Everything You Need to Know About LinkedIn Conversation Ads

Everything You Need to Know About LinkedIn Conversation Ads

Learn everything you need to know about LinkedIn Conversation Ads, including what they are, how they work and why they're an effective tool for businesses.

Oct 10, 2023
11 min read
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George Howes
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A Complete Guide to LinkedIn Conversation Ads

LinkedIn is known for its professional networking capabilities, connecting individuals and businesses everywhere. With over 1 billion users, LinkedIn has evolved into an advertising juggernaut, offering many different ad formats to reach highly diverse and engaged audiences.

One format that has taken the digital marketing world by storm is LinkedIn conversation ads.

Introduced in 2020, conversation ads on LinkedIn were designed to create a dialogue-centric advertising experience that felt more like a one-on-one conversation than a traditional ad. 

But is this new ad format right for your business?

In this guide, we'll explain what LinkedIn Conversation Ads are, how they work, how to set them up, and much more.

Let's get started.

What are LinkedIn Conversation Ads?

LinkedIn conversation ads (also known as LinkedIn starter ads) are a type of sponsored content that allows businesses via a chatbot to converse with their target audience. 

Recipients are given a set of multiple-choice questions in their inbox, simulating a real chat. Each choice leads to more information or directs users to an external landing page, guiding them through an interactive, personalized conversation designed to reach a specific action or outcome.

As you can imagine, this two-way dialogue is highly engaging for users. Unlike traditional ads, LinkedIn Conversation Ads rely on two-way communication to get the very most out of their audiences. 

Below are a few cases where conversation ads can be used effectively:

  • Promoting a new product or service to a large number of users
  • Conducting market research by asking targeted questions
  • Driving traffic to a landing page for lead generation
  • Offering personalized discounts or promotions
  • Discovering and reaching new potential customers and much more.

By leveraging these ads, companies can initiate meaningful dialogue with professionals and consumers, increasing brand awareness, capturing lead information, and driving conversions.

How Do LinkedIn Conversation Ads Work?

Users will encounter the following after opening a LinkedIn conversation ad:

  • An introductory message from a company representative, i.e., a senior marketing manager or a sales executive.
  • A series of pre-defined Call-to-actions (CTAs) that progress the conversation forward or link to an external landing page.
  • Lead gen forms.

Marketers can customize each of their ad’s dialogue options, tailoring them to their target audience’s needs and company end goal, i.e., selling a product or service. 

Let's go through each ad button and its purpose:

Conversation buttons: Dialogue responses provided to the user, ranging from a simple 'Yes' to more complex options like 'Learn more about the team.' These are used to progress the conversation.

External buttons: Links that direct users to external web pages, like a product or a landing service page.

Lead Gen Forms: Pre-filled forms already contain the user's LinkedIn profile information, making it easier for them to submit their contact details.

Marketers can track all of the above via the LinkedIn campaign manager, giving them access to valuable data such as conversation analytics, form fill rates, etc.

The Benefits of Using LinkedIn Conversation Ads

We've covered what conversation ads are and how they work, but why should you use them? Here are some significant benefits of using LinkedIn conversation ads:

Interactive Conversation with Target Audience

LinkedIn conversation ads are highly unique in that they allow for direct, interactive conversations with your target audience.

Recipients can ask questions, express interests, give feedback, and receive immediate responses in real-time. This level of interaction also provides more control from both the advertiser and audience perspective, creating a more engaging, meaningful, and memorable experience and connection.

Encourages Active Participation

When dialogue is one-way, people tend to tune out and disengage. It's like receiving a sales pitch from a stranger - it's easy to ignore and move on. But when receipts are given multiple choice responses, they’re more likely to respond and participate actively in the conversation. 

This interactive approach transforms the interaction from a monologue into a dialogue, making recipients feel like they're part of a conversation rather than just the target of a marketing message. 

Higher Engagement Rates

According to Search Engine Journal, LinkedIn Conversation Ads have been shown to deliver 4x higher open rates and engagement rates than traditional email marketing.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn data shows that LinkedIn messaging ads get a click-through rate (CTR) of 3%. This percentage is significantly higher than LinkedIn Single Image Ads, Carousel Ads, Video Ads, and Event Ads, which have a CTR of only 0.44%.

While messaging and conversation ads aren’t the same, they both use LinkedIn’s messaging platform to deliver their content. Furthermore, conversation ads are inherently interactive and, as a result, more engaging, as they require the user to participate in the conversation.

This data suggests that messaging-based ad formats, including conversation ads, can significantly outperform traditional ad formats on the platform.

Advanced Targeting Features

Like their traditional ad counterparts, LinkedIn conversation ads offer advanced targeting features to nail down your target audience.

Users can select from various targeting options, including job title, company size, industry, language, and other forms of criteria. This can help companies reach recipients most likely to interact with their ad, whether due to their job title, company they work for, or interests. 

Retargeting Capabilities

LinkedIn conversation ads allow marketers to retarget users who have previously interacted with their brand. This could be a list of your website visitors, email subscribers, or even people who have attended your webinars or events.

Lookalike Audiences are also available, where targeted users have similar characteristics and behaviors as your current customers. This helps expand your reach and find potential new leads for your business.

Integrated Lead Generation Features

Lastly, LinkedIn's lead generation features allow users to fill out a pre-populated form within the ad, instead of an external landing page. This feature streamlines lead acquisition and offers a valuable pool of lead data that can be seamlessly integrated into any company's CRM system. 

According to theb2bhouse, a lead generation completion rate of anything above 10% is reasonable, with 15% or higher considered excellent.

Get Started with LinkedIn Conversation Ads

With the theory covered, it's time to start creating your first LinkedIn conversation ad campaign. 

Step 1: Choose Your Campaign Objective

First, go to your LinkedIn's Campaign Manager.

Click 'Create' > 'Campaign' from the drop-down menu. This will create a new campaign. 

choose your campaign objective

Next, select the 'Advanced' tab.

select the advanced tab
Source: LinkedIn

Only the following campaign objectives will support conversation ads:

  • Brand Awareness: Increase visibility and boost brand recognition
  • Website Visits: Direct traffic to your website
  • Engagement: Interact with potential customers through likes, comments, and shares
  • Lead Generation: Collect lead information from interested viewers
  • Website Conversions: Encourage specific actions on your website, such as form submissions or purchases

Meanwhile, video views, messaging, and job applicant objectives do not support conversation ads.

After selecting your objective, you'll arrive at the 'Group Budget & Schedule' section.

Ignore 'Budget Optimization', input your daily budget, and schedule your campaign dates. We recommend starting on the higher range to ensure you win bids and get sufficient exposure for your campaign.

Step 2: Set Your Campaign Targeting

Next, it's time to define your target audience. LinkedIn offers advanced targeting options based on:

  • Location: Narrow by country, region, and city to reach specific geographical areas.
  • Demographics: Target by age, gender, education level, and more to reach your desired audience.
  • Professional attributes:  Specific job titles, company size, industry, and years of experience.
  • Interests: Target individuals based on their interests and hobbies to further refine your audience.

And more. 

set your campaign targeting

You can also exclude specific audiences if your product, service, or message is irrelevant to them.

Save your campaign and click 'Create new ad' on the next screen.

create new ad for your campaign

Step 3: Create Your Conversation Ad

Now you have to pick a sender - this is essentially the face of your ad or bot's name.

We recommend selecting a department or individual your receipts will most likely respond to. For example, if you're targeting IT professionals, your sender could be the head of your IT department or a well-recognized brand ambassador with expertise in technology.

Alternatively, you can invite a different sender by clicking the ‘Add sender’ button.

After selecting your sender, add your subject line and a custom banner image. This will show on the ad preview on the right-hand side.

If you're running a lead generation ad, add a lead form to collect information from interested users. This form can be customized with fields relevant to your business and industry.

Step 4: Choose Your Message Format (Template)

choose your message format

Next, choose a template for your ad's conversation format.

Select one that best fits your campaign goals, i.e. if you want to gather information, you could opt for 'Survey or poll your audience'.

Each template provides a unique conversation path that leads the user to your desired outcome.

For this ad campaign, I've opted for 'Offer professional services.'

Step 5: Customize Your Introduction in Your Ad Builder

After clicking next, you'll arrive in the 'Ad Builder' section. Here, you can customize your introduction and follow-up messages to your ad recipients.

Select ‘View Flowchart’ to edit each part of your conversation, including the introduction.

customize your introduction in your ad builder

In your intro, variables marked with '%' symbols are automatically personalized by LinkedIn based on the recipient's profile information. Thanks to LinkedIn's extensive user data collection, you can customize your message using dynamic macros such as First Name, Last Name, Full Name, Company Name, Job Title, and Industry.

create a new conversation ad for this campaign

Step 6: Personalize the Rest of Your Dialogue

After finishing your intro, you can customize the rest of your dialogue. 

personalize the rest of your dialogue

Craft the rest of the conversation by rewriting pre-defined response options and corresponding follow-up messages. You can also input new CTA button texts, which will serve as additional response options for the user. 

add message with appropriate CTA buttons

When setting up your CTAs, think about what happens next.

Will it lead to additional information, a prompt to download something, or a redirect to an external page? This way, you create a guided and interactive experience tailored to different user actions.

Remember, each interaction should offer value to keep consumers engaged, keeping the conversation natural and the experience personalized. Keep it succinct but impactful, always focusing on the user's perspective and interests.

Once you've reviewed your conversation, click 'Create Ad' to launch your ad.

Step 7: Gain New, Valuable Insights About Your Prospects and Customers

After some time, you'll have enough data to measure your Conversation ad campaign's success. 

Log into your Campaigns Manager and download your Conversation ads CTA performance report.

gain new, valuable insights about your prospects and customers

This report includes data on what CTA buttons your users preferred and which parts of the conversation they dropped off the most. 

If you’re experiencing low open rates, LinkedIn suggests a high-quality profile picture that's visible to all LinkedIn users. For users seeing high drop-off rates after their introduction, LinkedIn recommends using a more conversational tone in your messaging. 

LinkedIn Conversation Ads Advertising Specifications

Let's break down the different elements of a LinkedIn Conversation Ad and their specifications:

 Design Recommendations

  • Banner Creative for Desktop: Opt for a banner size of 300 x 250 pixels, ensuring your image is in JPG or PNG format and does not exceed 2 MB. This is strictly for desktop users, so make sure your design is visually appealing and stands out.
  • Intro and Additional Images (Optional):  These images can be added to your intro message and follow-up messages to make your ad more interactive. The maximum size for optimal display on desktop and mobile platforms is 250 x 250 pixels. Ensure you stick to JPG or PNG formats and keep file sizes under 5 MB.

Text Recommendations

  • Ad Name:  Up to 255 characters, including spaces and punctuation. This should be descriptive and reflective of your campaign.
  • Sender: Select a sender from your list of available options or add a new one via an invitation.
  • Subject Line: Up to 60 characters, including spaces and punctuation. This is the first line in the recipient’s Messaging inbox - first impressions matter!
  • Intro Message: Up to 8,000 characters, including spaces, emojis (up to 10), and punctuation. While rich text options are available, we recommend a simple and conversational tone. You always want to quickly set the context and interest your readers in what you offer.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA) Button Text: Each CTA button can use up to 25 characters, with a maximum of five buttons per message.
  • Message Body: Up to 8,000 characters, including emojis and punctuation. Keep the content user-friendly, straightforward, and personalized with available macros.

URL Requirements:

Ensure your URLs begin with the http:// or https:// prefix and use up to 2,000 characters for the destination link.

Avoid using quotation marks in URL parameters and be cautious with special characters (> < # % { } [ ]) as you'll probably encounter errors or unsupported browser issues. If encountering errors, utilize a URL encoder for the query string to resolve potential issues.

To learn about other LinkedIn ad specs, check out our comprehensive guide on LinkedIn Advertising Specifications. This guide provides detailed information on various ad formats beyond Conversation Ads, including Sponsored Content, Text Ads, Dynamic Ads, and more.

Linkedin Conversation Ads Examples Based on Real Campaigns

Let's go through a couple of real-life examples of LinkedIn conversation ads from successful campaigns:

1. LaunchDarkly Product Demo Campaign

LaunchDarkly, a feature management platform, used LinkedIn Conversation Ads to target senior-level engineering executives within growth companies. Their offer? A $50 DoorDash gift card in exchange for booking and attending a product demo.

Lauchdarkly Product Demo Campaign
LaunchDarkly Product Demo Campaign (Jessica Tillem))

The software company targeted executives who previously expressed interest in the brand but have yet to convert, using clear CTAs and social proof in their messaging.

The result?

LaunchDarkly achieved a 1500% return, demonstrating the effectiveness of well-crafted Conversation Ads in driving product demo requests and rapidly moving prospects through the sales funnel.

2. Labelbox Campaign for Tech Experts

Labelbox used LinkedIn Conversation ads to reach out to machine learning and AI experts at different companies. They offered a free guide called "Training Data Platforms 101" to educate and prime their target audience before pitching their product.

Labelbox Campaign for Tech Experts
Labelbox Campaign for Tech Experts (Ed Chan)

However, instead of sending ads from Labelbox's main page, they used their tech head's profile for a personal touch, thinking it would make tech leaders more likely to listen.

This smart move paid off, helping the company cut the cost of getting new leads by 44%. This highlights how your chosen messenger can significantly impact the ad's success.

Message Ads vs Conversation Ads on Linkedin

Despite their similar appearance, message and conversation ads on LinkedIn differ. While both involve messaging, Conversation ad's more dynamic nature sets it apart from traditional message ads.

Let's break down the differences between the two:

Message Ads:

  • Presented as a stand-alone message that appears in your target audience's Messaging inbox.
  • Offers only a single call-to-action button.
  • Addresses the receipt by name and other relevant details, i.e., job title and company name.
  • Primarily used for personalized outreach, such as product or event promotions.
  • A highly targeted advertising option that can reach your chosen audience.

Conversation Ads:

  • Engage users through an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure style conversation within LinkedIn Messaging.
  • Provide multiple response options and CTAs, allowing brands to lead users down a personalized path based on their interests and responses.
  • Facilitates back-and-forth dialogue, similar to a real conversation - great for engaging audiences.
  • Primarily used for large-scale lead generation, product or service promotions, and driving engagement. Their inherent multi-step format makes them ideal for nurturing leads down the sales funnel and gathering feedback.
  • Allows businesses and marketers to utilize LinkedIn's robust targeting capabilities to reach and engage with a highly relevant audience.

To keep things simple, businesses who want more direct, one-time communications might lean towards Message Ads for their straightforward, targeted approach. On the other hand, those aiming for deeper engagement, personalized interactions, and gathering insights from potential customers might find Conversation Ads more effective.

Using Targeting Options of LinkedIn Conversation Ads

Let's dive deeper into how LinkedIn's targeting options work:

  • Professional attributes: These include job title, company size, industry,  seniority level, skills, and even specific LinkedIn groups users are a part of. With LinkedIn's vast data on professional profiles, brands can finely tune their targeting to reach a highly relevant audience.
  • Predictive audiences: LinkedIn's predictive analytics tool identifies users who are more likely to engage with a brand's content or offer. This is based on user behavior, interaction patterns, and other algorithm-driven insights, enabling advertisers to target audiences who have shown interest in similar products or services.
  • Matched audiences: Similar to predictive audiences, matched audiences allow companies to upload their own lists of leads, contacts, or accounts to target on LinkedIn. This is particularly useful for re-engagement campaigns or targeting prospects who are already familiar with the brand.
  • Geographical and demographic targeting: With Conversation Ads, businesses can target users by location, language, and even specific demographics such as age, gender, and education level.
  • Interest targeting: LinkedIn also offers interest-based targeting, allowing businesses to reach users interested in specific topics or industries on their profiles. 
  • Company-level targeting: Enables businesses to target employees or departments of specific companies. This can be extremely valuable for B2B businesses looking to reach decision-makers in specific industries or companies.
  • Retargeting: LinkedIn allows businesses to retarget users who have previously interacted with their ads or content. This can be done through various actions, such as visiting the business's website, downloading a lead magnet, or engaging with previous ads.

LinkedIn Conversation Ads Best Practices

With so many targeting options and dialogue-based features, creating top-performing conversation ads can be tough. To ensure your ads reach and engage your target audience effectively, consider timing your ad campaigns around peak activity hours on LinkedIn. For more details on finding these optimal times, refer to our guide on the best times to post on LinkedIn

Ok, with our small plug out of the way, let’s go through the best practises for LinkedIn conversation ads!

1. Define Your Target Audience

As you may already know, you always want to cater to your target audience. It’s a universal best practice that applies to all marketing, and LinkedIn is no exception. 

But first things first, you must define who your target audience is.

To do so, ask yourself questions like: 

  • What type of professional are you trying to reach? 
  • What industries or companies do they work in? 
  • What interests or skills do they have?

Once you clearly understand your target audience, you can use LinkedIn's targeting options to reach them more effectively.

Remember, it doesn't matter how great your intro or offer is if it’s landing on deaf ears.

2. Select a Sender that Resonates with Your Audience

Targeting SaaS high-level executives to download your lead magnet?

Then you probably wouldn't want the face of your bot to be a recent college grad.

Instead, you can opt for a seasoned executive or a well-respected industry expert within your company. This will help establish credibility and trust with your target audience. 

Remember that LinkedIn conversation ads try to mimic a personal conversation. As such, choose a sender who will most likely get the most out of your target audience.

3. Set High Daily Budgets and Bids for Fastest Results

When setting your daily budget and bid amount, opt for an amount higher than LinkedIn recommends. 


Because you'll win more auctions and will be seen by a larger audience more quickly.

LinkedIn only bids as much as necessary to outbid the next highest bidder, not the full amount of your bid. This means you'll likely end up paying less than your maximum bid amount while still getting optimal results.

4. Be Personal, Not Salesy

LinkedIn conversation ads are about building relationships rather than making a quick sale.

When you can build rapport, trust, and credibility with your audience, the sales will come naturally. They must trust you at every conservation stage, so try to be personal and not overly formal with your audience.

Rather than using generic sales pitches or complex jargon, speak in a way they can easily get and relate to. Of course, this heavily depends on who you're reaching, but a conversational tone is generally well-received.

A few ways of doing this include:

  • Asking open-ended questions to engage your audience.
  • Personalize your messages based on the recipient’s profile or past interactions with your brand.

5. Keep Dialogue Short and Sweet.

If you're lucky enough to get decent open rates with LinkedIn conversation ads, don't test your luck further by dragging the conversation on.

Keep it short and sweet.

Avoid using large chunks of text or industry jargon that may confuse your audience. You only have a few seconds to make an impact with your conversation ad, so make every word count.

6. Test and Optimize

Like any marketing campaign, you're probably not going to get your conversation ad right the first time around. It takes testing, analyzing, and intelligent optimization to see what works for your specific audience.

Split testing or A/B tests work wonders in finding the most effective messaging, visuals, and call to action for your target audience. From there, check your analytics, i.e. open rates, conversation drop-rate rates, and what CTAs users prefer, and use that data to improve your ad.

If you find certain aspects, i.e., tone, language, or imagery, that consistently resonate with your audience, keep using them. By the same token,  if you find elements that don't work as well, be open to tweaking and adjusting your ad accordingly.

7. Choose Your CTA Buttons Wisely

Your CTA buttons essentially pave the way to conversions. As such, you want them to lead your audience towards taking action.

Avoid using CTAs that steer consumers away from your ad, i.e., 'Not Interested' or 'No, Thanks'. Instead, focus on more positive and persuasive language to push them further down the conversion funnel or keep them engaged with your brand.

8. Include an Image Banner

Your sender and messaging, no doubt, are the primary focus of your conversation ad. However, an eye-catching banner can help get more clicks and conversions.

Most companies use their logo or relevant imagery to make their banners pop. Just ensure it's high-quality, visually appealing, and on-brand.

Just note that if you don't include a banner, someone else's brand's banner will appear in its place. Needless to say, nobody wants to click on an ad with some unknown or irrelevant brand front and center.

9. Finish Strong with a Clear CTA

Your ad's goal is to keep users engaged throughout the ad and eventually convert. As such, you don't want to slack off at the finish line.

End with a CTA that's crystal clear and directs users toward the desired action. Examples include 'Sign Up Now', 'Learn More', or 'Get Your Discount Today'.

Remember, your CTA should be aligned with your overall marketing goals. So, if you're promoting a webinar, a CTA like 'Register for the Webinar'  would be more appropriate than 'Shop Now.

10. Post Your Ad

FAQs About LinkedIn Conversation Ads

What are the objectives of conversation ads?

Marketers can use the following objectives for LinkedIn conversation ads: Brand Awareness, Website Visits, Engagement, Lead Generation, and Website Conversions. 

With these objectives, advertisers can set up multiple CTAs and dialogue buttons, navigating prospects on a predetermined journey to their desired goal.

How much do LinkedIn conversation ads cost?

LinkedIn conversation ads use a cost-per-send (CPS) pricing model, meaning you're charged for each message sent to a prospect, regardless of whether it's opened or not. They're also sold through LinkedIn's bidding system, where advertisers can set a maximum bid they're willing to pay for each open. The higher the bid, the more likely your ad will get seen by users.

Advertisers can expect to pay around $0.80 per send, although this can vary depending on how competitive your market is.

What is the limit for LinkedIn conversation ads?

LinkedIn ad recipients are limited to one conversation ad every 30 days. This prevents oversaturation and ensures ads aren't seen multiple times by the same user in a short period, reducing the chances of ad fatigue.

How do LinkedIn conversation ads differ from other ad formats on LinkedIn?

Most LinkedIn ads, whether image, video, or carousel ads, serve to display content, where users passively consume the information provided. However, with conversation ads, advertisers can engage in conversations with users, making them more interactive and personalized. 

What type of LinkedIn ads work best?

LinkedIn's advertising options are all great for specific marketing objectives, so what works best will depend on your goals.

But if we look at the data, LinkedIn messaging ads excel in engagement, with a 3% click-through rate (CTR), far surpassing the CTRs of Single Image, Carousel, Video, and Event Ads at 0.44%. 

Conversation ads are seen as an enhancement of messaging ads, potentially offering even better performance. But it's still a new feature, and the results will vary depending on your dialogue flow and target audience.

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