Whether you’re a business owner, a marketing manager, or a junior blogger, you probably know how setting goals helps you make progress. When it comes to marketing, it’s especially important because it’s easy to waste a lot of time and money without measuring progress and producing any real results.
If this sounds obvious to you — good! Maybe you’re already setting goals but find yourself struggling to generate the results you want. If that’s the case, I’d like to explain the best way we’ve found to set goals and create strategies that will help you reach them.
The first step to developing a successful marketing strategy is aligning marketing goals to the larger financial goals of the company.
Is your company trying to increase their market share? Sell more units? Retain more customers? Generate greater public awareness?
If you’re not involved in strategic planning, meet up with company leaders to understand what their key objectives are. You’ll likely discover that the company goals are numerous and far reaching, but push leadership to prioritize so you can order your marketing plans and tactics accordingly.
Let’s say your company is just getting started and your main goal is to acquire more customers.
Getting more customers is different depending on your product and the length of your sales cycle, but for example’s sake, let’s keep it general. Your #1 goal is getting more customers.
Some marketers would hear this and start creating social accounts and posting product-based posts — “Come check out our amazing coffee” or “Buy one of these fab t-shirts.”
This sales-y approach doesn’t work well because:
- You probably have very few followers seeing this, and
- They probably don’t care about your product (harsh but true!) because you haven’t provided any value to them by immediately attempting to sell.
With that in mind, I encourage these marketers to zoom out and look at the big picture starting at the top of the funnel.
If you want to acquire more customers, regardless of your product/business, you need to generate brand awareness. Once you’ve done that, you need to capture some leads. Once you’ve captured leads, you’ve got to nurture the leads until they are ready to buy. Once they’ve bought your product, you should find ways to delight them so they continue to buy more. Now, you have your marketing priorities in place:
- Generate awareness
- Capture leads
- Nurture leads
- Close deals
- Delight customers
If you're a savvy inbound marketer, this might look very similar to the "Inbound Marketing Methodology" graphic that HubSpot uses to explain what inbound marketing is all about.
These five steps are a lot to conquer all at once, so start small. For this month/quarter/6 months/whatever time-frame you think is feasible, focus on step 1 — generating awareness. Set a SMART goal for awareness. This goal should be:
Specific - Have a clear target to aim for
Measurable - Assign a number to this goal so you can measure your progress
Actionable - You should be able to assign concrete tasks that lead to goal achievement
Relevant - Goal should move your department/company toward larger, overarching goals
Time-bound - Goals without deadlines are rarely reached. Set a deadline for each goal.
Example: Increase website traffic by 10% every week this month.
Assigning tactics to your SMART marketing goals
Once you have 1-3 big SMART goals you want to focus on in a given period of time, you can assign a mix of inbound and more traditional, "outbound" tactics for each. This step helps you break down the small tasks that need to be done in order to reach your larger goal.
Example: To increase website traffic by 10% every week this month we are going to:
- Publish 4 original blog posts (1 per week)
- Create paid social posts driving traffic to blog
- Write 4 guest posts for other industry blogs with links back to our site (1 per week)
- Develop an email campaign for existing and/or paid lead lists
After a week, check your progress and determine whether these tactics indeed increased web traffic by 10% that week. If not, recalibrate, brainstorm and adjust your methods until you reach your goal.
How to move forward after reaching tactic-driven goals
Once you feel you have enough web traffic (or once you’re growing weekly traffic in a consistent way), you can move on to tactics that support the next phases of the buying process and move you closer to your overarching goal of acquiring customers. In this case, figure out how to capture leads from all the web traffic you’re now getting. You get the idea…
As long as you are continually setting data-driven goals, measuring progress toward those goals, and recalibrating tactics to find what works best, you’ll always be moving toward success.