How Brand Managers Can Define Clear Objectives and Goals

We’ve all been in a kickoff meeting with a brand manager who starts telling us how they would like to measure clicks on the hero banner, the links in the footer, and of course, that social widget in the left stack. As analysts, it’s our responsibility to pull the brand manager from the weeds by asking them why they want to measure these elements. But, how do we do this? 
We use that four-letter word “goal” and its buddy “objectives” a lot. When you focus efforts on goals and objectives, you avoid spinning your wheels talking about elements that do not drive success or will not lead to actionable insights. The first step to creating a successful measurement plan is to know what the overall objectives are and the goals that drive these objectives. 
You can tease the objectives from your brand manager by asking them the overall purpose of the project. For instance, if you’re working with a news publisher, the objective might be to increase subscriptions or increase page views per visit. An automotive OEM might want to use their tier-2 site to drive leads on the tier-3 dealership sites. 
Stratigent recently built a measurement plan for a group of brand managers at a financial institution, with a goal of re-launching a blog to attract entrepreneurs in their late 20’s and early 30’s. The objectives were pretty simple:
  1. Attract qualified traffic 
  2. Encourage engagement with the blog content 
  3. Drive leads to the flagship domain
Understanding this helped our team to avoid distractions, such as measuring interactions with hero banners, as knowing the direction of a rotation did not help evaluate the objectives. 
After you establish the brand manager’s objectives, you will need to help them develop goals that will determine if the objectives are met over the course of the engagement. Every objective needs to have at least one goal behind it so that it may be “objectively” evaluated. However, setting goals is where many teams fail to get it right. 
We often see goals like “interactions with XYZ content” or “achieve 5 million social shares of our content.” These goals mean well, but they’re not SMART goals. Non-SMART goals also lead to lower quality insights and slower maturation of your analytics department. Our analysts show brand managers that when they commit to SMART goals, they have a better chance of achieving what they want, measurement plans have greater focus, and the team is more engaged.
So, what makes a goal SMART? Here’s a breakdown:
  • Specific: It should state what your goal is, where it will be accomplished, and how often or how frequently. It answers, “What are we going to do?”
  • Measurable: It should be measureable in a way that provides specific feedback and holds you accountable to what you are trying to do
  • Attainable: It should strike a balance between your team/organizations capabilities and resources, while forcing a level of stretch that will maintain your interest in achieving it
  • Results Focused: It should focus on the outcomes of your efforts and not the efforts themselves 
  • Time Bound: It should have a time limit to help create a sense of practical urgency, but does not violate the rule of A (attainable)
For example, let’s look at Company X. For Company X, a SMART goal might be that by the third quarter, there should be an increase visitor account registration rate by more than 5% (the “what”) through increased media spend, site personalization, and implementation of social login API’s (the “how”) so that Company X may increase customer self-service rates over inquiries to the call center (the “why”).
Now that we understand the components of a SMART goal, we should discuss some tactics for creating them. Remember our brand managers who were targeting young entrepreneurs? They had three primary objectives:
  1. Attract qualified traffic to the site
  2. Encourage engagement with the blog content
  3. Drive leads to the flagship domain
Stratigent helped the brand managers set SMART goals under each of these objectives. We also helped them to determine which KPI’s were the most relevant to the objective and utilized their legacy data to determine realistic expectations. Here is a sample of the goals we developed:
 To assess qualified traffic:
  • Within the first 30 days of the campaign, achieve a bounce rate of X% through long-tail keywords, relevant content, and suggested article links in the left stack 
  • By third quarter, achieve a lead rate of X% of visits through increases media spend, prominent call-to-action’s, and simplified lead forms so the campaign maintains a positive ROI
To assess engagement with blog content:
  • Within the first 90 days, increase the page views per visit by X% through increased media spend, shorter content cycles, and suggested article links in the left stack so visitors spend more time with our brand
  • By third quarter, achieve a blog post comment rate of X comments per X readers by utilizing prominent comment boxes and a simplified registration process so readers begin to form a community around our brand
To assess the blog’s ability to drive leads to the flagship domain:
  • Within 90 days, achieve a rate of one lead per thousand visits through increased media spend, prominent and relevant CTA’s, and simplified lead forms so that the campaign maintains a positive ROI
Don’t freak out if your organization lacks reliable legacy data, which assists in setting goals. Instead, you should consider taking a period to focus on establishing baselines. For instance: By second quarter, establish a baseline for total leads per million visits through monitoring of media spend, organic traffic, and site design so that Company X may assess future performance targets against an established benchmark.
While these are just some of the ways to create and evaluate objectives and goals, it should give brand managers the springboard they need to begin assessing appropriately. Above all, understanding why you want to achieve certain goals, and the elements needed to achieve them, will help you to through the planning stages and beyond.
If you’d like more information about project objectives and goals, please contact
By Scott Friedman
About the Author:

Scott Friedman is a Manager of Client Services at Stratigent.

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