One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when approaching their marketing is not setting goals.
Setting goals crystallises your thoughts, actions, effort, and attention, which makes everything you do to market your business far more meaningful. Goals also gives you a long-term perspective, making it easier to overcome obstacles in the short term. They grant you the invaluable ability to put challenges and disappointments in their proper perspective.
This post looks at the process of setting marketing goals, why you need to do so, and how to give yourself the best chance of achieving them.
What Are Marketing Goals?
Your marketing goals are what you’d like to achieve as a result of your marketing efforts. They’re what you’d like to happen after executing a marketing strategy.
Without at least one goal, you’ll have no way of knowing whether or not what you’re doing is actually working. You won’t have defined what success looks like, so you won’t recognise it when you see it!
Think of your marketing strategy like planning a trip: you need to first choose a destination so you know when you’ve arrived. Without one, you’d be traveling aimlessly and without purpose. Also, you’d never be satisfied with where you ended up. The same is true when it comes to your marketing: you need to have a destination in mind and your goals provide you with one.
Now, while the ultimate goal of all businesses is to generate revenue and maximise profit, there are other goals that you’ll want to achieve along the way. These include:
- Growing brand awareness
- Expanding market share
- Entering new markets
- Reaching new target audiences
- Developing your relationship with existing customers
Consequently, there’s a diverse variety of marketing goals that can help you achieve your overall business, such as:
- Increasing website traffic
- Improving conversion rates
- Drive more click-throughs on paid ads
- Growing your social media presence
- Achieving more social media engagement
- Growing an email list
- Increasing your average customer value
Your marketing tactics, what you do to reach your target market – be it SEO or social media marketing, will be largely determined by your goals. Let’s say, for example, that your goal is to develop brand awareness, then increasing your website traffic, growing your social media presence and increasing engagement with followers are worthwhile marketing goals.
Why Goal Setting Matters
Studies have shown that business owners who set goals are 429% more likely to succeed than those that don’t. The main reason for this is the increased clarity that goals provide – which is a powerful ally against confusion, overwhelm, self-doubt, etc.
It stands to reason that you’re far more likely to succeed in business when you know where you’re going – or at least have an idea of where you want to go.
Here are three reasons that goal-setting matters to your business.
They Give You a Direction to Work Towards
First of all, goal setting gives you something to head towards. You might not have all of the answers when it comes to exactly how you’re going to accomplish your goals – but you know roughly where you’d like to end up. This diminishes feelings of overwhelm and gives you the courage to take meaningful action.
Then, when you’ve taken a few steps in the direction of your goals, you’ll have probably learned a few more things about your prospective customers and your target market as a whole. Now you have momentum on your side and it’ll be even easier to move press onward.
They Provide Something to Measure Your Progress Against
Secondly, goals give you measurable benchmarks for you to compare your current progress against. Having quantitative benchmarks, i.e., numbers, tells you at a glance whether your market campaigns are working or not.
For example, if your goal is to increase revenues to $10000 a month, you can look at your income from the previous month and determine, decisively, how close you came to achieving that goal.
They Provide a Clear Basis for a Sound Marketing Strategy
Finally, establishing clear objectives is important for determining which specific marketing tactics and techniques you’ll need to execute to achieve them. In other words, setting goals determines what you want to achieve so you’ll have a better idea of how to go about achieving it.
Now, as it pertains to digital marketing, this includes techniques such as:
How to Make SMART Marketing Goals
For your goals to be effective and make a difference, it’s best to set them with certain attributes in mind. The most popular way of doing this is using the acronym ‘SMART’, which stands for:
Let’s take a look at each one of these in greater detail.
Making a goal-specific refers to the process of making them as detailed as possible.
When your goals are specific, it removes any ambiguity over whether you’ve achieved them or not – or if you’re successfully on the way to accomplishing them. This is all the more important if someone is working alongside you on your marketing campaigns, or if you’ll have a team who’ll implement them for you.
As an example, your goal might to be increase your website’s traffic. To make it specific, your goal could be ‘increase traffic by 25% by [date]’ or ‘consistently reach 10,000 visitors a month by [date]’.
When your goals are measurable, it means they’re quantifiable – you can determine their success or failure with a number. Our above example of a goal of 10000 visitors a month is measurable because we can look at Google Analytics, or a similar tool, and see how many visitors we had to see if we accomplished our goal.
Our goals are made measurable through metrics – the numbers by which analytics are measured. So, in our example, number of visitors is an ideal metric for measuring website traffic. Other popular and commonly-used metrics include:
- Total revenue
- Average basket size
- Average customer value
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate
- Average time on page
- Average session duration
- Response rate (email marketing)
- No. of enquires
- No. of likes
- No. of followers
- No. of mentions
- No. of comments
Now, you’ll find that the ‘A’ in SMART goals can stand for a variety of things, such as a ‘achievable’ or ‘attainable’ – but those attributes are covered by ‘realistic’, which we’ll cover below. Consequently, aspirational, or ‘ambitious’ is a much better fit.
When your goal is aspirational, it means that it’s big enough to stretch you and take you outside your comfort zone. It’s a goal that’s going to take some thought and effort to achieve but will be worth it in the end.
For example, you could set a goal to increase your monthly revenue by 10%, which would be great – or you could to boost it by 50% – which would be monumental. While a 10% increase in revenue would be a great boon for your business, 50% would totally transform it. The catch, however, is that 50% is a lot harder to achieve – it’s something to aspire to. You’re going to have to think, consistently take action, take risks, and do things that are outside your comfort zone to accomplish it.
When your goals are realistic, it means that it’s possible for you to achieve them within a reasonable timeframe. Timeframe is important here as a goal that’s unrealistic in one timeframe may be realistic in a longer one.
For example, you might set a goal to gain 10,000 subscribers for your company’s YouTube channel. Now, while it’s unrealistic to expect to achieve that within a month, it’s realistic enough to accomplish with a year.
Also, you have to balance the aspirational and realistic attributes of your goal. While goals need to be realistic so you don’t set yourself up for failure, they still need to push you so its achievement is worth the time and effort.
It’s often said that a goal without a deadline is merely is a dream – which is why your goals need to be time-bound.
The main reason for a deadline is to push you towards action. A finite timeframe creates a sense of urgency, making you aware of each day that you procrastinate and fail to implement your marketing plans.
Similarly, another reason your goals need to be time-bound is so, at some point, you can decisively say whether you’ve achieved it or not. Without a deadline, you could hold off on taking any action towards your goal indefinitely and you won’t have succeeded in accomplishing it – but, technically, you won’t have failed as it’s still ongoing. This is exactly why goals without deadlines are considered to be fantasy by many.
How to Achieve Your Goals
There are 4 main reasons why people fail to reach their goals; you can remember these as the ‘4 Lacks’:
- Lack of Clarity: They didn’t set specific, well-thought-through goals or devise an effective strategy to accomplish them.
- Lack of Commitment: They didn’t fully commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve their goals and failed to hold themselves accountable when they fell short of their self-expectations
- Lack of Focus: They didn’t put enough time, energy and mental focus into pursuing their goals and were constantly distracted by less important things.
- Lack of Confidence: They failed to identify and overcome the self-limiting beliefs, fears, and self-doubt surrounding their business and their ability to achieve their goals.
With these in mind, here are several techniques that will help you achieve your goals.
Write Down Your Goals and Review Them Frequently
One of the best ways to ensure you achieve your goals is to write them down and review them regularly. Although incredibly simple, this is a powerful habit for a couple of reasons.
For a start, writing down your goals is a strong signal to yourself that you’re serious. When you write down a series of goals, as opposed to ‘having them in your head’, you had to have thought them through beforehand. You would have had to refine and clarify them until you reached a point where what you had written down is something you want or feel strongly about.
Also, most importantly, there’s a stronger sense of commitment to writing goals down – it’s in black and white now. Merely having them in your head is much less of a commitment – as they say, ‘if it’s not on paper, it’s vapour!’
Secondly, you have to review them regularly – which is another matter entirely. Only a proportion of people that set goals write them down – and an even smaller proportion of those that review them regularly. Reviewing your goals is important for two reasons:
- It reminds you of what your goals actually are. More importantly, it reconnects you with the purposeful energy that you had when you first committed your goals to paper.
- It keeps you accountable. Many people write down their goals and never look at them again – especially when accomplishing them becomes difficult. It’s almost as if not looking at them allows them to pretend they didn’t set them in the first place – and that they aren’t failing at bringing them to fruition. In contrast, in having to face your failure – or rather, your present failure – you can regroup and pick up where you left off.
Business owners that review their goals have a huge advantage over their competition – be one of those business owners.
Have a Clear ‘Why’
Though setting a SMART goal takes care of the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of your goal, it’s up to you to come up with ‘why’. It’s this why that will enable you to persist when things get tough. It will help you push through each obstacle to achieving your goal that pops up along the way.
To come up with your why, you’re going to have to get personal:
- Why exactly is it important for you to accomplish your goals?
- As alluded to earlier in the article, all marketing goals come down to generating more revenue, so why do you want to earn more money?
- What would it mean for you? How would it improve your quality of life?
- What would it mean to your family for you to achieve your goals?
Defining a clear and powerful ‘why’ will give you a great advantage in successfully seeing your goals through.
Create Powerful Habits Around Your Goal
It’s going to take continuous, consistent action to execute your marketing plan and achieve your goals. Creating habits that help you facilitate this action will help you immensely.
One of the simplest ways to establish such habits is to set specific days and times on which you’ll work on your marketing. These time slots should be non-negotiable so you always get something done during each one, however small. Over time, they’ll stack up, and – before you know it – you’ll have achieved more than you realised. Plus, all the while, you’ll be gaining confidence and competence.
However, when you’re working on your marketing plan, eliminate all distractions and focus on it exclusively for the time you put aside. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by social media, messages, emails, or anything else that you’d rather be doing.
Keep Your Mind Focused On Your Goals
One of the reasons most people don’t’ achieve their goals is that they set them – and never look at them again! In doing so, they squander all of the motivation – the emotional purpose – that filled them when they first set them. When you frequently reviewing your goals, in contrast, you get can reconnect with that initial motivation and it keeps your mind focused.
A particularly effective way to keep your mind focused on your goals is to record a journal. This ‘goal journal’ would include:
- Your goals (so you have to look at them every time you open your journal)
- Everything you do towards attaining your goals (action)
- What you learn along the way
- Each obstacle you encounter and how to overcome it – or how you plan to
- Each success you enjoy.
A goal journal will help you hold yourself accountable, as well as track your marketing activity. If you don’t work on your goals for a while, the journal will reflect this.
Stick to Your Goals
As well as consistency, it’s going to take persistence to achieve your marketing goals – so you’re going to stick to them. Giving up too early is the most common mistake that people make with their goals – and the most easily solvable. You just have to hang on in there! It takes time to figure out what you’re doing, for your target market to notice your efforts, to refine your process, etc.
Make a commitment to yourself from starting that you’re going to work on your marketing goals, consistently, for 90 days – without worrying about the results. You’re not going to worry about accomplishing your goals in that period nor will you get discouraged about your lack of achievement. The only thing that should concern you during those 90 days is doing the work – executing your marketing strategy – and not giving up!
Sometimes, it can be hard to envision accomplishing your goals – particularly when you’re first getting started or get stuck along the way. It’s important, however, to remain confident in the fact that if you commit to your goals, consistently take action towards their accomplishment, and persist in the face of difficulty that you will succeed.
So, after reading this post, you have a better idea of why setting marketing goals is so important – and the difference that doing so can have on your business. Goals are powerful as they give you a destination to head towards and, better still, a route by which you can reach it. Having a series of well-thought, SMART goals will give you clarity and sense of purpose that will help you if your marketing campaigns don’t immediately yield the results you expected.
It’s no exaggeration to say that setting goals could be the difference between your business growing to meet its full potential and your competitors carving out a bigger slice of your target market for themselves. Set SMART goals, review them regularly, and consistently and persistently work towards them and the success and recognition you envision for your business will be yours.
Steve Jaenke has been involved in the digital world for over 2 decades. Seeing the power of SEO early in the market he pivoted his business to focus on assisting SME to understand and leverage the power of Google. He is a recurrent judge for the Australian Web Awards awards.