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Dealers who set SMART goals for digital marketing meet targets and drive growth

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on September 5, 2018

The right goals motivate your team and give impetus to your efforts

For small businesses like dealerships, setting digital marketing goals can be so vexing that many simply don’t bother. Setting a goal creates the opportunity for failure, and failure is dispiriting and demotivating. What should your goal be anyway? What if it’s too ambitious, or not ambitious enough?

Though setting goals is nerve-wracking, targets are good for business. You have them in other areas — sales, supply, cost-cutting — because they give everyone involved something to strive for and measure success against. The same should be true for your digital marketing. Well-constructed goals give you impetus to innovate, experiment, and improve.

Goals are good — if they’re the right ones

Setting goals is important. Goals keep digital marketing aligned with wider business aims. They keep you motivated. They set expectations. Goals are an integral part of a digital marketing strategy, but recent research from Smart Insights found that, shockingly, nearly half of organisations don’t have one. That’s another reason to set goals. Your competitors probably don’t, and don’t reap the rewards.

Those rewards are significant. Studies have shown that people who set goals and articulate them and share them with others are 33% more likely to achieve their aims than people who don’t.

But not all goals are created equal. Poor goals are impossible to achieve (and demoralising with it), difficult to measure, or not aligned to wider business strategy. They create division and blame.

Increasing sales by 50% is a goal, for example, but not a good one. For goals to be truly useful, they need to be SMART.

SMART goals, smart results

To stop your goals from being lofty, vague or confusing, set them using SMART principles. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-related and it’s a way of setting goals that is both attainable and of real benefit. As an example, let’s say your goal is to increase strong lead generation via your website by 15% in six months.

When your goals are specific, they are clear to everyone in your organisation. There is no wiggle room when it comes to measuring success. You either hit your 15% target or you don’t.

But are you sure you’ve hit it? SMART goals are easy to track, and progress is easy to measure. In this example, a strong lead may be someone who signs up for your newsletter, downloads content (model details, for example), or emails you via your website.

Attainable goals are realistic, but that doesn’t mean easy. Targets need to stretch you and bring tangible results, and generating new leads is certainly no walk in the park. But if your team puts in the effort, a 15% increase is in no way beyond them.

As we’ve already mentioned, relevance is key. Goals must be of value to the wider business. In this instance, everyone from management to sales staff, can grasp the relevance of increasing strong leads, and what achieving that objective means for your dealership. New leads are the oxygen of your business.

Finally, a goal without a deadline is just a vague ambition. If you’ve followed the other SMART principles, ‘deadline’ isn’t an anxiety-inducing word. Your goal should be eminently achievable in the time you’ve set – in this case six months – as long as everyone is behind it.

And what if you fail anyway? If you’ve made real progress, it needn’t be dispiriting. Instead, dig into the data and find out what worked and what didn’t. Set a new SMART goal with those findings in mind.

SMART is just the start

What happens after you set a SMART goal? The short answer is, everything. Setting a goal to bring in more sales-ready leads from digital marketing motivates you to continually tweak inbound campaigns and make them better. Leads are easily understood by the wider business, which will happily buy into your target and help you achieve it. Ultimately, more leads result in more clicks, more conversions, and more sales.

Let’s look closely at another example. Suppose you set a goal to attract 25% more click-throughs from email marketing in four months. That’s a specific goal, easily measurable in Google Analytics. It can be broken down into monthly progress reports. It’s certainly attainable, but will require better, more compelling content.

Is it relevant? Customers who click on your content are taking positive action, showing interest in your offer or your information, and developing trust in your experience and expertise. More of them are landing on your website, optimised to lead them towards conversion (a form fill, for example). Driving quality traffic to your website is never anything but relevant.

Finally, it’s time-limited. Without a deadline, attracting 25% more click-throughs is essentially meaningless.

Now that you’ve set the goal, the benefits will ripple through your marketing efforts. Your team is driven to create more compelling, clickable, and shareable content. Your goal encourages innovation, perhaps in the form of exciting offers or competitions. Sales staff are encouraged to promote relevant newsletter articles in phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Measuring progress — the key to all digital marketing — is a regular occurrence rather than an occasional chore, with results shared across the business.

Your own goal or goals might be very different, of course, designed to meet the specific challenges your business faces. But the SMART principles work for any goal you care to set. Dealers who use them promote a culture of innovation, experimentation, and progress. They refuse to be content with digital marketing that does nothing more than drift.

Topics: digital marketing, marketing tips