Internet Marketing continues to serve as a powerful channel for communicating with your market. Social media, geo-location services and mobile devices extend the opportunity to reach your audience in a new and different way and add value to the discussion happening online.
Spending time now to develop your internet marketing strategy for next year will provide you with the appropriate baseline, timeline and milestones to ensure effective execution. Part of that process is establishing goals with which to measure your success.
Setting SMART goals is a proven approach to achieving success more quickly. As the year winds down, this is the perfect opportunity to examine your goals for 2011 and apply the SMART mnemonic or acronym to increase the likelihood your goals are met.
SMART stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
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You want to clearly define your goals to articulate specifically what you are trying to achieve. The question is what, how and why are you striving toward this goal?
- What are you going to do? Use action words, such as create, sell, manage, or grow, etc. to bring a sense of energy to your goals.
- Why are you doing this? What is the ultimate outcome? Why is this important and what impact will this have on you, your business, or your customers?
- How are you going to do this? What are the sub-goals or action steps that will enable you to achieve your goal
The more specific you are, the greater your ability to identify success when it occurs. For example, “I will write and publish 21 blog posts (250-400 words) about skydiving equipment by March 1, 2010.” In this example I used action words “write and publish”, specified the number, length, and topic of the blog posts and put a date on it. As we’ll discuss next, this goal is also measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
If you cannot measure your goals then you cannot manage your progress. Furthermore, it is far more difficult to achieve your objectives if a) you do not measure your progress or b) you do not measure the appropriate metrics. In some cases a progress chart, table or simple checklist might help.
For example, you might be trying to improve visitor conversion rates. Using a web statistics tool, such as Google Analytics, can help track vital statistics but make sure you understand and pick the right metric that defines success. You can get 1,000 visitors a day, but if no one buys, that metric is meaningless. Don’t get caught up trying to move the wrong target.
Is your goal possible? Is it limited by your resources or require more time to achieve? I encourage you to set stretch goals for yourself to push your limits, but keep them within reach. The benefit is that you’ll see real progress toward success. The risk is that you do not achieve your goals and lose momentum or hope.
For example, you may have just launched a new blog and you want 20% of your visitors to sign up for your newsletter out of the gate. While this is a realistic rate that you could eventually achieve, it is unlikely to happen right away. A more attainable goal would be to grow your newsletter list by 5% each month.
Is your goal realistic? You might want 5,000 newsletter subscribers, which is attainable, but is it realistic to achieve this goal by within 2 weeks? Maybe not. Be honest with yourself and your business when setting goals by keeping them realistic or you risk disappointment.
When is the deadline to achieve your goal? Next week, 3 months, by year end? Setting a specific date will help you identify your tactical sub-goals and action steps to achieve your goal within a given deadline. Map out these deadlines or milestones on a calendar. Plan rewards for yourself when you cross each line.
A common mistake is to generalize about timing. For example, avoid using descriptions such as “this year, next quarter, in the next two weeks.” Without a specific date, these deadlines will slip away.
In my experience, SMART goals help you reach your objectives more quickly with a defined path for success. I recommend writing them down and revisiting them frequently to check progress and adapt to changing circumstances. In most cases, you will over-achieve — either beating a deadline or delivering something of greater value.
What’s your experience setting goals for the new year? Do you use the SMART mnemonic?