It’s a new year and a great time to consider what you would like to accomplish for your business over the next 12 months. But goal setting is not a wish list. To be effective, your goals must be SMART!
SMART goals aren’t only a “smart” thing to aim for, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-limited. Let’s unpack that and consider what it means.
Often when we set goals, they are too general. For example, you might say, “I want to increase traffic to my website.” That leaves a lot of questions unanswered. What kind of traffic? All traffic? Organic traffic? Pay-per-click? Traffic from social media? Referred traffic? Direct traffic? How much do you want to increase traffic? Be more Specific.
OK, with that same example, let’s say you decide that you decide your goal is to “increase organic traffic to my website by 50 percent.” How are you going to Measure that?
Measuring progress toward your goals
You will need to have some kind of metrics application on your website – Google Analytics is a good free alternative. Hubspot has an excellent array of tools to provide numerous metrics, in addition to its other marketing tactics execution tools. Whatever application you choose, you’ll need to take a baseline reading and keep track of your progress compared to your baseline.
“Time-limited” and “Attainable” are relative. It’s important to set a time limit on your goal to make it meaningful. In our example, your goal is meaningless until you attach a date to it. If you say, “I want to increase organic traffic to my website by 50 percent by the end of the month,” that is probably not an attainable goal unless your current traffic is very low. A much more attainable goal would be, “I want to increase organic traffic to my website by 50% in three months.”
If you are using inbound marketing – i.e., SEO, blogging, social media and email marketing — to increase organic traffic, don’t expect results overnight. In a February 2013 study, only 17% of Hubspot customers saw an increase in traffic in the first month, while 48 percent saw an increase in two to four months, and 20 percent saw an increase in months five through seven. That’s a total of 85 percent who saw an increase in traffic within seven months.
Are your goals Relevant?
The one thing we haven’t yet discussed is relevancy. How is this goal Relevant to your success as a business? If you say that you are not receiving enough leads from your website because the traffic is too low, then the goal is, indeed, relevant.
If, however, you are getting plenty of traffic to your site and the traffic is producing many leads, but you just aren’t following up on them, then increasing organic traffic by 50 percent in three months is not a relevant goal. You need to set a different goal – one pertaining to closing sales.
After you have set two to four SMART goals for your business, it’s time to build your marketing plan around them to map out how you’re going to make them a reality! Setting goals is an important step to help you chart a successful course for your business. Make sure they are SMART – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-limited!
Photo by: Dana Lookadoo – Yo! Yo! SEO