Figuring out how to set SMART goals for your digital marketing strategy can be a real headache. Especially if, like me, you have an innate and immediate objection to all marketing acronyms that claim to be the answer to all of your problems. There are far too many. That is a fact that I’m well aware of and, so that we don’t both go mad while you’re here, I’ll try to keep the use of any other acronyms to a minimum.
But the truth is, people are lazy and acronyms save time. Hopefully, you found this blog because you’ve heard the phrase “SMART goals” on various occasions and know how essential they are to your digital marketing strategy.
So, minus the chaff, I’m going to uncover the mysteries of what SMART goals are, how they can benefit your digital marketing strategy and, crucially, how to set SMART goals that work for your business.
Fundamentally, in terms of digital marketing, SMART goals are specific objectives that will directly contribute to your overarching business goals. They should form the foundation for which your digital marketing activity is aimed at achieving. All SMART goals must be:
Specific - If a goal isn’t specific, it will rarely be achieved. When is the last time, “I’m going to get fitter this year” worked as a New Year’s resolution? “I’m going to join the gym that’s near my work and I’ll go twice a week to do a healthy balance of cardio and weights” is much better. It’s specific and therefore more tangible.
Measurable - You need to know whether you’re achieving your goal or not - it’s as simple as that. Fortunately, with the right digital marketing tools and knowhow, you’ll have data coming out of your ears - you lucky things - so measurement shouldn’t be a problem.
Attainable - Don’t set ludicrously high targets is the message here. Balance optimism and enthusiasm with a good sprinkling of realism. All too often, marketing managers are asked to set targets and the temptation to tell the bosses what they want to hear is overwhelming. What the bosses need to hear is realism - they’re likely basing their growth plans about what you and your marketing team can deliver, so set achievable goals.
Relevant - SMART goals must be relevant to your overarching business goals AND, in this case, your digital marketing strategy. What can feasibly be improved that will contribute to achieving what your business wants to accomplish this year? Hint - if growing revenue by 20% is important, then telling your boss that you’ll grow the Twitter follower numbers by 50% probably isn’t relevant.
Time Based - Putting a time limit on your goals will allow you to benchmark progress throughout a campaign or project, and provides a time to review and reflect on those goals in order to better inform your next set of SMART goals.
This really isn’t the time or place to harp on about every benefit of goal-setting because, let’s face it, you’ve probably heard it all before and you came here to learn how to set SMART goals for your digital marketing, right? But just to hammer home any uncertainty you may still have, here’s why they are beneficial:
Step 1 - Bring your overarching business goals to life
The starting point for setting SMART goals, as I have mentioned before (if you’re paying any attention!), is to assess what your overarching and broad business goals are for the year. Here’s the ones the team at Noisy Little Monkey see most often:
Digging a little deeper, you will then need to quiz Ms CEO and maybe the CFO about the numbers behind these goals. Let’s take increasing revenue as the example.
Let’s say your CEO wants to increase online revenue by 50%.
In order to set a revenue based SMART goal for your digital marketing strategy, you first need to identify what the revenue was for the last financial year and what that projected number will be when you hit the percentage growth target.
Once you have calculated this number, you can transform a broad goal into a more meaningful and substantive business goal like this:
Increase online revenue by 50% from £1,000,000 to £1,500,000 by April 2019.
Step 2 - Apply that to your digital marketing strategy
Knowing your annual online revenue for last year was £1,000,000, you then need to study the analytics software on your website. Most websites use Google Analytics - Noisy Little Monkey use that plus HubSpot - and you might use additional data provided by Marketo, Shopify, or whatever platform your website is built on.
By finding out some critical data such as how many visitors came to your website during that year, how many enquiries came through the website and how many of those enquiries turned into customers, you will be in a prime position to create digital marketing SMART goals that are worth their salt.
If you are using Google Analytics, this will mean setting the appropriate date range to 1 year, and checking the number of sessions in the Audience > Overview tab. For ease, let’s say it’s a nice, round 100,000 sessions for the year. So, if we are generalising here (and we are. I just want to make that clear), this means that each visit to the website from the last year was worth approximately £10. With me so far? I knew you would be.
Using the same, simple GCSE (or O-level, #inclusivity) maths, you can do a similar, basic calculation for website enquiries and customers. Let’s say you find out that you received 1,000 website enquiries over the year and 500 of those turned into customers or clients. This gives you the following information:
100,000 sessions = 1,000 website enquiries
1,000 website enquiries = 500 customers
500 customers = £1,000,000
Average customer value = £2,000
Just as a teeny sidenote, the SMART goal examples I am using in this blog are not the ONLY SMART goals you can set that relate to increasing revenue. However, whatever your overarching business goals are, you will still need to apply these basic steps to create effective SMART goals:
If you aren’t sure which analytics relate to which goal - you know where we are.
Step 3 - You are ready! Set your SMART goals
With this new knowledge, don’t you already feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm about your digital marketing strategy? Maybe we were wrong about marketing acronyms after all?
...Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
By using these numbers you can set some SMART goals that are tangibly connected to the business objectives. Simply, if you need to increase your revenue by 50% in 12 months - you need to increase your sessions and enquiries by that amount too.
SMART goal 1: Increase monthly sessions by 50% from 8,300 p/m to 12,500 p/m by April 2019
100,000 x 1.5 = 150,000 sessions per annum
150,000/12 = 12,500 session per month
SMART goal 2: Increase monthly website enquiries by 50% from 83 p/m to 125 p/m by April 2019
1000 x 1.5 = 1500 website enquiries per annum
1500/12 = 125 website enquiries per month
SMART goal 3: Increase monthly new customers by 50% from 41.6 p/m to 62.5 p/m by April 2019
500 x 1.5 = 750 new customers per annum
750/12 = 62.5 new customers per month
For most businesses - this last one isn’t down to just the marketing team - you’ll need to agree that these figures are doable with the sales team. You’re basically saying they’re going to be 50% more effective, so it’s a good idea to chat through with them what a brilliant sales lead looks like, and work on delivering those to the sales team.
Step 4 - Make strategic decisions on what marketing activity will achieve your SMART goals
Once you have decided on what your SMART goals are, you can begin to plan what marketing activity will achieve these outcomes. In this case, it may be that you need to invest in some social media advertising, content marketing or Google AdWords. You may want to focus on conversion rate optimisation (CRO) to make a higher percentage of sessions convert into enquiries.
Step 5 - Review, analyse and optimise
Remember, your first SMART goals are never going to be perfect - and they aren’t supposed to be. They are there as a benchmark, a motivation, a reminder that your digital marketing activity can and SHOULD make an impact that you can measure down to the bottom line. You will, inevitably need to review these goals (we would recommend a quarterly review, involve the sales team again for this) to make sure they still adhere to the SMART ideology (is it an ideology? It is now!).
Still hungry for some more ways to impress your boss? Download this tried and tested measurement framework and become the go-to for digital marketing strategy.
Digital Marketing Executive at Noisy Little Monkey, James blogs about Content, Social Media & Inbound
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