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Google Ads for Ecommerce: Prerequisites

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Google Ads for Ecommerce: Prerequisites


In my last article, we talked about whether or not Google Ads was the right move for your ecommerce business. 

Now, if Google Ads is indeed in the cards for your store (or you have successfully run Google Ads already), this article is going to walk you through the prerequisites you need before you can hit the ground running.

Ecommerce Business Planning: 

Must-Haves Before Building a Google Ads Campaign

You are hereby (lovingly) forbidden from building a Google Ads campaign until you have the following six items:

  1. Reasonable Monthly Spend
  2. 90 Days to Prove Concept
  3. An Ecommerce Enabled Website With a Product Feed
  4. Enough Margins to Support a Traffic Campaign
  5. Unique Selling Proposition
  6. No One-Off Products

Let’s explain:

  1. Reasonable Monthly Spend

Think of your monthly budget early on as an investment. 

You are buying data you need to understand what works in your campaign, what doesn’t, and where to make changes—in a reasonable amount of time. 

With that investment, Google will start to build an audience specifically for you that you will capitalize on later. And it will be worth it! You *must* have enough monthly ad spend to accumulate enough accurate data for testing and optimizing down the road.

For context, at Solutions 8, we won’t take a client whose budget is under $2000/month. 

Budget under $2000 per month? Maybe you want to hold off until it’s more feasible. 

Google is a learning algorithm. The first three months are going to be the most “painful” part of your campaigns. Which brings us to our next requirement:

  1. 90 Days to Prove Concept

It bears repeating that Google is a learning machine. And learning takes time.

In fact, we’re asking Google to do some pretty spectacular behavioral analysis.

After you set up your Smart Shopping campaign, Google learns: 

  • When customers interact with your ads
  • How many times users click on your ads
  • What channel those ads are clicked
  • How long it takes for the prospect to come back
  • What channels they come back to
  • Which other products they view

Once Google has all that data, it determines how many other customers follow through the same pattern or similar cycle.  

So, for a 15-day sales cycle (meaning it took 15 days from when a customer first clicked your ad to when they made a purchase), you might have to wait a full month for sales to start coming in. Meaning it will take a full month for Google to begin to gather data for testing and optimizing.

Again, those early days are tough. But by day 90, you should have enough data to tell whether or not the campaign will work long term. 

  1. An Ecommerce Enabled Website With a Product Feed

This one may sound obvious, but here goes:

Your ads will send prospective customers to your site. Therefore, you need an appealing, easy-to-navigate ecommerce website complete with a product feed tool. 

Remember, your “product feed” is much more than a CSV file of product titles, descriptions, GTIN codes, and prices.

For ecommerce businesses, the product feed will make or break your campaign.

When it comes to ecommerce platforms, particularly ones that integrate beautifully with Google Ads, Shopify is our fave.

  1. Enough Margins to Support a Traffic Campaign

Running ads takes money. Can your profit margins support these campaigns? 

See, you can have a 100% profit margin—but if you’re selling $2 items, your campaigns still might not be profitable. 

Unless you have a higher cart value than the original price.

In other words, your products need to be priced highly enough (with the profit margin to support it); otherwise, you’ll rely on customers adding more to their cart than the single advertised product alone (i.e. more bang for your advertising buck).

  1. Unique Selling Proposition

The more heavily saturated your market, the harder it’s going to be to turn a profit from Google Ads. So, what makes you different? 

And *ahem* being the cheapest option isn’t the answer. 

Think about your favorite products: what makes them your favorite? Is it the company’s dependable return policy? The quality of the product? The materials used? 

Your unique selling proposition is key for the success of your campaigns—specifically longevity and return traffic. After all, it’s six times less expensive to sell to an existing customer than a new one.

  1. No One-Off Products

If you have customizable products (think products that are personalized with engravings, birthstone colors, or photos), this isn’t directed at you.

But when it comes to one-offs, Google Ads will not work.

To reiterate, one-offs are products that you can only sell once (like a unique, one-of-a-kind painting). 

And therein lies the problem: 

When you make a sale through Google Ads, it is Google’s job to try to recreate that cycle. It’s a learning machine!

But because single products can only sell once, Google has no way to recreate that process. 

So, Google uses GTINs to identify and categorize products. But when you sell a one-off product (a single GTIN), that code disappears forever (bye, bye, valuable data).

Do you produce handmade products? 

Consider creating multiples of the same product-type (ceramic bowls, for example) and simply acknowledge that they might vary slightly in design due to the nature of handmade products.

Your first sale is always your most expensive in Google Ads. You don’t want every sale to be your first.

Now, assuming you have all six must-haves in order, here are five important—but not imperative—items to consider:

  1. Multiple SKUs
  2.  Product Financing
  3. Strong Lifetime Value
  4. Lifestyle Imagery
  5. Existing Purchase Traffic

Let’s explain:

  1. Multiple SKUs

Multiple SKUs for “like” products are ideal.

Here’s what we mean:

If a customer says, I need Product A.

And you not only have Product A—but you have 10,000 versions of it (different colors or designs), your customer is much more likely to purchase more than one; thus your average cart value will increase. 

  1.  Product Financing

New product financing payment options, like Affirm and QuadPay, have made it so customers can make smaller payments over several weeks as opposed to one large payment up front. 

These options have led to a big jump in purchases and cart value, particularly among higher-priced product sellers. The best part? You get paid the full amount upfront!

Add product financing options to your site if you can.

  1. Strong Lifetime Value

Knowing what your real-time value is per customer and how many purchases they make within a year on average allows you to set lower targets for your ROAS goal and higher targets for your CPAs. This means you can scale quickly and grow your business faster. 

For example, if you have an average cart value of $100 but customers generally purchase three times over 12 months, your average cart value becomes $300.

  1. Lifestyle Imagery

We’ll touch on this more soon, but lifestyle imagery (i.e. images of your product “in action” and being used by real-life people) allows your customers to really visualize themselves using your product.

  1. Existing Purchase Traffic

If you have existing traffic (from social media or email lists, for example), Google uses this information to identify what those people look like and find matches in their own ecosystem/user base. 

In other words, instead of starting from scratch, existing traffic gives Google some notes to get going.

Ecommerce Business Planning: Offer Design

Who’s your customer? 

Can you describe your product to a stranger?

…Did I lose you for a minute there? 

Look, this is the part where we make you backtrack a little bit (in order to launch full speed ahead). 

And it’s easy for most businesses to skip this “offer design” section because they assume this box has been done and dusted for a long time.

But before spending precious dollars on advertising online, let’s make sure you can define: 

  1. Your target audience
  2. How your product makes customers feel 
  3. And what makes your unique brand stand out amongst the competition

Here’s how:

✔️ Define Your Customer Avatar 

Use this worksheet to identify your customer avatar (and who is NOT your customer avatar). The questions in the worksheet help you get in the mind of the customer. 

✔️  DigitalMarketer’s “Before and After Grid”
Once you’ve defined your customer avatar(s), it’s time to consider the transformation they make when purchasing your product. After all, customers don’t buy products—they buy feelings, results, and solutions.  

DigitalMarketer has a phenomenal “before and after” worksheet that you can download here

Make a copy and fill it out with your customers in mind, including: 

  • What your customer has (or doesn’t have) before buying your product—and what they gain once they do.
  • How they feel before your product—and how they feel after
  • What an average day looks like before your product—and an average day after  

✔️ Brand Development

How does your company make people feel? 

If marketing is what makes people buy, brand is what makes people stay–even if there are other products available.

And if you do all the things above, you’ll have the perfect foundation for a strong brand. 

Next, Optimize Your Existing Products

Let’s make sure your products and offers are as value-driven as possible. There are three ways to achieve this:

  1. Increase Actual Value

We’re not talking about raising the price of your products here.

Instead, we’re talking about how you can get customers to buy more from you. There are several ways to achieve this:

Bundles! If you have two products that usually go together, offer a bundle for a discounted price. You increase the value the customer receives but you also increase your profitability.

Sure, the price is “discounted,” but you’re saving money on shipping and fulfillment while increasing your cart value. 

Subscriptions! For consumable products (or any other products that can be purchased consistently) consider offering a subscription-based model, which ensures recurring purchases. 

We have seen first-hand that some subscription models have the same cost-per-acquisition as a one-off purchase.

One-click upsell!

When a customer is checking out, offer products that can be easily added to their cart with one click.

  1. Increase Perceived Value

Don’t underestimate the power of descriptions and images. 

Here’s the thing: online shoppers are at a disadvantage because they can’t tangibly see and feel products like they would in a physical store. However, this can be a big opportunity for you to stand out.

Give your viewer a full virtual experience of your product: describe the benefits of your products, not just the features. Show your product in action with lifestyle imagery, so users can visualize themselves using it. Explanation of the product in a clear, easy to understand way.

Perceived value is more valuable than the actual value. 

The perceived value is the reason they buy.

  1.  Fringe Benefits

Similarly, consider any additional creative ways you can add value (and perceived value) to your products. This can be in the form of additional content (think product demos, how-to videos, and tutorials), building a community around your product via social media and forum, or early access.

Ascension Models and Value Optimization

Once you start pulling in more customers and sales, here are a few ways to optimize your growth:

✔️ Never stop selling
It has been proven (with science!) that humans are in a different state of mind when they make a purchase than when they evaluate whether they want to purchase.

Customers are likely to buy another product immediately after purchasing something else because they are in a “buying” state. 

Take advantage of that buying window!

Give customers multiple opportunities to ascend and add products based off of their initial purchase.

✔️ Order bumps

This is along the same vein, but it bears repeating:

Order bumps are options to add additional products to your cart and they work.

A great way to do this is through the Frequently Bought Together app on Shopify

✔️ Build your email list / email marketing
When it comes to eCommerce, email has the potential to bring in more money than any other marketing channel. 

Truthfully, you don’t want to spend a lot on paid traffic forever (a la Google Ads)! And email marketing is one of the most affordable marketing channels available.

Need to pull in more email addresses from your audience?

Capture contact details using value-driven content that is applicable to your offer (e.g. how-tos, guides, checklists).

Check out Digital Marketer’s Guide to Email Marketing (for ecommerce)

✔️  Repeat and/or recurring customers
It is more expensive to acquire new customers than to sell to current customers. Capitalize on this.

✔️ Build social proof
Customers buy from brands they trust. Social proof has the power to bring in new customers—so be sure to continue building social proof and showcase it on your site.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for testimonials and reviews.

Finally: Choosing a Product / Niche

As a precursor, we want to make this clear: be true to your brand. Protect your brand. Don’t change lanes simply because of a flimsy trend. 

That said, you can make some pretty savvy and informed decisions by doing some research on the recent market trends—and when possible, use this information to optimize the products you offer to meet these trending needs.  

Here’s how:

✔️ Rising Retail Categories
Think with Google’s Rising Retail Categories is one of the industry’s best kept secrets. You can use this interactive tool to “understand fast-rising retail categories in Google Search, the locations where they’re growing, and the queries associated with them.”

✔️  Google Trends
Make use of Google Trends; this is a great way to identify trends from a volume/search perspective.

Got Your Prerequisites Locked In? 

Impressive.

Next time I pop in, we’ll talk about setting up your foundation (i.e. your website!) to ensure the highest likelihood of success with your campaigns.

This will include website CRO best practices, product preparation, media, and live chat features. 

But if you’re feeling eager, you can check out this Google Ads Mastery Workshop that has you covered.

Or, you can check out my entire step-by-step guide to Google Ads for eCommerce here.


Kasim Aslam

Kasim Aslam is the founder and CEO of Solutions 8, one of the world’s top ranked Google Ads agencies.

Recipient of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association’s 2017 TIM Award for Person of the Year, Kasim was also named one of the Top 50 Digital Marketing Thought Leaders in the United States by The University of Missouri in 2020.

Kasim was hand-selected as the Traffic Coach for DigitalMarketer.com’s ELITE coaching program by their executive team. He is also the co-host of the long-running podcast, Perpetual Traffic.

His book, The 7 Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing, was featured as one of the Top 100 Digital Marketing Books of All Time by Book Authority.

Kasim helped launch the National Association of Child Helplines (NAACH) and worked with the United States Army, Intel, as well as a Gates Foundation-funded nonprofit, a 54,000 member PPO, the largest privately owned bank in the United States, and an Academy Award-contending documentary.

He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and two sons.



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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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A Digital Practioner’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right

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A Digital Practioner’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right



It’s that time of year again – the holiday excitement has faded as we fall back into the workweek. With a year’s worth of work stretched in front of us, there can be both a sense of opportunity and overwhelmedness 

Because transitioning back into the swing of things can be daunting, We’ve gathered key takeaways from the previous year, global Opticon Tour, and how we can successfully apply those learnings in 2023.  

1. “Work about work” is holding teams back. Take this chance to declutter.  

Consider the reality of what most digital teams are up against. When it comes to managing the content lifecycle, draft documents that are stored in separate places and disparate tools that don’t work together are the norm for many. With no centralized point of communication and cumbersome workflows, it can take forever for teams to create and approve content, and work is often duplicated or unused.  

After work is completed, it can be easy to dismiss the headaches caused by inefficient, siloed workflows and processes. But the long-term effects of inefficient and bulky collaboration can be detrimental to a brand’s digital experience – and bottom line. (Those who joined us in San Diego at Opticon might recall this concept played out via ). 

Digital teams with unwieldy content lifecycles can take back control using , saving countless hours and frustration over the year.  

2. Change is constant. Set your team up to be adaptive. 

We all know how difficult it is to create amazing customer experiences these days. The world is moving faster than ever, and change is constant and chaotic with uncertainty on nearly every level: economic upheaval, rapid cultural change, ever-escalating customer expectations (thanks, Amazon), and a tight talent market.  

To not only stay the course but to also grow in this unpredictable environment, it’s important that teams constantly stay on the lookout for new ways to drive more sales and increase loyalty. In other words, consistently deliver modern, relevant, and personalized commerce experiences.  

But keeping pace doesn’t necessarily mean working harder. Optimizely’s Monetize solutions, teams can drive sales and loyalty with fewer costs and efforts.  

3. Data fuels a great customer experience. Test and optimize every touchpoint. 

As practitioners, we all know that the best customer experience wins.  

When teams don’t clearly understand what’s happening and when, they miss the mark. With little patience and high expectations, today’s customers will simply switch to a competitor that better understands them and provides a more personalized experience.  

But when teams work together to inject data across silos, they have the insight needed to make the right decisions and create with confidence.  

For instance, take the marketing team: with access to a slew of customer touchpoints and experimentation data, marketers should be a critical resource for understanding customers’ wants and needs. Developers, product teams, and beyond should utilize this data to remove the guesswork and inform strategies, priorities, roadmaps, and decisions.  

With customer-centricity at the heart of any great digital experience, the best experiences are fueled by data uncovered by high-velocity experimentation. Consider the power that Optimizely’s Experimentation products can have on your entire team’s ability to unlock personalized insights and better connect with customers.  

Hopefully, your new year is off to a great start – but if you’re feeling a little off track, contact Optimizely today to learn more about our DXP can impact your business and set you up for a successful and productive year.  

A special thanks to our sponsors at Opticon London – Microsoft, Google Cloud, Valtech, and Siteimprove – and Opticon Stockholm – Microsoft, Google Cloud, Valtech, and Contentsquare. 


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