Everything starts from goals.
Often when companies are looking to get started with integrated marketing, they go straight to the tools. What are the right keywords to rank for? Should we use Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? Should we be writing content four times a day or fifty seven times a month? Should we invest in this trade show or sponsor that event?
SEO, social media, content, and offline efforts are all fundamental pieces to a successful integrated marketing approach, but they are simply tools. Your efforts will be much more successful, and a whole lot easier to get off the ground, if you start with goals and KPIs.
Setting SMART Goals in Marketing
When it comes to building communities and engaging an audience, we often don’t see immediate results. As a result, we struggle to prove that our efforts are actually going to provide a return on investment (ROI).
But marketers know “the grind” too well. We’re accustomed to these kind of occupational hazards. And we know that the secret of truly spectacular marketing is well-founded and measurable goals.
Your efforts will be much more victorious, and a whole lot easier to get off the ground, if you start with goals and KPIs.
So we’ve adapted the SMART goal framework to assist us in our goal-setting efforts. We should be setting SMART goals in marketing. This means whenever you set KPIs, you want to ensure that they are SMART:
When it comes to earning buy-in and winning over even the most skeptical executive, the SMART goal framework can move mountains. More importantly, using it provides you the opportunity to define the purpose of your efforts.
Thinking through each piece of this framework helps you identify exactly what you’re attempting to accomplish and assess how you’re going to measure success. Working through this framework will also help you determine whether your goals are possible, and when exactly it will be accomplished.
Here’s how we work through each step in the SMART goal framework to set goals for integrated marketing efforts:
STEP ONE: Specific
Define goals for both revenue and for your brand
The goals you define for your company — both for your specific marketing initiatives as well as the higher arching goals you have for your company as a whole–set the tone. They communicate what’s priority, what you’d like to accomplish, and also what you’re going to be held accountable for.
It’s really important that when you’re setting these goals that you’re setting them both for revenue and the success of the brand.
For a product based company, a revenue goal may be to increase software subscriptions by 10%. For a services based company, perhaps one of your revenue goals would be to increase lead form inquiries by 10%. Here you’re identifying a specific goal that relates to the revenue increase you’d like to achieve with your efforts.
Brand goals are more difficult to measure but incredibly important to set, work towards, and track, nonetheless. Your company may want to set a specific brand goal to become known as the go-to expert in your industry for analytics software. Or perhaps you want to set some simple brand goals like growing a higher quality email list, getting more people to read your blog, or building a more quality following on social media.
Setting both revenue and brand goals up front will help you convey the importance of both types of goals in your integrated marketing approach and set your efforts up for success.
Once you’ve defined your specific revenue and brand goals, now you’re ready to determine how you’re going to make those goals measurable.
The goals you define for your company–both for your specific marketing initiatives as well as the higher arching goals you have for your company as a whole–set the tone.
STEP TWO: Measurable
Determine key performance indicators (KPIs)
Part of proving that your integrated marketing efforts are successful is defining what you consider to be a favorable outcome. What criteria, or key performance indicators (KPIs), will you use to illustrate you’ve achieved success?
Determining KPIs for revenue goals is pretty straight forward:
However, defining KPIs for brand goals tend to be a little bit more subjective. Depending on the brand goals that you’re setting, key performance indicators in integrated marketing may include things like:
- increase in conversation, amplification & applause (on your blog and on social media)
- increase in natural social shares of your content
- increase in the percentage of both branded and non-branded SEO traffic
- increase in the percentage of new visits to your website
- decrease in bounce rate
- increase in page depth
- increase in micro conversions/goal completions
- increase in form submissions
- increase (or perhaps decrease) in phone calls
- increase in revenue
- increase in visitor loyalty
- decrease in funnel abandonment rate
Matching both revenue and brand KPIs to your specific goals will make it much easier to measure your efforts, communicate success, and also determine whether there needs to be an adjustment in your integrated marketing efforts.
On a side note, be aware that effectively communicating results — evaluating, analyzing, and presenting the data you’re collecting on your KPIs — is just as important as identifying them in the first place. Reporting on both revenue and brand KPIs will help to communicate the whole picture of your efforts and illustrate how your efforts are affecting the entire brand (not just immediate revenue).
Now that you’ve matched KPIs to your specific revenue and brand goals, let’s address whether they’re in the realm of possibility.
STEP THREE: Attainable
Assess the ability to accomplish your goals
Setting goals is the easy part. Determining whether you can actually accomplish what you’ve set before you is another story. You certainly don’t want to set goals that are so steep you’ll never accomplish them, or are so easy that they weren’t worth setting in the first place.
Figuring out whether your goals are attainable can essentially be determined through data. If you’re shooting for a 10% increase in subscribers and subscriptions have been steadily increasing by 6% over the last 3 months, getting to 10% with some additional efforts and new strategic direction is most likely attainable.
On the flip side, maybe that goal is too easily reached or the gap is too large. When you’re working through the Attainable step in the SMART goals framework, you want to evaluate the possibility of accomplishing what you set out to do and ensure you’ve set challenging, yet attainable, goals.
If you don’t yet have the data to determine trends, start with a baseline, put the proper tracking in place, and begin collecting the data as soon as possible.
Once you’ve analyzed the possibility of achieving the goals you’ve set forth, it’s time to have the realistic goal (and KPI) discussion with your team.
STEP FOUR: Realistic
Verify that what you’re proposing is practical
The Realistic SMART goal step provides an opportunity to chat with your team about whether the goals you’ve set are realistic. Is your team up for the challenge? Do they think it can be done? This is your chance to have an open discussion about whether you can realistically be held accountable for these goals and KPIs you’ve identified.
Combined with a discussion about the time-sensitive nature of these goals (discussed in the step below), present your logic to your team and ask for feedback (and ultimately buy-in). Then, once you’ve matched your goals and KPIs with actual time-sensitive expectations in the next step, you’re ready to begin developing your strategy for your integrated marketing journey.
STEP FIVE: Timely
Designate short and long term goals
How long will it take to reach the goals you’ve set forth? Matching timeframes to goals will allow for a conversation with your team (or C-suite) about expectations. How long will it take to achieve a 10% increase in software subscriptions? How much time is necessary to become a thought leader in your space? Discussing the reality of how long it takes to accomplish goals like these, before you get started, will make for a much more peaceful integrated marketing adventure.
Inherently some of the integrated marketing goals you’ll set are going to come to fruition in the short term (3/6/9 months), and some (especially your brand building goals) will require a longer term (12/18/24 months or more) to accomplish. And that’s why it’s so important to address expectations of delivery as you’re setting goals.
Will you spend the first 30 to 60 days conducting research, analyzing data, optimizing assets, and setting the foundation? If that’s the case, you may not begin aggressively working toward goals until you’re two months in (which can greatly impact delivery of results). If that’s the case, now’s your chance to make this known.
When designating both short term goals, determine whether there are short-term gains that can be made right away and accomplish them. Prioritize these smaller victories to come quickly so that you buy more confidence as you work toward accomplishing your longer term goals.
As far as longer term goals go, what efforts need to be set up in the short term so that you’re not losing any ground once you’re at least six months in? Set yourself up for success by taking a look at the whole picture with both short and long term goal timeframes and use this final step in the SMART goals framework to openly communicate about expectations. Be sure to come back to this conversation as you march forward and are sensing doubt from the team.
Prioritize these smaller victories to come quickly so that you buy more confidence as you work toward accomplishing your longer term goals.
Rinse & Repeat
Using the SMART goal framework to set goals will help keep your company focused, effective, and efficient. More importantly it will allow for imperative conversations to happen throughout the process.
Keep in mind that goal setting is a dynamic process; there’s always going to be something to refine and new challenges to work toward. Just remember to keep your focus on your goals, the communication lines open on your team, and you’ll be setting your entire team and company up for success.
Banner photo credit: sydneyfashionblogger
To download a worksheet on how you can provide actionable metrics and goals for your SEO team, check out: SEO in the Boardroom: Tangible Search Metrics.