Oct 19, 2023 A88Lab.

The Low-Budget SaaS Guide to Building a High-Value Pipeline with LinkedIn Ads

Starting lead generation for SaaS companies can often become a headache. This is especially true for enterprise SaaS, where sales cycles are longer, making it challenging to convert leads into SAOs or customers...fast. As a result, the upfront costs of lead generation campaigns can feel like a burden, especially for early-stage SaaS and tech startups.

LinkedIn it's a great place to build a high-value pipeline,  but often, it turns very expensive for multiple reasons. 

In this blog post, we will provide insights on how to make the most of LinkedIn in generating high-quality leads without breaking the bank. We'll show you why LinkedIn ads are a great investment (when used wisely) and how to create a high-value pipeline on a tight budget 🤑

Additionally, we'll explain the two common types of LinkedIn ads - cold layer ads and conversion ads - and share some ways to combine them for the best results.

BONUS: we'll give you a real-life case study example of how we generated high-quality leads and share some valuable insights you can apply to your business (jump directly to the bottom of the blog post to read the case study).

Why is LinkedIn considered the "Boogeyman" for CPL?!

I understand that LinkedIn Ads can be costly, but the "costly" aspect can be misleading. The cost per lead (CPL) on LinkedIn can become very high, mostly due to poor strategy or mismanagement of campaigns by marketers and agencies. But let's have a look at some examples:

High Cost Per Click (CPC) and Low Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS)

Since the audience on LinkedIn is more niche and targeted, especially when it comes to SaaS, the competition is pretty strong, and bidding wars can drive up your costs quickly. In the end, this badly affects the ROAS; it becomes incredibly low while the CPL becomes extremely high (between $200-300 in SaaS)

The good news is, when LinkedIn Ads are implemented correctly, these costs are avoidable and reversible. Starting with the content: your ad copies must be optimized to get the best results. It's always a good idea to experiment with different combinations of video, image, and text to see what works best for you. Testing helps you improve your results and reduce your CPC. 

LinkedIn's retargeting tools are also very helpful when it comes to reaching out to users who, for example, watched over 75% of your video ad. This way, you target users who are more likely to be interested in your service. 

Videos and retargeting can help you lower costs and increase the conversion rate on your LinkedIn Ads. These tactics are particularly useful for the highly competitive SaaS market.

Broad Targeting

Another mistake SaaS companies make that increases their LinkedIn ads is forgetting LinkedIn is dealing with a pretty big user base, so not everyone will be your customer or interested in your products. Not defining who your target audience is before you continue with your LinkedIn campaign can cost you dearly. 

To avoid this result, some practices you can implement to help you accurately define your target audience are:

  • Demographic Targeting

Maximize the reach of your LinkedIn advertisement by focusing on a variety of demographics, such as company size, industry, job title, and location. Focusing on these specific factors, you ensure that your ad is seen by the most relevant audience possible, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

  • Behavioral Targeting

Analyze user behaviors, such as search history, content engagement, and ad interactions, so you can create a more personalized and targeted LinkedIn advertising strategy. This allows you to tailor messages to specific individuals who are more likely to engage with your ad and take action.

  • Focus on Two Important ICP's - End Users and Decision Makers

To create a more effective LinkedIn advertising campaign, target end users and decision makers with customized ad copy and downloadable content tailored to their unique interests. End users respond well to features and benefits, while decision-makers focus on ROI and overall impact. Use case studies and success stories to demonstrate value to decision-makers. By targeting both groups, you create a comprehensive strategy that speaks directly to the needs of everyone in the company.

Lack of Forecast

A lack of forecast can be detrimental to the success of your LinkedIn marketing campaign. Without a clear understanding of future demand and potential reach, you will find yourself ill-prepared to maximize the effectiveness of your ad spend, leading to lost opportunities and decreased ROI. 

To avoid this, invest in forecasting tools and techniques that will help you predict future trends and anticipate changes in the market. LinkedIn Campaign Manager offers an excellent forecasting tool that can be used before launching your campaign. By using this tool, you can accurately predict the potential reach and impact of your ad, allowing you to adjust your targeting and messaging accordingly. So don't let a lack of forecast hold you back. Use LinkedIn Campaign Manager's forecasting tool and ensure that your advertising campaign is as effective as possible.

Investing in LinkedIn Ads is a smart move for B2B SaaS companies, and the platform is definitely worth the investment. Even though it may be among the most expensive social media platforms to run ads on, the value you derive from those digital marketing dollars is definitely present.

LinkedIn Ads Are Not Expensive (If You Have a Good Strategy)

If you're targeting decision-makers in expensive regions like NOAM, you might think that your cost-per-lead (CPL) will be high. However, it's possible to bring your CPL down to as low as $10. But if you follow the typical playbook of running lead generation ads or using a "cold layer" with retargeting for lead generation, you won't reach a sustainable CPL. Trust me, you'll never get there.

What’s Different About a Low-Budget Approach?

If you’re working with a limited budget, approach LinkedIn ad campaigns with creativity and strategic thinking. Working with a tight budget forces marketers to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to maximize impact. With less money available, every move and decision becomes intentional and strategic, which can still lead to great results.

Here are some cost-effective strategies you can implement to achieve results without breaking the bank:

  1. Focus on targeting specific job titles or functions within relevant industries. By targeting those who are most likely to be interested in your SaaS product, you can maximize the impact of your ad spend and achieve more significant returns on your investment.

  2. Leverage LinkedIn's audience targeting capabilities to target specific companies. This approach is particularly effective for SaaS businesses that offer products or services that are relevant to specific industries or sectors.

  3. Create highly targeted ad copy and creative that speaks directly to your target audience. By tailoring your messaging to resonate with your audience's pain points and needs, you will increase the likelihood of clicks and conversions.

When you are working with cost-effective strategies and with less money available to spend, every dollar must be spent wisely. This means prioritizing investments in areas that will give you the most significant returns and results.

The benefits you can expect when you implement these cost-effective strategies are:

  • By targeting specific job titles and functions or industries, you can increase the relevance of your ads, leading to higher engagement rates and more significant returns on investment.

  • Targeting specific companies will help to ensure your ad spend is going towards reaching the most qualified leads. 

  • Creating highly targeted and creative ad copies increases the likelihood of clicks and conversions, again leading to more significant returns on your investment.

After all, a limited budget is not a constraint but an opportunity to be more creative and strategic.

Cold Layer Ads

When we talk about "cold layer ads," we're referring to ads shown to a completely new audience without prior interaction or exposure to your SaaS. In the LinkedIn Ad framework context, a cold layer is often the first step in the marketing process, where businesses aim to reach out to a new audience and create brand awareness

While these ads may seem unexciting, they play a crucial role in marketing, as they are the foundation that helps businesses build their marketing campaigns. By creating a strong foundation, businesses can move on to the next level of advertising, where they can target the audience with more specific and targeted ads based on their interactions and interests.

With the cold layer ads, your SaaS has the opportunity to experiment with different ad messaging and creative concepts. This experimentation allows you to adjust your marketing campaigns, ensuring they resonate effectively with the target audience.

Once you've created a killer cold-layer ad, you can build on that success by crafting more targeted and specific ads. These ads are customized based on what your audience is interested in and how they interact with your content, making them feel more personal and engaging. This personal touch is what makes your campaigns even more effective!

Conversation Ads

Conversion Ads enable marketers to engage in interactive and personalized conversations with their target audience. Unlike traditional ads that only allow one-way communication, conversation ads enable dynamic, two-way communication between marketers and SaaS users. This not only makes the ads more engaging and effective but also helps build more meaningful relationships.

On LinkedIn, conversation ads are an effective tool for marketers to engage with professionals, generate leads, and personalize messages. With its ability to foster targeted, interactive conversations, this advertising format can significantly contribute to the overall success of marketing campaigns on the platform.

Some of the unique benefits of the Conversation Ads are:

  • Having a deeper engagement with your audience

Building a stronger relationship with your audience by allowing your members to start conversations which will enable you to connect with professionals at the perfect time when they are willing to engage. Don't forget to add multiple call-to-action buttons so your prospects can effortlessly access the content and offers they are looking for.

  • Turning Conversation Ads into quality conversions

Turn your conversation ads into high-quality using the Lead Gen Forms and ask some qualifying questions to make it super easy for your potential customers to connect with you. This will ensure you fill up your pipeline in no time.

Get to know your audience better with detailed click reporting. It shows you how many people are interacting with your LinkedIn conversation ads and offers and how engaged they are in the conversation.

The Perfect Combo: Cold Layer + Conversation Ads

For SaaS companies looking to make the most of LinkedIn Ads, combining Cold Layer Ads and Conversation Ads is a highly effective strategy that won't break the bank. Cold Layer Ads should be the first step of your LinkedIn marketing campaign as they introduce your brand to new audiences and create that initial awareness. This is a crucial step because it sets the stage for the next level of engagement. 

Once you've established initial awareness, the next step is to use Conversation Ads to deepen engagement with your target audience. With Conversation Ads, you create interactive dialogues with your target audience, allowing you to better understand their needs, preferences, and intentions. This deepens the level of engagement, helping you to build trust with your audience and create a more positive image for your brand.

Combining Cold Layer Ads and Conversation Ads, you will create initial awareness, deepen engagement, generate quality leads, and better understand your target audience.

LinkedIn Ad Framework - Cold Layer Ads and Conversion Ads

Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you integrate the cold layer ads with the conversion ads:

  1. Define Your Cold Layer Strategy: Craft compelling Cold Layer Ads that are informative, engaging, and reflect your brand essence. Experiment with different messaging and creative concepts to find what resonates best with your cold audience.

  2. Segment Your Audience: Identify specific segments within your cold audience based on their interactions and interests. This segmentation will guide the customization of your Conversation Ads.

  3. Craft Personalized Conversation Ads: Build on the success of your Cold Layer Ads by creating targeted Conversation Ads. Tailor your messages to the interests of each segment, providing a more personalized and engaging experience.

  4. Use Multiple Call-to-Action Buttons: In your Conversation Ads, incorporate multiple call-to-action buttons to facilitate easy access to content and offers. This enhances user experience and encourages prospects to take desired actions.

  5. Implement Lead Gen Forms: Turn your Conversation Ads into high-quality conversions by using Lead Gen Forms. Include qualifying questions to streamline the connection process and fill up your pipeline efficiently.

  6. Leverage Detailed Click Reporting: Take advantage of LinkedIn's detailed click reporting to gain insights into how your audience is interacting with your Conversation Ads. This information helps you understand engagement levels and tailor your strategies accordingly.

By integrating Cold Layer and Conversation Ads, SaaS companies create a comprehensive LinkedIn advertising strategy that not only builds initial awareness but also nurtures meaningful relationships and drives high-quality conversions. This strategic combination allows you to make the most of your limited budget while still achieving great results!

Tips for Success

If you want your low-budget LinkedIn Ads strategy to succeed, there are three key pillars to focus on:

First and foremost, ensure your targeting is laser-focused. Take advantage of LinkedIn's demographic and behavioral targeting options to reach the most relevant audience for your SaaS product. Experiment with different targeting parameters, such as job titles, industries, and behaviors, to refine your approach.

A/B testing is a crucial tool in optimizing ad performance. Try out different ad copies, visuals, and formats to identify what resonates best with your audience. This process allows you to fine-tune your messaging and creative elements for maximum impact. Don't be afraid to experiment with cold-layer ads and conversation ads separately to understand their individual contributions to your strategy.

Analyzing metrics is key to guiding your journey. Regularly monitor important performance indicators like CTR, conversion rates, and cost per conversion. Use LinkedIn's click reporting to understand how your audience interacts with your ads. If a particular demographic is responding well, allocate more budget there. If a certain ad format is underperforming, tweak it or try a different approach.

LinkedIn ads are constantly evolving, and what works today may not work tomorrow. So, stay agile, be open to innovation, and rely on data-driven decision-making to navigate the changes successfully.

Case Study Example

How did we do it?

Conversation Ads of one of our clients from a data analytics industry is one of many great examples where we went above and beyond. The client's expectation was and is a Lead Generation campaign where they could collect relevant leads on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. 

The target industry is considered an industry with a much higher CPL compared to what we currently deliver to the client. 

Based on the extensive market research and predictive analysis that we have conducted, we came up with a conclusion that the LinkedIn Conversation Ads is the right format to achieve the client's goal, objectives, and overall expectations.

Campaign Goal:

Lead Generation

Campaign Objectives:

  • Target predefined audience for high conversion intent

  • Deliver the right content to each audience segment (End Users and Decision Makers) and provide custom content experience to each of these segments

  • Lower CPL

  • Provide high-quality leads MQLs with high intent to convert to SQL 

  • Offer personalized messaging experience to each target audience

In order to achieve the client's objectives, here are the following steps we followed:

  1. After clearly understanding the market and the industry, we have created two different ICPs, including end users and decision-makers relevant to their target industry. 

  2. Once we understood whom we were referring to, we selected the most suitable personas that would deliver that message to our ICP segments by selecting the highest authorities (CEO, COO, CTO). 

  3. We’ve used the management team as a credible source for sharing content with the end users and decision-makers. This approach has brought excellent results because of the power of seniority that has brought high credibility of the Ad Message sent by the CEO, COO, and the CTO, where we have had an open rate of 58%, which indicates that the credibility has played its part. 

  4. In terms of content, we have created two ad copies with different messages, suitable for decision makers and end users, in which we have personalized the content based on intention-based and job title targeting. 

  5. Regarding CTA buttons, we have created custom downloadable content (guide) suitable for the decision-maker's campaign. For the end users' campaign, we offered a highly relevant downloadable content Operational Guide + Book, a free demo.

  6. With the overall campaign setup, we have achieved outstanding results based on the feedback we receive from the client on a weekly basis. 


LinkedIn Ads are an excellent option for SaaS businesses looking to promote a new product or increase brand awareness without breaking the bank. By using LinkedIn's unique capabilities and employing creative thinking, you will create a high-value pipeline while keeping marketing costs low.

To achieve success with LinkedIn Ads, be strategic and innovative with your ad creation. Have a solid understanding of your target audience and their pain points and don’t forget to implement the cost-effective strategies we mentioned before.

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