When a potential client approaches me about launching an internet marketing campaign, SEO project, or even requests a quote for website design, the first word out of my mouth is usually “goals”. Before I can even begin to contemplate your project, formulate requirements in my head, or provide a quote, I need to understand your business goals. That means you need to do too.
Why does it really matter? For me, I only want to engage with you if I can help you and help make your project a success. To determine if that is possible, I have to obtain an idea of what success means to you. Most small businesses I speak with have not thought this far ahead. They know they have issues with their current website or web promotion efforts, but they don’t have a good feel for expectations.
An internet marketing campaign can be a huge endeavor or it can be a quick refresh of what you currently have in place. Until a needs assessment is done and project scope is defined, it is difficult for any website designer or SEO consultant to truly provide feedback on project budget or timing.
Common Internet Marketing Goals and Objectives
A typical internet marketing campaign can focus on improving six or more different goals, although I really think most projects can be broken down into five distinct areas.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of this goal because I think it is simply to broad. Everyone wants to increase revenue and there are many ways to accomplish this, so I’d rather clients be a little more specific so we can truly focus on tasks that will deliver tangible results. Narrowing the revenue goal to say increased profits via a reduced sales cycle would be more specific and would help us collectively target the right tasks within your internet marketing campaign.
If increasing profits and a reduced sales cycle were your primary goal, we could provide additional information (or better information) on your website for prospects so that they could be better informed before they reach out to you as a new lead. This could be through navigation changes, defining personas (your target market) and filtering content, or by providing clearer call to actions.
Branding is definitely an internet marketing goal I like and one that is problematic to companies of all sizes. Most small businesses don’t think about branding until they encounter a specific issue or talk to someone engrossed in marketing like I am. I believe in personal branding, corporate branding, and branding of your product or service. For small businesses, the internet provides a world of opportunities for increasing brand awareness.
If increased branding is your goal, we can work on your website, your SEO efforts, your social media usage, local search directories, your public relations, etc. I could go on and bore you to death, but I’ll stop. The point is you’ve given me a pain point that I can target with a solution.
What I also like about branding is that it is a measurable goal that we can track and quantify. From mentions in social media outlets to inbound links to your website, to searches for your company name or product – you can see changes and track improvements.
When I originally started my business, no one Googled my company name because it didn’t exist until I thought of it. Since creating my company and actively marketing myself on the internet, there has been a steady increase in searches for my company name. This means there are mentions of my company on the internet, someone has read it, and someone is trying to locate my firm to learn more me or my company. As a small business and a marketer, this makes me happy because it shows my efforts are working and I am making progress on my branding efforts.
3: Lead Generation
Increased lead generation is another business goal I love. Not only is it absolutely traceable, it is how I originally found my way to SEO, website design, and internet marketing. Years ago I was a salesperson for a small technology firm. My product was good, so I could easily close new business if I had prospects. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have enough new prospects and leads. The cheapest route for me to obtain additional leads was to teach myself internet marketing. I’m proud to say I did, I viewed the process as fun, and I found my true passion.
I used a CRM software package to track the source of my leads from origin to close. I could tell you exactly how many leads came from the internet and their close rate. The internet leads were farther along in the sales funnel than any other lead source and they had the highest close rate. This only fueled my fire to increase my internet leads. I went from virtually zero internet leads to the internet accounting for the majority of my sales in no time. I also helped the company grow 400% in two years. For me this proved lead generation was not only a great goal, but a goal you can obtain and measure along the way.
4: Product or Service Sales
Utilizing an internet marketing campaign to increase product or service sales is an admirable goal. It is both obtainable and there is something to measure, so it makes me, the marketer, happy. If you came to me with this goal, I’d want to brainstorm to discover why you think your sales are lower than their potential. Is it your website or is it lack of inbound traffic? Either one is fixable, we just need to narrow our focus and plan our attack.
5: Visitor Conversions
One area most small business owners overlook in website design is conversions. A conversion is the method of migrating your website visitors into prospects, sales, registrations, or whatever else you want the average visitor to do once they land on your website. While everyone “gets” the idea of conversions, many people forget about the concept during a website design project.
The key to a strong web presence and functionally robust website is defining your design and navigation around what you’d like your website visitor to do upon arrival. Most likely this will include multiple paths built around an individual persona (or visitor type). When you take a moment to consider your options, the process usually becomes quite clear.
Small website design changes can have a big impact on how you convert website visitors. An example of this is a newsletter sign up box. A lot of small businesses put this below the fold (low enough on the page you have to scroll to see it), which significantly decreases usage. Move it up to the top of the sidebar and you should exponentially increase your conversion rates. Change your wording to better articulate why people should sign up and again increase your conversion rates.
I had one client go from about 250 new subscriptions each month to around 700 simply because I changed the sign up box verbiage and placed the destination content more prominently on the website. The change was so drastic I was kicking myself for not thinking of this earlier in the year. I love this example because it shows how three minutes of coding can have dramatic and long-term results.
Engagement is a total buzzword these days for us internet marketers. I use it with hesitation because of this painful truth. Buzzword or not, engagement is a valid and measurable goal.
So what does it mean for the small business owner? It refers to your interaction with your prospects and clients. While some will view this as simply “likes” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter, I view it as page interactions on Facebook, Twitter mentions, content sharing, blog comments, client reviews, etc. The modern web is filled with opportunities to interact with your target market.
While some skeptics view engagement as marketing fluff, internet users in 2011 will expect engagement and interaction from the brands and companies they follow. Actually they demand it and if you plan on ignoring the goal of engagement, you’ll quickly find yourself in trouble.
So What’s Your Internet Marketing Goal?
I really think your goals will vary based on your individual situation, your industry, and your product or service offering. The important lesson in this discussion is that you need to consider your business goals before you spend time or money on any internet marketing campaign.