The Oxford English Dictionary defines a goal as “The object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” Our lives are mostly driven by small and lifelong goals, from ticking off a daily to-do list to accomplishing the tasks that bring us closer to self-realisation.
In our personal lives and in business, we are naturally propelled towards the future by the things that drive us. We set objectives so that we can fulfil a mission and reap the rewards that we anticipate as a result of our hard work. That being said, many businesses and individuals send out very mixed messages about their goals. On a personal level, this could create a lot of frustration and sense of failure. Likewise, a business without goals will inevitably cause existing customers to disengage and deter new prospects.
Having a focused strategy – in any area of life – will help you to take deliberate actions that align with your goals.
Why is having set goals important?
Without goals, you will inevitably waste time and effort, shooting aimlessly and exhausting your resources.
Most successful entrepreneurs, performers, sportspeople and professionals will tell you that the key to success is eliminating distraction and maintaining an unwavering focus on the target. Goals help you to nip distractions in the bud, way before they’re even able to infiltrate your headspace.
When you have a goal, you’re less likely to put off tasks. Time suddenly becomes a precious commodity that you can’t afford to divvy up inconsequentially. Sure, there are days when it seems like all you’ve done is make cups of coffee and scroll through your emails; but with a goal in mind, you’re more likely recenter yourself and jump back on the bandwagon quicker than if you had no idea what you are ultimately chasing.
Goals also inspire innovation. When you’ve got a clear picture of where you want to be – and have a set time frame – you’re going to start questioning the methods that are taking you there. How can you make things more efficient? How can you get better results?
So how does this apply to your digital marketing strategy?
Setting goals for your digital marketing strategy makes it easier to measure its success. Goals help you and your team to develop a plan that increases your productivity and unites your efforts.
Unlike outbound strategies, the outcomes of an inbound digital marketing strategy can be measured – you can pinpoint precisely what activities are driving traffic and triggering actions on your website’s pages. But setting up your campaign isn’t an overnight job, so you want to be sure that the time and effort you invest in creating content, promotions and PPC campaigns actually brings in ROI. You can set mini-goals for each sub-tasks and overall objectives for what you would like to achieve after a certain period of time.
As an inbound agency, we use SMART goals to measure our own campaigns as well as those of our customers. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. By using this outline, you are able to summarise your ultimate marketing goals and set deadlines for when you would like to achieve these by. To learn more about what SMART goals could do for your business, read here.
How to set digital marketing goals
First off, it’s essential to manage your expectations and that of the stakeholders you’re answerable to. Short-term success isn’t necessarily sustainable and it’s not always in the best interests of your business. You need to have a realistic time frame – possibly up to 12 months – before you can start seeing real results from your digital marketing campaign.
The next thing you need to do is assess the resources you have to hand. Setting goals that are above your scope of capabilities at the time is pointless. Make sure you have the expertise to perform the tasks and if not, look to outsourcing tasks to a specialist digital marketing agency.
Study your competitors and determine your own position in relation to the businesses you aspire to be like or hope to someday surpass in sales. What are they doing to improve their search engine ranking? What keywords are they monopolising? How does their product or service compare to yours and what are the strengths and weaknesses in their marketing strategy that could help you to differentiate yourself?
What kind of budget are you expecting to put behind your digital marketing strategy? Being honest about your affordability from the start will help your team or agency to formulate the most cost-effective strategy for you.
Linking your goals back to your digital marketing strategy
All of this goal setting is effectively the foundation of your strategy. To quote HubSpot, “Your digital marketing strategy is the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing.”
Aspiring to increase your online sales by 10% in the next month is a great goal, but it’s meaningless if you don’t set up the strategy that maps out the steps to get there You will need to accurately identify your target market. This is done by carving out your various buyer personas. Utilise the digital marketing tools necessary to measure your efforts and report on how your campaigns are performing in relation to your marketing goals.
Do a stock take of what you already have – you don’t want to duplicate your digital channels or replicate campaigns that have not worked in the past. Assess how visitors have engaged with your content historically – did your PPC campaigns flop, and if so, why? What can you do to fine-tune the things that could be performing better? Could you be producing better content?
Once you have everything in place, you need to bring it all together and make sure that all the different elements cooperate with each other and continue to work towards a unified goal.
By downloading our free eBook, The 6 Keys to Planning a Digital Marketing Strategy you can learn how to formulate your own digital marketing strategy and set SMART goals that will set you set you on the right path.
Whatever you aspire to, in your business and as an individual, acting from a place of goal-oriented intention will embed deeper meaning in everything you do, setting you up as a leader, a voice of authority and someone who gets real results.