If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there (George Harrison)
With the New Year just around the corner CMOs up and down the country are putting the finishing touches on their marketing plans for 2016. Chances are, many of those goals will look an awful lot like New Year’s resolutions: loose, delusional statements of intent that despite your best efforts you somehow never manage to follow through.
If you’re serious about taking your inbound marketing to the next level it’s time to start setting SMART goals.
Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Time-bound
Let’s suppose you have a goal to increase the number of monthly visitors to your website.
Specific and Measurable
In order for goals to be meaningful they need to be concise, specific and capable of being translated into hard numbers. After all, if you can’t measure your goals you won’t know whether you’ve achieved them. Instead of taking a wild stab in the dark or making up something you think will impress the Board, start by reviewing your current metrics. (You do look at your Google Analytics data on a regular basis don’t you?)
How much website traffic are you currently getting and where is it coming from? Which sources of traffic do you want to increase? And by how much?
Armed with this information you can now translate your broad aspiration to increase website traffic into a specific and measurable goal:
Increase total website traffic from 2,000 visits per month to 3,000 visits per month.
You can set sub-goals:
Increase organic search traffic from 1,500 to 2,300 visits per month.
Increase website traffic from social sources from 100 to 300 visits per month.
And you can even set sub-sub-goals that describe how you are going to achieve each of the sub-goals:
Increase online visibility score for our top 25 target keywords from 20% to 30%
Write 3 blog posts per week and share the posts on 2 LinkedIn groups.
Setting goals you have a snowball’s chance in hell of meeting is a sure-fire way to find yourself on the way out of the door of the C-Suite clutching your P45 twelve months down the line. So before you go any further it’s time to perform reality check #1.
Use best practice benchmarking
In this case, we know from HubSpot research on inbound marketing ROI that companies with a starting volume of 2,000 visits per month or more typically achieve 1.5 times more traffic after 6 months active application of the inbound marketing methodology and 2.1 times more traffic after 12 months. Based on this data we can have confidence that our overall goal is attainable. In fact, the data suggests we could even go a lot further and shoot for 4,000 visits per month. But hold your horses. Before committing to that bold and ambitious goal you need to apply reality check #2.
A goal of 4,000 website visits per month might be attainable if it’s your only priority and you have time, resource, budget, skills, knowledge and processes in place to execute an effective inbound campaign. Unfortunately, the reality is often very different. Few CMOs have enough resources at their disposal to get everything done and all face competing demands, priorities and organisational challenges that prevent them from reaching their goals. So part of setting SMARTer marketing goals is being clear about the amount of time or money you can devote to achieving them and the specific obstacles you’ll need to overcome.
Time for reality check #3! It’s all very well setting SMART goals but if you’re focusing on the wrong things it’s not going to get you very far. For example, if you are getting a decent amount of traffic to your website but not generating many leads or sales you would probably do better to focus on improving conversion than simply sending more traffic to an already leaky marketing and sales funnel. So ask yourself: if I achieve this goal is it going to get me to where I need to be or is there some other goal I should be focusing on that’s going to shift the needle faster or further?
You now have a set of specific, measurable, attainable and relevant goals and sub-goals. The final step is to set timelines for achieving them. The HubSpot ROI data provides a good indication of how long it is likely to take to achieve the desired increase in website traffic so the final goal would look like this:
Increase total website traffic from 2,000 to 3,000 visits per month within 6 months and to 4,000 visits per month within 12 months.
Apply timescales to all of your sub-goals et voila! You have a set of SMART goals that are grounded in reality and you can use to monitor progress throughout the year and stay on track.
Start Being SMART
To help you align your marketing efforts with SMART marketing goals, our Partner HubSpot have built a marketing planning template that you can download for free here. It'll specifically help you:
- Easily summarize your ultimate marketing goals
- Automatically calculate your greatest marketing need
- Set a deadline for meeting your annual, quarterly, or monthly goals
Click on the image below to download your free template now.