This post is part of a 9-step guide to creating a Content Strategy. To return to the landing page for this guide, click here.
Before you get ahead of yourself trying to come up with content ideas and how you’ll promote them, you first need to define your goals. You should have a clear idea as to why you’re creating content in the first place.
You would think this would be pretty straightforward, yet, many companies don’t have a well-defined set of goals. In a recent survey, more than 80% of businesses mentioned that they did not keep track of their business goals.
Without goals, you have no idea if what you’re doing is helping your company grow. Or, how to evaluate what you’re doing. Without a clear, well-defined goal, you’re flying blindfolded.
You should know, or at least have some idea, why you’re investing in Content Marketing at all. Are you doing it just because everyone else is doing it? Or, do actually understand its value and how it can help grow your business?
You also want to know why you are developing a Content Strategy. Developing a Content Strategy can be a long, invasive process. You should understand that developing a solid Content Strategy will take more than a few days. If you’re a large company, doing this for the first time, it could take weeks or months depending on the level of time and resources you can put into doing so.
So first and foremost, understand why you’re investing in Content Marketing and why you’re developing a Content Strategy. Once you have a clear idea of this, you can move onto developing your specific goals.
To develop a specific goal for your Content Strategy, you need to use the SMART framework:
You’ve probably heard, seen, or even used SMART before. But if you haven’t, SMART is basically a way to create goals that are realistic and that can be evaluated. Often times, companies come up with goals that are too vague, which lead to failure because they are unrealistic and/or have no indicators to define success.
However, SMART changes that. It gives you a framework to develop goals that make sense. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. You want the goal you set to meet each of these criteria.
Many companies often create goals that are too vague like “we want to increase search traffic” or “we want to increase our conversion rate”. The problem with creating such a vague goal is, they give no indication of how to accomplish them, in what time frame to do so, or what specific outcome would mark success.
For instance, if your goal is “we want to increase search traffic”, what would define success?
Would a 5% increase in search traffic be a success? Maybe, or maybe not depending on your company and the amount of effort put into achieving that increase. Also, in what time-frame would achieving that 5% increase be acceptable? Should it take a month or a year to do so?
Do you see the issue with creating vague goals? They give no indication of how to actually achieve that goal.
That’s why using SMART to define your goals is essential. So here’s how to develop your goal into the SMART framework:
- First, start with the basic idea of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself: What do you hope to achieve by investing in Content Marketing? It might be something like:
- We want to increase search traffic to our website
- We want to get more people to signup to our email newsletter
- We want to increase the conversion rate on our landing pages
- We want to position the company as an authority in our industry
- We want to improve our brand awareness
- And so on
- Then take that information and work it into the SMART framework:
- Specific: Make the goal says exactly want you want to achieve (ex. increase monthly search traffic, increase our conversion rate, etc.)
- Measurable: Include information that would indicate that goal’s success and how to measure it (ex. 5% increase, increase from 50 to 100, etc.)
- Attainable: Make sure the goal is actually attainable. Is it realistic given the time and resources you are putting into it?
- Relevant: Make sure the goal is relevant for your business. Will spending time increasing search traffic be appropriate for your business?
- Time-Based: Give your goal a time frame in which the goal should be achieved (in 30 days, by March 1st, etc.)
Then, be sure to write it all down into a cohesive goal. I mean actually write it down and file it. So many companies have unspoken goals and strategies but the point to all this is that you have a concrete plan of what you’d like to achieve. So write it down, build upon it, and make sure everyone sees and reads it.
Here are a few examples:
SMART Goal Examples:
INCREASE SEARCH TRAFFIC
“Increase monthly search traffic by 10% (from 10,000/month to 11,000/month) in the next 3 months (Starting January 1st to March 1st)“
- This goal is specific. It states exactly what you want to do “increase monthly search traffic”
- It’s measurable. It states “by 10% (from 10,000/month to 11,000 month)”. By including the actual amount of traffic you are receiving at the time, it gives you a starting mark to measure whether or not you’ve hit that 10% increase.
- It’s attainable. I think it’s reasonable to say that a business can increase their monthly traffic by 10% in 3 months.
- It’s relevant. Again, the goal aligns exactly with the business objective (to increase search traffic)
- It’s time-based. It states when the goal should be complete “in the next 3 months (starting January 1st to April 1st)”. By including the actual months, it gives you a starting point to measure from and when you should have achieved that increase by.
INCREASE EMAIL SIGNUPS
“Increase our email signups from an average of 200/month to 300/month in the next month (January 1st to February 1st).”
INCREASE CONVERSION RATE
“Increase our landing page conversion rate from 1% to 2% in the next month (January 1st to February 1st).”
A SMART goal can also include how you might achieve that goal. For instance:
“Increase search traffic by 5% in the next 3 months (Starting January 1 to April 1st) by producing one in-depth article per month.”
I think that’s a great idea. But we’re not going to include that just yet because we don’t know how exactly we want to achieve that goal. Many other factors that we cover in the rest of this guide will help to define that part. So you may fin it helpful to come back to your goal, after completing the rest of your strategy and update it.
But for now, develop your SMART goal as the rest of the examples above. And let’s move onto to the next step.
For further help on creating your SMART goals, I recommend checking out the following resources: