Think about ways you can use your own audiences plus additional layers such as company size, job function, seniorities, titles, or others. Just note that you cannot combine contact lists with interests and traits.

For example, you can target a company list layered with job seniorities of Senior level and up if you’re seeking to avoid junior-level individuals.

Or you can retarget people who visited your website and also work for companies with over 500 employees.

Audience layering in LinkedIn

You can use “AND” as well as “OR” targeting when setting up layers. For instance, you can reach people who are members of either list A or list B, and if they also have Director level seniority.


Lists can also be valuable to make sure you’re not wasting spend on individuals you don’t want to target. 

LinkedIn audience exclusion

For instance, you can upload a list of your current customers and exclude them from campaigns to avoid reaching them. You also should exclude competitor companies so their employees don’t see your ads.

Website retargeting audiences can come in handy for building exclusions as well.

To gate out job seekers, build an audience based on people who visit your “Careers” page.

If your product offers an online experience, you can exclude people who reach the log-in page as those are likely to be existing customers.

Upselling and ad sequencing

If your brand entails the opportunity to upsell customers on additional levels of service, sync lists of current customers based on their tier or existing plans to then serve ads for new products or services. 

For example, users of CRM software could be upsold to add marketing automation features to their existing plans.

You can also plan to put different content in front of people after they complete interactions with your brand. 

If you’re using lead forms to promote a downloadable buyer’s guide, you can target people who have filled out the form for the guide and promote an opportunity to request a demo. 

By controlling which lists you include and exclude from campaigns, you can effectively set up ad sequencing between campaigns to stagger exposure through the course of the sales funnel.

Lookalike targeting

Once you’ve created a matched audience, you can also make a corresponding lookalike audience. This will find people with similar characteristics to those on a particular list. 

Lookalike targeting

For instance, if you upload a list of current customers, you can then create a lookalike audience that will include people with similar job titles, group membership, interests, etc.

Be sure to test lookalikes in separate campaigns from your original lists so you can segment results, as you can’t isolate the performance of one specific audience within a single campaign.

Getting data from audiences

In addition to campaign targeting, LinkedIn offers some useful analytics features to see details about the individuals in your lists. 

To access this information for a contact list you’ve uploaded, navigate to the Audiences section, select an audience, and click the Insights button in the upper right.

Audience insights

You’ll now see options to view top characteristics, including:

  • Interests
  • Locations
  • Job functions
  • Job seniorities
  • Years of experience
  • Titles
  • Companies
  • Company size
  • Industries
  • Growth rates

When you select a company list, you’ll see the Company Engagement Report, which shows details on how often people from each company:

  • Engaged with ads.
  • Engaged organically with your company page.
  • Or visited your website. 

This report can also be helpful to ensure that your list matched against the proper companies.

LinkedIn company engagement report

If you’ve created website retargeting audiences, you can view similar details by navigating to Analyze > Website Demographics. You can also compare the characteristics of two different audiences.

Start testing audiences

If this article has helped you to identify some matched audiences you haven’t yet tested, start thinking about ways to implement them in your campaigns. 

Whether you assemble prospect lists to import into LinkedIn or start building engagement-based audiences to target people who are engaging with your brand, think about content that makes sense for the level of interaction people have had with your brand.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Related Stories

New on Search Engine Land

    Google to offer publisher first-party cookie support

    LinkedIn matched audiences: How to get started

    8 simple steps to optimize your WordPress site for SEO

    9 important features of enterprise SEO platforms

    2 new Google Display & Video 360 audience solutions

Related Post