When I talk to new potential digital marketing clients, most of the time they are interested in this shiny new thing called digital marketing and have no idea what a successful strategy should entail. Some of them have noticed a problem with their audience online or have come across a new tactic that they believe could help their business. In many cases, the client will request to rank on the first page of Google for a specific keyword as their objective. Let me warn you, this is a great tactic to pursue but it is not a strategy to ensure online lead generation success. A keyword ranking as a benchmark can be a possibility, but in order to manage expectations well and set out a strategy that shows progress over time you need to guide the client in considering their business goals and KPI’s. If they are too fast paced or think it is unnecessary to provide higher level goals and don’t understand the need for a comprehensive assessment of their website and current framework the best method is to engage in Paid Search right out of the gate. Then as you try to slow them down and do the proper analysis up front to develop a program that will produce results, they will see some immediate success. Ultimately, as the digital marketing consultant, you need to outline their business goals and KPI’s for them, work to get their agreement on those at the outset, and build a system for reporting on those with metrics and KPI’s that can prove the value for what you are doing. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for constant frustration and moving targets.
I like Avinash Kaushik’s DUMB objectives article to review a basic outline for defining the differences between the terminology used to create benchmarks for success: goals, metrics, kpi’s, dimensions, and targets.
I recommend reviewing that document thoroughly and then a basic outline for capturing what you need from your prospective clients.
The key elements to creating a successful strategy online are:
Step 1: Determine the Business Objectives
What do you want users to do? or what do you want to accomplish by being on the web?
Is it, more brand awareness to drive people into a physical store? Is it, purchase something on your webstore? Is it to convert an already large number of existing leads? is it to manage your online reputation? These are high level business objectives.
Usually I like to ask for 3 business objectives because there are usually more than one. And often, when you get them talking you find out that they may not know their objectives or don’t have realistic ones because they don’t know what it takes to meet those objectives as they do not understand the online environment and what they can get out of it and the various channels of opportunity. So, the goal is to get them to think and process a little bit more of what exactly they are looking for on a high level. As a digital marketer, you may know what would be best for them and can coach them along over time, but they need to be the ones to identify what they want from a business goals approach and you will be able to help define the goals and KPI’s and work to manage their expectations.
Step 2: Develop Goals from these Business Objectives
These are just strategies that outline with more clarity what the business objectives are and provide some context for how we will accomplish the business objectives.
Brand awareness to drive people into a physical store means we need to improve our presence online by:
– managing local listings and citations to provide UNAP clarity and be found easily when people search for our physical store
– manage relationships online through monitoring the various outlets that we are present on and providing support
Step 3: Identify your KPI’s
What are the key performance indicators that show how you are doing accomplishing your objectives?
Sometimes these can be basic metrics, i.e. numbers and not formulas, but they should always help provide clarity for how you are doing.
If the client is looking to be proactive to increase their awareness or lead generation and you are building some content that is to go online, KPI’s will be important in establishing benchmarks. If you are creating content, what is the goal of the content? Is it to get new visitors and have them download an online e-book? What are some metrics that would be beneficial in understanding and improving over time help explain a fuller picture of how well you are doing and what the experience is like for those that you are targeting?
Step 4: Are they SMART
Once we are on to the KPI’s for the business, we want to make them SMART. Are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, relevant and time bound? In some cases, you are not able to find really accurate benchmarks. But if you do some competitive research and comparisons of those in your industry you should be able to make some reasonable SMART goals for starting out. In many cases, it can be difficult to outline a SMART goal for your clients that is realistic. How you communicate your goals to your clients is a big indicator of how you establish long term success. For example, if you want to be more visible in organic search results, it is good to have some goals of growing overall ranking goals, not just the golden nugget ‘keyword’ that the client wants to be on page 1 for. Review traffic estimates and bounce rates as basic metrics to help indicate success of the content that you are creating as well. But your timeline on reaching a specific keyword ranking on the first page of Google, depending on its competitiveness, might not be a good goal to put a date on at first. You need a very comprehensive assessment of the website and to understand the landscape of your industry online, something that may take months of reviewing the results of your initial efforts, not to mention more buy-in from your clients (and budget).
Step 5: Reporting
Then from there, roll out your business goals, KPI’s, metrics, and dimensions into a weekly or monthly dashboard that helps understand what is happening on a monthly basis across different channels. This dashboard should bring in all online channels of activity if possible to understand specific results of our campaigns and activity.
You can look at dimensions that would be helpful like where someone came from, what browser or device was used, the page visited, and more. Match up your dimensions with metrics that provide value and lead us to know if we are hitting our KPI’s.