Measuring Success 101, Part 2

Last week, we looked at how to develop a successful measuring strategy on a strategic level. Now let’s drill down a bit further with more methods for setting up success metrics.

Setting Up SMART Goals

We’ve all learned the importance of setting goals. It’s critical to set up the right success metrics for your digital marketing campaign. Armed with your organization’s strategic vision and overall business objectives, you can start setting up individual goals for each channel you use.

A great approach is using a SMART goal. SMART goals take more time and energy to set up, but it helps to ensure a quality goal. SMART stands for:


First, define a goal that is clearly stated and specific. For example, “Increase our average monthly unique visitors to our Web site from 10,000 to 20,000 within six months.” This is specific and measureable. Any good Web analytics program can track that performance.

Contrast that goal with “Increase our Web site traffic this year.” Can you see the difference? Even though this may seem simple, how many of us take the time to set up a clearly defined goal?

Next, make the goal attainable. We all want to rank number one for our target keywords in our SEO campaign. Is that really attainable? Is it realistic? Probably not.

How about “Increase our ranking for [target keyword” from page 6 to page 2 within the next six months”? This might be more attainable and realistic. Any past analytics you have should help you identify the right trends to help you set a realistic and attainable goal.

Finally, it’s OK to have long-term goals and five-year strategic plans to help provide a vision for where your organization is going. For purposes of measuring success, you need to have short-term milestones that help you feel like you’re hitting targets in a timely manner.

The last two examples used a time span of six months. You might consider monthly, quarterly, or other short time segments for your success metrics. Either way, setting up short-term gains puts you in a better position to measure your long-term successes.


You’ve probably heard someone rattle off a statistic like “We have 560 followers on Twitter” or “Our site had 4,000 visits this month.” These common statistics don’t say much in the context of your competition, your industry, or even within your own company.

Have you benchmarked your competition or other similar sites within your industry? How many followers do they have on Twitter? How about internally, what was your traffic like a month ago or at the beginning of your search campaign?

Benchmarking is a simple concept that will help put your statistics in a clearer, more meaningful context.

Measuring Tools and Methods

There are many tools out on the market for measuring SEO and PPC campaigns that we won’t go into here. There are also a handful of solid tools for measuring your Web site performance we’ve discussed in past columns.

Social media, however, is still a challenge to set up the right success metrics. There are some great tools out there, like Scout Labs and Radian6, for measuring social media statistics. Regardless, it’s still important to identify what you want to get out of a social media campaign first and then pick the right tool.

Avinash Kaushik, on his blog, brings some fresh thinking to analyzing social media from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. He points out that these new channels are a “distinct customer/participant experience” and that a new and fresh approach to measurement is needed for optimal results.

Most of this may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many companies disregard the fundamentals. They hope they can buy a tool that will do it all and skip the important homework assignment that will make all the difference.

Related reading

A primer to forecasting the value of SEO
How to get started with Data-Driven Attribution in Google Analytics
Conversation Mapping