Rule No. 1: Define SMART Goals

  |  October 8, 2010   |  Comments   |  

Be smart about your objectives when planning campaign goals. Having specific, measurable, and attainable goals will put you ahead of competitors in the market.

Marketers and clients can improve the processes they adopt to win through analytics.

Let's start with a discussion we have with clients when outlining their measurement approach: What's your objective?

I often find myself falling in circular conversation with clients where I ask them either what their site, campaign, or measurement objectives are. More often than not, these questions are thrown back to me. Well, what do you think our objective should be?

Alternatively I'll get the vague 'we want to increase awareness and sales' response. This is a start but can be better. By no means have we invented this framework nor is it a safely guarded fountain of knowledge. You have probably heard this, but chances are it doesn't get used.

A quick example:

Vague: Increase newsletter subscribers

Smart: Build newsletter subscribers from 10 in January 2010 to 200 by December 2010

Holy mother of God! That's leaps better than what we just had. Two-hundred is something I can work with, something more tangible and realistic. And if I need to achieve a target of 200, it helps me design my strategy to attract this number of subscribers.

So make sure your objectives are SMART.

S – Specific

Increase awareness or increase visits are extremely vague goals primarily because this is a 'duh' statement. Of course you want this. Be specific. This will also help define the strategy you put in place to try and achieve the goal.

When planning your next online campaign or site design, ask yourself two things:

1.   What will the customer get out of this campaign?

-       This question sometimes gets left at the door when clients or agencies plan their marketing campaign. But it always has to be answered and the customer always has to get something out of it. I've seen campaigns fall flat because the client didn't think about what the customer was getting from the campaign at the end of the day. This gain can be measurable like discount coupons or initially non-measurable such as fun or entertainment.

2.   What do I want to get out of this campaign?

-       For example, increased likeability, increased awareness, downloads, game plays, or contest submissions.

M – Measurable

Being specific is not just assigning a numeric value to your objective but ensuring that you are able to measure this goal. Be specific about how this goal will be measured. For analytics, ensure that the correct tags are in place and your tracking tool is able to track the goal from start to finish.

For Google Analytics, make sure your tracked campaigns come with UTM tags, Omniture with SAINT/CID tags, Coremetrics with MMC tags, etc. – or at least make sure that your agency does this.

If they are non-measurable goals, assign a KPI that will quantify these goals. For instance, if there is a game and you want the customer to have fun, then this can be measured in plays per visitor.

A – Attainable/Agreed-upon

When you ensure that your goal is attainable, it forces you to check whether you or your agency has the ability and skill to make it happen. Ask yourself whether you have all the blocks in place to achieve this goal. Does your media-buy have the potential to help you reach the goal? Does your agency know they have a goal to reach? Are they putting contingencies in place to ensure you achieve this goal? Will they be able to optimise during the campaign period?

R – Realistic

Don't pull numbers out of a hat. Historically, if you had 10 percent increase in sales or subscriptions for every campaign, will you be able to achieve a 50 percent increase with the next campaign? Unless you are giving away freebies or have drastically changed your new campaign, aim for something more realistic.

Learn from history – past campaign conversions, site traffic, historic sales, etc. – to understand what you want to achieve. This also helps you to make your goal more realistic.

T- Time-bound

When do you need to achieve this goal by? Are you realistic with the time frame? This can be straightforward with campaign periods. For ongoing site traffic, subscriptions, and calls to action, there should be a longer time frame and you should assess what you are doing to contribute to this goal. For example, increasing newsletter sign-ups to 1,000 can be attainable but only within the next six months rather than three months.

Defining goals the SMART way will put you ahead of others in the market instead of creating a site or a campaign for the sake of creating one. It helps you put all the parts in place to ensure you are moving towards achieving the goal.

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Madhu  Malkani

Madhu Malkani is the measurement & insights director with the Data & Analytics team at MRM Worldwide where she leads the digital analytics team and works with clients to track and improve their digital performance. Madhu has a BSc in Biology and an MBA from the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

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