When setting out to achieve anything it helps to know exactly what you want to achieve and whether or not you have really achieved it. Usually, this is pretty straightforward: if I want to score a goal in football I need to kick the ball into the back of the net. And so it is with business. You want to be successful, but what does success actually look like? For years I had a vague notion that I wanted to be “a success”, but I had never actually stopped to consider what success meant, why it was important, and what it would look like. This ambiguity meant that I spent years just going with the flow instead of taking the initiative and focussing on things that would help me to achieve success. Once I had laid out what I wanted from my career, then I was able to create a plan which had a series of steps that I need to carry out in order to achieve success. Adding goals to those steps forced me to ask myself what those steps really were; what it would look like when they were achieved: Knowing that a plan has succeeded means achieving a set of goals that describe what that success is. And so it is with your efforts to take your business online.
Following on from the last post, let’s think about how we can go about creating goals to support your marketing plan to take your business online, given that you have already considered who your customers are and how they interact with your business.
A good way to conceive a goal is to try and make it SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. In more detail:
In order to start to formulate your goals, start off by going back to the original question I asked in the first entry to this series: why do you want to get your business online? This should provide you with the primary goal for your strategy.
You might have a specific reason for going online. Perhaps you know your market share is too low, or perhaps you are aware that your competitors tend to get a certain amount of business every month from their online activities. Or perhaps you have an issue that comes from within your business. Maybe you run a boarding kennel and you want to focus on improving business at specific times of the year – the summer is already fully booked, but winter is proving difficult. Or perhaps it is even less specific than that. Maybe you just want to increase your turnover. In these cases, ask yourself what would make the activity worthwhile: Having an extra kennel booked for every week next winter? A 10% increase in turnover? Another 100 umbrellas sold per month? If your online venture is going to be a success, then it needs to be worthwhile, and achieving that means knowing what “worthwhile” is.
The primary goal, whilst being an important consideration, is probably not the right place to focus your efforts. Primary goals are almost always aimed at improving the output of a process, which is made up of steps that goal depends upon. A good place to start thinking about what steps your final goal depends on is to examine your customer journey. Consider the garage example from the last post. There are four steps:
|Car breaks down||No|
|Driver finds our number||Yes|
|Driver calls our number||Yes|
|Operator takes booking||Yes|
These steps all form points in the customer journey which can be improved in order to increase the number of bookings taken. If you can improve your business’s performance at any of these steps then you will improve the number of bookings taken. In an abstract sense each step of a customer journey can be considered a producer of something which is consumed by the next step: The garage’s offline advert produces an awareness of the garage and its number. This awareness is consumed when it prompts the customer to produce a call. The call is consumed by the operator when she converts it and produces a booking.
When approaching the customer journey in this way, the first thing to do is to understand what you can change. In the garage example, you clearly can’t increase the number of accidents and breakdowns, even if you wanted to, but you can influence how many people find your number, call your number, and whether or not the booking is taken. If you know how many people see your advert, how many of them call the garage, and how many people are then converted into bookings by your operator then you can work out how many more people you need in order to increase the number of calls you get to produce the improvement in bookings you want. This is often visualised as a “conversion funnel”:
This can be read as follows, from the top of the funnel: If 1000 people see your advert (in the paper, heard on the radio, or from reading the sign on your garage), then 15% of them will remember it when they need a garage – 150 people. Of the 150 who remember your number, 40% will call it – 60 people. Of those 60 people who call, 60% will be converted to a booking by the operator – 36 bookings.
Having done this analysis, we can ask ourselves which part of the journey we can influence to make the biggest difference to the booking figure. The best candidate (unsurprisingly given the subject of this series of blogs) is the “Driver Finds our Number” step. Just now, our garage is advertising in traditional media like the radio or the newspaper, but we know that people don’t need our breakdown service when they listening to the radio at work, but when their car has actually broken down. We need our number to be available to them right then, and we know that since most people have a smartphone and use the internet to quickly find the information they need to solve a problem then going online is the best option for increasing the number of people who can find our number.
Now we have the basis of our SMART goal: Increase the number of people booking with us per month by 10% within the next 6 months by advertising the breakdown service online.
The goal is simple, we know it is attainable from our competitor information, it is measurable, it is highly relevant to the business, and in order to ensure it remains relevant it will be completed within six months.
Next, we’re going to look at the choice of medium. There are quite a few different ways of advertising your business online, and they vary in cost and effectiveness. There is a dialectic between these two stages. Sometimes, having set up a goal, you’ll go and research the detail of the solution and find new information in light of the solution which allows you to fine tune the goal. More of that later…