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.