Why set goals?
Setting specific and challenging goals helps achieve results. Don’t make my word for it. According to an 1981 article in the Psychological Bulletin titled Goal Setting and Task Performance: 1969-1980 (1):
A review of both laboratory and field studies on the effects of setting goals when performing a task found that in 90% of the studies, specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance than easy goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals.Locke, Edwin A., Karyll N. Shaw, Lise M. Saari, and Gary P. Latham.
The article concludes:
Overall, 48 studies partly or wholly sup-ported the hypothesis that hard goals lead to better performance than medium or easy goals; 9 studies failed to support it. Fifty-one studies partially or wholly supported the view that specific hard goals lead to better performance than do-your-best or no goals; 2 studies did not support it.
Combining these two sets of studies, we found that 99 out of 110 studies found that specific, hard goals produced better performance than medium, easy, do-your-best, or no goals. This represents a success rate of 90%.Locke, Edwin A., Karyll N. Shaw, Lise M. Saari, and Gary P. Latham.
Setting specific goals leads to success
To cement this point further we turn to Peter Drucker who according to Wikipedia is “one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice”. Drucker said:
What gets measured gets managedPeter Drucker
So our plan is to set specific, challenging goals, measure and manage those goals.
What is your intent?
Before measuring anything determine your desired outcome. Let’s say your business’ goal is to increase revenue.
Breaking this down… Revenue comes from sales. Sales come from leads. Leads come from many sources then ultimately end up on our website as visitors. Our job then is twofold. Feed the funnel, and optimize conversions.
With so many things to measure simplicity is key
Our advice – and Peter Drucker’s – is to start measuring. Once you start, improve along the way. Easy to say. Very hard to execute. This approach requires discipline, humility, and execution.
To start, we recommend measuring three metrics: visits, leads and customers.
Set your goals
Your goals are just that. Your own. Every company is different. Every industry is different. Set specific monthly goals for each of three metrics. Write them down.
Start with your current monthly visit numbers. Increase them by 10%.
Start with your current monthly new lead numbers. Increase them by 10%.
Start with your current monthly new customer numbers. Increase them by 10%.
*Note: for more accurate results research industry specific numbers.
Write goals down
I prefer Excel. You may be a paper person. Doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do. Write down your goal for the month. Three times a week update your actual performance against your goal.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Write down your goals for visits, leads and customers. Next to each goal write down your actual numbers.
(The numbers above are fictional)
Funny things happen when we write goals down. We start conspiring to meet our goals. If we’re behind we scheme to catch up. If we’re ahead we want to pull away further.
Every month focus on meeting the monthly goals. At the end of the month, identify areas for improvement. Repeat.
Starting with 1,000 visitors a month and slowly growing that number 10% every month leads to big results down the road thanks to the power of compounding. Notice the monthly visitor growth rate decreases over time.
Traffic increase goals:
Year 1: 10%
Year 2: 8%
Year 3: 5%
Year 4: 2.5%
Year 5: 1.25%
Monthly Visits After:
Year 1: 2,853 visitors/mo
Year 2: 7,185 visitors/mo
Year 3: 12,903 visitors/mo
Year 4: 17,353 visitors/mo
Year 5: 20,142 visitors/mo
Cumulative Visits After:
Year 1: 18,531 visitors
Year 2: 72,675 visitors
Year 3: 187,034 visitors
Year 4: 365,032 visitors
Year 5: 608,334 visitors
Make sure to set SMART goals:
Are your goals specific? Yes, I want to increase my visits by 10%. Increase new lead and customer acquisition by 10%.
Are your goals measurable? Yes. We can measure monthly visits, leads, and customers.
Are your goals attainable? Yes. [Insert plan for executing goal here]
Are your goals realistic? Yes, if we increase blogging frequency.
Are your goals timely? Yes. We are measuring goals on a monthly basis.
Now that we know what to measure and have goals set to measure our performance… what’s next?
1. Write down your goals for the month
2. Update your actual performance three times a week
3. Check your performance against goals three times a week
If you’re ahead, GREAT! Pat yourself on the back. Are you behind? Find a way to move the needle to get back on track.
Not sure where to start?
My last blog post: How to Get Leads Online 101 – an Introduction will get you started.
If you’re like me you need the data to prove this actually works: Data Indicates Inbound Marketing Works for Generating Leads Online
(1)Locke, Edwin A., Karyll N. Shaw, Lise M. Saari, and Gary P. Latham. “Goal Setting and Task Performance: 1969-1980.” Psychological Bulletin 90.1 (1981): 125-52. Print.