Full Sail Partners Blog

How to Set Digital Marketing Goals

Without marketing goals, it’s nearly impossible to develop a marketing plan let alone know if the marketing effort is working. And without clear, actionable, and achievable metrics, how does an A/E/C marketing team know what they’re working towards? Setting goals for digital marketing programs should always be the priority.

In this third installment of the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series, let’s learn how to begin goals setting, what SMART goals are, goal examples, and best practices.

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Start with the Firm’s Goals

An A/E/C firm’s strategic or business goals is a critical place to start identifying digital marketing goals. The business goals of the firm give the marketing team a purpose and define exactly what they want to achieve.

The A/E/C firms that have strategic plans often have both long- and short-term goals. Some of those goals might not be relevant to the marketing team, but often they are. Some common strategic goals include:

  • Expand geographically – This includes opening new offices, pursuing new clients, or acquiring firms in new geographic regions.
  • Expand services – This includes adding new service offerings by acquiring firms, hiring new talent, or creating strategic partnerships.

Once the firm’s strategic goals are identified, the marketing team can begin to create digital marketing goals to align. This helps to ensure that the marketing efforts are contributing to the firm’s growth goals and gets buy-in for budget and resources.

Setting SMART Goals

Firms are most likely familiar with the “SMART” goal setting technique. This strategy is very popular to use in marketing and personal development goal setting. To apply these to digital marketing goals, be:

  • Specific: Marketing objectives should be well defined. Rather than simply saying ‘more website traffic’ be more specific such as ‘increase web traffic from Texas.’ Ideally the specificity will align with the firm’s strategic goals.
  • Measurable: To gauge the progress of the marketing effort, marketing teams need something to measure. This means the goal needs to be quantifiable. So, instead of ‘increase web traffic from Texas,’ the measurable goal would be ‘increase web traffic from Texas by 10%.’
  • Attainable: When firms begin a digital marketing program, it’s often hard to determine what goal is attainable. An example of a better attainable goal would be ‘increase web traffic from Texas by 10%’ instead of setting an increase of 30% or 50%. That much of an increase might not be attainable. Sometimes the marketing team needs to start with some number and adjust after a certain period. It’s more important for the firm to base the goal off the firm’s own data first and then adjust from there.
  • Relevant: The goals must be relevant to the firm’s strategic goals. For example, if the firm’s strategic goal is to expand into the Ohio transportation market, the Texas goal above would not be relevant.
  • Time bound: Giving the marketing goals a deadline ensures that a goal will be given the attention it needs to be successful. Often, when there is no deadline, a project or initiative flounders.

Every time the marketing department at an A/E/C firm sets out a new digital marketing campaign, the team should go through this goal setting exercise. Then once the goal is set, it should be clearly communicated with the firm’s leadership and stakeholders. This gives leadership the opportunity to ensure it’s aligned with business goals and for marketing to get buy-in as early as possible.

Common Digital Marketing Goals

Below are a few examples of digital marketing goals.

  • Acquire new leads or contacts. This is a common goal. Most firms cannot continue to grow without generating new leads, and eventually new clients and projects. Digital marketing can help attract new leads or contacts.
  • Activate leads and contacts. A/E/C firms often have leads or contacts in their databases that they haven’t worked in months, if not years. The firms can use digital marketing campaigns to encourage engagement, as well as remind the past contacts about the value the firm has provided to them and other similar clients. The digital marketing campaign can reactivate dormant leads and contacts and help keep your firm top of mind.
  • Cross-selling services. Acquiring new clients is often more expensive than getting repeat work from existing clients. And firms often provide many services to several different industries. Digital marketing campaigns can be used to educate existing clients on all the services the firm provides.
  • Increase website traffic. Digital marketing strategies can be used to increase website viewers, either to the entire website or to targeted landing pages.
  • Improve conversion rate. This is when a website visitor completes the webpage call-to-action. A popular example is when a website visitor completes a form on a website to get access to a white-paper or webinar, also known as gated content.

Digital Marketing Goal Setting Best Practices

Some digital marketing goal setting best practices are:

  • Don’t set too many goals. This could spread the marketing team too thin and risk not achieving any goal.
  • Begin with a pilot or test initiative. Identify one firm strategic goal and begin with that as a pilot initiative. Build the goals and a timeframe around that.
  • Clearly communicate the goals. When the marketing team communicates the goals, it creates a wider understanding of what your digital marketing efforts have set out to deliver and how those efforts align with the firm’s strategic plan.
  • Define who is accountable. Identify who is responsible for each goal. Making someone solely responsible for each goal makes it more likely to be achieved.

Don’t Skip Goal Setting

Setting goals can be intimidating when it’s the first time the firm is undertaking a digital marketing program. Don’t let that stop the marketing team from setting the goals. The goals will help keep the campaigns and marketing activities aligned towards achieving a common objective. They also help to set expectations and motivate the team.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the other articles in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. Learn more about how A/E/C marketers and principals can develop a digital marketing program that is right for their firm. Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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