When the time comes to build a new website for your small business, it’s common to overlook the most basic component of success — proper goal setting.
It’s tempting to jump right into what a new website should look like and how it should function when you need to be focused on what that new website should DO for your business.
As a designer, I get it. We’re here to design something that looks awesome to attract people to your business, right?
Well, yes — but that comes later. There are some things we need to talk about first.
Goal Setting Means Planning for Success
At Commotion Art, we get this question all the time: How much do you charge for a website?
With so many things a website COULD be, it’s impossible to quote a project without learning exactly what you want to accomplish and when it needs to happen.
If you’re wanting to generate organic traffic through content marketing over the course of the next year, that’s great! We can do that!
Maybe you need to get five new sales leads per month right off the bat. We can do that, too!
Both of these goals are very attainable, but they require different approaches and budgets.
With focused, in-depth goal setting, you’ll set yourself up for success by knowing exactly what to expect from your new website. You’ll also have a realistic expectation of when your objectives could become reality.
Insert: SMART Goals
I wish I could take credit for the idea of SMART goals, but it’s a method that has been around for a while. It stands for:
By following these rules, your goal setting becomes the blueprint for your website project and provides a way to measure success — let’s take a closer look at how to use these guidelines.
Goal Setting — Can You Be More Specific?
Specificity is key when it comes to goal setting.
Saying something like, “I want to increase my website traffic” may seem reasonable enough, but how much of an increase are you looking for?Learn How to Increase Your Website Traffic
Would you be happy with one extra website visitor each year? Probably not. A much better goal would be, “I want to increase my website traffic by 500 unique visitors each month.”
Being more specific when you set goals ensures everyone is on the same page. Your web developer can gear the project towards attaining your exact goal.
Not only does this provide some guidance when it comes to site features, it also helps the development team gauge how a website is performing.
If a few months go by, and your traffic is only increased by 250 unique visitors each month, it will be clear that the original game plan isn’t working. This will give your team a chance to test different strategies, make adjustments, and find the most successful approach for your business.
Successful websites are those that change over time, depending on how customers are responding.
Working towards specific goals is truly the most efficient way to complete any project.
Goal Setting — Your Goals Need to Be Measurable
Maybe you’ve heard this quote: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
Peter Drucker coined this phrase in relation to business management, and it certainly applies when it comes to goal setting for your website.
“I want to increase my sales leads,” may seem like a great goal when beginning a new project, but it leaves too many questions. How many sales leads are you currently receiving from your website? How much of an increase would you like to see, and how fast do you hope to see it?
“I want to increase my monthly sales leads from two to 15 in the next six months” sets everyone’s expectations to the same level.
Vague and unmeasurable goals fail to direct and hold your website development team accountable to any real metrics of success.
Goal Setting — Is This Even Attainable?
Now that your stated goal is more specific and quantifiable, let’s make sure it’s possible within your budget.
If you want to increase your website visits by 5,000 next month, there are definitely ways to do that — but your budget will need support that goal.Learn How to Increase Your Website Traffic
The best way to immediately increase traffic is through Google AdWords, or Pay Per Click advertising. The average cost per click is typically between $1 – $2, so a goal of 5,000 can reach up to $10,000 per month in the short term.
Over time, your organic traffic can increase with content marketing strategies, but that method requires patience and an independant monthly budget.
Whatever your goal is, be sure to clearly communicate it to your website designer. They will let you know if it’s too lofty for your budget, and they can suggest alternatives that are attainable.
At Commotion Art, we combine several strategies to attract website visitors to your site. Typically, the portion of your budget that is spent on AdWords decreases over time as organic traffic increases.
Goal Setting — Is This Relevant?
Setting relevant goals is a pretty straightforward task.
Goals such as growing your email list, reducing your bounce rate, and raising your conversion rate are all likely relevant, depending on the specific results you are after.
Setting irrelevant goals is not the error I see people committing. More often, I see people becoming distracted by aspects of website design or functionality that are irrelevant if you’re going to hire a designer to take care of those things.
Of course it’s a good idea for clients to give their input, and raise any concerns they may have about layout and functionality.
But, ask a mechanic or a plumber if being constantly peppered by the customer with questions and concerns helps them do their job more effectively — I think you can predict their answer. A backseat driver would be another relevant example we could compare this situation to.
Website design can take on the same troublesome and counterproductive dynamic, and fighting your designer on every minor detail of the design — or even worse, designing it for them — will make the final product weak and decrease the odds of attaining your goals.
It’s best to just let the pros do their job, and trust their experience. Overbearing clients do more harm than good, and it happens more often than you may think. When you hire a professional to design your website, it’s best to trust their expertise and step back. Let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to the design.
(We recently published an article called Visual Design: 10 Rules for Non-Designers that will help you work more productively with your designer to achieve a successful result.)
Goal Setting — Are My Objectives Time-Bound?
The final ingredient for your SMART goals success: Be sure it’s time-bound. This is another aspect that will affect your monthly marketing budget.
A common goal for any website is to increase organic search traffic. The best way to do this is to publish high-quality content on a regular basis — it’s called content marketing.
(Read more about content marketing here — Blogging for Beginners: How to Write Awesome Website Content.)
Saying something like, “We will blog more often,” is a great way to fail — you’re going to be less likely to reach your actual goal to publish content on a consistent basis.
Let’s apply the SMART goal setting concept to this example and see how it develops into a more effective and more attainable objective.
First, you’re going to have to determine how often you plan to publish new content in order to drive clicks to your website.
Typically, one to two blogs per month will be enough to start generating traffic to your site, so setting a goal such as, “We will begin posting a blog on the 15th of every month starting the following month,” would be an excellent time-bound goal for your website.
Second, are you going to be able to create all of that content, or do you need to hire a professional? You need to be realistic about how much time and energy you can devote to writing — will you actually have the time necessary to produce all your content yourself?
This is a very important question because writing one or two blogs per month for the first couple of months is easy — you have some ideas stored up and you’re likely feeling motivated. You have something you want to say and results you want to achieve. However, continuously developing new content on a regular basis and remaining faithful to a deadline can quickly become a chore.
If you decide to have a professional writer take care of your content, you’ll need to take a look at what your budget will support for publishing frequency. Money is always an important factor when it comes to goal setting.
Effective Goal Setting Improves Communication
Successful goal setting not only defines what a successful project will look like, it also keeps your website developer accountable to YOU, the customer.
With so many possible features that could be built into a site, it’s important to know exactly what you are paying for upfront. There is nothing worse than a new project not meeting expectations because of poor communication in advance.
By using SMART goals, you’ll give your website designer enough information to maximize your budget and deliver the best possible options to reach your goals.
For help planning your new website or revamping what you currently have, contact Commotion Art to start goal setting today!Contact Commotion Art!