Goals are a must for any business. But unfortunately, not all goals are created equal. If your milestones are broad or vague, you might as well have no goals at all.
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Luckily, there’s a sure-fire way to make sure your goals don’t fall short. Enter SMART goals, goals that are both quantitative and qualitative.
If you want to grow your B2B or B2C business—and who doesn’t want that?—then it’s time to set SMART goals.
What are SMART Goals?
SMART stands for:
Gotta love a good acronym—especially one that can transform your business and lead to major ROI. SMART goals are so effective, and so actionable, that MIT and other leading universities are singing their praises.
As well they should.
Let’s say you want to increase your sales. That’s a worthy goal, but it’s way too broad. To do it the SMART way, you’ve got to quantify and qualify. Every goal you create should satisfy five key criteria. Here’s how they apply to our original goal of boosting sales:
- Specific: By what amount will you increase sales? Through which channels? A more specific version of your goal would be something like, “I will increase online sales through our website by 25%.”
- Measurable: What gets measured gets done. Do you have the analytics in place to track sales on a weekly, or even daily, basis? Are you measuring total sales, or sales only from new customers? Set a measurement foundation to ensure you can quantify whether you’ve achieved your SMART goal.
- Achievable: Setting lofty goals is fine, but make sure that what you’ve set forth is achievable—in this case, based on your current sales figures. Was your 2015 sales growth just 5% YOY? Then consider rethinking your goal of a 25% boost.
- Relevant: Does your business drive the majority of sales online, or does a brick-and-mortar location account for a big chunk of current sales? Make sure that your goal connects to your business model and your customer base.
- Time-bound: Simply put, set a deadline. In this case, when do you expect to achieve your sales boost? By end of 2017 Q1? By this time next year? Set a time limit so that you can track your progress along the way.
This sounds simple enough, but what does that mean for you and your forthcoming marketing strategy? In short, SMART goals set you up for strategy success. Actionable data is critical to developing a solid, winning strategy, and that’s exactly what this methodology promotes.
By creating goals that can be quantified, you’re able to hold your tactics and strategy accountable for producing results. And this also means you have the data to justify key optimizations. By measuring marketing ROI, your company can adjust tactics that might not be generating the results you need for achieving your goal.
SMART goal setting VS wishful thinking
Too many companies enter the marketing mix erring on the side of wishful thinking. Make sure you’re not one of them.
These wishful thinkers might have some vague goals (i.e., “I want to increase sales,” or “I want to improve my online presence”). But they usually lack a critical component of good goal-setting: a way to measure if they’re on track to achieve their milestones. After all, increasing your annual sales is a goal, and one more sale than last year would achieve that—but that’s probably not what you had in mind. If you want to grow in the right way, you should be able to take an objective look at the data—because data doesn’t lie—and see how your business is really doing.
Now that this newfound power is in your hands, download our free SMART marketing template to start creating your own actionable goals.
SMART goal setting for digital marketing
Less than 50% of B2B businesses actually analyze their data for key insights. That means most businesses are taking a stab in the dark when it comes to marketing their products and services. The best B2B businesses don’t leave their marketing to chance. They want to drive engagement across every channel, and the only way to do that is to create goals that inform their strategies. Here’s how to get SMART on some common digital marketing goals:
Content is still king, and in digital marketing, it’s a big deal. Savvy marketers set SMART goals for their content, like engaging X% of audience through shares, likes, comments, etc. This enables them to evaluate results in a given timeframe and tailor content accordingly to drive the engagement and ROI they seek.
By now, you already know how important your website is—but if it’s not seen, what’s the point? Successful businesses create goals for their web traffic. The goal should be not just to increase traffic by a certain percentage, but also to determine where the visitors come from and how many will take advantage of your site’s free content. Measure this incoming data against your SMART goals. Then, use that insight to optimize your strategy.
Backlinks are integral to Google ranking success. The more backlinks, especially from reputable sites, the higher the placement a company receives. SMART businesses know that keeping track of backlink location and effectiveness is critical to ensuring the best repute. By knowing which backlinks and sites are directing the most traffic their way, B2B businesses can meet their SMART goals more efficiently.
social media growth
Social media shows your audience the human side of your company. It’s not a place for hardcore marketing, but instead a place of engagement. And the best part is, it’s totally measurable. Savvy businesses know that if they want to grow, they need to increase their social following. All that stands between them and growth is evaluating results and adjusting strategies and tactics to ensure continued success. Set and track KPIs like followers, click-throughs and the conversion rates of those visitors who land on your website directly from social media.
What’s realistic for your business?
What’s being realistic got to do with it? Everything. If you set super lofty goals, it will be pretty impossible to reach them. But what’s realistic is subjective to each company. As you start to think about your SMART goals, consider the following:
Your own history of connecting with audiences and making (or not making) those sales should inform how you go forward. History is the best teacher and learning those lessons quickly is the best indicator of future success.
Are your competitors blowing you out of the water with their customer engagement and ROI? Try to see what they’re doing that’s working for them. Dig into their website, social accounts, and online presence to see what’s driving response. Maintain a list of relevant details on competitor action and engagement so that you see clearly what you need to do to stay ahead.
TIME AND LABOR CONSTRAINTS
How do your resources (time, manpower, budget) compare with your competitors? This is critical as you define your goal. If you don’t have the manpower or the budget to emulate what they’re doing, it’s time to regroup. The sharpest businesses don’t let a lack of resources hold them back. Find ways around the challenge by scaling down, thinking outside the box, or partnering with experts who can simplify the marketing process.
Set your SMART goals today
It’s time to take your B2B business’ digital marketing to the next level. If you haven’t yet downloaded the SMART marketing goals template—now’s a good time to do so. Remember, when you have bad data (or even worse, no data at all), you’re basically doomed to repeat past failures. Without the data to measure your methods and progress, you can never hope to prevent the same mistakes that have held you back.
It all comes back to two common adages: “What gets measured gets done,” and “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different outcomes.” Get the picture?
Use the common digital marketing goals below as a starting point to identify what needs to change in your business. Brainstorm the specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound elements that will help you create a quantitative and qualitative goal. Then, set your SMART goals to ensure the ongoing success for your digital marketing efforts.
With SMART goals, you can:
- Increase site traffic
- Increase product video views
- Increase demo requests
- Increase webinar/ event signups
- Increase PDF downloads
- Increase call-back requests
- Increase social followers
- Increase social likes
- Increase online conversion
It may not be the most exciting thing to architect your marketing strategy, but seriously: the time spent now will pay off big-time in the long run. After all, SMART goals are the foundation of your business growth strategy.
Build them strong.
...And let us help you. Grab our SMART marketing goals template below.