Internet marketing without goals, or traditional marketing without goals is a crapshoot. It’s throwing stuff at the wall and hoping it sticks, without a guide or way to measure whether you are effective or not. One of my favorite expressions is the definition of insanity – you know doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result? Well if that describes your marketing efforts, you should stop, take a deep breath and resolve that today is the day you are going to do something different to move the bar farward.
We used to refer to our marketing goals as Key Performance Metrics or KPI’s. If you were rating your employees, you would put together a list of the metrics of what would constitute success in that role. Why would business marketing be any different? If you don’t set goals, then you have no idea whether you’ve made progress or not.
Ironically, many of the marketing agencies that spring into existance offer to help you with your social media profile or build you a website, without starting with the reasons you need marketing in the first place – and that is – to generate business. If you take it a step farther and start to evaluate your online business, you will see that it becomes even more important for your marketing to be held accountable to the metrics that you establish. So, how does it happen that so many companies practice buckshot marketing and roll the dice instead of being laser focused on their goals?
I was recently consulting for a company that had a marketing crisis. They had an internal goal that a specific email campaign would be launched by a date certain. They contacted me, and asked whether we could meet their goal. Eager to help them, I assured them we could. This was a mistake. We got stuck in the tactics of getting an email campaign out the door and doing buckshot marketing, instead of defining what we hoped to achieve and then plotting the best course of action to achieve that goal. The email went out, the results were OK, but to tell you t he truth, we got lucky.
Inbound marketing should be goal driven and a great way to remember how to define those goals is to use the Smart Marketing method. S.M.A.R.T. is actually an acronym for remembering how to craft a goal that makes sense. We want to be sure that our goals are:
- Specific – The more specific the goal, the better we can define the process needed to achieve it. Having a vague goal does not give you a target to shoot for. The goal can target specific behaviors, such as visits, leads or customers, but there should be a target for the action.
- Measurable – The number or percentage of improvement should be stated in the goal as well. If the goal does not have a way to measure it, you won’t know how close you came or whether you achieved the goal or not. It’s permissible to have a goal of 1 if you are doing something you’ve never done before. You may not know how many to anticipate, but when you have a history and benchmark to work from, you can set quantifiable results to be targeted.
- Attainable – Just stating a number or a percentage increase is not helpful if that goal is not realistically achievable.
- Relevent – If your goal is to increase traffic and the traffic does not lead to conversions, the question that raises is whether the goal of improving traffic was even relevent to the overall goal of driving conversions and sales. If the goal cannot be correlated to something that is relevent for your business model, then it’s not a smart marketing goal.
- Timely – for a goal to be a metric, you need to set a time frame. Establishing a reasonable time frame based upon historical information will determine whether your goal is attainable. Just having a goal without a deadline is not setting a standard for achievement.
The types of goals that would fit into the “smart marketing” metrics would include things like:
- Improve site visits by 25% for the next quarter.
- Increase leads by 10% over the next six months by adding 4 new call-to-action devices and improving landing pages.
- Generate 3 new customers in the next thirty days for the new platform just released.
If you need help creating and defining goals, it’s sometimes helpful to evaluate your current metrics. Often I have tremendous inspiration when working with clients and evaluating how their site is currently performing. If we see that there are more visits than usual for certain keywords, or higher visits than normal, we then evaluate why that could be and that may lead to a new opportunity or goal. Conversely, if we see the bounce rate on specific pages of the site is very high, we can then work to identify the cause of that bounce rate, and create new content that is better aligned with our customer’s expectations.
How do you create marketing goals? How do you measure your progress towards achieving these goals. Do you find goals to be helpful and motivational or demotivational?