Few businesses today can experience genuine success without a robust online presence, and your website is central to it all.
Most websites have a primary goal, whether it’s generating leads, providing topical information, answering customer queries, building a brand, fostering long-term business relationships, or generating that all-important revenue through sales.
This article will look at how best to define your online business goals and begin working effectively towards them. We’ll show you how to use tools like Google Analytics to measure performance and find new ways to accelerate your progress.
You need SMART business goals
Arguably the most critical part of the entire process is correctly defining your business goals. What is it you want to achieve with the time you have? A business with weak, poorly defined goals is doomed to fail.
Instead, you need SMART goals. These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based goals.*
*You can also have DUMB goals — Doable, Understandable, Measurable, and Beneficial — but it doesn’t sound quite as… er… intelligent.
- Specific goals make it easier to conceptualise solutions. Vague goals like “get more customers” and “make more sales” are arbitrary to the point of being useless. Use actual figures.
- Measurable goals make it possible to quantify how well you are doing at meeting the goal. How and when will you know you’ve achieved your goals? Importantly, you can use measurable goals to see how changes you’re making are impacting your progress.
- Achievable goals remove doubts about the direction you’re taking. Sure, we’d all like the revenue of Kim Kardashian’s online business, but is it realistic for you? Research will show whether the goal you have in mind is achievable or not, so there’s little risk that you’re wasting time on something that’s out of reach.
- Relevant goals do more than help you keep your eye on the prize — they keep your eye on the right prize. Without relevancy, you can put a lot of effort into something that doesn’t have significant long-term benefits for your business.
- Time-based goals give urgency to everything you’re doing. They provide a timetable to keep you moving towards your goals. They also offer the opportunity to stop and reassess your progress.
SMART goals in practice
Your business may start with the overall goal of “get more sales of our widget through the website”. Consider how to change this to a SMART goal. For example, “reach sales of 2,000 widgets per month within six months” is a more focused goal that’s specific, measurable, relevant, and time-based. Whether it’s achievable is for you to determine.
Let’s go one step further now and break down our SMART goals into performance and process.
SMART goals are a great starting point, but there’s still an enormous mountain to climb, so you want to create some milestones to meet on the way. Consider the performance goals you’ll need to realise your overall goal. Every company is different (and that’s why we’re here to help!) but your performance goals might be something like:
- Increase traffic coming from social media sites to 30,000 page views by July
- Get 500 new newsletter sign-ups per month by August
- Increase the average time visitors spend on the site by 10% before September
- Reduce the percentage of abandoned shopping carts by 15% before August
- Introduce three new products by October
All these goals meet the SMART criteria. Here’s where your research is critical, though. Your performance goals are only relevant and achievable if you’ve made an effort to ensure these specific components are the ticket to meeting your overall goal. You can continue to drill down performance goals into smaller fragments until a clear roadmap is laid out and nothing seems too overwhelming or insurmountable.
Now you know the performance goals you need to achieve, you must add how you will achieve them. We do this by setting process goals that define what you’re going to do.
Importantly, everything you put down as a process goal must be within your control. These are the things you will do to meet your performance goals.
To create effective process goals, research is paramount. Using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can gain information and insights into how your website is performing in key areas. From there, you can make more specific process goals like “add 20 informative blogs by July” or “remove two pages from the sales funnel by August”.
Using Google Analytics
All of the goals we’ve outlined above have metrics that can and must be measured for the process to be effective. On business websites, this job typically falls to analytics software, most commonly Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is installed as a small piece of code across every page on your site so that every user, page, and action can be tracked. 56.5% of all websites globally use Google Analytics, and the best part is it’s completely free!
Getting the right information
Google Analytics can show you:
- Where your traffic is coming from
- How long users stay on your site
- Which content is best for customer engagement
- Percentage of people who are not engaged and bounce away
- How your Google Ads are performing
- The routes people take through your website pages
- The pages most people leave your website from
It gives you a real insight into what is happening on your website and how it is performing. When Google Analytics is set up correctly, you can track leads, account creations, and newsletter sign-ups. You can see where your traffic is coming from and the types of people each source sends you. You can see which of your content is the most popular and which leads to the most sales. You can see pages that are causing people to leave your site. The list goes on.
You can also use Google Analytics to test out fresh approaches and ideas. With A/B testing, for example, you can show different versions of a webpage to different users and gauge which is performing better for a particular goal. Once you’ve identified the best page, you can roll it out to become the default across the whole website. You can further improve the page using other GA insights and do this for all pages until the entire site is a well-oiled machine.
Asking the right questions
Analytics software might give you the performance metrics you need to build and realise significant business goals. However, you still need to be able to analyse and interpret this data correctly.
Because Google Analytics offers a staggering amount of information, it’s easy to get bogged down in superfluous information that isn’t directly related to your business goals. Many marketers try to incorporate everything, give all data equal priority, and get “analysis paralysis”. 75% of marketers say that lack of training in data analysis is the biggest barrier to making correct business decisions.
A big part of using Google Analytics wisely is to focus on the metrics relevant to your performance goals. For example, one of the performance goals we came up with above was to reduce the percentage of abandoned shopping carts. Using Google Analytics, we can understand why customers might be leaving their shopping carts by looking at where they abandon the sales funnel. We can then test multiple versions of all steps in the funnel to see which changes to shipping, site navigation, and wording have the best results.
Achieving your goals with Google Analytics
To get the best from Google Analytics, you need to:
- Monitor your website accurately
- Collect data that is relevant to your business
- Interpret the data correctly
- Make sound decisions based on actual numbers and patterns
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can help you decide your business goals, find the performance targets you need to hit, and put the right changes into action to capitalise on user behaviour and surpass those SMART goals.
Build the use of analytics into your process goals, and you’ll be in a better position to meet your performance goals. Google Analytics helps you avoid making decisions based on gut instinct. Don’t be caught out by the “shiny object syndrome” of marketing trends. Instead, follow our data-driven approach to avoid wasting time and money.
Get in touch to find out how Lawson Digital can help you implement the four pillars of marketing to measure, market, monetise and monitor your website effectively.