Published: 25 June 2014

Ok, so we all know ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ but let’s not focus on the negative. One of the questions that causes the most debate when working with clients is ‘why do you have a website?’. Sounds simple right, but lets break this down a bit. Do you have a website with a clearly defined list of core objectives? A set of objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) with sound KPIs to support them? If so, great, but you would be surprised how many people don’t. If you’re one of the majority that don’t then this post is aimed to be a quick overview of how you can set your digital objectives.

Firstly, define what you want to achieve in a single, short vision/mission statement. Something like ‘we want to sell great products to our customers with great levels of service in order to build long term relationships’. Sounds good (and somewhat generic but you get the point).

Then break this down into the constituent parts:·      

  • Sell products
  • Great customer service
  • Long term relationships 

Then take each one of these in turn and define how you are going to measure success against each one? Define what you want to achieve or, to put it another way, define what good looks like.

Think about the KPIs that can help you measure success and set a target for each. Anyone who uses Google Analytics knows that there is a tonne of data you can mine, your job is to define what data matters to your brand. For example:

  • Sell products
    • Online product sales value
    • Number of baskets sold
  • Great Customer Service
    • Online returns rate
    • Page views on Complaints pages
    • Feedback scores
    • Ratings and Reviews
  • Long term relationships
    • Returning visitors (percentage or actual) 
    • Average session length
    • Cross channel engagement
    • Number repeat visits
    • Number repeat purchases
    • Share/ Likes on Facebook

Once you have established the metrics that matter and put in your targets (important point: you must have realistic and somewhat ambitious, yet achievable, targets against each KPI) all you need to do is define how you’re going to achieve each one. 

At this point you need to start considering:

  • Proposition Development/Definition
  • Creative
  • Channel Mix
  • Content Requirements
  • Automated Marketing
  • Technical support

Finally, define your reporting framework – mainly who collates the data, from where and when and you have a simple executable plan for your digital brand platform which includes defined objectives, set strategies, measurable KPIs and a reporting framework.

A few notes on the above:

Firstly, your plan will change. The Army has something called ‘Commanders Intent’ and its based on the idea that the best laid plans will always need to adapt and change once they are put into action. Your digital plan is no different, as your strategies come to fruition and you’re into your reporting cycles you will need to adapt and tweak the plan (or maybe re-hash some of it). This is normal and its part of how we work with our clients through constantly reviewing the performance of the plan and the plan itself, to make sure it still works and is still relevant.

Secondly, if people in your organisation have specific data needs outside of your planned objectives then take advantage of Google Analytics automated reports and get these inboxed to your colleagues without taking you away from your core focus. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help with this.


Nick Towers

Managing Director


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