It's time to review your SaaS company's marketing strategy.
You're sitting there looking at the last year's objectives, and comparing it with the current reality. It's not a pleasant picture, and you're trying to get to the bottom of just what went wrong. You spent more money, but you can't really tell if it generated the results you wanted. You're left wondering how to invest over the coming year, and whether you're just spinning your wheels.
Don't reach for the Scotch just yet, though.
The objectives you're setting may be a big part of the problem: a major problem many SaaS businesses have is that they don't have well established marketing objectives.
So today I'm going to share 5 poor marketing objectives you may have been guilty of setting, and explain why they're destined to fail.
"I want to get more visitors to the website by the end of this quarter"
This is a common one I hear when we start a discussion with a SaaS founder who wants to grow their business: they have a goal, but it's just not specific. They want to increase visits, leads, or sales, but do not specify how much they want to increase them. One of the most common reasons for that is that they don't know just how many visits they need to generate the number of leads/sales they want, because they're not measuring it.
In order to set specific goals, you need to know the numbers. That means understanding how many sales leads it takes to close a sale, and how many website visitors it takes to generate a sales lead. If you're struggling to get hold of this data, for the next year, then make a reasoned guess. It's important that you start measuring this data from now on though, whether that's with Google Analytics, or an inbound marketing software solution like Hubspot, so that you can tweak your goals as you uncover the real figures.
"I want to increase our social influence by 100% by the end of 2016"
Can you spot the problem with this marketing objective?
It's pretty simple, but it's not measurable. How do you define your company's social influence? Is it the number of retweets you get each week on Twitter? The number of likes your Facebook page has? The number of prospects joining your LinkedIn discussion group?
Solid marketing objectives are completely and absolutely measurable. By not being measurable, you risk the goal posts being moved when the goal is due to be measured, and trying to find "some way or another" to prove that your social influence did in fact increase by 100%.
"I want to grow the business from £500k MRR, to £10m MRR by the end of the year"
For some businesses backed by staggering amounts of investment capital, this may well be possible, but for most SaaS businesses, it's not an achievable marketing objective. Having goals that aren't achievable can demotivate your team, negatively impact the morale of your employees, increase your levels of stress and generally lead to the belief that as a business you're always failing.
It's important that you understand your business, the industry it's in, and what attainable growth goals are. It's much better to set an objective you can beat, than one you're destined to fail at meeting. Your employees will be more productive when they feel like they're accomplishing something, and beating their targets, than forever being miles behind.
"I want Sarah to start writing 15 blog posts per week"
The problem with this goal follows on from the previous one: it's not realistic.
Realistic goals, rather than being about limitations within your industry, are about the limits of your team. Is it realistic that your team will be able to achieve your marketing objective? If not, it's destined to fail. That poor new hire, Sarah, is soon going to burn out trying to write 15 blog posts a week, meaning you will miss your objective, and be back to square one.
"I want our website to generate 500 leads per month"
Your marketing objectives mean nothing at all unless they are time constrained. Without a deadline to reach the goal, you are likely to keep pushing the target back. You also never have anything to work towards. You need to set time constraints on your marketing goals that are respected, and stuck to.
If you keep pushing your marketing objectives back as challenges get in the way, you will keep on delaying results, and never drive growth at the rate you are looking for.
So how do I set suitable marketing objectives?
It's simple, a good objective is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time constrained (SMART). We've previously written a blog post here: how to set SMART inbound marketing goals, which should help if you're struggling to set your business' SMART goals. Some examples of SMART marketing goals to help you along include:
- I want to drive 10,000 visits to our website via organic search in 2016.
- I want to generate 100 new leads per month by the end of 2016.
- I want to grow our email subscribers from 100 to 125 by the end of November.
For a quick acid test of your goals, check out our round-up of 50+ SaaS performance benchmarks: they'll help you quickly assess just how achievable your key growth goals are.