Is the point of travelling the journey or the destination? Personally, I’ve never been able to hop into the car and drive for the point of the journey. Not sure why, but there always has to be a clear destination, otherwise I can’t travel. Sure, the journey can be a lot of fun, but the destination is still the primary purpose for heading out in the first place.
Inbound Marketing, along with its many facets, is process driven. It requires that we understand journeys and funnels and processes and a swathe of other terms describing the motion of one thing from point A to point B. It’s clearly set out and fixed on the end destination - that your business attracts the right customers who are prepared and eager to do business with you.
Now, it’s very well to paint a picture of the end destination, but it’s another thing entirely to understand how to get there. If moving to the city is going to teach you anything about navigation, it’s that you need to know exactly where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Goal setting is vital to getting to where you need to be, and that’s what we’re looking at.
A Necessary Structure
Goals come in all shapes and sizes - there’s your task goals for the day, which can sit next to your shopping list for the week and your exercise regime for the month. The defining commonality of all of these goals is their structure; there’s a clear expectation and you’ve got an established routine for meeting that expectation. Goals give us a defined path for progression and in the business environment, assist greatly in growth. Owing to their nature, they also allow us to set and see the rate of growth or change in a subject or process.
Goals help us get places, and when incorporated into the inbound marketing methodology, help us gain traction and define our own strategies for converting website visitors into eventual customers. The methodology stops being a theory and becomes a practice when we place the expectations of ‘how’ and ‘when by’ onto it.
Of course, it’s important to remember the focus and point of the methodology - it’s not as simple as a machine which takes in one type of person at one end and spits out another. Inbound marketing sits at the other end of the spectrum from outbound, and that’s because of one core focus shift.
Inbound Is People Focused
Okay, so we understand that in order to progress and grow as a business, we need to have a plan. We have to set goals, and it’ll help us use the structures that Inbound Marketing offers for business growth and sales. But we need to understand the importance of Buyer Personas first?
A buyer persona is a fictional character, comprised of the researched traits that your ideal customer will have. They give your marketers someone to talk to and help focus your marketing activities. And in the end, they’re the people that you’re marketing to, so it makes sense to take into account the importance of the buyer persona when establishing your goals. The personas you establish for your business should influence every marketing activity you undertake - from your blog posts, to your keyword strategies, to your lead nurturing strategies - all should understand your ideal customer and their needs. Once they do, you form a cohesive narrative that’ll be easily found by and entice your ideal customers.
Marketing goals require focus, and understanding your buyer personas will give your business the right kind of focus that’ll make sense and help forward your cause. When you speak and respond appropriately to your personas, you show them that you understand their requirements. Effectively, you’re arranging your house to make them feel most at home when they arrive.
So we know we have to get somewhere. We’ve packed appropriately for the destination. The next step is to choose the route.
Mapping It Out
It’s important to understand the challenges that you’ll face when setting goals and then going out to accomplish them. It’s of equal importance to understand what you’re capable of given the circumstances as well. Nobody suits up to drive the Nullarbor Plain on a half tank of fuel. Goals encourage us to dream bigger than what’s immediately in front of us, but they also need to be tangible and achievable in order to actually have a positive impact on our marketing strategy. Plan for growth in what your marketing team can do when planning your goals, but also make sure you understand what your existing capabilities are when you set out.
There’s four simple stages to planning a marketing goal, and they’re applicable whether the project you’re about to undertake is small or large.
Identify your goals. Name them. Set them against your existing status, so you can see clearly how much change you’re aiming for. Then set a timeline. Determine the length of the overall project and within that, set deadlines for smaller milestones. It’s fiddly to set up, but the structure will ensure that things happen when they’re supposed to happen.
As mentioned earlier, you want to map out your existing capabilities. What you also want to inventory is your existing assets. What content do you have that can be used in more than one way? Are there helpful skills your marketing team (or other members of your business) have that you’re not aware of? You also want to contrast this with a concrete list of assets that need establishing in order to see the goal through. Compile a list of what you have, and what you need, and then divvy it up.
You’ve got the dream and the supplies. Make the most of your established marketing team by sharing the required tasks around. Make sure that each task has its own deadline so your goals stay on track in accordance with the timeframe you’ve established. It’s important to know who’s doing what task and when to pull off the team effort.
One of the most important things to take into account with goal-setting is the evaluation stage. A goal with measurable progress is much easier to complete than a general desire to get better at something. As you move through your goal, keep comparing your completion rate with your established criteria. Inbound marketing inherently has the ability to measure the success rate of different strategies, so it makes perfect sense to make use of this strength.
Goal planning is what takes a dream and turns it into a reality. It’s what allows a business to grow, and to grow in a tangible way. Having a goal to measure against allows you to see the margin by which things change, and it’s important to go about setting them thoughtfully. Be mindful of the persona you’re marketing to when you set out. It’ll help you pack your website with appropriate and helpful things that will encourage a website visitor to convert. Understand what it is you’re capable of and then plan your gradient of change around that, so that the change is attainable and positive. Make every effort to pin down the details of the goal, so that milestones can be achieved by the right members of your team at the right time. This goal defining will also help communicate with your team what you actually want to happen, and will help greatly when it comes to managing everything once the rubber hits the road.