Goals, priorities, objectives.
No matter what you call them, they are what we work towards every day in our personal and business lives. As a business owner, you most likely set yearly, quarterly or even monthly goals to help create strategies to see your business grow and succeed. However, while setting marketing objectives is one thing, achieving them is a whole other ball game.
Your marketing objectives are an integral part of your business plan. Achieving your goals requires tackling obstacles, barriers and challenges, as well as building a strategy that capitalizes on your business’ strengths and helps improve upon its weaknesses. With a comprehensive strategy and a strong set of marketing tools, achieving your goals can be much easier, but where do you begin?
In order to set successful goals for your business, you first need to understand the challenges your business faces. Start by looking at your most prevalent marketing challenges. In its 2017 State of Inbound report, HubSpot found that for most businesses, the four most frequent marketing challenges were:
Generating traffic and leads (63%)
Proving ROI of marketing activities (40%)
Securing enough budget (28%)
Identifying the right technologies (26%)
To find your business’ challenges, you’ll need to dive into the dark corners of your current and previous marketing strategies and analyze the results. Looking back on past analytics can help you see how your business is performing over a wide spectrum of areas as well as discover where it is struggle and where it is outperforming expected benchmarks.
Once you identify the biggest obstacles in your business' path, you can see the areas your business needs to improve in. From there, you can begin to decide which metrics you'd like to see change in and set your goals.
In the 2017 State of Inbound, HubSpot found that for many businesses, their challenges and marketing priorities were aligned. In fact, the study found that the top four marketing goals for businesses over the next 12 months are:
Converting contacts/leads into customers (70%)
Growing website traffic (55%)
Increasing revenue derived from existing customers (45%)
Proving the ROI of our marketing efforts (39%)
For almost every business, your top priorities will revolve around these areas—customer acquisition and efficiency. To grow your business, you need to be able to attract and convert new customers and prove that your marketing efforts are worth the cost. However, whatever your business priorities are, it’s important that you set objectives that are smart and will be most effective for your business.
After identifying your top priorities, it might be easy to think your goals are set and your job is done. However, identifying your priorities is only halfway to establishing your goals. To truly see results, your goals must be SMART. SMART goals are those that are tailored to your business and created in a way to help your business succeed. Most importantly, they are:
Specific: Your goals should be specific, meaning they need to be direct, straightforward and explain who is involved, what is expected to happen, when it should happen and any constraints in place.
Measurable: Each of your goals should be measurable, meaning they should have criteria for measuring progress towards the goal.
Attainable: It can be easy to “shoot for the stars” and set extremely high-expectations for your business, but this can be a detrimental move. Set goals that your business has a realistic capability to achieve.
Relevant: Your goals should be considered top priority and reflect core objectives within your business.
Timely: Give your goals a deadline to work towards. This will ensure that marketing objectives aren’t pushed aside and forgotten.
With SMART goals in hand, you’re ready to begin gathering resources and building a strategy to achieve them.
If you’re like most business owners, you may find that your business faces marketing challenges and priorities that are related. Even HubSpot found that many business challenges and goals deal with acquiring and retaining customers. However, if you look more closely, you can see that the top challenges and priorities all have one thing in common—each is related to inbound marketing.Inbound marketing strategies focus on two-way communication and encouraging consumers to interact with your business. Rather than reaching out to consumers with messaging and hoping they’ll bite, inbound marketing uses optimized content to engages consumers and entices them to “opt into” communication with your brand.
The content you promote and offer to customers is one of the most important tools in any inbound marketing strategy. Even if your goals aren’t focused on inbound tactics, the content you create as part of your marketing strategy is vital for success. When considering the right path and content strategy for your business, consider the following:
Content creation: Your marketing content should be tailored to your target audience. Using buyer personas, create content that answers questions, eliminates any doubts and offers any additional information your consumers may be looking for.
Quality over quantity: The content you create should focus on presenting high-quality information. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a combination of several efforts, but low-quality “fluff” content will harm search engine results and drive consumers away from your website.
Social media activism: Take advantage of social media to further increase consumer interactions and promote your content. Promote blogs, campaigns and other offers through social media to guide consumers to your website.
Utilize premium content: Premium content is often gated, meaning web visitors must complete a form with their contact information in order to download or access it. Use gated content to gather lead information.
E-mail isn’t dead: Follow up premium content downloads with an email drip campaign that provides additional content to guide consumers through the sales funnel.
Your marketing strategy is as unique as your business. From your business’ marketing challenges to its priorities, a well-designed plan tailors each step to both your clients and your business. Finding the right goals for your business to target takes research and understanding the results of previous marketing efforts. With SMART goals and clearly identified priorities, reaching your marketing objectives is easy (or at least achievable)!