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How To Set Website Goals (Includes An Example)

Your website is no different from any other critical aspect of your business. It should have well-thought-out S.M.A.R.T goals that have a real impact on your business.

If your current website is not helping you attract and convert leads into customers, then your site is underutilized - often the result of poorly defined goals, or even worse, a website with no goals at all.

Why Is Your Website Important?

In today's world, consumers don't purchase products and services without research. And most of this vital research is done on your website.

Your sales representative may drive the sale, but your website is doing all the leg work (e.g. answering questions, easing concerns, highlighting benefits, demonstrating value, etc.).

Related: Most Products And Services Are Bought (Not Sold)

Your website can do most of the soft-selling for you, so it should never be an afterthought, but a crucial part of your sales funnel.

Why Setting And Measuring Website Goals Is Essential?

Many executives and managers use Peter Drucker's quote "If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Improve It.", but for some strange reason, they don't apply it to a website.

For example, they establish very specific goals for their sales team, but they don't set any goals for their website - as if the website doesn't have a direct link to sales.

How To Set Great Website Goals (5 steps)

1. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
First of all, don't set vague goals like "Increase website sales," "Increase website leads," or "Increase website traffic." Every goal has to be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely).

For example, a S.M.A.R.T goal will look something like this "Use PPC (Pay-per-click) ads to increase Q1 sales by 20%."

2. Website Goals Have To Align With Your Business Goals
Your website goals should align with your highest priority business goals. If "growth" is the highest priority goal for your company, then most of your website goals should concentrate on growth. For example, growth-related goals will primarily focus on traffic, leads, and conversion numbers.

3. Set Ambitious Goals (Should Feel Slightly Uncomfortable)
Setting safe (comfortable) goals will not do you or your business any good. How can you tell if you are setting safe (comfortable) goals? If you are continually achieving your goals, then you are likely setting comfortable goals.

In our experience, if you are hitting 80-100% of your goals, then your goals are not ambitious enough. The sweet spot is somewhere between 60-80% (success rate).

4. Delegate Correctly
This point is simple. If your website goals are assigned to the wrong person, then they will not get achieved. What makes someone the wrong person? Someone that doesn't have the necessary authority and know-how. Also, someone that cannot take full ownership of the goal.

For example, if your goal is to improve the conversion funnel, then you have to understand user experience, call-to-actions, optimization, and analytics. Furthermore, you need to have the authority to make significant website changes (e.g. changing the layout). This is not a task for a junior person; irrespective of their eagerness to learn and impress.   

4. Create Ownership
You will never create ownership if you assign a goal to a person or a department without their involvement in the decision-making process. In fact, you are setting that person or department up for failure.

For example, when setting goals that impact design then your design team (or designer) must be in the conversation, and more importantly, he/she has to agree with the goal (and necessary changes).

On the other hand, if your sales team sets a new goal which includes modifying the sales pipeline, then the person responsible for the website's conversion funnel must be on the same page.

5. Prioritize
All website goals have to be prioritized. In other words, they cannot all have the same priority. It's ok to have a backlog of every imaginable goal, but you should only work on 3- 5 website goals at the time.

For example, a high priority website goal may look like this - "Increase Contact Us conversion rate by 35%....". On the other hand, a low priority goal often looks like this - "Redesign the Q&A section to ...." For most companies, the conversion rate has a direct impact on sales, and the Q&A section does not.

Also, irrespective if you set website goals every week, every month, every quarter, or once a year, trying to tackle too many goals at the same time creates confusion and often results in inefficiencies - as resources are moving across too many goals.

How Often Should You Set And Review Website Goals?

The business size will typically drive goal-setting frequency. For example, quarterly goals are a good start for most small businesses. In fact, all companies should set quarterly website goals. However, many large organizations do need daily and weekly goals as well. For example, a large e-commerce site will have daily sales goals.

We often recommend quarterly goals because they strike a good balance between short and long-term. 

How To Review Website Goals?

As we mentioned earlier, if you achieve all your website goals, then you are settings too many safe goals. These types of goals typically have no real impact on a business.

However, if you set S.M.A.R.T and ambitious website goals you will probably miss some, but that's ok. Not achieving all goals should never be seen as a failure, but an opportunity to learn and get better.

It's always better to set ambitious website goals and fall a little short, then to set safe goals and reach them every time.

When you review your website goals, ask yourself (or your team) these types of questions:

  • Were our original assumptions correct?
  • Were there any external factors that caused us to miss our goal?
  • Did we have the resources we needed (people, tools, budget, etc.)?
  • Looking back, did we assign this goal to the right person?
  • What have we learned?
  • How can we do better next time?

Website Goal (Example)

Let's assume we are in the event management business. More specifically, we provide an event space to companies for conferences, speaking events, etc.

  • In 2018 our website was responsible for 120 bookings (or 30 per quarter).
  • For every 1,000 visits, we receive 100 inquires, and from every 100 inquires we receive 30 bookings
  • Conversion rate = 3% (30/1,000 = 3%)

Website Conversion Example

Our facility can handle more bookings, so we need to increase 2019 bookings by 40% (10% per quarter). How do we make this high-level goal into something actionable?

Website Goal: Increase Q1 Revenue By 10%
Timeline: Jan-Mar 2019
Owner: Jane Doe
Priority: High
Tactics:

  • Increase awareness (attract more traffic to the website)
    • Grow the mailing list by partnering with local rotary clubs
    • Restart PPC ads (increase the budget by +$500/mo)
    • Update poorly performing content and keywords - to help with SEO
    • Boost all Facebook posts with impressions under 1,000
  • Increase conversion rate (e.g. convert more website visits into inquiries, and more inquiries into customers)
    • Add a personalization widget - automatically update the inquiry form based on visitor behavior (e.g. which page(s) the visitor showed interest in)
    • Offer a limited-time discount to returning visitors
    • Setup re-targeting ads


A major benefit of only setting high-quality website goals is the tendency to shift all your focus toward big goals - the type of goals that have a real impact on your business.

Summary

If you set well-thought-out website goals, that's half the battle won, so take your time to write detailed goals, and how you will achieve them.

Your website should be your most important digital marketing channel. It is one of the rare channels you have complete control over; therefore, you are free to set ambitious goals with not many technical barriers.

Lastly, while we focused on website goals in this post, most of the goal-setting tactics and information we presented will apply to other digital marketing channels (advertising, email marketing, social media, and so on).

Relate: How to turn your website into a marketing machine