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5 Dos and Don’ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]

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5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]


Every year I create vague New Years resolutions, but this year I decided to try something different. 

Using the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), I reworded my 2022 goal from “read more books” to “read two books per month to hit my goal of reading 24 before the end of the year.”  

The SMART framework is an effective strategy for creating more specific and attainable goals. Plus, it provides benchmarks against which you can measure your progress — if you have a larger, more daunting goal, smaller steps can help you remain motivated. 

Here, let’s explore what SMART goals are, why they’re important, and how to make your own.

SMART Goals Template from HubSpotDownload this Template for Free

In the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is that they also set SMART goals. Use the template above to follow along and create your own SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are concrete targets that you aim to hit over a certain period. These goals should be carefully drafted by a manager and their direct report to set them up for success. “SMART” is an acronym that describes the most important characteristics of each goal.

The “SMART” acronym stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” Each SMART goal should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

Why are SMART goals important?

SMART goals are important to set as they:

  • Help you work with clear intentions, not broad or vague goals
  • Provide a method to gauge your success by setting benchmarks to meet
  • Give sensible objectives that are realistic and achievable
  • Cut out unnecessary or irrelevant work that could take away from what’s important
  • Set a clear beginning and end to adhere to in reaching your goals

When you make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, you’re increasing your odds for success by verifying that the goal is achievable, identifying the metrics that define success, and creating a roadmap to reach those metrics.

If your goals are abstract, if you don’t know what it will take to achieve success, or if you don’t give yourself a deadline to complete steps, you may lose focus and fall short of what you want to accomplish.

Do SMART goals actually work?

In short — yes, if done correctly.

For instance, one study found 76% of participants who wrote down their goals, made a list of goal-driven actions, and provided weekly progress reports to a friend achieved their goals — which is 33% higher than those with unwritten goals. 

Additionally, I polled roughly 300 participants in the U.S. and found 52% believe SMART goals help them achieve their goals more often than if they didn’t use a SMART framework. 

SMART goals statistic showing people believe SMART goals work

Setting unrealistic goals and trying to measure them without consideration of previous performance, overly short time frames, or including too many variables will lead you off course.

However, these goals work only if formulated properly and if they take into account the motive and cadence of those working on them. Additionally, your SMART goals can only succeed when the employees working towards them have the means to achieve them.

Let’s take a look at some realistic examples of SMART goals to paint a clearer picture of what they are.

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our blog’s traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five to eight times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing two posts a week to three posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing one post a week to two posts a week.
  • Measurable: Our goal is an 8% increase in traffic.
  • Attainable: Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from three to five times a week.
  • Relevant: By increasing blog traffic, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: End of this month
  • SMART Goal: At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five posts per week to eight posts per week.

smart goal example on blog traffic

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 25% increase in views.
  • Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our eight most popular topics, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we’ll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Bound: In six months
  • SMART Goal: In six months, we’ll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 50% increase in subscribers.
  • Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the number of email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.
  • Time-Bound: In three months
  • SMART Goal: In three months, we’ll see a 50% increase in the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-Up Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 15% increase in sign-ups.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales have more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: By April 10, the day of the webinar
  • SMART Goal: By April 10, the day of our webinar, we’ll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook messenger.

smart goal example on webinar sign-ups

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one-column form to a two-column form.
  • Measurable: My goal is a 30% increase in lead generation.
  • Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one-column form versus a two-column form on our highest-traffic landing pages, we discovered that two-column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one-column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Bound: One year from now

SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our website’s organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: Our goal is 40 backlinks to our company homepage.
  • Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool, there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.
  • Time-Bound: four months from now
  • SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

7. Reducing Churn Rate Goal

  • Specific: I want to reduce customer churn by 5% for my company because every customer loss is a reflection of our service’s quality and perception.
  • Measurable: Contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide customer support daily for five new customers during their onboarding process.
  • Attainable: Our product offering has just improved and we have the means to invest more into our customer support team, and could potentially have five at-risk customers to upscale monthly.
  • Relevant: We can set up a customer knowledge base to track customers’ progression in the buyer’s journey, and prevent churn by contacting them before they lose interest.
  • Time-Bound: In 24 weeks
  • SMART Goal: In 24 weeks, I will reduce the churn rate by 5% for my company. To do so, we will contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide/invest in customer support to assist five new customers during onboarding daily and track their progress through a customer knowledge base.

8. Brand Affinity Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our podcast listener count as we are trying to establish ourselves as thought leaders in our market.
  • Measurable: A 40% increase in listeners is our goal.
  • Attainable: We can increase our current budget and level our podcaster’s cadence, to have the means to hold insightful conversations for our listeners to tune into.
  • Relevant: We created a podcast and have dedicated a team to source interesting guests, sound mixing, and eye-catching thumbnails to get it started.
  • Time-Bound: In four months
  • SMART Goal: In four months, we’ll see a 40% increase in average listener count in Apple Podcasts by providing our team the budget and cadence to make insightful podcasts with quality sound mixing and eye-catching thumbnails.

9. Podcast Listener Count Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our podcast’s listener count by promoting our podcast across social channels. We will post four quotes related to new podcast episodes throughout the month on our Twitter account, and we will post six short videos of our podcast conversations with guests on our Instagram account throughout the month. 
  • Measurable: Our goal is an 20% increase in podcast listeners.
  • Attainable: Our podcast listener count increased by 5% last month when we published two short videos of our podcast conversation on Instagram.
  • Relevant: By increasing podcast listener count, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: End of this month
  • SMART Goal: At the end of this month, our podcast will see an 20% increase in listeners by increasing our social media promotions from two Instagram posts to four Twitter posts and six Instagram posts.

10. In-Person Event Attendee Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost attendance at our upcoming in-person event by 50% by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists each week before the event. 
  • Measurable: Our goal is an 50% increase in attendees.
  • Attainable: Our attendee number increased by 20% last year when we sent out one email reminder to our subscriber lists.
  • Relevant: By increasing attendee count, we’ll increase brand loyalty by providing value to our existing customers, and generate more leads.
  • Time-Bound: August 30
  • SMART Goal: By the time of our event on August 30th, our attendee number will increase by 50% from where it’s at now (250 attendees), by sending out three email reminders to our subscribers lists. 

Now that you’ve seen examples of SMART goals, let’s dive into how to make your own.

1. Use specific wording.

When writing SMART goals, keep in mind that they are “specific” in that there’s a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. “Get better at my job,” isn’t a SMART goal because it isn’t specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you’re a marketing professional, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric that you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email …” You know exactly who’s involved and what you’re trying to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you may need to keep some goals more open-ended, you should avoid vagueness that could confuse your team later on. For example, instead of saying, “Clifford will boost email marketing experiences,” say “Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%.”

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals should be “measurable” in that you can track and quantify the goal’s progress. “Increase the blog’s traffic from email,” by itself, isn’t a SMART goal because you can’t measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team’s progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let’s build on the SMART goal we started three paragraphs above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month … ” You know what you’re increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

This is in the same light of avoiding vagueness. While you might need qualitative or open-ended evidence to prove your success, you should still come up with a quantifiable KPI. For example, instead of saying, “Customer service will improve customer happiness,” say, “We want the average call satisfaction score from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher.”

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An “attainable” SMART goal considers the employee’s ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It’s crucial to base your goals on your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let’s add some “attainability” to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month … ” This way, you’re not setting yourself up to fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You should always aim to improve. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off course and make it harder to track progress. Rather than saying, “We want to make 10,000% of what we made in 2021,” consider something more attainable, like, “We want to increase sales by 150% this year,” or “We have a quarterly goal to reach a 20% year-over-year sales increase.”

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.

SMART goals that are “relevant” relate to your company’s overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And, is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog’s email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you’re aware of these factors, you’re more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you’re using to track the goal’s progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relied on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way.

Our SMART goal might instead say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month.” This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business’s revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Losing Sight of the Company

When your company is doing well, it can be easy to say you want to pivot or grow in another direction. While companies can successfully do this, you don’t want your team to lose sight of how the core of your business works.

Rather than saying, “We want to start a new B2B business on top of our B2C business,” say something like, “We want to continue increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the next year.”

5. Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

A “time-bound” SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same timeframe? If you picked the former, you’re right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? “Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August.”

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or a really broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the effort to get reprioritized or make it hard for you to see if your team is on track. Rather than saying. “This year, we want to launch a major campaign,” say, “In quarter one, we will focus on campaign production in order to launch the campaign in quarter two.”

Make Your SMART Goals SMART-er

Now that you know what a SMART goal is, why it’s important, and the framework to create one, it’s time to put that information into practice. Whether you’re setting goals for a personal achievement or as part of hitting important marketing milestones, it’s good to start with what you want to achieve and then reverse-engineer it into a concrete SMART goal.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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Is a Marketing Degree Worth it in 2023?

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Is a Marketing Degree Worth it in 2023?

If you’re thinking about getting a degree at any age, it makes sense to think about the value of that degree. Is the qualification needed for the career you want? Are there alternative paths to that career? Can you develop better skills by gaining experience in work? 

All of these are perfectly valid questions. After all, getting a degree requires a pretty large investment of both time and money. You want to know that you’ll get enough return on that investment to make it worthwhile.

Why marketing?

When it comes to marketing, a lot of entry-level jobs list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement. That doesn’t mean there aren’t alternate ways to get into marketing but having a relevant degree certainly makes your resume more competitive. 

Growth industry

Marketing skills are in demand in the current jobs market. According to a recent report from LinkedIn, marketing job posts grew 63% in just six months last year. Half of those jobs were in the digital and media sectors, meaning digital and content marketing skills are highly valued

Personal Development & Career Path

The reason for this increased demand for marketers is tied to the rise in digital marketing. New methods of marketing have continued to develop out of the digital sector. This means that marketers capable of creating engaging content or managing social media accounts are needed.

This leaves a lot of room for personal development. Young graduates who are well-versed in social media and community management can hit the ground running in digital marketing. Getting on this path early can lead to content strategist and marketing management positions.    

What are the Types of Marketing Degrees?

When we say marketing degree, the term is a bit too general. There are a lot of degree paths that focus on marketing in major or minor ways. The level of degree available will depend on your current education history, but the specific course will be down to your personal choice. 

Associate, Bachelor’s, or Master’s?

Recent statistics suggest that 74% of US marketing professionals hold a bachelor’s degree. 9% have an associate degree and 8% have a master’s degree. Here’s a quick overview of the differences. 

Associate degrees – 2-year courses that cover marketing and business in a more basic way than bachelor’s qualifications. They’re designed to give students the basic skills needed to apply for entry-level marketing jobs.   

Bachelor’s degrees – 3/4-year courses that cover business and economics. There is a range of bachelor’s courses with marketing at their core, but you’ll also cover wider business topics like management, communication, and administration. 

Master’s degrees – 2-year courses, usually only available if you’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree. MA or MBA courses are designed to develop a deep understanding of complex business topics. They are highly specific, covering areas like strategic marketing or marketing analytics. 

Free to use image from Pixabay

Marketing Specific or Business General? 

This is down to personal choice. There are general business degrees that will cover marketing as a module as well as marketing-specific degrees. There are also multiple universities and colleges, both offline and online, offering different course platforms

If you’re looking at a specific job role or career path, then research which type of degree is most relevant. Remember that you will need to add to your marketing skills if you intend to progress to management roles in the future. 

Check the Modules & Curriculum

This is important, and not only because it lets you see which courses align with your career goals. Marketing has changed significantly over the last decade, even more so if you go back to before the digital age. Many business courses are still behind on current marketing trends. 

What Jobs Look for a Marketing Degree?

Once you’ve got your marketing qualification, what jobs should you be looking for? Here are some job titles and areas you should watch out for, and what qualifications you’ll need for them.

Entry level

If you’re starting with a degree and no experience, or work experience but no degree, take a look at these roles. 

  • Sales/customer service roles – These are adjacent roles to marketing where most companies do not ask for prior qualifications. If you don’t have a degree, this is a good place to start.
  • Marketing or public relations intern – Another possibility if you don’t have a degree, or you’re still in education. 
  • Digital/content marketing associate – These roles will almost always require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. A good grasp of new digital and social marketing techniques will be required to succeed. 
  • Copywriter/Bid writer – This is a good route into marketing for those with journalism or literature qualifications. These roles combine aspects of marketing, creative writing, and persuasive writing. 
  • SEO specialist – A more focused form of marketing centered on SEO content optimization. If you know how to optimize a blog post for search engine rankings, this role is for you. Bachelor’s or associate qualifications will be a minimum requirement. 
  • Social media/community manager – Since these are relatively new roles, we tend to see a mix of degree-qualified marketers and people who’ve had success fostering communities or online brands but don’t have on-paper credentials.  

Free to use image from Unsplash

Career Progression

If you have an MA or MBA, or significant experience in one of the above roles, then you can look at these more advanced roles for your career progression.

  • Digital Marketing Manager – A role for experienced marketers that involves running campaigns and coordinating marketing associates. 
  • Senior Marketing Coordinator – A department management level role. Responsible for overall marketing strategy and departmental performance.  
  • Content Strategist – A specialist role that focuses on content strategy. Designing content plans based on demographic and keyword research are a core aspect of this role. 
  • Marketing Analyst – This role involves analyzing customer behaviors and market trends. If you want to move into analysis from a more direct marketing role, you’ll likely need specific data analysis qualifications. 
  • Public Relations Specialist – The public voice of a large organization’s PR team. Managing a brand’s public perception and setting brand-level communication policies like tone of voice.   
  • Experiential Marketing Specialist – This area of marketing is focused on optimizing the customer experience. Experiential specialists have a deep understanding of customer psychology and behaviors. 
  • Corporate Communications Manager – Communications managers are responsible for company-wide communications policies. This is an executive-level role that a marketing coordinator or public relations manager might move up to. 

Average marketing salaries

Across all the roles we’ve discussed above, salaries vary widely. For those entry-level roles, you could be looking at anything from $25 – $40K depending on the role and your experience. 

When it comes to median earnings for marketers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, we can get a bit more specific. Recent statistics from Zippia show us that $69,993 p/a is the average for bachelor’s degree holders and $80,365 p/a for master’s degree marketers. 

Image sourced from Zippia.com

Marketing Degree Pros and Cons

So, the question we asked above was “Is a marketing degree worth it?” Yet, in truth, it’s not a simple yes or no answer. The question you need to ask is “Is a marketing degree right for me?” Here’s a summary of the pros and cons that might give you some answers.  

Pros

  • Degree holders have better job prospects and higher earnings potential in marketing
  • You can study highly specific skills with the right courses
  • Gain soft skills like communication and collaboration

Cons

  • High time and money investment required 
  • Diminishing salary returns at higher levels
  • Can be a restrictive environment for self-starters and entrepreneurs

What are Marketing Degree Alternatives?

If you want to stick with education but don’t want to invest four years into a degree, then accredited online courses can provide an alternative. This can be your best choice if you wish to upskill in a specific area like running conference calls from Canada

If higher education really isn’t your thing, the other option is gaining experience. Some businesses prefer internships and training programs for entry-level roles. This allows them to train marketers “their way” rather than re-training someone with more experience.  

Free to use image from Unsplash

How to Decide if a Marketing Degree is Right for You

Ultimately, choosing to do a marketing degree depends on your goals, your preferences, and your talents. Consider all three factors before making your choice. 

Career Goals

Do you want a management position that needs marketing knowledge? What areas of marketing interest you? What skills do you already possess? Answering these three questions will help you define your career path. That will narrow down your course choices. 

If you want to get better at selling small business phone systems in Vancouver, you don’t need a four-year course for that. If you want to develop into high-level marketing roles, then you want that degree. 

Personality

You don’t need a specific personality type to work in marketing. Your personality and interests might determine what area of marketing would suit you best though. For example, if you’re outgoing and creative then public relations or social media management might be for you.    

Investment & Return

Money isn’t everything. But, if you’re going to put the resources into getting a degree, you want to know that you’ll get some return on your investment. From the figures we quoted above, it seems the “optimal” qualification in terms of salary return vs. time and money investment is a bachelor’s degree. 

Average earnings for marketers with a master’s qualification were only $10k higher. This suggests that you’re not really getting a significant financial return for the additional investment. Of course, if that master’s leads to your dream job, you might see it differently.  

Final Thoughts: Forge Your Own Path

Is a marketing degree worth it in 2023? The short answer is yes. Whether that means a marketing degree is right for you, we can’t tell you. Hopefully, though, this guide has given you the information you need to make that choice. 



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How the LinkedIn Algorithm Works in 2023 [Updated]

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How the LinkedIn Algorithm Works in 2023 [Updated]

LinkedIn bills itself as “the world’s largest professional network” — and they have the numbers to prove it. With over 875 million members in more than 200 countries and regions, LinkedIn is immensely popular and well-used. On top of the sheer size of the platform, nearly 25% of users are senior-level influencers; about 10 million are categorized as C-level executives, and LinkedIn classifies 63 million as “decision makers.”

If you’re a B2B marketer or brand, you probably already know this social media platform offers you an excellent opportunity to reach your target demographic. However, seizing that opportunity is easier said than done since LinkedIn uses a unique algorithm to serve content to users.

In this article, we will walk through how the LinkedIn algorithm works in 2023, best practices for beating the algorithm with organic content, and how brands can elevate their presence on the platform.
 

What is the LinkedIn Algorithm?

 
The LinkedIn algorithm is a formula that determines which content gets seen by certain users on the platform. It’s designed to make each user’s newsfeed as relevant and interesting to them as possible to increase engagement and time spent on the platform. In this way, the LinkedIn algorithm is similar to the Facebook or TikTok algorithm, though LinkedIn’s is slightly more transparent (which is good news!). 

In fact, LinkedIn itself is a good source for demystifying the algorithm and understanding what content is prioritized for members. But the general function of the LinkedIn algorithm is to review and assess billions of posts every day and position those that are most authentic, substantive and relevant to each user at the top of their feeds.  

How the algorithm achieves that function is a little more complex.
 

How the LinkedIn Algorithm Works in 2023

 
 
LinkedIn users’ feeds don’t show posts in chronological order. Instead, the LinkedIn algorithm determines which posts show up at the top of users’ feeds, meaning that sometimes users see older or more popular posts before they see more recent ones.

Several factors influence the LinkedIn algorithm, and the factors change relatively often. Let’s take a closer look.
 

1. Assess and Filter Content by Quality

 
When someone posts on LinkedIn, the algorithm determines whether it’s spam, low-quality, or high-quality content. High-quality content is cleared, low-quality content undergoes additional screening, and spam content is eliminated. 

 

  • Spam – Content flagged as spam can have poor grammar, contain multiple links within the post, tag more than five people, use more than ten hashtags (or use expressly prescriptive hashtags like #follow, #like, and #comment) or be one of multiple postings from the same user within three hours. 
  • Low-quality – Content categorized as low quality isn’t spam but is judged as not particularly relevant to the audience. These posts can be hard to read, tag people who are unlikely to respond or interact, or deal with topics too broad to be interesting to users.  
  • High-quality – “Clear” content is easy to read, encourages engagement, incorporates strong keywords, uses three or fewer hashtags, and reserves outbound links to the comments. In other words, it’s something your audience will want to read or see and react to in a substantive way.

 

2. Test Post Engagement with a Small Follower Group

 
Once a post has made it through the spam filter, the algorithm distributes it to a small subset of your followers for a short time (about an hour) to test its ability to generate engagement. If this group of followers likes, comments or shares the post within this “golden hour,” the LinkedIn algorithm will push it to more people. 

If, on the other hand, the post is ignored, or your followers choose to hide it from their feeds (or, worst of all, mark it as spam), the algorithm will not share it further.  
 

3. Expand the Audience Based on Ranking Signals

 
If the algorithm decides your post is worthy of being sent to a broader audience, it will use a series of three ranking signals to determine exactly who sees it: personal connection, interest relevance and engagement probability. 

These signals boil down to the level of connection between you and the user who potentially sees the post, that user’s interest in the content’s topic and the likelihood of that user interacting with the content. We’ll break down exactly what these ranking signals are further in the post.
 

4. Additional Spam Checks and Continued Engagement Monitoring

 
Even after a post is pushed to a broader audience, the LinkedIn algorithm continues monitoring how users perceive it in terms of quality. If your content is marked as spam or entirely ignored by the new audience group, LinkedIn will stop showing it to those audiences. On the other hand, if your post resonates with new audiences, LinkedIn will keep the post in rotation. So long as the post gets a steady stream of engagement, posts can stay in circulation for months.
 

8 Best Practices to Make the LinkedIn Algorithm Work for You

 
 Understanding how the LinkedIn algorithm works is the first step to reaching more people on LinkedIn and ensuring your content is well-received and engaging. The next step is optimizing your content based on the factors the algorithm prioritizes to maximize its effect. This is where mastering the ranking signals comes into play.

Here are eight tips for crafting high-performing LinkedIn content:
 

1. Know What’s Relevant to Your Audience

 
Relevance is what the algorithm prizes above all other content qualities. For LinkedIn, relevance translates to engagement, which leads to more time spent on the platform, which results in more ad revenue and continued growth. Following this tip will win you points in the “interest relevance” and “engagement probability” ranking categories. 

The entire LinkedIn ecosystem is set up to prioritize highly relevant content. To ensure your posts are relevant, create content focused on your niche and your audience’s specific needs and interests. As LinkedIn’s then-Director of Product Management Linda Leung explained in 2022, “we are continuously investing in the teams, tools, and technology to ensure that the content that you see on your feed adds value to your professional journey.” 

Use customer research and analytics from other social media platforms to learn more about what your audience wants to know. Focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that helps professionals succeed in formats they prefer (for example, videos, which get three times the average engagement of text-only posts). But above all, posting content that is personal and has industry relevance is vital. 
 

2. Post at the Right Time

 
As with most things, timing is crucial for successful LinkedIn posts. It’s even more critical when considering the “golden hour” testing process integral to the algorithm’s rankings. Remember, how much interaction a post gets within the first hour after it’s published determines whether it gets pushed to a broader audience. That means posting at the optimal time when your followers are online and primed to respond is a central factor to success.

You are the best judge of when your top LinkedIn followers and people in your network are most likely to be on the platform and engaging with content. But for the general public, data suggests the best time to post is at 9:00 a.m. EST on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cross-reference these times with your own analytics and knowledge about your audience — like a common time zone, for example — to find the best time for your posts.
 

3. Encourage Engagement

 
Your post format can play a significant role in user engagement. The LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t explicitly prioritize videos over photo and text posts, but LinkedIn’s internal research has found video ads are five times more likely to start conversations compared to other types of promoted content. 

Asking a question is another great way to encourage interaction with your post. If you’re sharing industry insights, open the conversation to commenters by asking them to share their opinions or experiences on the topic. 

Additionally, tagging someone in your LinkedIn post can expand its reach, but only tag relevant users and people likely to engage with the post. You don’t automatically get in front of a celebrity’s entire following just because you tagged them. In fact, the algorithm’s spam filter can penalize your post for that. But when you tag someone relevant, the tagged person’s connections and followers will also see your post in their feeds. 
 

4. … But don’t beg users to engage

 
The LinkedIn algorithm penalizes posts and hashtags that expressly ask for an engagement action like a follow or a comment. In an official blog post from May 2022, LinkedIn said that it “won’t be promoting” posts that “ask or encourage the community to engage with content via likes or reactions posted with the exclusive intent of boosting reach on the platform.” Essentially, content that begs for engagement is now considered low-quality and should be avoided.
 

5. Promote new posts on non-LinkedIn channels

 
LinkedIn doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither do its users. Content that gains traction in other channels can help boost LinkedIn posts and vice versa. Sharing posts on your website, other social media platforms, or with coworkers can spark the initial engagement required for a viral LinkedIn post. Promoting content on other channels can also encourage inactive LinkedIn users to re-engage with the platform, and that interaction will be interpreted as net new engagement for your post.
 

6. Keep Your Posts Professional

 
As the “professional social networking site,” LinkedIn has a well-honed identity that extends to the type of content it favors. Specifically, business-related content that users will find relevant and helpful to their careers or within their industry. 

This might seem common sense, but it can be tempting to think that content that earns lots of clicks or likes on other social media platforms will perform similarly when cross-posted on LinkedIn. Unfortunately (or fortunately), hilarious memes, TikTok dance clips and personal videos don’t resonate with the LinkedIn algorithm. 
 

7. Avoid Outbound Links
 
 

The urge to include an outbound link in a LinkedIn post is real, especially for B2B marketers using LinkedIn to generate leads and traffic to their websites. But this is universally regarded as a tactic to avoid. LinkedIn wants to keep users on the platform and engaging; link-outs defeat that purpose. Therefore, the algorithm tends to downgrade content that includes an outbound link. 

Posts without outbound links enjoyed six times more reach than posts containing links. Does that mean there’s no room for a link to your brand’s website or blog with additional resources? No. But the best practice is creating content that encourages a conversation and letting the audience request an outbound link. If you feel compelled to link to something off-platform, include that link in the comments. 
 

8. Keep an Eye on SSI

 
LinkedIn has a proprietary metric called the Social Selling Index, which measures “how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.” Per LinkedIn, social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than those users with lower SSI scores.

A higher SSI boosts users’ posts closer to the top of their audience’s feeds. While this impacts post visibility for individual posters rather than brands and companies, it remains a significant influence on LinkedIn’s algorithm and is worth noting. 

Source: Business 2 Community
 

An Overview of Ranking Signals on LinkedIn’s Algorithm

 
 
As mentioned earlier, there are three ranking signals the LinkedIn algorithm uses to rank posts in a user’s feed:
 

  1. Personal connections
  2. Interest relevance
  3. Engagement probability

 
And here’s how each signal impacts a post’s ranking:
 

Personal Connections

 
In 2019, LinkedIn began deprioritizing content from mega influencers (think Oprah and Richard Brandon) and instead began highlighting content from users’ personal connections. To determine a user’s connections, LinkedIn considers these two things:
 

  1. Who a user works with or has previously worked with
  2. Who a user has interacted with before on the platform

 
At the top of the feed, users now see posts by people they engage with often and by anyone who posts consistently. Users also see more posts from connections with whom they share interests and skills (according to their LinkedIn profiles). 

That said, as of 2022, LinkedIn is also “creating more ways to follow people throughout the feed experience,” including thought leaders, industry experts, and creators that may be outside of a user’s network. So it’s important to remember that personal connection is just one factor influencing post ranking.
 

Interest relevance

 
Relevance is another of the three ranking signals – and in many ways, the most important one. LinkedIn explains on its engineering blog: “We already have a strong set of explicit and implicit signals that provide context on what content a member may find interesting based on their social connections and the Knowledge Graph (e.g., a company that they follow, or news widely shared within their company).”

LinkedIn also uses what they call an “interest graph” that represents the relationships between users and a variety of topics. This lets the LinkedIn algorithm measure the following:
 

  • How interested users are in certain topics
  • How related are different topics to one another
  • Which connections share a user’s interests

 
The algorithm also considers the companies, people, hashtags, and topics mentioned in a post to predict interest. To maximize the interest relevance ranking, you have to understand your target audience and craft content that they’ll find relevant.
 

Engagement Probability

 
Interaction plays a significant role in a post’s ranking on LinkedIn. The platform uses machine learning to rank interaction in two ways:
 

  1. How likely a user is to comment on, share, or react to a post based on the content and people they have interacted with
  2. How quickly a post starts receiving engagement after it’s published. The faster users interact with a post, the more likely it will appear at the top of others’ feeds

 
Users who regularly interact with others’ posts in their LinkedIn feed are more likely to see interactions on their content, which in turn means that they’ll be more likely to show up on other people’s feeds.
 

Elevate Your Brand’s LinkedIn Presence

 
The LinkedIn algorithm can seem intimidating, but it really isn’t. It relies on a series of rules and ranking measures that can be understood and mastered to present users with content they find helpful in their professional lives.

Knowing that the algorithm prioritizes engagement, relevance and connection will help get your posts in front of more LinkedIn users and improve your overall performance on the platform. And by following the eight best practices outlined in this article, you’ll be able to keep your audience’s interest and create plenty of opportunities for them to engage with your content. 

Tinuiti helps brands strengthen relationships with new and current customers through expert social media strategy and brilliant creative. Reach out to our Paid Social services team to learn how to start advancing your LinkedIn strategy today.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2021 and has been regularly updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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