Have a look at the objectives online around you. Undoubtedly, it will not take long before you find specific examples like ‘I wanted to increase our open rate to 25%’ or ‘I want to make our target group increase by 20,000 subscribers.’
Almost always, figures are involved, which is exactly what SMART objective strategies recommend: set a goal that is specific, measurable, realistic, relevant and time-restricted.
The more we speak with our customers about their strategy, the more we see the need for another pattern, starting from how you want your subscribers to perceive you, what should be conveyed by your communication, and the result you want to achieve with your subscribers.
This does not mean that you should not be ambitious or that you should not want to grow but that you should sometimes look at the larger picture beyond.
Why start from a specific goal?
You are working on hundreds of things throughout the year: writing product descriptions, blogs and newsletters, drawing up social media posts, and so on.
Without goals, however, it is hard to set exact priorities to know what is most useful to spend time on.
By starting from a strategy, you can set goals per month or per quarter with the related tasks to achieve those goals. This is how you avoid the shiny object syndrome.
- You know exactly what you have to do per day or per week to get to what you want to have accomplished at the end of the year.
- Throughout the year, you can monitor your progress critically.
- It helps you take decisions and prioritise decisions.
The problem with trite objectives
Mostly, you use conventional things we are all familiar with to make it more concrete, such as making open rates, click rates or general conversions increase or making your databases grow.
Of course, this helps you keep an eye on whether you are doing the right thing, but these figures do not go beyond KPIs. This is too limited. By focusing on metrics so strongly, you forget the general reading experience of your target group or what has actually the biggest impact on these figures.
Furthermore, these figures can be easily abused – albeit unintentionally – such as the use of manipulative subject lines or preheader text to increase the open rates, or the use of multiple calls to action to get more clicks.
By only focusing on these figures, you get a ‘false’ sense of improvement while actually disregarding the total use experience.
This could lead to poor email design, irrelevant content and a lack of personalisation.
Another problem with focusing on statistics is that these do not take the total customer journey into account. A high open rate does not necessarily lead to a high conversion rate, and focusing on one statistic may distract you from looking at the bigger picture. What is more, focusing on statistics alone may cause the long-term relationship with the customer to be neglected and could lead to a focus on short-term gains instead.
As a result of merely focusing on statistics, the importance of data privacy may get neglected, which may lead to sending irrelevant and undesired emails to your recipients. This could result in a high unsubscription percentage and could harm the reputation of your business.
An alternative approach
Long-term goals are rather focused on what type of business you want to run. You do not need to know all the details yet. This is about your current problems and challenges. How much time do you want to spend on something? What is the message you want to get across to your readers? What is the type of customer you would prefer to serve – or that would bring in the highest yield? Later on, you can translate this into specific objectives.
Stick around for some further examples.
Short-term goals are very tangible. You can achieve them in a month, or in a year at most. From short-term goals you can derive tasks directly. You want to support your sales team in qualifying leads, for instance, so that they can focus on the customers with the highest chance of success. From this, you could derive specific subtasks.
In many cases, you can split the larger whole into specific domains, like customer retention, impact, financial parts, creation goals, or goals related to target groups.
What could these specific objectives be?
1. Supporting the sales team with email marketing
My sales team has to follow up on a large number of leads. In the first phase, it is not clear yet which leads come in for some real interest. Our market is also highly competitive. How can we use email marketing to support our sales team?
Building engagement among new contacts and helping Sales identify and convert leads.What do you need for this?
How will you measure success?
- A new automation flow to provide your contacts with crucial information, so that Sales has more time to contact them. This content has to focus on the informative aspect;
- Building a steady flow of high-quality content with a clear frequency;
- Identifying interested contacts more quickly on the basis of opens and clicks.
- A shorter term between the first application and conversion;
- Stronger focus on sales;
- Several required sales contact moments for eventual sale.
2. Promoting reading experience and focusing on mobile readers
We notice that our open rates remain low and that there is little activity in our newsletters. We notice that we do not convey our message well enough. This year, we want to focus on a clear design and on clear content.
Boosting reader engagement by focusing on reading experience and structure.What do you need for this?
How will you measure success?
- Distinguishing between types of topics and building a new design per topic (e.g. new products, tips and recipes, promotions), so that the reader can see at a glance what the email is about;
- Designing new templates with mobile readers in mind;
- Setting up new tests around subject lines and calls to action;
- Having a critical plan concerning frequency, so that we can focus on a specific topic per newsletter;
- Including click behaviour in interests, to focus more on individual interests in the future.
- Number of contacts registered per type of content;
- Increases in open and click rates;
- Impact on unsubscriptions.
What should you pay attention to?
When setting your objectives, you have to look beyond your KPIs. What is behind your challenge? Take the following into account:
Focus on the customer journey
Look further than your opens and clicks and look critically at your readers’ general experience, as from the moment they receive your email until they take action. This may range from improving your subject line and making your email more legible on mobile devices to creating stronger content that really sticks with your readers. Put yourself in your readers’ place and ask yourself what effect your content has on them.
Measuring and evaluating
It is important to think in advance about how to measure progress, even if you use this alternative approach. This means that you are going to collect figures and that you will use this data to make informed decisions about what works and what does not work. Additionally, you should look at your entire email marketing strategy critically and regularly. Which emails are doing fine and which emails are unsuccessful, and why?
So let’s get started. What is your current challenge, and how can you use your email marketing to improve this challenge? Although it is important to set specific measurable goals for your email marketing efforts, it is also important to reconsider assumptions and look critically at what you actually want to achieve.
Focus on a positive experience, build a relationship, and put yourself in your recipient’s place.
In this way, you can work actively on improving your results and on building a more effective strategy.