Your online marketing strategy, including your website, your social media, your content marketing, or your cost per click ads, should be founded on and in alignment with your business goals. That may seem obvious, but it isn’t — based on how often this simple rule is broken online.
We see two ways in which companies diverge from this precept.
First, they develop online goals which aren’t related to business goals. Appearing to be popular on Facebook is a great goal if, like one of our clients, you sell advertising and your popularity proves you’re worth the high rates you charge. If you want to sell goods and services, getting Facebook likes is a vanity metric, not a reasonable goal.
Second, they develop online goals which are actually business goals, such as increasing sales in brick and mortar stores or dominating the market in their region. Both these goals are reasonable business goals, but neither can be measured online.
Online marketing goals should ideally be things that your website can accomplish, so that you can tell that they are (or are not) being accomplished. Examples of usable website goals:
- Increase traffic by 30% year over year.
- Increase online sales to $3o,000 per month.
- Achieve a 1.7% conversion rate for brochure downloads.
- Receive 5 qualified leads per month via online contact form.
- Increase time on site by 12% quarter over quarter.
Certainly, increasing time on site only makes sense as a goal if it aligns with business goals, perhaps as a sign of intent to purchase or as evidence of increasing influence as a thought leader, but it is an example of a measurable abstract goal.
“Making people feel good about our company” may be a primary goal for you as a businessperson, but it’s not measurable at your website. Equally, increasing sales is a good goal for just about any company, but it can only be measured online by e-commerce sites.
The trick, then, is to identify measurable online behaviors that tie in with your business goals. For example, increasing website traffic typically does correspond to increasing sales, even if those sales are not online. If comparing your traffic with your sales shows that this is true for your company, then increasing website traffic is a good goal for your website. Feeling good about your company may show up in the positive/negative ratio of online conversations about your company (use Social Mention to measure) and thus become measurable.
You can get more specific, though, by creating an action at your website that visitors can take. Downloading a brochure or a coupon is a measurable online action that shows intent to purchase.
Commenting at your blog? Probably not. If increased comments at your blog correlate with periods of higher sales, then it’s worth looking at — but remember that correlation doesn’t imply causation.
Deloitte’s new retail report indicates that checking a price online is likely to precede a sale in a brick and mortar store nowadays. Does that mean that driving traffic to your pricing page will cause people to buy? No. It’s something people do before they buy, not something that causes them to buy.
Determine your business goals — and make sure they’re measurable, even if they’re intangible. Identify measurable online behaviors that align with those goals. Those should be your goals for your website.