Setting goals seems like a simple enough task, right?
Setting goals is easy for some, but for most of us eCommerce business owners, being able to set challenging (yet attainable) organizational goals over and over again doesn’t come naturally; it’s an acquired skill. It takes practice, persistence, focus, creativity and lots of fine-tuning.
So how do you set challenging, attainable goals? How many should you set? It is hard enough to stay focused on the month to month while dealing with the day-to-day operations, let alone find time to execute the plan you have in place.
First step — don’t panic. We’re going to answer all your questions by showing you how your eCommerce business should set revenue goals and set standards across your company’s departments to actually achieve them. Here’s what we’ll cover in this post, feel free to click on any link to be taken to that section:
- Defining Goals
- Number of Goals to Set
- Resources Needed to Attain Goals
- Establish a Cohesive Front Across Departments
1. Defining Goals
How To Define Your Goals
Most of us know the five traits your goals should possess:
- Clear— Goals must be well defined so everyone understands them.
- Authentic— Goals need to be unique to your brand, relating to your business and what you stand for.
- Actionable— Clear action needs to be taken to accomplish your goals.
- Achievable— Goals need to be realistic and attainable for those required to attain them.
- Time-bound— Goals need specific starting and ending times.
But how do you effectively analyze what you did the previous year? What you are going to focus on this year? And how much you can impact traffic and sales to your online store?
Understanding Your Analytics Data First
Before you set your eCommerce goals, It is important to first begin analyzing the past performance and results of digital marketing efforts and website traffic. Here, you’ll need to head to your analytics tool.
First off, you’ll want to ensure that there are certain things set up in analytics to track your data accurately. Things such as filter and annotations will be extremely beneficial as you make business decisions.
It is recommended that you put filters in place to not include traffic from certain IP addresses since internal and external traffic coming to the site could be skewing your data. For example, employees or internal marketing teams that visit the site frequently could be adding traffic count within analytics.
To do this in Google Analytics, go to Admin > Filters > Click “Add Filter” and exclude your IP address:
Before you add any filters, it is recommended that you set up a new view in Analytics to keep a master view with all of your data.
In addition, there needs to be annotations marked to track major events like website changes, search engine algorithm updates, media buys, and anything else that may have impacted traffic both negatively or positively.
In Google Analytics, setting up notations is easy:
1. Head to the Admin section of Google Analytics
2. Under the far right column ‘VIEW’ – All Website Data – select ‘ANNOTATIONS’
3. You’ll be taken to the create annotations page, where you’ll select ‘+ NEW ANNOTATION’
4. Create your annotation and select ‘Create Annotation’
5. Your annotation now appears in your analytics reports!
You may notice that you can add annotations from your channel view in the screenshot above. That works, too. Seeing annotations in your timeline is extremely valuable for knowing traffic patterns.
Building a Case for Projections
Google Keyword Trends
Once you have an understanding of the past data trends, you can begin to formulate goals for the upcoming year. When analyzing potential traffic growth, you should take into consideration projected search volumes for SEO and PPC. A useful tool for understanding whether a keyword or sets of keywords are being searched on more is Google Trends. For example, using Google trends you can see how athleisure is trending from 2004 to now:
Additionally, you can compare search terms, website types, and interest as recorded by Google since 2004. You’ll also see state-by-state breakdowns and related search terms.
Look at keyword trends for your top 25-50 terms to see if they are growing, declining or staying the same year over year. This can be a good indication of how much potential growth you could see from SEO and PPC in the coming year.
Analyzing Current Keyword Performance
Once you know some of the keyword trends in your space, you should analyze where you currently rank for the keywords you are targeting. One tool that allows you to quickly gather data is SEMRush. SEMRush can give you a quick snapshot of where you currently stand along with the potential traffic you are missing out on.
To do this, add your website into the tool and start the analysis. Once it has finished you will get a dashboard that looks something like this:
The organic search section allows you to quickly see your organic position distribution:
This is an extremely valuable chart for quickly understanding future growth.
Take a look at the organic keyword distribution for outdoorvoices.com. They have 537 keywords ranking in position 11-20 (Page 2) in Google search results, which means they have huge potential to move onto page 1 and improve organic traffic.
The amount of keywords ranking in position 1 – 30 totals is 1,766 terms.
Now comes the fun part. By selecting the position distribution in the SEMRush graph you can quickly see a list of terms that fall into that bucket. For example, when I select the 4-10 bar chart the following report populates:
You might notice that branded keywords are pulled into the report. You can filter the results more by excluding branded keywords to clean things up a bit. The result will give you better data to analyze.
By filtering out branded terms you are able to export the new list and run some basic numbers. Exporting the list above you are left with 2,080 keywords ranking in position 4-10 of Google. When you add up the total search volume for all keywords you have a potential of 48,270 monthly searches.
If Outdoor Voices were to drive even 1.5% of the total traffic volume to their site, they would drive 724 additional visits each month. Further, if they could convert 1.5% of the total traffic that would result in 10 more transactions a month. This is only for keywords ranking in position 4-10 of the search results. By following the same process for each group of keywords e.g.- keywords in positions 11-20, 21-30 etc. you could start to get an idea of how much potential traffic you could drive to the site month over month. Comparing that with analytics data and Google trends, you would start to get a picture of how much growth you could see YOY and now you have a data driven growth plan that could look something like this: *Numbers are not associated with Outdoor Voices.
Online Growth and The Competitive Landscape
When projecting online growth, it helps to look into what the competition is doing. SEMrush is a fantastic online tool to identify and assess the competitive landscape:
SEMrush provides a plethora of competitor data around organic and paid keywords. It also gives you a more comprehensive viewpoint of where your business stands compared to top competitors.
Once you analyze past results and future potential, you can start to figure out projections for future growth.
2.Number of Goals to Set
We can’t tell you an exact number your business should set. That depends on your specific objectives and overall digital marketing strategy.
But, we can tell you that you should never have too many goals you’re working on at once. Too many goals are chaotic, confusing and increases your chances of not reaching any of your goals because you don’t know where to focus your efforts.
The book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” communicates the need in every business to focus on the Wildly Important Goals (WIGs). Businesses tend to focus on too many goals, because of the desire to impact everything at once.
However, the key is to focus on less and work from lead measures of success. It helps to start by selecting 1 to 2 major goals each quarter that matter most to your eCommerce business as a whole and focus solely on fulfilling those. Then set 1-2 goals for each department each quarter. Here is how it is outlined in the book, ‘The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” once your 1-2 goals are set in place:
- Identify the top priority and determine how to measure how you are doing on them.
- Create lead measures that will have a direct impact on your goals. Revenue and profit are lag measures. Good lead measures qualify as predictive and influenced by team members.
- Establish a scoreboard to show you weekly about how you are doing. Helps your employees understand who is winning and who is losing, which creates a cadence of accountability.
3.What You Need to Attain Your Goals
Once you have narrowed your focus to your Wildly Important Goals, you need to figure out the plan to achieve them! Here’s a process we use at Stryde:
Step 1: Develop an Action Plan
Determine the objectives for each of your goals, and then develop an action plan to achieve each goal. While your team develops a plan of action, ask yourselves the following questions:
- What are our start date and deadline?
- What does this goal entail?
- How are we going to accomplish it?
- What resources, i.e. people, money, and materials, do we need in achieving this goal?
- Who is responsible for completing each task?
- How do we measure the results? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we use to track our progress?
- What is the competition doing to impact market share?
Here, it can be particularly useful to build a quick chart to inventory the team’s capabilities and resources you have at your disposal. For example, for our team at Stryde, a snapshot of teams and a handful of the tools we have access might include:
Step 2: Analyze Industry-Specific Digital Landscape
It is important to analyze the digital landscape to know what is happening and how it could change over time. Things to look (and tools to look at them with) at include:
- Keyword Rankings/SEO
- Tool to use: SEMrush
- Social Following per Channel and Hashtag Monitoring
- Tool to use: Hootsuite
- Links to Site
- Tool to use: ahrefs
- Content Frequency & Types
- Tool to use: Google site:www.website.com
- Content Promotion & Distribution
- Tool to use: SimilarWeb
- Local Citations/Business Listings
- Email Strategy
- Just sign up for their emails!
- Paid Search Strategy
- Tool to use: SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner
- Paid Social Strategy
- Tools to use: AdEspresso
After you’ve analyzed the elements of the digital landscape listed above, you can construct your growth plan. Use the projections set during the goal creation process and map out a path to impacting and achieving your Wildly Important Goals. A visual example of a growth plan can be found below:
Step 3: Establish a Scorecard or Dashboard
How are you going to measure your success from month to month to make sure you hit your goals? Setting up and maintaining a digital marketing dashboard is the perfect way to visualize your progress and ensure the achievement of your goals. With dashboards (like the template we provide for free here) you’re able to track how revenue is performing month over month and which channels are performing the best. In addition, you’re given comprehensive performance breakdowns by device detailing sessions, transactions, and revenue.
Step 4: Cadence of Accountability
Along with monitoring your results, you want to monitor who is working on what week to week and how are they performing compared to the rest of the team. This will ensure that any internal issues that need to be addressed will be taken care of in a timely manner.
Put Your Plan into Action
Having an eCommerce store can get very complex and you may get lost in your work. Setting goals and creating a strategy of how you’re going to tackle each one is very important. Effective, cohesive collaboration is key when creating your digital marketing strategy.
Setting goals iarenot the easiest task on your plate so, don’t give up, focus on the process and enjoy the overall experience, it will start getting easier and you’ll be a skilled goal setter in no time.