You may have heard this analogy before, but bear with me for a minute. If an airplane takes off and is only one degree off in it’s calculations, it may (or may not) make a world of difference to the passengers. The shorter the distance from takeoff to landing means the easier it is to compensate for the error. But when the takeoff and landing are thousands of miles a part, a single degree can put you thousands of miles off course.
And so it is with web marketing.
A few years ago, we tried to map out everything our team was going to do for a client before they signed a contract. This made sense to us since the client wanted to know exactly what we were going to do, and we were eager to show them.
The problem came when, six months into the contract, we needed to make course corrections. And much to the detriment of the campaign, we were locked into a specific set of deliverables, many of which were no longer relevant. Sure, we could go to the client to explain why they would no longer be getting X but instead getting Y, but that’s not what they agreed on. And it becomes especially problematic when Y requires a whole other set of benchmarks, measurements and time frames to execute. That’s not always an easy conversation to have.
Successful web marketing requires flexibility. We have no doubt about the value of analytics to demonstrate success or failure, but analytics is also a means to help drive course corrections that are essential for the web marketing campaign to succeed.
And anytime you make course corrections, you have to change your goals and expectations.
When Goals Should Change
If you do any kind of regular analytics to benchmark your progress, you’ll see a lot of data and information in relation to the goals you’ve set. But you’ll find that not all your goals stay relevant over time. There are, in fact, times when your previously established goals must change if you wish to be successful:
- You’ve hit your goals. Obviously, if you’ve hit a goal, it needs to be replaced with a new one. We had a client who, years ago, had a goal to make more sales online than offline. Once they hit that goal, they then wanted to sell $100,000 worth of product in a year. Soon, that goal was hit and replaced with the goal to sell half a million a year, then a million and now multiple millions. Keep stretching yourself. Don’t rest on your success. Look for opportunities to keep expanding and achieving all new goals.
- You’ve missed your goals by a mile. Sometimes we set goals that turn out not to be realistic. That’s okay, and it’s not time to get discouraged, but rather to reflect on that and set a more realistic goal. The more unrealistic your goals the more disappointed you’ll be even as your marketing campaign is ultimately successful. Setting the right goals and expectations can keep you excited about the growth you’re getting rather than the growth you’re not.
- You set the wrong goals. All too often we set goals that we think have meaning, but we find out later that they don’t. Years ago, a client of ours was monitoring their Google PageRank and using that as a benchmark for success. Month after month, they would be frustrated when they didn’t move from a PR6 to a PR7! All the while, they were ignoring the increased search engine exposure and traffic growth they were receiving. This is a clear example of when you’re just going after the wrong metric.
- You’re focusing on new strategies. Whenever you start doing something new, you need to set new goals. Suppose you start out focusing entirely on site optimization. A good goal would be overall web presence. However, as you begin to focus more time into social media efforts, a new or better goal might be looking at on-site engagement. Or perhaps you focus on conversion optimization. New goals could be to reduce bounce rate, increase the number of sales or even the average cost of the order. Each strategy deserves new goals of their own.
Keeping a healthy website isn’t a matter of life and death, but then again, the success of your business does lend to the quality of your life. And not just yours but also everyone else’s life that the business supports. Having a healthy web presence can significantly improve your quality of life and your business’ long-term prospects.
The only way to accurately track your success is to make sure you’re tracking the right goals. Tracking the wrong goal can look good, but it can lead you miles away from where you actually want to be.