If you’re a marketer or small business owner, one of the most important things you can do is set goals for your inbound marketing efforts. Without clear and measurable objectives though, it can be difficult to know if you’ve achieved success with your strategy, or if your efforts are paying off the way you’d like them to. It’s like stumbling around in the dark looking for a light switch or trying to find buried treasure without a map.

The problem many teams run into when setting their goals is that they are often vague and unrealistic. They might say they want “more leads” but they don’t have any idea about how to achieve this goal. These kinds of goals are hard to track and even harder to use to determine which marketing efforts are working and which ones aren’t.

If you find yourself struggling with this same issue, here is my simple process for using your organization’s own data to establish your goals and prioritize your inbound marketing activities.

Figure Out Your Website’s Baseline Numbers

What kind of traffic is your website bringing in? Where are your visitors coming from? And how many of these visitors become customers?

If you don’t know your average visit-to-customer rate, then it’s time to start tracking your site’s traffic. An easy way to do this is to create a spreadsheet and examine the historical data for your site. At the bare minimum, you should track your site’s monthly web traffic, new leads, and new customers. Other metrics to consider tracking are factors like your site’s organic search traffic, your referral traffic, and traffic from other sources like email marketing and social media.

Over time, you’ll start to see some trends that correlate to your marketing efforts, and you’ll begin to gain a much clearer picture of your average visit-to-lead conversion and lead-to-customer conversion rates.

Recently, I worked with a client to figure out just these numbers for their brand. Even though this organization uses HubSpot for marketing, the team wasn’t paying attention to how well their site was doing, and we had to start from scratch to build their goals.

My suggestion for you? Don’t wait; start now.

Use Your “More Leads” Statement as an Objective, Not a Goal

“More leads” isn’t just about getting more contacts. When we talk about more leads, we really mean more customers, and what company doesn’t want more customers?

Once you have an idea of your current conversion rate, you can apply this figure to your business’s financial goals. For example, if your business has a goal of doubling your total sales for the year, then you can either:

  1. Double your site’s conversion rate, which is hard to do!
  2. Or, you can double the number of website visitors, which is much easier to do.

The key here is that you have to start somewhere. You can have a more predictable outcome for your objective once you have a deeper understanding of where you’ve come from.

When you use and track this existing data, your objectives become more specific—and more attainable. The generic, ineffective goal of trying to get “more leads” becomes something more achievable: Doubling the amount of traffic to the website, a far more targeted and measurable goal.

Use Your Goal to Determine Your Activities

Using this example, everything you do should be aimed at achieving your new data-driven goal. Whether your goal is making better use of your email lists and existing leads to drive traffic to your site, writing strong content to rank higher in Google search results, or being more present and building stronger connections via conversations on social media, all of your work should be centered around obtaining your goal.

You probably already have some idea about the tasks you need to do to improve your website traffic, but by following the data, now you can start tracking the efficacy of those activities instead of merely hoping they have some impact.

Look at historical data for your email sends and see how much of a traffic bump your site gets after you send an email. Or perhaps compare how well different blog posts do and let this information guide future articles. The most important thing? It’s time to take a look at what you’re already doing to see what’s working.

By the way, I’ve just updated my guide to inbound marketing, you can get a copy here.