This article outlines a handful of objectives you can use to frame your digital marketing efforts.
In a recent article, I shared our approach to developing marketing objectives that work — make them SMART, meaningful to the business, and close to the money. But, if you’re trying to set specific objectives for your digital marketing efforts, what’s important? And, what should you be measuring? The fact of the matter is that you should set specific measurable objectives for your digital marketing efforts each year. With that in mind, these are the 6 objectives we tend to recommend:
#1 – Perception
What would you really like your firm to be known for? By who? By when? Before embarking on any digital marketing initiative it’s important to have a clear answer to these questions. While this objective is a little less measurable than some of those that follow, this is a good one to start with because it paints a broad picture of what you’re trying to accomplish with your thought leadership and digital marketing efforts. The rest of the objectives cascade down from this first one.
An objective of this type might read, “By 12/31/2019, senior executives in mid-sized technology companies will know us for organizational design and leadership development.” Notice that because this objective is bigger picture it has a longer-term time frame to it. You could go one step further to bind that with specific numbers but you’ll be able to accomplish that in some of the objectives that follow. The next step you should take is to define the things you’ll need to do to make that happen. This will likely include your planned research agenda and thought leadership strategy.
#2 – Traffic
In an article earlier this year I emphasized the point that every new client will go through your website at some point in the process of hiring you. So, traffic to your site is an important metric for the foreseeable future. Also, traffic will be your first metric you can use to determine whether you’re accomplishing your first objective stated above.
An objective of this type might read, “We hope to grow annual traffic to our website to 90k users in 2017 from 70k in 2016.” Next, state how you expect to accomplish that. To grow a site’s traffic by > 20% in a year, you might need a few tactics. Examples:
- Invest in a new CMS to provide us with better SEO tools and publish at least 1 search-optimized article each week related to our topical focus.
- Invest $XXXX in SEM.
- Increase the frequency of our email marketing to 1x/week.
#3 – Leads
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a lead is a person not a project. More specifically, a lead is someone that is potentially interested in hiring you now or at some point in the future. With that in mind, a lead is anyone who contacts you to talk about a project. And, it’s anyone who signs up for your email newsletter. The latter person is implicitly interested in your services, just not necessarily right now. The number of leads you generate (at least digitally) in a given year is a direct function of the traffic to your site and your site’s conversion rate. So, if you can increase the number of visitors to your site or the percentage of those visitors that convert, you can grow your leads database.
Ultimately, your leads database loosely represents the number of people who are receptive to your firm’s marketing. This makes growing your leads database an important marketing objective. An objective of this type might read, “We hope to grow our leads database from 3,000 at the end of 2016, to 4,800 at the end of 2017.” And, the tactics necessary to do that might look like this, “We will do this by growing site traffic (see objective 2) and maintaining our existing 2% conversion rate. This will require publishing X pieces of gated thought leadership content and Y webinars throughout the year.”
#4 – Meetings
One of the critical goals of your marketing effort is to deliver high quality meetings with new potential clients to senior partners or business developers. So, this is your next important objective. If you have some data from previous years you can use that as your benchmark. An example: “In 2016, we generated 70 meetings from our digital marketing efforts. If we hit our traffic and lead generation goals in 2017, we expect to generate 100 meetings this year.”
And, of course, we follow this with how we hope to meet this objective as well. “We will do this by investing in marketing automation and developing 4-5 lead nurturing programs to help us increase the percentage of leads in our system that initiate a conversation.” If you don’t have any previous data to work from, consider making your objective to establish a point of data in this area.
#5 – Opportunities
Not every meeting is going to result in a tangible business opportunity for your firm. Sometimes a potential client is just looking to understand an issue to inform their future business decisions. Other times, despite your best marketing efforts the lead is simply not qualified (they’re not the right fit prospect you need them to be). So, it’s important that you set objectives for the number (and $ value) of opportunities you expect to flow from your digital marketing efforts.
An objective in this area, might look like this, “We expect 20 of those meetings to provide a tangible near-term revenue opportunity that we would like to pursue representing $XM for the firm that could be booked within the next 24 months.”
#6 – Revenue
Finally, while there are a lot of influences that are largely out of your control as a digital marketer, it is still important that you track your efforts down to booked revenue. Ultimately, if you’ve invested in the appropriate systems, you should be able to tie project opportunities to the original source of a lead. So, you can identify what % of your firm’s current year revenue comes from digital marketing vs. relational business development, for instance.
A revenue objective might look like this, “Historically, our firm has won 55% of the business we’ve pursued. In 2017, we expect to close 12 of those 20 opportunities (60% of them) representing $YM.” And, close the loop with the tactics you’d suggest to enable those outcomes, “By generating more potential opportunities in 2017 than in 2016, we will be more selective with the opportunities we choose to pursue, thereby increasing our win rate.”
We’ve found that it’s an important and worthwhile effort to set SMART objectives for your digital marketing efforts each year. The very act of visualizing your future success is often a key enabler of realizing it. Once you’ve identified your objectives, you can work towards developing a dashboard to track them and measure progress over time.
Use your first year to identify the data you hope to collect and to establish the numbers that will underpin your efforts going forward. Then, in subsequent years think about where you can apply pressure to improve your desired outcomes.