If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
- Lewis Carroll
Whether you're just getting started with your marketing, or you're already doing it, you need to be very clear about what you want to achieve from your marketing.
In other words, you need to have well-defined goals and KPIs.
Setting the right goals is one of the first steps for a successful digital marketing strategy.
It gives you more clarity and helps you build the right strategy to achieve your overall business objectives.
It also tells you how well your marketing is performing, allowing you to make adjustments to ensure you're on the right path.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses out there, particularly small and mid-sized businesses, don't have clearly defined goals.
As a result, they end up wasting their time and budgets on things that don't work.
We've spoken to a lot of business owners, founders and CEOs over the last few months, asking them about their marketing goals.
In fact, each one of our discovery call starts with the question - "What are your top marketing goals for the next 12 months?"
These are the responses we typically get:
"We want to generate more leads"
"We want to grow our revenue"
"We want to strengthen our social media presence"
Now, these look like good goals, right?
What's wrong with typical marketing goals
1) They are just too vague
What does "We want to strengthen our social media presence" mean, exactly? Do you want more followers? Do you want more engagement?
How many leads are you looking to generate? Over what period?
How much revenue growth are you aiming for?
2) They make it super hard to measure your marketing effectiveness
If you gained 1000 followers on 'x' platform, or generate 100 leads, would you say you've achieved your goals?
How do you know which activities were effective and which weren't?
On what basis do you evaluate & reward the people involved?
3) You cannot budget for such goals
As you don't know exactly what you want to achieve and when, you have no idea how much it would cost to achieve it.
How would you even know what resources you need, and how much to spend?
Without clear and measurable KPIs, you're just shooting in the dark and wasting precious time and money in the process!
So what's the solution?
Define SMART goals:
Biggest benefits of using SMART goals
They make it clear as day what you want to achieve
They tell you how much effort is required to get there
They make it easier to plan your budgets
They tend to be more motivating, since you have clear goal in mind
They help you stay on track, since you know the direction in which you need to head
According to research, businesses that use SMART goals are 3X more successful than the ones that don't.
How to apply SMART goals in your business
Focus on specifics
Remember what we said earlier about vague goals like generating more leads, or increasing revenue?
While such goals are better than having no goals at all, ideally your goals should specify exactly what you want to achieve.
Instead of "We want to generate more leads", set a more specific goal like "We want to generate more qualified leads that meet [XYZ] criteria", or
Instead of "We want to strengthen our social media presence", say "We want to grow our followers on LinkedIn"
The more specific your goals are, the easier it becomes to plan a strategy to achieve them.
Assign a numeric value to your goals
Your goals need to be measurable. How else would you know if you've accomplished it?
Set goals that you can quantify.
"We want to get at least 100 sign-ups from our July Facebook campaign", or
"We want to increase our organic traffic by 25%"
This would tell you the gap between where you are and where you want to be, so that you know what you need to do to get there and how many resources you need to allocate to achieve your goal(s).
Set realistic goals
When setting your marketing goals, you need to be realistic about them.
For eg, if you generated 400 qualified leads last year, you cannot expect to generate 2000 leads this year (unless you plan to amp up your resources significantly).
A realistic goal would be something like this: "We generated 400 qualified leads last year, and if we create more content and double our ad spend, we can expect to generate 600 qualified leads this year".
You need some baseline for your goals. If you are already doing marketing, you probably have some benchmarks in terms of your past traffic, leads, conversion rates etc, so you can base your goals on those.
If you are just starting out, you can use industry benchmarks as a frame of reference.
However, be careful that you need to factor in your budgets and the state of your marketing when doing this.
Eg, if you haven't updated your website design or content in 10 years, you cannot expect to get the sort of website conversion rates your industry peers are getting, because they probably have much better websites. So, you need to invest in updating your site. If you don't have the budget for doing that this year, then your goals for this year need to reflect that.
Make sure your goals are aligned with your bottom line
A lot of businesses make the mistake of chasing vanity metrics that have little or no impact on their revenue. These include things like likes, followers, page views, MQLs, email subscribers etc.
When you focus too much on such metrics, you can get a false sense of accomplishment, because these metrics look good on paper but don't have much impact on revenue.
For example, it doesn't matter if you have 5000 followers on LinkedIn, or 10,000 email subscribers, if they are not producing tangible business results.
So you need to focus more on actionable metrics that have a greater contribution to revenue and profitability. This includes things like sales qualified leads, lead conversion ratio, deals, CAC (customer acquisition cost), LTV (lifetime value) etc.
"By generating 500 qualified leads through organic traffic, we can expect to acquire 50 new clients this year @10% conversion"
"We should aim to reduce our cost per lead by 20% next year by focusing more on content and inbound marketing."
Set a time frame for each goal
When do you want to achieve a certain goal?
In the next 1 month? 3 months? A year?
When you have clearly defined targets for a particular time period, it becomes easier to track progress, and make adjustments if your progress isn't keeping up with your goals.
Circling back to what we said about relevant, your goals be aligned with your overall business goals.
So if your business goal is to generate 'X' amount of revenue next year, your marketing goals should be such that they help you plan what you need to do to achieve that overall business goal in that time-frame.
Imagine if you have a SaaS startup, and your goal is to generate an ARR of say $1M. You estimate your average monthly subscription/customer to be, say $80/month.
To meet your revenue goal of $1M, you would need to get 1000 subscribers by the end of year one (To keep this example simple, we will ignore churn).
As you have defined a time-frame, you can break this goal down into smaller goals. For instance, you can aim for:
200 subscribers by Q1
350 by Q2
600 by Q3
1000 by Q4
This way you can plan what you need to do in each quarter and how much you need to spend to achieve your targets. If you fall behind your target in one quarter, you can adjust your strategy to try and make up for it in the next.
Without a time-frame, this would be impossible.
Other examples of time-based goals would be:
"Generate 500 qualified leads by 31st March next year"
"Increase blog subscribers by 30% by the end of next quarter"
So to sum up, a SMART goal would look something like this:
Increase qualified leads from 400 last year to 500 this year by increasing organic traffic by 25%, as it will help us acquire 50 new customers by 31st March, 2022
This goal is:
Specific (Increase qualified leads)
Measurable (Generate 500 qualified leads)
Attainable (You had 400 qualified leads last year)
Relevant (It will help you acquire 50 new customers)
Time-bound (Hit this goal by 31st March, 2022)
With SMART goals like this, your marketing will be a lot more focused and effective in terms of its contribution to your bottom line.
Do you need help defining SMART goals that are tied to your revenue, along with a solid marketing strategy that will help you achieve you those goals?