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Ever wonder why social media or email marketing work so well for some businesses, but does nothing at all for others? Curious about why some content that seems great doesn’t get discovered or read, while other pieces of content get shared on every social network out there?

What do these successful businesses know that you don’t?

The simple answer is this: they set marketing goals before anything else. Why? Because how do you know how effective your marketing is if you don’t know what you want to accomplish? And how do you know if the results you’re getting are because you’re focusing on the right things or if it’s simply luck?

Without a set of well-defined goals and a strategy that comes from a decent understanding of marketing, whatever you do online is just noise. You need specific goals to know what to focus your time and resources on, which actions to take and what results you want to achieve with your marketing.

So whether you’re cooking up a blog post, running a paid campaign on Google or Facebook, or sending an email to potential customers, you need to know the purpose of each action you take. What should people do after reading your post or email, or seeing your ad? The answer to this can range from finding out more about your business to buying from you.

With this in mind, we thought it’d be useful to explain how to set marketing goals for your business, and monitor results in the following areas:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Email marketing

We’ll also share a few resources and courses from our Online Business Training that you can use to develop the digital skills you need to achieve your goals.

Assessing your current skill levels

Before we get started with setting your goals, you first need to take some time to truly understand your current position and skills.

When starting out, far too many small business owners are so excited that they want to “do it all”. But then they get overwhelmed and realise they don’t have the knowledge or skills to do what they had envisioned.

Now, if you’re a small business owner just getting started online, there’s no problem with going it alone with your marketing. Many have done it before you, and have been successful at it. But before you jump in, you should first assess and understand your current skills level, and what you need to improve to get the results you want.

If you’re not sure which areas you need training in, why not use our Digital Skills Assessment survey to discover the topics you should be making a priority? All you need to do is answer a few questions about your business, your website and what you’re doing to promote it online. Based on your answers you will receive an in-depth personalised report with things you can do to get in better shape online, examples of how similar businesses have used digital to grow and how you can do it too.

When you’re done assessing your skill levels, you can start setting your marketing goals.

Setting goals

Here are five key areas that businesses of any type should set marketing goals for:

  1. SEO
  2. Social media marketing
  3. Content marketing
  4. PPC
  5. Email marketing

Next we’ll cover each area so by the time you finish reading this article and the extra resources included you’ll know not only what goals to set but also how to achieve them, as well as how to measure results to ensure you’re on the right track.

Let’s get started.

1. Setting SEO goals

Your SEO goals can be anything from:

  • Increasing organic traffic to your site by xx% in x months by earning links from authority sites
  • Increasing conversions by xx% by improving a dedicated landing page

Keep in mind that SEO takes times and you can’t expect to get results overnight, not matter what your goals are. Here’s a bit more information about how long until you start getting SEO results.

So, for example, a keyword research might uncover that your site ranks #7 for “wedding catering services in London”. If your research also shows that this keyword not only drives the majority of visitors to your site, but also turns most of them into customers, then this is something you could work on to boost sales. Make it your SEO goal to improve the position of this keyword to get even more visitors to your site and thus increase sales.

How can you achieve this goal? Look at the page on your site that is optimised for this keyword, and see how you can improve it. Can the copy be even more enticing? Is your call-to-action strong enough that people won’t resist clicking it to get in touch? Do you have your contact information where people can see it?

Once you make your changes, you’ll also need to measure your results to see whether your efforts are paying off. A closer look at your Google Analytics account should tell you how well you’re doing.

Our free online business training on Search Engine Optimisation walks you through everything you need to know, from how to do proper keyword research and how to use relevant keywords to optimise a landing page, to how to measure your results.

2. Setting social media marketing goals

When setting your social media goals, ask yourself: why are you using platforms like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? What exactly are you looking to achieve?

If your objective is to increase visibility on a social network like Twitter, then your goal could be to increase engagement (likes, retweets, replies) by 25% in six months. To achieve this goal, you can participate in popular Twitter chats that are relevant to your business, or engage with influencers in your industry to get noticed.

If your objective is to improve customer support, you could create a goal of reducing time spent on customer support requests by 25%. To achieve this goal you could create an inventory of the most frequently asked questions and provide the answers in a dedicated FAQ page on your site. You can also create educational videos, ebooks or blog articles that answer your prospect’s questions. Then, when someone raises a customer support issue via social media, you’ll be able to direct them to the new resource, saving you time.

Our business course on Social Media will teach you how to make the most of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. You’ll learn which platform is best suited for your business and industry, how to create a solid strategy and goals, what to post and when, and how to measure the results of your efforts.

Most social media sites also offer you the chance to run adverts aimed at their users, and this can be a great way to sell directly to people who are interested in what you have to offer.

So if you have a specific goal of boosting sales via social media, it’s well worth trying to use social ads to achieve it. With paid ads you can speed up the process and introduce your business to anyone who’s interested, and hopefully secure some extra sales.

You can get started by taking our free course on Social Media Advertising. This is where you can learn how to set up Facebook and Twitter ad campaigns, including everything from how to create your ads that target a specific audience, to how to track and measure results.

3. Setting content marketing goals

Content marketing is meaningless without goals. So if you want to make content work for your business, and not just give your audience something to pass the time, you need to create content that serves your goals.

For example, one of the most common uses of content marketing is to explore prospects’ pain and become the solution to their problem. The fact is, most successful businesses thrive because they solve problems. They solve parenting problems, money problems, technology problems, plumbing problems, even “what book should I read next” problems.

Make this a goal by using one of the most effective tools at your disposal: your blog. Find out what your prospects’ problems are and use your blog to dive into them, and to explain how you can fix them, and be part of the solution.

Another goal that you can achieve with your blog is to overcome objections. Write articles that address the reasons they don’t buy. Does your product seem too complicated to use? Write a blog post that shows customers going from zero to sixty… painlessly.

Make sure to always measure the results and see whether people reading these articles end up buying from you.

If you’re new to blogging, our business course on Blog and Content Marketing covers all you need to know to get started, from which platform to choose to what and how to write, as well as how to measure the success of your blogging efforts.

4. Setting PPC goals

Before you start spending money advertising on search engines, make sure you’re clear on what you want to achieve. Really, you should always be aiming to generate leads or sales with PPC. So you might want to get prospects to download your brochure by providing their email address. Or maybe you want people to pick up the phone and call you when they see your ad? Perhaps you want more people to buy a specific product directly through your website.

Each business will have its own unique set of PPC goals. Some examples include:

  • Keep the cost per conversion from PPC to less than ÂŁ20
  • PPC should drive ten new leads per months from my website’s contact form
  • PPC should get me 50 call leads per month

The power of PPC means that for most businesses, these goals will be in reach. But it takes knowledge and experience to get the most out of this kind of ad.

To learn more about PPC and how to set up your first Google AdWords account, take our free business course on PPC. You’ll learn how to write your ads and how to create your first campaign, as well as how to monitor the results to ensure you’re getting the most of it.

5. Setting email marketing goals

Just like anything marketing, email marketing won’t work if you haven’t set any goals.

For those just getting started with email marketing, the obvious goal to focus on is growing your mailing list. In this case, your goal can be something like: “collect 500 email subscribers over the next 12 months by offering free resources in exchange for their name and email address”.

As you work on tactics to achieve your goals, make sure you always consider the target audience you hope to reach. For example, a nutritionist with a focus on health might target people who are looking to change their diet. Understanding who your ideal customers are will help determine the best ways to connect and communicate with them, which will make them more likely to want to hear (and hopefully buy) from you.

You can learn more about using email marketing to grow and engage your customers from our free online business course. By the time you finish the course you’ll know which tactics to use to grow your mailing list, how to design, test and deliver your email, and also how to analyse the results.

Wrapping up

We’re confident that once you go through the courses from our Online Business Training you’ll know how to set marketing goals for your business, and how to achieve them.

But don’t just focus on the finish line. Make sure you enjoy the process of achieving your goals. And if you don’t accomplish all your goals, embrace it and try again.

And remember: there is no perfect formula when setting marketing goals. Just make sure each goal is simple, relevant, realistic and measurable.

What do your marketing goals look like? And how do you stay focused on them? Tweet us @123reg.

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