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By 2021, More than Half of Companies Will Use LinkedIn for Marketing

We estimate that slightly more than half of marketers (50.3%) will use LinkedIn for marketing and advertising purposes by 2021. This year, 49.6% of companies with 100+ employees will use the professional social media platform.

Our forecasts exclude companies that use the platform strictly for recruiting.

Currently, B2B strategies on LinkedIn are more common than B2C ones since it has historically been the preferred social media platform for B2B companies eager to reach professional audiences. In recent years, LinkedIn has introduced many features to target this audience based on job title, education, seniority, industry and company—all of which are important B2B audience attributes.

“We see more B2Cs using LinkedIn than in years past, but LinkedIn doesn’t work for all B2Cs,” said Jillian Ryan, eMarketer principal analyst and author of our latest report, "Engaging Professional Audiences on LinkedIn: How Brands Can Unlock First-Party Data and Connections."

This naturally limits the potential growth of our estimate in the coming years: There is a ceiling on how many companies can use LinkedIn for their marketing and advertising.

But growth of LinkedIn as a marketing tool has partly mirrored the user growth we’ve seen to LinkedIn as a platform. Earlier, we estimated that the network will grow faster than previously expected, with about 62.1 million adult users in the US this year, or about a third of all US social media users.

“As brands become more adept at leveraging multiple social media platforms, marketers are finding success in utilizing LinkedIn to capture professional audiences at a different stage of the marketing funnel,” said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco. “LinkedIn has a wealth of first-party data on a professional audience and unique B2B targeting capabilities, making it a great place to engage business decision-makers. This will continue to drive increased use of the platform as a marketing tool in the coming years.”

In September 2019, LinkedIn launched a new interface of its Campaign Manager self-service advertising product, called Objective-Based Advertising. Within the new experience—which very closely mirrors Facebook’s offering—advertisers can manually choose from three umbrellas of objectives: Awareness, Consideration and Conversions.

"LinkedIn is working hard to develop more innovative offerings for their advertisers," Ryan said. "The launch of Objective-Based Advertising is a step in the right direction and helps advertisers build the best audience segments based on what they are trying to achieve with each campaign."

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