When you’re trying to streamline your digital marketing strategy and get the best possible results, it all comes down to the cycle you set for yourself and the paths within it. Goals don’t get smashed out of the park without a proper plan in place that thoroughly goes through all of your objectives for every campaign you plan to run.
Think of it this way: Google didn’t get to be Google because it took a stab in the dark. Its teams shed blood, sweat and tears to reach their own digital marketing objectives. And they did all that by keeping them SMART.
In this article, we’ll run through how to set smart marketing objectives like this and what they should look like. We’ll also discuss how to get specific about your KPIs and what the end result should be if you set them correctly.
Why is it important to set goals for your digital marketing strategy?
Setting clear, measurable digital marketing objectives helps you achieve success by giving you something tangible to aim at. It’s not just an empty goal or wishful thinking; it gives you a way to measure progress towards achieving those dreams. And when you have a clearly defined objective, you can use data from other sources to see whether you are on track to meet your target. When you have all of this clarity in hand, amazing things can happen. Almost magical.
For example, it’s easy to say “I want more traffic!” but unless you know exactly why you need more visitors, or how you plan to get them, then it’s all wasted time and energy. Without laser-precision focus for your digital marketing plan, you’re only going in blind, ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment – and potentially failure – before you’ve even begun.
So how exactly do you go about setting the right digital marketing objectives?
1. Set SMART marketing objectives
“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” — Theodore Roosevelt
SMART marketing objectives help make sure that you define the exact outcome you’d like to achieve. They give you a framework to follow and encourage you to stay focused throughout the process. They give meaning to the work they do and they allow you to tailor your future efforts based on the information you get out of the journey.
And while we know you’re probably sitting there with the Simpsons meme in mind, we truly believe that setting SMART digital marketing goals is crucial to your success.
Here’s what that means.
S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant
The first step to writing effective SMART digital marketing objectives is making sure that you specify exactly what you want to happen. This includes things such as increasing conversions by X%, reducing bounce rates by Y% or improving customer satisfaction scores by Z%.
Make sure that you include everything that needs to change in order to reach your desired outcomes. For example, if you want to increase conversion rates by 10%, you must specify where that number came from, rather than just pulling it out of nowhere and hoping it sticks.
Once you’ve specified what you’d like to achieve, it’s time to figure out how you’ll measure it. There are many different ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts with key performance indicators. More on that later, but first – some examples include using marketing tools like Google Analytics or Ahrefs to track outcomes.
You can only get somewhere if you start off from somewhere else. Setting unattainable targets doesn’t necessarily guarantee failure, but it certainly makes it harder to succeed.
The key here is to ensure that you’ve got realistic expectations going into the project. Don’t promise the world if you aren’t willing to deliver it. Instead, focus on small wins along the way. These smaller achievements add up over time to create big successes.
Your digital marketing objectives shouldn’t simply be relevant to your company. In fact, they should really reflect your audience and their interests – even your marketing and sales team. Think about what kind of content your ideal user wants to consume. Then, design your digital marketing plan around delivering that type of material. As long as you keep your audience in mind, you’ll always hit the mark.
By ensuring that your SMART digital marketing objectives are timely, you’re ensuring that they’re relevant to your efforts and able to be attained within a certain deadline. There’s no point aiming for results that are outdated, in other words.
Clear goals give you a roadmap
Without smart objectives, you’re directionless and are left working towards vanity metrics that don’t really help you achieve your overall objectives. They just look pretty on paper.
But once you have those digital marketing objectives thoroughly mapped out and defined, you still need to break them down further. This ensures you hit that ‘Attainable’ point that we’ve just harped on about.
Let’s take a quick look at how to do just that…
Break down your goals into subgoals
After defining your overall goal, it’s important to understand whether you’re working towards something bigger or smaller for your overall marketing strategy. It’s often helpful to split larger tasks into smaller chunks. By doing so, you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed when tackling projects that seem too large.
Here are two common approaches to breaking down your overall objective:
1) Break down an overarching goal into multiple steps that you can take one by one.
2) Create milestones that will allow you to gauge progress.
For example, say you wanted to improve sales by 20%. You could work backwards and come up with three main steps:
- Identify which pages visitors spend most of their time on.
- Find out why people leave these pages before coming back again.
- Use analytics data to see which elements lead to higher conversions. Once you know what works, you can then move on to the next stage.
Define your KPIs
Having defined your overall objective, now it’s time to think more specifically about what you would like to measure. If you haven’t already done so, pick one metric that you feel comfortable evaluating. Remember this could be a KPI for yourself, your marketing team, sales team or the entire company.
In terms of digital marketing objectives, it might be page views per month, average session duration or even revenue generated. Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s measurable and has some sort of impact on your ultimate goal.
It’s also worth noting that there are no hard rules regarding which metrics you should monitor. However, having said that, there are certain types of businesses that tend to benefit from focusing on particular areas.
What is a KPI?
A KPI measures performance against a standard. Your KPIs for your digital marketing campaigns could include things such as conversion rate, bounce rates, site speed, etc. Each of these numbers represents a different aspect of your website’s performance and help you determine where improvements can be made.
Once you’ve decided upon the KPIs for your SMART objectives, you’ll want to define your thresholds. Thresholds represent a point beyond which you consider a problem to exist. So, if you were measuring traffic volume, you’d set a threshold of 50% above normal levels. This means that any number below 50% would indicate that your efforts weren’t successful. Conversely, if you had set a threshold of 10%, you wouldn’t bother looking at values between 0-9.
How to set deadlines for your SMART marketing objectives
As mentioned earlier, setting smart objectives isn’t the only part of the equation. To ensure that you meet them, you need to put deadlines around them that you’ll stick to. Without time restrictions, you’ll fall behind schedule. Remember, we are all human – and that means procrastination, excuses and challenges are all a part of our way of life.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Setting realistic expectations helps you stay focused and keep moving forward when you’d otherwise lag behind. In fact, research shows that those that set goals are, on average, x10 more likely to succeed than those who don’t have any.
So, how exactly do you go about setting deadlines that are realistic and honest?
Set monthly targets
This allows you to establish a rhythm that keeps you motivated throughout the year. When you first start off, try aiming for weekly or biweekly targets. As you become more familiar with your processes, you can switch over to monthly ones.
Use calendar dates
Calendar dates provide a sense of urgency and encourage action. Plus, they offer a visual representation of how much time remains until completion. So, rather than saying “by April 1st”, simply write “April 15th” instead.
Be honest with yourself
If you aren’t able to hit your target date, admit that this is the case, immediately. Don’t beat yourself up unnecessarily but instead use the knowledge gained to improve your process the next time around.
Don’t forget to reward success!
Giving yourself rewards when you achieve milestones in your overall marketing strategy will help motivate you further. You can either award points towards something tangible or intangible. The choice is yours. Just remember not to spend too many points on anything frivolous – after all, you only have limited resources available to you. (This also goes for the staff, like your marketing team, helping you achieve these goals.)
What are some examples of digital marketing SMART objectives?
How you choose to set your digital marketing goals depends on what you want your brand to accomplish and in what time frame. But as we’ve already said, it’s crucial that you always get hyper-specific on those objectives and the manner in which you aim to fulfil them in.
Common digital marketing objective examples include:
- Grow brand awareness
- Get more sales
- Improve conversion rates
- Increase organic search traffic
- Generate leads
- Land more revenue.
While these are all well and good, you should always be going one step further to say HOW and WHEN you will do all this. Want more leads? Great. What kind? Where will those leads come from? Are you aiming to achieve this through inbound marketing? What digital marketing channels are involved (i.e. social media or SEO)? It’s all about the detail.
Again, if you’re using the SMART model, you’ll avoid being too generic in your goal setting anyway. Ultimately, every objective you put in place should meet all five of these points (i.e. Specific, Attainable etc, etc).
The largest companies in the world didn’t grow from thin air. They had roadmaps, planning and SMART business goals in place. Yes, even Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. They planned. And that’s how they became the best at what they do.
The only way you’ll fail in all of this is by not setting attainable, specific SMART goals in the first place. No direction means no results, or at least wasted energy on trying to achieve them.
This isn’t meant to sound negative, it’s merely stating the obvious: achieving your goals needs to be defined very clearly. Otherwise, you risk wasting both time and money.
For example, let’s take a scenario where you want to generate 1000 new customers per month. This could mean generating 100 email options each week, sending 10 emails each day or whatever else makes sense.
However, if you define this as ‘generating 1000 new customer accounts per month’, you now need to start thinking about how you intend to generate these new customers. Are you going to send targeted ads via Facebook/Google Ads? Will you create content around your product offering? How long does it take to build relationships with potential clients?
Now we’re talking.
How to measure the success of your goals
Once you have an idea of exactly what you’d like to happen through your marketing efforts, it’s time to think about measuring your success. You can use any number of metrics to determine your ROI but there are two main ones worth mentioning here.
The first is clickthrough rate – essentially, this measures how many times someone clicks on something after visiting your website. If you’re getting high CTRs, you’re probably succeeding. Conversely, low CTRs usually indicate poor performance.
A second metric worth considering is bounce rate. Bounce rate simply refers to how much percentage of visitors leave your site immediately after landing on it. Again, higher numbers are better than lower ones. As mentioned above though, make sure you’re targeting the correct audience when building links. Linking to irrelevant pages may lead to increased bounce rates.
You might find it useful to consider other factors such as average session duration and page views per visitor. These things aren’t necessarily true indicators of success either, but they can help give you insight into the overall health of your site.
If you’re looking to improve conversions, you’ll likely see improvements over time. So keep tracking your stats and reviewing them regularly. Once again, Google Analytics is great for this.
Need help reaching your digital marketing goals?
At our digital marketing agency, we’re experts in helping our clients succeed through digital marketing services that are tangible and results-focused. Whether you want us to increase traffic, boost conversion rates or just provide some general support, we’ve got you covered with clear goals that embrace your vision.
Contact us today for a no-obligation chat about your vision for the future, and where you’d like to see your brand sit online.