STEP THREE: Define your digital future

Vision, Objectives and KPIs

Q. Goals, vision and objectives for digital marketing channels defined?

You should start with a simple way of looking at your future. Ask why and what? Why are you using digital platforms now and into the future? What do you want to achieve?

Developing your future Vision Objectives KPIs for digital marketing, I suggest you think about different levels of measurements for setting goals and reviewing performance. An Examples strategists and managers won’t be interested in the full range of measures like page bounce rates or dwell times – they are interested in the commercial measures. But for the hands-on marketer reviewing landing pages for an Adwords campaign these bounce rates and dwell times will be important to getting more from their Adwords budget.

Strategy Recommendation 15 Define different levels of measures for managing digital mar- keting activities for a common understanding within an organisation
Definitions of Goals, Objectives and KPIs are often hazy within a business since depending on previous experience of team members, the terms may change in meaning. For example sometimes “Goals” are described as SMART, in other occasions “Objectives”, the approach we prefer. Clear definitions with a hierarchy as shown in the diagram will help.

Start by thinking about the 5Ss which are a great, simple framework for thinking through the goals of your digital channels. Then look at longer-term vision – we’ll show you some examples of companies who have developed a vision to communicate their long-term ambitions for digital media. Only then should you drill down into the details of specific goals you want to achieve.

Look out for our detailed grid of KPIs which we structure within our RACE framework. This will give you a comprehensive set of KPIs you can use to help develop your own dashboard.

To define your future Vision Objectives KPI we suggest this hierarchy of measures may help in larger organisations:

  • Mid-long term vision to help communicate the transformation needed in a larger organisation
  • Top-level broad goals to show how the business can benefit from digital channels
  • Specific SMART objectives to give clear direction and commercial targets
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) to check you are on track

I hope you agree that the reasons for setting objectives are obvious; if you don’t know where you’re going and when you hope to get there, you won’t know your progress on the journey and so make adjustments when you go astray.

So, it’s best to start with the top-level goals which help inform the vision before going onto specific objectives. This is where “the 5S goals can help!

Introducing the 5S goals for digital marketing

The 5Ss of digital marketing is a good, simple starting point to help check you’re covering the whole of digital marketing, not just sales!

I developed the 5Ss of digital marketing with PR Smith, my co-author on Emarketing Excellence around 2000, and although it’s a basic top-level review of goals, it’s still used by many when planning their digital marketing strategy.

As we run through each of the 5Ss, I’ll show some questions you should be asking in each area and look at some examples of how these broad goals have translated into strategies and tactics for online retailer ASOS.com.

5S: Sell – Set goals to grow sales?

Q. Sales goals set?

Start with goals for your most important transactions which will lead to revenue and profit! That’s sales, or if you don’t sell online, the leads that your online marketing will deliver, which will convert through to sales or donations if you’re a not-for-profit.

As you’d expect, ASOS are all about selling, but it’s worth looking at how this translates to a clear sales offer delivered across the whole site below the navigation bar, and at the bottom of this page.

Create conversion model to help define realistic goals

Q. Conversion model used to calculate realistic targets for goal volume?

Strategy Recommendation 16 Develop conversion models to set realistic online channel goals
Conversion models can help you set realistic goals from online marketing.
Look at options to increase sales through expanding our reach

Q. Options to extend reach reviewed?

Often online marketing can focus on selling to existing markets without looking for new opportunities. Use benchmarking and search demand tools to prove how it’s possible to increase sales beyond your typical customer base.

Review options to increase sales through conversion enhancements

Q. Options to increase conversion rate possible?

We have said it’s worth looking at how to add more prospects to the top of the funnel, but there are also opportunities to increase sales through increasing the efficiency of customer journeys on the site, both at the top of the funnel as they navigate to find relevant services and further down the funnel in the add-to-basket and checkout processes.

Set separate sales goals for existing and new customers

Q. Separate goals and tracking defined for new and existing customers?

To manage online sales, it’s useful to isolate incremental online sales and new sales. Keeping incremental sales volume trending right is most important. You can use analytics or ecommerce sales systems to deliver this insight.

Tracked goals through analytics

Q. Goal types and value defined in analytics?

We have a more detailed section explaining how to do this in our guide to Google Analytics

Define multichannel goals

Q. Online channels goals defined as online contribution of revenue or profit?

Sales might be direct if the product can be sold online or indirect where they are generated offline. Still many people research online and then purchase offline, so it’s key for many companies to think how they use online channels to influence offline sales.

Strategy Recommendation 17 Ensure your goal-setting reflects channel switching
Users switch channels during the purchase process, so make sure you set goals, measures and support these cross-channel behaviours.
This Day it called omni channel

5S: Save – Set cost-saving goals

Q. Goals set around cost savings?

Less glamorous than the sizzle of building your brand and social media engagement, but you can also show the value you gain through using online cost savings to reduce service costs and save on traditional media like print and post.

This is most relevant for a multichannel retailer or service company who can set goals for number of catalogues downloaded or number of service transactions compared to other channels.

If you’re fighting for budget for online channels, the savings you can demonstrate to your finance director or budget holder will improve your cause.

5S: Sizzle – Adding value to your brand online

Q. Goals set for brand engagement and advocacy?
Putting the sizzle into your digital marketing will really help your sales and speak goals, but it’s not to easy to set goals for and then to track. So what is the “Sizzle in your Sausage”?

Sizzle is about building your brand online. Think about what makes for a positive online brand experience for your audience and you.

If the experience is effective, the benefits of engaging with your digital presence will be clear; the interactions within the site and with other channels will be smooth and the visitor will want to use your online services again, and tell their friends and colleagues about it.

So, key goals here are about levels of satisfaction and recommendations or advocacy. ASOS have invested heavily in community platforms and social media to deliver the sizzle!

Define vision

Q. We have a defined mid-long term vision for the future contribution of our digital marketing channels?

We believe that developing a specific vision or mission statement for your digital channels can really help explain the need for digital channel initiatives within a company. They also show where the focus of digital marketing activities and investment should be.

Strategy recommendation 20 Define a vision for how digital channels will support your customers and brand
A longer-term vision and planning horizon will highlight the changes to process, platforms and structure needed for the long-term transformation needed to make the most of digital marketing.

You’re probably thinking ‘we’ve already got a corporate mission statement that everyone pokes fun at, so why would we want to define a vision statement?’ or ‘why should we bother?

It’s too corporate and we’re just a small business, we just get on with selling our products.’ Good questions! But we still think it’s helpful to have a vision for your online marketing for all different types of organisation. We say this since the opportunities from digital marketing are too big to not have a vision of how you will use digital media in the future. If you don’t define the opportunity you won’t be able to grasp it because there will be too many other distractions. They

may also take time to be achieved. Look at how Dell9 set their long-term vision, both for their online channel as a whole and how online analytics will support it.

A good vision statement for your digital marketing activities can help:

  • Show how digital marketing or E-business can transform your organization in the future if you innovate and invest
  • Show where you need to focus your effort – is it customer experience and service to build loyalty or are you also looking to expand your reach into new markets?
  • Energize colleagues by showing the future potential of digital marketing and communicating that it’s a strategic priority through a senior manager or director who is a sponsor of digital marketing
  • Set top-level goals without going into detailed KPIs.

I am not talking about mission statements of what your company currently is, instead, a vision is an inspiring, ideal future state. A vision is almost certainly not going to be 100% attainable, but you must feel as if it is possible.

Some examples of vision statements for digital channels
  • 1 x 2 x 3:
  • Largest online audience share (No.1) in Europe by XXXX By XXXX, 1 in 2 of total sales will be generated on-line
  • 1 in 3 of our people and our customers love our online services and will recommend them to a friend
  • 2 in 3 customer service contacts will be electronic by XXXX
Best Practice Tip 5 Set BHAG: “Big Hairy Audacious Goals
These ambitious targets are used to gain attention for an initiative and attract investment and resources to it. They were popularised in a 1996 Harvard Business Review article by James Collins and Jerry Porras on Building Your Company’s Vision.

Different aspects of the vision statement can then be expanded upon when discussing with colleagues

  • Digital channels = the web site supported by email and mobile messaging
  • Find = improvements to site search functionality
  • Compare and select = Using detailed product descriptions, rich media and ratings
  • Merchandising and improving conversion = Through delivery of automated merchandising facilities to present relevant offers to maximise conversion and average order value. Additionally, use of structured testing techniques such as AB testing and multivariate testing will be used.
  • Experience rated as excellent = We will regularly review customer satisfaction and advocacy against direct competitors and out-of-sector to drive improvements with the web site
Checklist – creating your vision statement
  1. Shows how digital channels will help the customer. What value will you provide?
  2. Shows the benefit to the company in terms of efficiencies or profitability?
  3. Link vision to specific goals in the future?
  4. Is simple and memorable?
  5. Is inspirational?

Define specific SMART objectives in your performance improvement framework for digital marketing

Q. Right measurement frameworks and dashboards defined?

Measurement frameworks are essential to give you focus – rather than reviewing hundreds of measures you can just focus on top-level performance measures which are critical to improve performance. These are summarised on dashboards.

Strategy Recommendation 21 Define the right measurement framework and dashboards You can’t measure everything, far from it! So define the measures and KPIs that you can review regularly to really drive your business and develop an automated method of reporting via dashboards.

And remember that dashboards count for nothing if they’re not reviewed and actioned. Avinash Kaushik, the web evangelist at Google famously said :

If you have $100 to make smart decisions on the web, invest $10 in tools, spend $90 on people. This is the 10/90 rule.”

Strategy Recommendation 22 Invest sufficient time in the people, process and tools to ssupport performance improvement
If you don’t invest sufficient in the supporting processes and people your careful specification of goals and objectives will have been pointless. So make sure you put in place the right approaches to review and take action depending on your numbers.

I’ll talk more about how to make this happen in our guide to improving results through goal-setting and keep it brief here. Check that:

  • Q. There is a defined measurement framework to review and take action?
  • Q. Our KPIs are aligned to business success?
  • Q. The dependencies between KPIs is clear?
  • Q. Individuals are responsible for KPIs?
  • Q. Our measurement framework includes the right efficiency measures?
  • Q. Our measurement framework includes the right effectiveness measures?
  • Q. Measures can be distributed and reviewed in a top-level report or dashboard?
Best Practice Tip 7 Identify your “critical few” KPIs – make sure they’re SMART
Use the SMART mnemonic to review your measures to define the KPIs that matter to improve results.

Measures you consider should be simplified to a dashboard to limit the information that needs to be reviewed to the “critical few” or the “measures that matter”.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific – Is the objective sufficiently detailed to measure real-world problems and opportunities?
  • Measurable – Can a quantitative qualitative attribute be applied to create a metric?
  • Actionable – Can the information be used to improve performance? If the objective doesn’t change behaviour in staff to help them improve performance, there is little point in it!
  • Relevant – Can the information be applied to the specific problem faced by the manager?
  • Time-related – Can the information be constrained through time?

Define your measurement framework

I’ve have found that still, many companies don’t have a clear objective setting and reporting system summarized as digital marketing dashboards. But there seems to be a hunger to create and use these.

In this guide to improving online results, we consider 3 different performance management frameworks. But here, I’ll just use our RACE framework since this has the fullest range of KPIs for different managers.

RACE consists of four steps designed to help engage prospects, customers and fans with brands throughout the customer lifecycle.

  • 1 Reach – Build awareness of a brand, its products and services on other sites and in offline media and build traffic by driving visits to web presences
  • 2 Act – Engage audience with brand on its website or other online presence
  • 3 Convert – Achieve conversion to marketing goals such as new fans, leads or sales on web presences and offline
  • 4 Engage – Build customer relationships through time to achieve retention goals
Best Practice Tip 8 Use a grid of RACE vs seniority to define your goals.
In the rows, it isolates more detailed metrics that drive performance from the customer-centric KPIs and Business value KPIs, so it identifies the measures that really matter or Key Key Performance Indicators (KKPIs) at the bottom of the matrix. More senior managers will review the performance drivers at the bottom of the grid.

This Acquisition, Conversion, Retention approach is adapted from an approach recommended by analytics specialist Neil Mason on his courses.

You can see it is most practical to use in a larger organisation with different tiers of management. The idea is to select the most relevant KPIs to form dashboards for different people as shown in the left column.

Let’s look at the key performance indicators for each of the four steps and where you can find the reports in Google Analytics.

Stage 1 Reach KPIs

Reach involves building awareness of a brand, its products and services on other sites and in offline media and building traffic by driving visits to web presences. KPIs include:

  • Unique visitors. The size of your audience at the top of the funnel with the potential to convert. This measure is available on your dashboard. Review your reach into social network sites like Facebook and Twitter also if you’re active on these.
  • Audience share. You can benchmark this by comparing your unique visitors to competitor sites using Google AdPlanner. Number share of audience is particularly important for search marketing which often accounts for 50% or more of a catalog site’s audience. You should compare visits from search in your keywords report against the potential demand for search engines using a gap analysis to see where your missing.
  • Revenue or goal value per visit. As described above, these measures enable you to see the value that each referring campaign, site or keyword is generating. Through reviewing how you promote your site through these traffic sources you can aim to increase revenue per visit. Of course increasing conversion rate will also help increase revenue per visit.

Stage 2 Act KPIs

Act stands for interact, your aim is to achieve the initial engagement of your visitors when they enter your site. KPIs include:

  • Bounce rate. Bounce rate is a great measure to use as part of your aim of increasing sales. Review the top sources of traffic report and keywords reports to identify traffic sources with the highest bounce rate and aim to reduce this figure.
  • Pages per visit. If you can encourage more browsing and searching, you are likely to increase conversion rates. The average figure for visits which involve a search is around 30% in the UK for retailers, according to Coremetrics.
  • Product page conversion. Conversion rates for some products will naturally be higher than others so work on increasing conversion rates where you have “problem products” with a relatively high volume of page views, but relatively low conversion rate.
  • Conversion to lead. I do prefer to include conversion to marketing outcomes other than sale which such as new fans or leads as part of encouraging interaction.

Stage 3 Convert to Sale

To Achieving conversion sales whether from online or offline. The well-known KPIs include:

  • Conversion rates. Again it’s worth understanding how these vary for different visitors sources.
  • Sales transactions. The number and value of sales broken down by category.
  • Revenue and margin. Readily reported the margin will be usually reported through a back-end system.

Stage 4 Engage

Build customer relationships through time to achieve retention goals. You may have to derive these through your sales systems. KPIs include:

  • % returning visitors. This gives you a simple indication of the importance of returning visitors to your business.
  • % active hurdle rates. These have to be extracted from the CRM database – you should look at the percentage of customers who make a purchase in a 3 or 6 month period. ASOS uses a 6 month period to define active customers.
  • Repeat sales from existing customers. Encouraging repeat purchases.
  • Repeat conversion rate. This is the proportion of first-time purchasers who buy again.
Best Practice Tip 9 Define dashboards for different team members
You can use Google Analytics custom reports or spreadsheet worksheets to have different tabs for different levels of seniority and involvement with digital.

This example shows how to use the “menu” of KPIs in the table above to select the most relevant measures for them to put into their reporting.

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