When organizations start planning their digital marketing efforts, they often ask themselves a series of questions:
What am I going to do on Facebook?
What am I going to do in search?
What content am I going to present?
What audience am I going to target?
While asking and answering these “whats” are important, they are not the right ones an organization should initially ask. Instead, they should start with a defining question: “What do I want to accomplish?”
Answering this provides direction, motivation, and a clear way to measure and understand progress. Without a clearly defined objective, an organization may struggle to improve because it could lose focus, make bad decisions, and implement counterproductive actions.
How To Set An Objective
The SMART model is a common and effective guide to setting the right objective. Introduced by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, the SMART model allows organizations to set goals that are clear and allow others to understand where they want to go.
The “SMART” in the SMART model is an acronym. Each letter corresponds to the five elements that a SMART goal should have:
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recommends asking the following questions to fulfill the SMART elements:
S: What is specific about the goal?
M: Is the goal measurable? How will it be determined that the goal has been achieved?
A: Is the goal attainable?
R: Is the goal realistic to performance expectations or professional development?
T: Is the goal time-bound? When will this goal be accomplished?
When done correctly, outputs of the SMART model should look like these:
Increase leads produced from my site by 25% by the end of the year.
Sell 30% more products YoY between Black Friday and Christmas.
Increase bookings for my services by 20% in the next six months within the county.
Common Objectives Digital Marketing Serves
According to a 2018 report by Salesforce, these are the most common objectives businesses use digital marketing to serve:
Digital marketing is well positioned to serve all these for three reasons:
Tracking & Data Is Available Like Never Before
John Wanamaker (1838-1922) was a businessman who opened one of the first and most successful department stores in the United States. He is also credited with coining the phrase, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don't know which half.”
Today’s technologies give businesses and marketers a much clearer idea which half would be wasted because everything is tracked. We know how many times an ad was served. We know how many times the ad was clicked. We know how many sales those clicks generated. We even know what ad influenced a consumer to go into a brick-and-mortar store.
Because of this available data, marketers can identify what parts of their digital marketing initiatives are working, and adjustments can be made to further improve performance.
Publishers Offer Objective-Specific Ad Units
For example, let's say a retailer wants to drive more foot traffic to their store. Local Inventory Ads showcase products and store information to nearby shoppers searching on Google. When shoppers click an ad, they arrive on a Google-hosted page for a store. This is called the “local storefront”. Shoppers use the local storefront to view in-store inventory, get store hours, find directions, and more.
Facebook also offers specific ad units highly relevant to specific objectives. Here’s a sample from their ad management tool:
Time Online Is Increasing
According to a 2018KPCB report, the average adult spent 5.9 hours per day on digital media platforms in 2017 (a 118% increase from 2008). Given this is where consumers are spending their time, it makes sense to engage them where they are.
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