How to set up measurable objectives for a business

Last Updated: January 20, 2023

Here is how you can solve the problem of translating business objectives into actionable steps.

We all know our business objectives. Most of the time, they are increasing leads and sales and creating brand awareness.

Business objectives are not really hard to figure out.

But it is hard to figure out how to achieve these business objectives within the area of our responsibility and expertise, and that too in the most efficient manner.

One of the biggest problems of optimizing marketing campaigns is translating business objectives into measurable goals.

You need measurable goals to optimize your marketing campaigns.

Otherwise, you can not measure your marketing efforts. You can not define success or failure.

Let’s say your business objective is to increase sales through your e-commerce website.

You have got 100,000 products to sell.

Now, where should you start? What should you change on the website?

Which key issues should you focus on that can quickly improve your sales and conversions?…. in other words, what should your goals be?

You need specific solutions which can solve your problem.

In other words, you need to create measurable goals to achieve your business objectives.

The process to set up measurable objectives for a business:

Following is the process I follow to set up measurable objectives for a business:

Step-1: Determine where you are now

Step-2: Identify the problems that need to be addressed

Step-3: Determine the requirements to solve each problem

Step-4: Determine the possible barriers to your proposed solutions

Step-5: Take action

Step-6: Repeat Steps 1 to 5

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Determine where you are now

You need a baseline measurement so you know where you are starting from.

You can use this baseline measurement later to measure success or failure.

For example, when I start optimizing an SEO campaign I note down the following:

  1. the current monthly organic visits and organic conversions to the website.
  2. the organic keywords which are driving the majority of traffic and conversions.
  3. the impact of organic search on PPC, email, display and other marketing campaigns.

I would later use this data to measure my progress.

If the organic visits were 100k when I started optimizing the SEO campaign 4 months ago and now it is 200k then it means I generated an additional 100k organic visits to the website in 4 months.  I doubled the organic traffic.

But if I didn’t remember what the organic traffic was when I started working on the SEO Project, I would never be able to say/prove later that I doubled the traffic.

That is why baseline measurement is so important.

Determine the problems that need to be addressed

This is the hard bit. You need to determine which part of the business is underperforming and why.

You can start by analyzing one marketing channel (SEO, PPC, Email, Display, Social Media, etc) at a time.

Compare the past performance of a marketing channel with its present performance. Do a competitive analysis to determine missed opportunities.

The marketing channel which has started underperforming of late and is one of the major sources of revenue/ conversions to your website need to be addressed first. Here prioritization plays a key role.

You have identified ‘N’ problems but you don’t have the time and resources to address them allSo you need to focus on those issues which have the biggest impact on the business bottom line.

For example, if I am running an SEO campaign, I would first focus on those keywords which have proved to be profitable for my client’s business or which have the potential to generate the largest amount of relevant traffic to the website.

I would focus on optimizing those products which are most profitable for my client instead of trying to optimize all the 100,000 products.

Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of your sales come from 20% of the products. So what you need to do is, to determine that 20% and work relentlessly on them.

You can’t sell each and every product of your client in each and every location of your country, so why spread your marketing efforts and resources too thin by trying to be visible everywhere for everything you sell.

Determine the requirements to solve each problem

Once you have identified the problems you need to address first, you would focus on the requirements to solve each problem.

Following are the general requirements:

1. Well defined strategy

What set of tasks (strategies) are required to solve a specific problem?

For example, if my problem is ‘decline in non-branded organic search traffic month after month’ then I need to check the rankings of the non-branded keywords and then aim to improve the search engine ranking of those which are now on the second, third or fourth page through content development and link building.

Related Post6 Simple steps to Create and Analyze a Marketing Strategy

2. Expertise/area of responsibility

What level of expertise is required to solve the problem and who will be the best person/department responsible for providing the expertise?

For example, if ‘decline in non-branded organic search traffic month after month’’ is the problem then the best person to fix this problem is the SEO.

3. Tools and support

What sort of tools and support is required?

You may need certain tools to carry out your strategy. So you need to identify all such tools.

For example, you may need certain tools for keyword research, rank tracking, social media tracking, etc.

4. Measurement model and KPIs

What to measure and how?

What you measure is entirely dependent on your goal.

For example, if your goal is to measure the performance of ‘non-branded organic search traffic, you measure things that indicate the performance of non-branded organic traffic like rankings/conversions/revenue of non-branded organic keywords.

Choose only those metrics/KPIs which are available to you.

Related Post: Understanding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – Complete Guide

5. Definition of success and failure

What should be counted as success and what should be counted as a failure?

If you set numerical targets for each goal then measuring success/failure becomes easy.

For example, if we could increase the organic traffic by 25% in the next 4 months then we will achieve success, otherwise, we will fail.

Without defining success and failure you can’t measure the performance of your marketing efforts and get optimum results.

6. Deadline

What is the estimated completion time?

Remember without deadlines no goal is unachievable so setting deadlines is critical to solving a problem.

7. Cost

How much it will cost to implement the strategy?

You need to keep the cost into account while solving problems.

No company has an unlimited marketing budget so if your strategy is not affordable to execute then you need to re-evaluate it.

Determine possible barriers to your proposed solutions

Below are possible barriers to your proposed solutions that you must consider before you execute your marketing strategy or present proposed solutions:

1. Lack of expertise

For example, you want to increase the traffic through non-branded organic keywords but you don’t have skilled link builders or subject matter experts available.

2. Outside your area of responsibility

You want to reduce the page load time of your website but this task falls into the hand of the IT department on which you have little to no control or you have an issue with the price of the products because you think that products are overpriced and no one will buy them no matter how much SEO/CVO you do.

3. Unavailability of required tools or support

You need a certain tool to track the performance of top keywords but you can’t get access to it or you didn’t get approval from senior management to install certain tracking code on the website.

4. High barrier to entry

You are operating in a highly saturated market where big brands have a monopoly.

Consequently, it is very hard for you to capture the search market share.

5. Time constraints

You need to deliver results in an unreasonable amount of time because your manager doesn’t understand what it really takes to do your work.

6. Operational inefficiency

Organizational hierarchy, bureaucracy, company culture, and internal politics all play an important role in not getting things done.

These are not the only barriers. Barriers vary from business to business. You need to figure out the possible barriers in your situation.

Once you have determined your barriers, you need to re-evaluate your strategies and other requirements to solve each problem. For example, if you don’t have a skilled link builder, then is there a possibility to outsource link building?

Take action

This is the most important step. If you don’t take any action, you won’t achieve anything.

Don’t spend all of your time just planning so that you can get that “perfect solution” to your business problems. Seeking perfection is a great time sucker and the enemy of good enough.

Over planning and over-analysis can make things very complicated and they can keep you away from taking any action.

So take action and refine your strategy as you move on by repeating the steps from 1 to 5. Make mistakes and learn from them.

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