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setting digital marketing goals

One of the biggest issues I can easily point out when a business or brand isn’t getting desired results from their online marketing is: lack of definite goals.

Most businesses just go online because…everybody is going online. Or because they were advised to. Or because they just feel it’s funky.

They mostly don’t have any goals for their websites and overall online marketing. And when they do, they’re just general goals that won’t hold water, or don’t even make sense.

In case it took you this long to realize, not setting goals for your online (or digital) marketing is equal to setting yourself up for failure online, and in business overall. You don’t just go online; you must have a goal – or goals. I mean, things you look to achieve from your efforts online.

And when you do set goals, don’t make them general watery statements. Let them be concrete results that can indeed be achieved.

Not “I want to open a website to have an online presence”. That’s watery! “I want to open a website to be able to showcase my products and connect to my customers online” sounds better.

I want to open a website to be able to support my offline efforts and boost my business profits by at least 50% within 1 year” sounds more like it. That’s some real goal there.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself already.

The best formula I’ve found for setting real goals is the classic S.M.A.R.T. formula (or concept).

What Are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

As you can already tell, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym. And it stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable (or attainable)
  • Relevant, and
  • Timely (or time-bound)

It’s simply saying when you’re setting goals, you want your goals to be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely. This applies to almost any kind of goal setting, and it’s no different with digital marketing.

You want your digital marketing goals to also be as specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely as possible.

  • S – You want to set goals that are so specific that they leave no single room for doubts. Anyone that sees your goals should be able to tell where you’re heading with your marketing.

I want to grow my followers” is a goal, and it’s a good, desirable one. However, “I want to have 500 more followers” is a better goal, and that’s because it’s more specific.

That tells you that including numbers (amount, time, date, percentage, price, etc) is a great way to make your goals more specific.

Other things like names, places, foods, event, anything that people can relate to, can also help add specificity to your goals. E.g., “I want 100,000 Lagos residents to have ordered for my special Ogbono soup recipe by 2017 Christmas.

This also answers the 6 “W” questions: who (Lagos residents); what (to order Ogbono soup); where (online, but within Lagos); when (2017 Christmas); which (Ogbono soup recipe); why (not expressly written, but obviously to increase profits).

  • M – You also want your goals to be measurable. You don’t want to set goals you wouldn’t even be able to tell if you’ve achieved or not. See the example above; by the time you have 100,000 orders, you know your goal is accomplished. That’s a quantity measurement. There’s also a time measurement in there too: “2017 Christmas”.
  • A – Your goal must be actionable; doable and practical. Achievable too! If you’re not realistic in setting your goals, if you set goals that are obviously too big for you to achieve, then you’re setting yourself up for failure right from the outset. Think about your goal: is getting 100,000 people to order your recipe within Lagos realistic? Do you have the capacity (budget, human resource, etc) to pull that off?

While it’s good to dream big, it’s better to look from where you are in setting your goals. Learn to know the difference between dreams and goals.

There’s no harm in setting goals that would stretch you and eventually force you to enlarge your capacity, but it’s best to be as realistic as possible. Look at where you are and what you have, and set goals that wouldn’t “break your liver” too much.

Also, let your goals be full of smaller steps you can easily act on. For example, getting 1000 downloads of your app within 3 months means you’d have to get at least 11 downloads per day. Is that easier to get? How much traffic do you have to send to your site or your page on the app store to get 11 people to download? 200 or 250 people? How much would that cost with Facebook ads?

As you can see, the goal can easily be broken down into smaller actions that would eventually make up the big goal.

  • R – What would be the essence of setting digital marketing goals when they aren’t relevant to your business, or when they aren’t in any way furthering your company goals?

Yes, it’s cool to have tens of thousands of likes on each Instagram post, but how does that affect your bottom-line? Is your business even a perfect fit for IG – is your audience hanging out there?

These are things you should consider while setting your goals and planning out your digital strategy.

I always insist companies set digital marketing goals that will help them in fulfilling their real (offline) goals; that will help in fulfilling that mission statement they flaunt.

  • T – Timely or time-bound goals, that is, goals set within a time frame are easier to achieve than timeless goals. Fine, you want to grow your email list to 10,000, but by when exactly? Not limiting yourself by time is giving yourself a lot of laxity in achieving your goals. But when you have a specific time by which your goals must be fulfilled, you’ll be able to commit to it and do whatever it’d cost to achieve it.

Now you know what S.M.A.R.T. goals are; having one ensures you’ll actually achieve your goal. But how exactly do you set one of these goals for your digital marketing?

How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your digital marketing

As you can probably imagine (yes, I love saying that), what more needs to be said after the S.M.A.R.T. breakdown above?! Well, not much, it’s just about you adding the S.M.A.R.T. concept to your digital marketing.

However, I’d just use this section to give a kind of checklist of steps that will help you set your digital marketing goals.

Let’s do this!

  • Identify your business goals. I said it earlier; whatever goals you set for your marketing generally (whether online or off), it must align with your business goals – and mission and vision. If you’ve not identified your business goals, then this is the first step for you.
  • Form hypothesis. You might not have your digital marketing goals figured out from the outset, and even if you do, they’re still hypotheses until they’ve been proven. So, set general goals that you think or believe are ideal for your marketing. Let your business goals above give you ideas. E.g., if our major business goal is awareness, maybe because we’re just starting, amount of website traffic and number of social media following — and “likes” — will be at the top of my digital marketing goals.
  • Make them S.M.A.R.T. This cannot be overemphasized. Review or critique your goals and ensure they follow the S.M.A.R.T. concept discussed earlier. That’s how to make your goal achievable.
  • Set KPIs. KPIs are key performance indicators. They are a list of things you use to determine whether your goals have been achieved — or are being achieved. These are metrics that let you know whether you’re on track to achieving your goals, or whether you should adjust your tactics.

Setting goals without setting KPIs is like embarking on a big unfamiliar journey without a map or road signs.

Using the earlier example, if awareness is indeed your goal, having 10,000 social media followers before the end of the year could be a good indicator that you’re achieving your awareness goals.

  • Write it out. I just believe goals that aren’t written down are mere dreams – or are still dreams till they’re written out. Writing it out makes it more concrete, and kind of tangible, and hence, achievable.

Write your digital marketing goals out. Make it plain so that any member of your company that reads it can run (work) with it.

Now you know how to set digital marketing goals that are S.M.A.R.T. Go ahead and set those goals you’d like to achieve for your business via the various digital platforms available.

Remember however, the biggest goal for any business is to generate more sales while reducing costs. That’s what we stand for here at RenegadeCommerce.

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Oludami Yomi-Alliyu
Oludami Yomi-Alliyu

Oludami is the founder of RenegadeCommerce. He is certified as a digital marketing professional by DigitalMarketer HQ, Texas, and as a professional copywriter by American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI).


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