How To Create Successful Digital Marketing Goals That Get Results

What you’re about to listen to is part one of our six-part digital marketing course entitled, “Introduction To Digital Marketing.” This course is designed to teach the fundamentals of digital marketing incorporating videos, self-assessments, and a capstone class at the end to tie the learning objectives together.

Download Your Digital Marketing Plan Template

In part one, we’re going to show you how to create digital marketing goals. Setting specific goals helps to narrow focus on the strategies that you will use to achieve your goals. Once strategies have been identified your next step is to develop a digital marketing plan. This is your action plan at a tactical level outlining every step you’ll take to achieve your marketing strategies. Finally, we’ll talk about how to properly manage the project work to ensure your team is getting the job done.

By the end of this course, you will gain the skills and knowledge you need to begin building your brand, expanding your audience reach, and generating more revenues online. But first, let’s learn more about what digital marketing is and why it’s important in 2018.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand what digital marketing is and why it’s important.
  2. Define your digital marketing goals.
  3. Identify marketing strategies that will achieve your goals.
  4. Map out your digital marketing plan to align with your goals.
  5. Put your digital plan into action with project management.

How To Get Started In Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is any online channel used to market a good or service. Social media, online advertising, email marketing, content marketing, and search engine optimization are some of the strategies marketers leverage.

Owned Vs Earned Media - Nonprofits Source

These strategies can be organized into the following categories:

  • Owned Media – Owned media are any online properties that you have control of including your website, social profiles, and publications on user-generated content sites like YouTube, Medium, or LinkedIn. These strategies often involve long-term investments that take an omnichannel approach to diversify brand awareness.
  • Paid Media – Facebook ads, Google Adwords, banner ads, and any other form of paid online promotions fall into the category of paid media. Online ads can be micro-targeted to reach your ideal customer through custom audiences and other website tracking methods.
  • Earned Media – Earned media is word of mouth marketing. Online mentions, PR, product or service reviews, and guest post contributions all fall into this category. In the realm of digital marketing, one of the highest forms of online mentions you can receive is a link back to your site. Another may be an invitation to speak at a conference or on a podcast to continue to spread your brand’s message.
  • Social Media – Social media are any channels that are owned by a third party organization or business but allow the creation of user-generated content. Well-known platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, or Pinterest. These platforms are typically used to increase brand presence and awareness, as well as to promote engagement with your audience.

The Case For Digital Marketing

For the first time, small businesses and organizations with little resources are able to invest in a more cost-effective marketing channel that delivers results. According to Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spend Report, 40% of respondents claimed to get considerable savings by using digital marketing methods of promotion for their products and services.

Marketing hires are also up 44% this year compared to 28% last year, according to a survey of 300 marketers conducted by McKinley Marketing Partners. 56% of those hires required some degree of digital experience. Finally, advertising dollars are going digital, at least according to Zenith Media, who predicts online advertisers will outspend TV advertisers by $40 billion this year.

Digital Marketing Spending Beats TV In 2017

No matter where you turn, people are doubling down their investments into digital marketing. That’s because digital channels offer the ability to attract and engage with targeted traffic. Through content and online discussions, you can better understand audience likes, dislikes, and opinions. In turn, this will help you to better serve audience needs or correct mistakes more quickly.

Define Your Digital Marketing Goals

What is a digital marketing goal and how do you define it? For that matter, what is the purpose of setting a goal in the first place? Well, goals keep your campaigns and marketing activities aligned towards achieving a common objective. They also help to set expectations and act to motivate you and your team. Moreover, goals help to realize what is and isn’t attainable based on the resources available.

Marketing Is An Experiment - Online Fundraising Strategies

The truth about digital marketing is that it takes 6-12 months to see traction and upwards of 2 years before you’ll see results. Rarely do brands take off faster than this unless you have an existing network to leverage or money to spend. Therefore, goals and expectations should be set to focus on long-term outcomes and not quick wins.

The Anatomy Of A Digital Marketing Goal

There’s a lot to consider when planning your digital marketing goals. Do you have the staff resources, tools, and time to invest in this project? What about the knowledge and expertise to execute the task at hand? To that end, what are you trying to achieve with your marketing?

Anatomy of an effective digital marketing goal - Nonprofits Source

See, people visit websites because they serve a purpose:

  • Information Searches – Looking for an answer to a question, researching a product/service/nonprofit.
  • Purchase Intent – Comparision shopping, ratings, and reviews.
  • Knowledge Gaps – Learn a new skill, or how to use a specific function in a tool like Microsoft Word or Excel.

Understand what purpose your website serves to visitors and use that as the central point for developing your goals.

How To Create SMART Marketing Goals (With Examples)

SMART goals help to clarify ideas, focus efforts, use time and resources productively, and increase the chances of achieving your ideal outcome.

How To Create SMART Goals (With Examples) - Nonprofits Source

For the purpose of this course we are going to use the following goal:

Increase The Organic Search Visibility Of Our Website To Build A Brand And Grow An Audience Online.

Below are a few examples of how to leverage SMART goals in your marketing:

  • Specific / Significant / Stretching – Your goal is well defined and clear to anyone that has basic knowledge of the project.
    • Example – Imagine that you are responsible for increasing organic search traffic to your website.  A specific goal could be, “I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to increase our websites search visibility to establish an online brand.”
  • Measurable / Meaningful / Motivational – Know if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is, and know when you have achieved your goal.
    • Example – You might measure your goal of acquiring the skills to increase organic website traffic by determining that you will have completed the necessary training courses and gained the relevant experience within two months’ time.
  • Achievable / Action-Oriented / Agreed Upon – Create consense with all the stakeholders on what the goals should be.
    • Example – You might need to ask yourself whether developing the skills required to increase organic traffic is realistic, based on your existing experience and qualifications. For example, do you have the time to complete the required training effectively? Are the necessary resources available to you? Can you afford to do it?
  • Relevant / Results-Oriented / Rewarding – Your goal should be within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.
    • Example – You might want to gain the skills to increase organic traffic, but is it the right time to undertake the required training? Are you sure that you’re the right person for the job or can you consider outsourcing work to a freelancer or agency?
  • Timely / Tangible / Trackable – Do you have enough time to achieve the goal?
    • Example –  How long will it take you to acquire these skills? Do you need further training, so that you’re eligible for certain exams or qualifications? It’s important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

Identify Your Digital Marketing Strategies

Now that we’ve set our goal to increase the organization search traffic to our website, it’s time to identify the strategies we’ll use to achieve it.

To achieve this goal we will leverage the following strategies:

  • Content Marketing – If you want to grow an audience organically than content marketing is the most important strategy to use. 95% of people say they trust the content on nonprofit websites and on average, consume 3-5 pieces of content before they make a decision. This implies that if you continue to actively engage with your audience, then over time they may choose to take a favorable action. Providing visitors with consistent and quality content will also help to build awareness to your brand by making your site an authoritative voice in the communities you serve.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – It only makes sense to optimize your website for SEO if our goal is to increase our organic search visibility. By optimizing your content around topics and keywords, you’re better able to serve search engines the information they’re looking for when they sort and rank content. Furthermore,  avoiding broken links, duplicate content, slow pages, and other known SEO issues helps search engines to better crawl and properly index your site.
  • Digital Promotion – While we often talk about content creation, we also tend to overlook promoting the content you’ve written. After all, how else will anyone know you exist unless you’re putting yourself out there? Common tactics include email outreach, link prospecting, social engagement, and industry influencers. Paid advertising can also be highly effective, especially if you’ve got a downloadable piece like an Ebook.

Next, let’s break down each strategy to the tactical to see how we can align them to form a digital marketing plan.

Mapping Your Marketing Plan

In the example below, we’ve categorized each strategy and then broken it down further to include the tactics we’ll use to increase our search traffic:

1. Content Marketing

  • Content Audit
  • Assess Content/Site Structure
  • Optimize Content For Keywords

2. Search Engine Optimization

  • Conduct A Full Website Audit
  • Analyze competitor link/keyword profiles

3. Digital Promotion

  • Link Building
  • Events/Podcasts/Presentations
  • Identify Guest Blogging Opportunities
  • Email/Social Outreach
  • Online/Social Advertisements (optional)

Once you’ve mapped out your digital marketing plan it’s time to put it into action.

Putting Your Digital Marketing Plan Into Action

I cannot stress it enough. Dedicate a project manager to oversee the completion of your strategies. A refined marketing process is important to ensure you and your team are accomplishing tasks, staying on schedule, and not allowing important details to slip through the cracks. Project managers also help with communication by translating the message or filling knowledge gaps between different teams.

Of course, software always helps make the job a little bit easier. For this, I recommend Basecamp. Not just because we use it for our clients, but the fact that it works, has a small learning curve and is relatively inexpensive.

Here are some of the benefits of using a project management software to guide your digital marketing plan:

  1. Provides a high-level overview of each task and how resources are allocated.
  2. Assigns staff accountability and responsibility for completion of tasks.
  3. Maintains clear project notes to identify areas in processes that can be improved.
  4. Sends staff notifications so no task slips through the cracks or bottleneck a project.
  5. Creates hard deadlines for staff, thereby motivating them to complete work agendas.

Digital Marketing Goals - Search Engine OptimizationFrom this view in Basecamp, we can see a high-level overview of a digital marketing project being managed. Each list has a series of tasks to-do and staff are assigned to complete each task.

Search Engine Optimization - Google Search Console And Google Analytics

Each task is assigned a person responsible for its completion, who should be notified when the task is complete, a due date, and relevant notes.

There’s also a discussion panel below where you can attach documents, upload files, notify specific people of the task, or provide feedback.

Digital Marketing - Project ManagementFurther down, you can add or remove people from the task at any time.

Digital Marketing Goals - SubscribersOnce you’ve completed the task you check it off and the next person in the process will be notified until the list is completed. Of course, getting your team on board with a new software can be a challenge. Make sure to set a standardized operating procedure, or SOP, for how projects are completed along with expectations you have for staff.

For example, you might tell staff that every project should:

  1. Include detailed notes and reference relevant documentation.
  2. Ensure the right people are being notified of task updates.
  3. Create due dates and follow-up when necessary.

Creating an documenting SOPs will help to avoid much of the confusion, frustration, and stress that comes with learning a new software.


It may seem like a chapter out of a boring textbook, but defining your digital marketing goals will help to align your strategies and tactics towards achieving them. Goals also provide a way for staff to buy-in to the vision of your organization by motivating them towards a common objective. In Part 2: Target Audience Research, we’re going to expand upon our digital marketing plan by identifying specific audience needs and pain points.

Supplemental Resources

Digital Marketing Plan For Nonprofits: The Definitive Guide (2018)

5 Step Content Marketing Strategy For Nonprofits (W/ Examples)

Digital Promotion Strategies (That Get First Page Results Fast)

This Digital Marketing Process Will Make You Write Better Content

SEO For Nonprofits: A Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing Success

7 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Complete Guide

10 reasons you need a digital marketing strategy in 2018

3 Tips for Defining and Measuring Digital Marketing Goals

The Most Important Digital Marketing Goals and Tactics for 2018

30 Must-Have Digital Marketing Objectives For Your Business

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