How To Set & Achieve SMART Online Marketing Goals

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Ensure social media ROI with the S.M.A.R.T system to establish online marketing objectives.

Set Realistic Goals & Keep Your Eye On The Prize

If you set out into social cyberspace without a clear definition of your marketing goals and what you hope to achieve, it could be almost as detrimental as not knowing your audience. Ultimately what will likely result is a good bit of frustration on your part and struggle to see the benefits, not to mention a waste of time and money.

In 1981, management scholar George T. Doran wrote a paper in Management Reviewcalled, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.” He introduced the S.M.A.R.T. objective setting method using an acronym to help managers set goals.

Although it was intended for management, the same method can and should be used for setting any type of goals, including marketing objectives!

According to this method (which was adapted over time), goals and objectives should meet the following criteria:

  • Specific – Your goal should be targeted to a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – You should identify how you will measure success or at least determine an indicator of progression towards the goal.
  • Achievable – The goal must be attainable and not aspirational. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Relevant – It’s important to choose goals that actually matter and will have a real impact.
  • Timely – The goal should be given a time frame or a target date.

With this method in mind, think about your business’ needs and what you’d like to accomplish with your online marketing strategy. Just as recommended for the target audience exercise, write everything down!

The exercise of writing things down forces you to think a little deeper through the process. Here is a handy goal-defining worksheet for using the S.M.A.R.T. method to set your own goals! I made it accessible via Google Drive, so feel free to make yourself a copy or download it for use in Excel.

Measurable Goals For Social Media Marketing

With so many advertising options, the social media platforms themselves want you to believe you can accomplish anything by spending money on their site. This might be true, but each ad type requires a different level of expertise, creativity and results tracking to be most effective.

Keep in mind too, that each social media outlet has a unique audience and user base, which in turn mean that each can be utilized to reach a different type of goal.

Social media certainly can be used for lead generation, but for the newcomer social media marketer, I’d recommend putting it at the bottom of the list, or possibly even on the aspirational goals list for someday in the future. Two more attainable goals for marketers to aspire to might be:

Audience Engagement & Brand Awareness

I group these together because engaging your audience leads to brand awareness! Tools like Sprout Social and HootSuite can be used to measure and track success of this goal for any business. Specific metrics to measure growth in audience engagement and brand awareness may be: page like/follower growth, average per-post engagement rate, and page reach.

Website Traffic

Every business wants more traffic to its website, and social is a great place to get clicks from people who narrowly fit into your demographic target. Use Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic and referrals from social media over time.

When running ads to your website, be sure to create tracking URLs (I recommend Google’s URL builder) so that you can specifically monitor your traffic per campaign or ad set.

Some residual benefits to social media marketing are less trackable but may be equally as impactful to your bottom line include:

  • Demonstrating an expertise in your field
  • Providing an outlet for customer service inquiries
  • Checking in on your competitors by way of competitive research
  • Turning your existing customers into brand ambassadors

The last bullet is by far my favorite of the benefits, and one I think can make a big impact for businesses or brands using social media. Rather than trying to obtain new customers via your social media strategy, think about ways you can turn your already existing, happy customers into brand ambassadors by engaging them on social media. Here are some tried and true tipsfor doing just that.

What goals do you plan to set for your online marketing strategy?

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