I would love to tell you that I've always believed in, and maintained the discipline of, consistently documenting my goals. The truth, however, is that I've been largely undisciplined in this area up until a few years ago. One of my personal heroes has long been the legendary Zig Ziglar. His repeated admonition to write down your goals across all areas of your life and review them consistently ultimately won me over. I now have all of my goals documented, and I review them every Monday morning at 8:30. I'm still a long way from being where I'd like to be, and sometimes fail to make my goals precise enough to be doable and measurable, but I'm certainly making progress. On the personal front, I've had the goal of increasing the organization of my work spaces at home, and am pleased to announce that I finally cleaned out the garage that has hindered my accomplishment of that goal. On the business side, I've long hoped to see 30dps become a top marketing agency in Colorado and expand competitively into other areas of the country. Having just recently started staffing in Springfield, Missouri, and Olympia, Washington, I'm convinced that it was establishing goals and reviewing them regularly that helped drive this accomplishment.
Inbound marketing is an ongoing, long-term strategy that requires the same kind of discipline in goal setting. Without tangible goals, your inbound marketing will, as with other things, benefit greatly from goal setting. Setting goals, and frequently reviewing and monitoring your progress towards those goals, is essential to successfully accomplishing them. You have probably heard of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable,Relevant and Time-bound) goal setting, but perhaps you struggle with how to engage your inbound marketing using the same principal. Here are six steps you should take.
- Assess your current situation. In order to establish goals, you first need to have a solid grasp of where you are today with your inbound marketing efforts. Establish a baseline of where you are at right now by looking at your current website traffic, your click-through and conversion rates, the number of leads you are generating, the number of current and new monthly subscribers, and the number of new customers or sales revenue generated from new business.
- Be specific with your goals. I can tell you from my own experience in setting goals that the more vague or general they are, the more difficult they are to accomplish (I had "get down to XXX pounds" as a goal, but have learned that I have much more success when the goal is to "consume no more than XX carbs or calories in a day"). So instead of having a goal of "improve our search engine ranking," try something like "move keyword YYY from page two to page one."
- Make them achievable. Lofty goals are a good thing, but they should also be achievable, otherwise there is very little value. Your best goals should be a stretch, but they should be reasonably within reach. Rather than a goal of "200% increase in website traffic this year" you should consider more modest monthly goals, and constantly check your progress. Better yet, tie this kind of goal to specific actions you are taking to help accomplish them.
- Ensure that they are measurable. It's critical to not only make your goals measurable, but to do so at a sufficient level of detail as to make implementation and measurement easier, e.g. my weight loss goal. If you lack the tools with which to gather the data, you will find yourself abandoning your goals. So before you establish a measurement goal, ensure that you know how you will measure it.
- Determine the value of the goal. For some goals, the value is self evident. In other cases, you should really think through the "why" behind the goal. For example, if your website has a conversion rate that is near zero, having a goal of driving more traffic to your website may be an exercise in futility. In a case like this, you'd find it much more beneficial to focus on increasing your conversion rate and/or giving visitors more value.
- Establish timetables for reaching them. Sadly, my goal of losing weight didn't initially come with a schedule (or a daily card/calorie intake), so I'm still WAY short of accomplishing it. When you establish your specific, achievable, measurable goal of significant value, make sure you give it a target deadline for accomplishment. Even if you don't always make it, as long as you are measuring your progress, you will surely have reason to celebrate your accomplishments.
While it is possible to slog along without goals specific to inbound marketing, and still have some level of success; with thoughtful goal setting, you are destined to see a much higher level of performance. With the return on investment so high, it is folly to not establish inbound marketing goals.
If you would like help in establishing your inbound marketing goals, or if you need to implement a great tool for implementation and measurement, like Hubspot, we'd love to talk with you.