A Simple Guide to Setting Your Content Goals
Let’s walk through the essential steps to set effective, *realistic* content goals that will help lead you toward success with your content efforts.
Like anything you aspire to in life, you need goals for your content in order to have a clear direction, measure success, and ensure your content marketing efforts align with your business objectives (because you’re not doing this just for fun!).
Research shows that marketers who set goals are 377% more likely to report success than those who don’t.
Unfortunately, most people just don’t take the time.
Many small business owners and personal brands don’t know how to set content goals effectively or why they should.
They lack clarity, unsure of what they want to “achieve” with their content. And without clear objectives, it’s challenging to create a strategy.
They lack know-how, unaware of what to actually do to set content goals.
They lack realistic expectations, setting overly ambitious goals or expecting immediate results and finding only disappointment.
They lack consistency, struggling to maintain a regular posting schedule, which impacts their progress and motivation to keep showing up.
They lack useful measurement, focusing on vanity metrics (e.g., likes, shares) instead of metrics tied to business objectives (e.g., conversions, sales).
And simply, they are burned out, tired of running on the content-hamster-wheel-of-doom and unsure of what to do next.
But your content doesn’t have to be complicated. And it can be worth it.
The ALEPH podcast episode, “How To Set Content Marketing Goals That Matter To Business Leaders” summed it up well:
“Building a subscribed audience is the basis of content marketing. Subscribers give you permission to communicate with them regularly. And that gives you permission to subtly market to them while giving them value outside of your company’s products or services. The business asset created by content marketing isn’t content. It’s the audience.”
If any of the above sounds familiar, I’m here to guide you out of these challenges and show you how to simplify your content, starting with setting effective content goals that will elevate your content marketing efforts.
Here’s how to set your content goals, step by step:
1. Use the SMART Goals Approach
I love using SMART goals for everything from improving performance on an individual level to supporting a major new project. I know you’ve heard of this method, which focuses on five key areas for setting goals by prioritizing those that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and include a time deadline.
A SMART goal is:
Specific: It can be defined clearly and concisely, like increasing your email subscribers.
Measurable: It has clear numbers or outcomes that can be followed to determine effectiveness.
Achievable: It is realistic for you to accomplish.
Relevant: It will support the future of your business.
Time-bound: It has a timeline you can follow to determine performance.
When you use this approach to goal setting (for any goal!), it is much easier to know exactly what you hope to accomplish and whether or not your actions are working.
2. Choose Goals That Align With What You Want to Accomplish
There is no right or wrong goal for you to have as long as it follows the SMART principles. However, the best content goals will align with what you want to see from your business in the future (ie. more sales).
When you select goals that help you grow your business, it’s a lot easier to feel excited about your progress. This makes it much easier to stick with your strategies and will allow you to feel inspired to see them through.
Common Goals Include:
Increasing your monthly readers and visitors
Generating higher levels of interaction on your content
Achieving more shares on social media and through private mediums, like email
Growing your list of followers or subscribers
Increasing how many people download your freebies
Decreasing your bounce rate
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3. Make a Plan to Achieve Your Content Marketing Goals
After you decide what goal(s) you want to focus on, then you can figure out how to achieve them. (That’s why setting your content goal is the first step in my seven-step Magnetic Yet Minimal Content Launch Plan!) While organic performance can increase over time naturally, if you really want to achieve your goals, you will want to have a clear strategy to follow.
Your game plan is going to vary depending on what goal you set, obviously, but it should include a series of actionable steps to bring you closer to your goals. If you want more traffic, you might try posting more. If you want more people to download your freebies, you might try promoting them in new places. Choose an approach or several approaches to make your goal possible.
4. Measure Your Goals
In order to understand how you are trending toward your goals, it is always helpful to have a base understanding of your current content performance. Your initial assessment should focus on any metrics you find relevant, like web traffic or subscribers.
Then, knowing what you hope to accomplish and where you are starting from, it is time to start measuring your progress using KPIs (key performance indicators). Your KPIs are metrics that can determine the performance of your content marketing strategy, like more sales or more shares. As you continue to grow your marketing strategy, continuously check in—say, monthly—to see how you are trending toward your goals. Remember, your goal should have a specific timeline, so decide on smaller increments to measure your performance that works within that timeframe.
5. Be Practical About Your Goals and Needs
As you pursue your new goals, it’s tempting to expect overnight progress, but that isn’t realistic. Feel confident in the investment you are making for the longterm. Of course, if you really feel you are not on the right path, you can always go back to the drawing board and make a new game plan to try again.
Focus on what you hope to accomplish with each new strategy. Start with an open mind, and don’t be afraid to shake things up. You never know what works until you try!