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5 online marketing goals that make (dollars and) sense

Many marketers enter the new year eager to make a difference only to do what they’ve always done—and only to see the same results they always saw. Happily, you’re not one of those marketers. What separates you from those other folks is your focus on driving meaningful results for your business. And, as I mentioned last month, part of driving meaningful results involves establishing clear, measurable objectives for your team to rally ’round. Unfortunately, too many objectives in marketing miss the mark when it comes to connecting with business results or inspiring action. Why is that?
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Two reasons:

  1. The objective is too nebulous
  2. The objective doesn’t “move the needle” in business terms

Goals like “We’re going to grow our online business 35%” sound great. But how are you going to do that? What actions does it inspire your team to take? By contrast, goals like “We’re going to gain 100 new followers on Twitter every month” may be measurable and actionable, but to what end? Will those followers increase brand awareness? Drive more transactions? Result in greater revenue?

Instead, look for goals that a.) clearly state what you’re trying to accomplish and b.) align with business results.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

  1. Improve repeat visits by 20% (or more) year over year. In my experience, repeat visits consistently convert better than “new” visits. If you think about it, it makes sense. You’ve created enough interest from the visitor that they’re willing to come back. In sales terms, you’ve executed a “soft close,” engaging the prospect and enticing them to come back for more. Focus on how you can get consumers to come back to your site and watch your conversion rate skyrocket.
  2. Decrease bounce rate for top pages to 10% below site average. This is one of my all-time favorites for improving business results. Take a look at the average bounce rate for your website. Then make a list of the top pages on your site that have an above average bounce rate (Google Analytics has a simple report that shows the same thing). Improve your headlines, copy and calls-to-action on those pages to increase retention and sales. Alternately, take a look at the pages with below average bounce rate to see what they share in common. Then apply those same lessons to your higher bounce rate pages.
  3. Increase natural search engine traffic by 25% for your top 5 top-converting terms. Most analytics tools allow you to measure conversion rate by search term. Examine this report to see which terms drive the most conversions (i.e., the most qualified traffic). Then conduct an SEO campaign specifically targeting these terms to drive more qualified traffic and revenue. Even better, if you focus this effort to increase natural search for your top 5 top-converting paid terms, you can both drive more qualified traffic and lower the cost of those paid terms.
  4. Drive down cost per acquisition by 20% for your 5 highest cost keywords. Speaking of lowering cost for paid terms, look for ways to decrease your cost per acquisition for your most expensive terms. Notice, I didn’t say lower your cost per click. Calculate cost per conversion by dividing conversion rate into your cost per click. For example, a term that costs $0.10 a click and converts at a 1% rate has the same cost per acquisition as a term that costs $1.00 and converts at a 10% rate ($0.10/1% = $10 and $1.00/10% = $10).You can improve cost per acquisition by lowering your cost per click, increasing your conversion rate or a combination of the two. As with #3 above, focus on improving your headlines, copy and call to action for the best results.
  5. Increase customer satisfaction by 20% in the next 12 months. No matter how you measure customer satisfaction, few things will increase your business results faster than ensuring your current customers are happy. Happy customers tend to buy more often and tend to tell their friends all about you (both on social sites and face-to-face). Survey your customers to find out what they like and dislike about your business as well as how willingly they’d recommend you to their friends. Then focus on improving those areas where you’re falling short.

You’ll note that few items in this list talk about social media. Don’t think it’s because social doesn’t work. Instead, it’s because these tactics focus on a business outcome rather than a specific media channel. Even the paid search tactics focus more on increasing revenue or reducing cost than a more nebulous “improve paid search results.”

In fact, you can use social media to help achieve any of these goals. For example, getting customers to like one of your landing pages on Facebook or Google+ can improve your quality score, search engine rankings and—if you’re using paid search—drive down the cost of terms pointing to that page.

Those “other guys” we talked about earlier spend way too much time wondering what social media is good for. By contrast, you’re looking at how social media helps you achieve your goals. And can choose specific social tactics that benefit those goals directly.

Finally, don’t worry about the specific percentages I chose for each goal. You can adjust those up or down as you see fit. But, I’d recommend shooting for larger, rather than smaller. Larger businesses may not notice the effects of smaller increases and smaller businesses may struggle to survive without larger effects.

Improving business results isn’t as hard as it sounds.

No. Really.

The biggest challenge is making sure you’re focused on the right objectives and know exactly what you need to do to achieve them. Make your goals clear, align them with your business objectives and the rest will take care of itself.

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter built his first website in 1995 and loves that he still gets to do that every day. Tim has spent almost two decades figuring out where customers are, how they interact with brands online, and delivering those customers to his clients’ front door. These efforts have generated billions of dollars in revenue and reduced costs.

Tim works with client organizations to build effective teams focused on converting browsers to buyers and building their brand and business. He helps those companies discover how marketing, technology, and analytics tie together to drive business results. He doesn't get excited because of the toys or tech. He gets excited because of what it all means for the bottom line.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), HSMAI, and the Digital Analytics Association.

Tim currently serves as Senior Advisor at SoloSegment, a marketing technology company that uses machine learning and natural language processing to improve engagement and conversion for large enterprise, B2B companies.

Tim Peter’s recent client work covers a wide range of digital marketing activities including developing digital and mobile marketing strategies, creating digital product roadmaps, assessing organizational capabilities, and conducting vendor evaluations for diverse clients including major hospitality companies, real estate brands, SaaS providers, and marketing agencies.

Prior to launching Tim Peter & Associates, LLC, a full-service e-commerce and internet marketing consulting firm in early 2011, he worked with the world’s largest hotel franchisor, the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm, and a major financial services firm, developing various award-winning products and services for his customers. Tim can be reached at or by phone at 201-305-0055.

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