Create SMART Goals in 5 Easy Steps
With digital marketing there are a ton of metrics you can use to understand your campaigns. While these metrics may seem highly technical and overwhelming at first they are actually very important because they can help prevent you from operating your campaigns “in the dark”.
What do I mean?
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It is important to know how well these campaigns are performing if you are to be effectively spending your advertising dollars. With marketing tools like Hubspot, Google Analytics and others you don’t have to throw your money into a black hole.
To prevent wasting your money on underperforming campaigns you can create a “dashboard” which is essentially a collection of important indicators on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. In order for a dashboard to be effective you will need to have some benchmarks against which to compare your dashboard.
The benchmarks you set for KPIs are grounded in the goals you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to build your brand identity? If so, you may want to focus on your social media stats. Or, if you are your immediate goal is trying to generate sales, you may rather focus on email opens and conversion rates for your latest sales campaign.
Before you start analyzing your data make sure that you have goals that are connected to your measurable digital marketing activities. A good way to know if you have a strong goal is if it satisfies the SMART criteria. SMART stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Relevant”, “Time-bound”.
Let’s apply this to the first example that I gave you. Say your goal is to develop your brand identity. You need to think about whether this is a specific enough goal for you. If you have dozens of products or services that make-up your brand, you have probably set a goal that is too broad and difficult to execute and need to get more specific in exactly what part of your brand identity do you want to develop. Brand identity is an inherently nebulous concept so it is a good idea to clarify your terms when you begin.
So get specific:
- By boosting brand identity do you want to increase the visibility of your brand (make sure more people know about it).
- Do you want to increase the perception of your brand (make more people think well of your brand or increase peoples opinion of the brand)?
- Or you could even mean associating your brand with some desirable traits, like status, quality or value.
- Knowing the specifics about your goal is key to measuring the right things.
Okay now lets move on to the second letter of SMART, “Measurable”. This is where you are really thinking of your digital marketing efforts. To know if your campaign is measurable you need to think if you can connect your goal to specific digital media metrics or KPIs.
So in the example of our brand identity goal, we can measure our brand identity in social media reach, because if our brand is gaining more traction it should referenced more often on social media. We should also have more blog post views and online traffic if this is the case. A more sophisticated goal may require more nuanced proxies of measurement. For instance, if we want to increase our brand identity by associating it with status, this may require a different form of measurement.
Think about how a clothing designer doesn’t measure their marketing success on how many people know their brand but on the few famous people who wear and endorse it, in fact it may be that the more exclusive the brand is the more valuable it is considered. So let’s take this into an example in digital marketing land. A fashion designer may not be thinking about total social media traffic but rather mentions from specific opinion makers, a mention from a trendy blogger maybe more valuable than 1000s of mentions from random bloggers.
I caution that when you are thinking about measurement, you should try to limit yourself to measuring with only a few or at most a couple KPIs. You do not want to overwhelm yourself, or get bogged down in the data. If you picked good KPIs to track your goal, you do not need to worry about missing something.
Ok now we are just about at the halfway mark, A for Attainable. Make sure your goal is attainable. In our example of increasing your brand identity, ask: is it possible for you to grow your social media reach and get more blog post views within the time frame you set out to achieve? This is not going to happen magically so think of the work that will need to go into that, the specific actions you will need to take to increase social media reach and get more blog views. Is this something you can do? If not you may need to roll back to ‘S’ and make your goal more specific or find a new one.
Ok, you have made it to “R”, good for you. So “R” stands for relevant, make sure your goal is relevant to your company. So again, I bring you back to our example, having the goal of increasing brand identity. What does increasing brand identity mean to your organization? Are you just getting into the marketplace and need to build awareness. If so, then increasing your brand identity makes a lot of sense. However, if you are really looking to drive sales now, then sales should probably be your goal instead. Think: why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal help us move the needle to achieve that?
Another way to think about relevancy, is to look at your measures from “M”. Does improvement in these measures accomplish something for your business that you want?
Ok we have made it to “T” time-bound, we are just peering at the finish line now. Create a time limit for achieving your goal. Over the next year, month, week, day? If we want to increase brand identity to gain market share we are talking about a long-term goal. A goal like increasing sales may have a shorter-term focus. You maybe trying to reach a quarterly or monthly target. Think about whether your goal should be based on an immediate or long-term aspiration. You can also think about your measures to help you clarify a timeframe.
Measures like an email, click through rate are best understood in monthly intervals if you send a monthly newsletter. Make sure the intervals of your measures support your time frame. In conclusion, make sure your time-bound takes into consideration your goals to adjust your measures adjust your measures if you can’t change your time bound. More on this is ahead, as I will discuss different measures and their reporting periods.
Hopefully by now you have a sense of the framework for “performance indicators” that you can include in your dashboard.SMART goals should help you to better optimize your marketing efforts so you are not throwing away your marketing budget, time and resources into ineffective campaigns.
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