Goal Setting: The key to successful projects?

Written By Stewart Ritchie
Posted On May 26, 2015

Goals are the lifeblood of any good web strategy – they ensure focus, give direction and provide a framework for success. A website or project without clearly defined goals is doomed to fail before it even begins.

In the previous post in our redesign series, we covered web strategy. If you’ve read that post we hope you found it provided value to you. If you’ve not we suggest you read that before your start on this one

In this post, we are going to look at what goals are, why a website should be concerned with them, how to set good ones and avoid bad ones, and talk about our goals marketing poweredbycoffee.

What are Goals

A goal is the desired outcome of any action. A goal is a target behind which a plan of action can be formed in order to achieve the goal. Goals give a concept and set of criteria to make sure that everyone knows what success looks like for a project. If you missed all your goals, your project probably failed. In other words a goal gives structure to a project, a goal is, in fact, the very reason a project happens. In your business, you probably wouldn’t take on a project without expecting to get something out of it. From a digital marketing website perspective, your goals is probably to make more money – this could take the form of getting more leads for a consulting firm or making sales in eCommerce; regardless the goal is there – “make more money” we then form a strategic plan, with its own goals, in order to achieve the primary goal.

Why should a website have them

As we’ve talked about before, a website or digital marketing exercise doesn’t just happen – they are ways and means of solving a problem that exists within a company. As a marketing problem, it is usually along the lines of “we’d like to make more money”. From this core goal; “we’d like to make more money”, we can work out various ways to achieve this and set sub-goals that support the primary goal. These sub-goals are there to do their best to help achieve the primary goal. The setting of sub-goals are crucial, they provide a framework that every decision in the rest of the project will be measured against. It very simply provides a decision-making framework for everyone on the project team. Will this help or hinder us reaching the goals of the project.

Goals also provide success criteria. We can look at a project and say, yes, we succeeded or, no, we failed based on the goals we set.

Setting Goals for a website

Not all goals are good goals. Good goals follow the S.M.A.R.T framework. Bad goals can seem aspirational and worthwhile things, but if it can’t be measured, it is too subjective to be a goal.

S.M.A.R.T Goals.

Goals are, mostly, just words. They won’t make anything better or achieve anything on their own, but, they do make sure everyone is on the same page about what the project is about.

Michael Hyatt wrote an excellent article on the S.M.A.R.T goals system that help people and companies set excellent goals.

Specific

Be as precise and exact about your goal as you can be. “Increase traffic” is something very different to “increase traffic by 20%” or “get more lead” compared to “get 20 leads a month”. Specific goals give victory conditions, something to aim at. They make the abstract real and attach numbers to it, which brings us nicely to…

Measurable

A good goal can be measured. Know why? So you can see a) when you’ve got there. b) how far you’ve come, and c) if what you are doing is having an effect and getting you closer, or further away from what you’ve bravely set out to achieve. This is particularly key on the web where every interaction can be traced and tracked through analytics platforms and packages like Google Analytics (you are using analytics, right?)

Actionable

A goal should be something you can do. “Get more traffic” isn’t a great goal, it’s super vague and while it is actionable it tells us nothing about how it will actually be achieved. A better goal is “Write two targeted blog posts a week to increase our traffic”. This is good as it gives us actions (write) and the response we hope to see from it (more traffic). The key is the action, the verb. It tells us what to do.

Relevant

Pushing yourself is a great thing but let’s get realistic. You aren’t going to run a marathon on your first day of training, you won’t be first on Google for any search term in a single day and you (probably) won’t sell out your eCommerce stores stock in it’s first week. Start small, as with any exercise, you start slow and build up. Setting a grand goal you can never reach will wear you down and break you with your continued failure. The point is to move forward and do something realistic, don’t over do it.

Timed

How long is it going to take you to execute? One month, one year? Tying time into action and relevance gives us an excellent framework for measuring and reaching our goal. If your goal is to reach target x in a month, then you’re gonna hustle to do it and get there. If you set the same goal for a year’s time, how much are you going to do to get there now? Not much, I bet, if you’re anything like me you’ll leave it to the last second. Time helps us schedule and set priorities in our own daily planning and for our business.

Our Goals

When we started re-working the site we had a few different goals. Our primary goal with the site is that we will start to get more leads through our website and that will help us grow. Specifically, we want to get two qualified leads a week through the site within six months of now.

To do that, we have the following sub-goals

  1. Post something to our blog every week that displays our expertise.
  2. Grow our email list to 300 people and use email marketing to generate leads.
  3. Double our traffic to increase the odds of getting an inquiry through target Search Engine Optimisation, Email Marketing and Social Media Exposure of the content we create.

 

In our next post, we will talk about the larger marketing strategy we are developing to help us reach our goals. Join our mailing list and get it straight to your inbox.

Stewart Ritchie
Lead developer and founder of Powered By Coffee. Stewart has been building websites for 15 years and focusing on WordPress for 5. He founded Powered By Coffee in 2011 after finishing is masters degree. He lives in Guildford Surrey with his wife Sydney and their two cats.
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