Up and to the right. This is where most businesses like to see their key metrics go. However, like many recessions before, 2020 reminded us that up and to the right is not guaranteed. In fact, according to tracktherecovery.org, there were about 30% fewer small businesses open at the end of the year than at the beginning of 2020. That’s nearly ⅓ of all small businesses!
The good news is that we’ve made it through recessions before and we know that advertising during a recession can actually help your business in the long run.
Setting and using goals is an effective way to keep your business on the general up and to the right trend whether there is a recession or not. That’s why we created this guide to teach you how to set and use digital marketing goals for more effective (and efficient) business results.
Using SMART Goals to Define Digital Marketing Success
Most businesses don’t like to waste money, especially when budgets are tight, but how do you know if or when that’s happening? To know if your digital marketing is effective and that you aren’t wasting your hard-earned dollars, it’s important to define what success looks like.
To do this, it is essential for businesses and marketers to use goals. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a goal is “the end toward which effort is directed.” It sounds obvious, but many people think that simply “grow my business” or “make more money” are goals. Those are just wishes because there is no defined end to either of those and no plan on how to achieve them.
Taking this concept a step further, savvy marketers use SMART goals to know where to focus their effort and resources. SMART goals also help to determine if and how effective different marketing channels are at moving toward the end goal. While SMART has many different variations, for us SMART stands for:
In the simplest terms, adding a number and a timeframe to your wish can turn it into a better goal. So, if you desire to grow your business or make more money, attaching a number to either of those states will turn it into a goal. For example, “grow my business by 50% this year” or “make 50% more money in 2021” are much more meaningful goals.
Below we will walk you through how to create a SMART marketing goal for your business by walking through how it changes with each letter of the acronym. To make this as actionable as possible, we’ll then show you how to link your business goal to your digital marketing goals to measure the real impact of your digital marketing efforts.
If the goal is where you want to end up, there must also be a beginning. Using our previous example, adding the “by 50%” as the amount that you’d like to grow your business makes it more specific so you can hold yourself or your team accountable and track your progress. It doesn’t have to be a percentage though, you could also use a specific number like reaching a 7 figure bottom line. While there are other ways to make goals specific, simply adding a number is an easy way to make your goal specific.
- Start: Grow my business
- Specific: Grow my business by 50%
While adding a number can make a goal more specific, it is also important to make sure it can be measurable. Choosing a metric that is important to your business, such as profit, margin, revenue, or number of clients, turns a rather vague goal into something that can easily be measured. In our example, business growth is usually measured by revenue so we can easily update our goal to make it measurable.
- Start: Grow my business by 50%
- Measurable: Grow my revenue by 50%
Depending on what you choose for your goal, you want to make sure it is realistic and that it is feasible to achieve. Setting attainable goals is a great way to build momentum and maintain a positive attitude. Maybe a 50% growth in revenue is a bit too much so we lower it down to 20% to start our snowball of momentum.
- Start: Grow my revenue by 50%
- Attainable: Grow my revenue by 20%
A relevant goal is a meaningful goal. If something isn’t relevant to you, you tend to pay attention to it less or take it less seriously. You wouldn’t set goals for something you aren’t in control of so make sure it’s relevant and meaningful to you. For this next goal progression, let’s assume you lead the Business Development team so you are looking to drive growth through inbound sales.
- Start: Grow my revenue by 20%
- Relevant: Grow my revenue from inbound sales by 20%
Finally, the last step to creating an intelligent SMART goal is making it time-based. Putting a realistic end date on your goals will allow you to stop procrastinating and help you to prioritize what’s important so you can do what needs to be done to achieve your goals. It also gives you a time when you can look back on how far you’ve come and see if there are any learnings or improvements you can make for when you set your next goal.
- Start: Grow my revenue from inbound sales by 20%
- Time-based: Grow my revenue from inbound sales by 20% by June 30th.
Pro tip: If you are serious about achieving your goals and want to take your SMART goals to the next level, write it down and or find an accountability partner to increase your chance of success by 95%.
The Secret to Marketing Success: Aligning Your Digital Marketing To Your Business Goals
Congratulations! You’ve created your SMART goal. Where do you go from here?
The next step is developing a strategic plan to be able to achieve your SMART goal and digital marketing is a great way to help you get there. One of the many benefits of digital marketing is its flexibility, which means that you can adapt your online marketing to whatever your goals are.
The secret to marketing success is aligning your marketing goals to your business goals.
On paper, this sounds pretty easy, but it takes some practice. At Intigress, we help our clients work backwards from their business goals to match them with relevant marketing goals that can be turned into SMART digital marketing goals.
Because we specialize in SEO & digital advertising, we then take goal setting a step further using marketing goals to arrive at specific digital advertising and SEO goals.
Business goal → Marketing goal → Advertising/SEO goal
Let’s take a look at an example. If you reach out to us, one of the very first things we’ll ask you is “what is your goal?” Goal setting helps to define a starting point and ensure everyone’s effort, time, and resources are aligned.
Examples of business goals:
- Increase Revenue by $500,000 this quarter.
- Improve Profit Margin by 2% in H2
- Reach 10% Profitability this year
By aligning your digital marketing toward a SMART business goal, you can more easily create a strategic marketing plan to ensure you get there. To start, you’ll want to identify how your marketing efforts contribute toward your business goals. Then, you can assign a SMART goal for your marketing too.
The marketing tactics we specialize in are typically focused on driving direct responses, like website visits, online purchases, website leads, or phone calls, so these are metrics we aim to improve. Other examples can include newsletter subscriptions, brand lift, in-store visits, or average order value. Below are a few specific examples of SMART marketing goals given the overall business goal.
Examples of marketing goals:
- Increase Sales/Leads by X% ← Increase Revenue by $500,000 this quarter
- Improve marketing efficiency by 5% ← Improve Profit Margin by 2% in H2
- Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost by 15% ← Reach 10% Profitability this year
Translating your broader marketing goals into specific advertising or SEO goals makes them extremely actionable. Advertising goals are often associated with a specific advertising metric or KPI that can be influenced.
Examples of advertising/SEO goals:
- Drive 40% more traffic/sessions/visitors/clicks to our site ← Increase Sales/Leads by 20% this quarter
- Reduce return on ad spend (ROAS) by 10% ← Improve ROI by 5% in H2
- Decrease cost per lead (CPL) by $35 ← Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost by 15% this year
You can use your current advertising or SEO metrics to help you work backwards from your digital marketing SMART goals until you arrive at your advertising goal. For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 20% this quarter, you can use your historical conversion rate to calculate how much traffic you’ll need to reach that. Obviously, we’ll have to assume a few things, but the math generally looks like this:
- You’re currently averaging 50 sales per quarter so 50 * 20% = 10 new sales.
- Let’s assume that 25% of your leads turn into customers that lead to sales. That means that you’ll need to generate 40 leads to get 10 sales (10 sales / 25% = 40 leads needed)
- Let’s also assume your website’s conversion rate is 3%, meaning 3% of sessions generate a lead, that means in order to get 40 new leads you need 1,334 more sessions this quarter (40 leads / 3% conversion rate = 1,334 sessions)
- In summary, if you get 1,340 sessions this quarter and convert them at the same 3% rate you have been, then that will lead to 40 news leads. Of those 40 leads, ¼ of them will turn into the 10 customers that purchase your services, thus reaching your goal.
After you’ve defined a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based advertising goal, you can get to work. You can even break down your digital marketing SMART goals into smaller “micro goals” to more easily track your progression towards your larger goals.
If you take one thing away today, take this: actionable digital marketing SMART goals are significantly more likely to lead to success. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter if you’ve met your goal or not. Even if you didn’t reach your SMART goal by the deadline you set, you have still made progress and you’ve only failed if you’ve failed to learn anything along the way. You can now use that insight to create better, more realistic goals and keep the momentum going in the future.
If you need help aligning your business goals to your marketing and advertising goals, contact us today and we’ll be happy to guide you through the goal setting process.