S.M.A.R.T Marketing Goals

It should come as no surprise that goals are important for your business and marketing strategy. They drive you forward and act as the X on the proverbial map to the buried treasure of success. However, it’s never quite so easy to stick to that advice. Day to day operations shorten your vision, making it hard to keep goals in mind. If you’re not constantly engaging with your goals, then the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” applies — and your business suffers.

That’s why S.M.A.R.T. goals are so important. By breaking them down into specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely steps, you’re more likely to keep them in mind and put them on place when looking at your business processes. As a result, you make strides towards them and reap the rewards.



Relate it to directly something in particular that you want to achieve. A website goal could be specific in terms of visits or conversions. Try to be as small as possible for each goal, so they don’t get overwhelming. If you want to focus on both visits and conversions, write a separate goal for each.



Make sure it has a number. You can’t tell how well you’re reaching your goal if you don’t have a yardstick for what “reaching the goal” looks like. It also should tie into metrics you can gather on your site; if you’re not gathering metrics on your online properties, you have no way of knowing if you’re succeeding or not.



If your goal is more ambitious than the top 25% of companies can attain, or even more than your direct competition is doing, then you may never reach it. While there are some people who change the game and break all barriers, those are the anomalies. You’re better off starting realistic and working your way up to game breaking strategy.



It should relate to what you do. If your business goals are about sales, you want goals that measure how many sales you make. Social engagement is nice to know about, but unless social engagement ties directly into your sales funnel, a goal focusing on it is irrelevant. That being said, don’t ignore something that is genuinely relevant.



As the old saying goes, “a goal without a deadline is just a wish.” If you don’t set a time limit for when the goal should be reached, and don’t hold yourself to that deadline, then your goals will continue slipping out of reach.



Breaking down a goal along the S.M.A.R.T. checklist creates more manageable steps that you can actually achieve. If success is the buried treasure, S.M.A.R.T. goals are the instructions on how to get there.

7 Common Dangers of Social Media Illiteracy to Your Business

Most people can agree that social media is a large part of modern culture. So much so, that it can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that (aside from the very young, old, or the counterculture) most people know everything they need to about social media.

While most people use social media on a regular basis, you may be surprised to find out how many people are, in fact social media illiterate.

Social Media Illiterate (def.): Individuals who may or may not use social media often, but do not understand all of the important nuances and subtleties that can make the difference between appearing either intelligent and clever or, thoughtless and idiotic.

Here’s the terrifying reality: These people WORK IN YOUR COMPANY.

So, here are seven common dangers of social media illiteracy to look out for in your business.

Oops key on a keyboard

1) Most 20 year-olds aren’t the social media experts you think they are.

Be wary that most 20-somethings aren’t sufficiently well-equipped to build and safeguard brands. Conduct online research on your potential new employee before giving him or her this important title.

Even so-called social media specialists, whom you may have hired to helm your social media campaign, have been known to screw up on a very public scale due to negligence.

The importance of hiring someone who is fully social media literate cannot be over-emphasized.

2) Failing to realize that employees represent themselves AND you and your company.

Never underestimate the power of an employee to unwittingly take down your brand. This might seem utterly ridiculous, but humour me for a moment:

You know that a brand is a carefully curated perception based on what your company represents. It can take a good deal of time and effort to build it and should be safeguarded at all costs.

Both you and your employees (from the top executives to the most junior interns) need to be educated on the ins and outs of social media. Much of this can be accomplished by relaying researched best practices to employees but the remaining gaps should be filled by experts in inbound marketing who can teach the necessary skills and knowledge to avoid costly mistakes.

3) Failing to reread your tweet/post/blog before you publish it.

Once you write a post tailored to each of your buyer personas or target audiences, be sure to put yourself in their shoes and re-read your post. Consider how they would interpret it and how it would appeal to them or possibly turn them off.

The truth is that a bad social media post can spread like wildfire. Even if you manage to delete a terrible post once you realize your mistake, it may already be too late. Think of what a parent tells their kids (‘Look both way before you cross the street!’ – this is almost the modern equivalent). Once it’s posted to the Internet, it’s there.

The power of screenshots is significant. They take less than a second and allow a mistake of yours to become immortalized on any computer or smartphone without your consent, knowledge, or control. And unfortunately, the screenshot is here to stay.

If your followers are very influential in their social media circles and a lot of people begin sharing or retweeting your post-gone-wrong – you or your employee can single-handedly, potentially irreparably, damage your brand.

4) This goes for spelling, too. STAHP MSPLLING THIINGS. DONT UZED POUR GRAMRR.

No matter who you are or what you represent, it simply does not reflect well. That is not to say you can’t use everyday, casual language (if it fits the context and the brand). Whether you like it or not, you WILL be judged, so be aware.

Of course, sometimes mistakes happen. Having someone on your side who is social media literate will minimize such accidents, and will ensure they are quickly and thoroughly cleaned up if they do arise.

5) Failing to apologize when you make a mistake (and to fully recognize and publicly acknowledge it when you have).

When making a post that you notice begins to garner negative feedback, here is exactly what not to do:

• Delete negative comments

• Ban loyal fans from your company’s social media pages, accounts, and online groups

• Tell those with negative feedback be quiet or leave

• Ignore desperate appeals from broken-hearted, loyal customers

Don’t be one of those companies who continues to dig themselves deeper and deeper. Be sure to admit your mistake as soon as you realize it. Ignore this warning at your peril.

This brings me to my next point.

6) Failing to listen to good advice and forgetting to stay humble.

Continue to research and listen: read blogs on the subject (clearly, you’re off to a good start), discuss grey-area topics with other industry professionals, subscribe to blogs, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn groups with people who know more than you about social media.

Never forget to stay humble, we can all learn more and improve, and we never know when or where that education may come from. Pride too often creates crucial blind spots that can hurt your company’s edge, perceived intelligence and adaptability.

7) Failing to have an active presence on social media (A.K.A. giving your competition a leg up).

This is one of the biggest mistakes your company can make. Your competitors are getting an edge on you by *deep breath in* gathering intelligence on the industry and their customers; making important connections with other industry leaders, customers, and prospects; reading and analysing the market at large; establishing a presence to simply say “we’re here, we’re current, we matter”; giving customers that extra level of value-added service to make them feel that they matter; and generating leads and new business for their company – *PHEW*. There’s a lot you’d be missing out on without a good, consistent social media presence.

That’s the power of social media literacy.

Hiring an Inbound Marketer? Here Are 3 Important Things to Consider

It can be tough to find the perfect person for a job. When it comes to inbound marketing, the process is even tougher. Our industry is so new, fluid, and fast-paced that many are scrambling to keep up – let alone establish concrete hiring practices. Consequently, it’s no surprise that few agencies have a go-to strategy when it comes to seeking out and nailing down a killer inbound marketing consultant.

Overhead view of businessman and businesswoman shaking hands
credit: getty images/ Tom Merton

I’ve talked to a few company managers who have completely stopped checking resumes or cover letters; possibly based on their limited time to do so, possibly because they’re basing their hiring practises on portfolio work. LinkedIn also provides some good insight when surveying candidates for some positions – but at times can be misleading, especially when we’re hiring for something like inbound marketing.

If you’re looking to hire any type of marketer, you have to face the reality: marketing has changed. Rather than staying specialized in one specific area, a successful inbound marketer today needs to wear multiple hats and acquire various skills. This isn’t due to any one change in particular, like technology. Yes, that has contributed, however the primary reason is the changing face of consumers.

HubSpot indicates that agencies must be holistic in their hiring approaches. Keep in mind, although you might not feel entirely confident seeking out the perfect employee, the employee getting interviewed is just as unsure as to what you might be looking for. The fresh, consumer-centric mentality is new both for seasoned marketers and young inbound strategists who might be new to the game.


There are an increasing number of things to take into consideration when hiring an inbound marketing consultant or strategist for your business, but here are three that you simply can’t afford to overlook as compiled by Matt Sullivan at HubSpot:

1.    Define your business goals and let the candidate explain how his/her techniques will get you there. Be specific (e.g. 6X as many leads in 6 months, 10% increase of revenue from Internet leads, etc.). Without a good definition of success, it will be difficult for you to hold your consultants or employees to your standards. Because you have the destination picked, a good expert will be able to put together a roadmap for you.

2.    Ask to see behind the curtain. If a candidate won’t allow you or your staff to participate in any of their inbound marketing efforts, you need to be suspicious. The worst thing that can happen to you is that your expert is using black-hat techniques to artificially accelerate the results. The long-term side-effect can be devastating to your efforts. Your expert should also be giving you an education. Moreover, you should set up a weekly or semi-weekly agenda of meetings with this candidate to survey their progress; keep the lines of communication open.

3.    Get references and case studies. This is your opportunity to find out what they’ve done in the past. Even if the candidate is your cousin or neighbor’s son and has no previous experience, you need to make sure that your resource has legs to stand-on. Don’t simply rely on their pretty website or number of Twitter followers. That said, what you can do (if your schedule permits) is do a quick survey of their personality online. Are they quick to respond to issues with their following?

The hiring process isn’t easy for any job, particularly for inbound marketing where the field is so new and few marketers even fully grasp the methodology. That said, hiring an inbound marketing consultant is not a waste of money, it’s an investment. Considering the number of daily tasks and challenges, possible mistakes in every campaign, and the pace of this industry, you don’t have much of a choice. Just be sure to approach the process with attention to detail.

How Will Canada’s Anti Spam Law Affect Your Business?

Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) arrives on July 1, 2014. Described as Canada’s law on spam and other electronic threats, we Canucks finally get our version of the United States CAN-SPAM legislation. While CAN-SPAM covers e-mail only, Canada’s law steps further by covering a broader range of activities including e-mail, instant messages, text messages and some messages sent through social media. CASL defines this collective group as commercial electronic messages. CASL may be the most vigorous legislation of its kind anywhere in the world.

Business concept male finger pointing delete key on a metallic keyboard
credit: Creative RF/ daoleduc

Marketers are familiar with the US CAN-SPAM legislation with its “opt-out” regime where a business may send commercial e-mail until the recipient revokes consent by clicking an unsubscribe link at the footer of the email. Introduced in 2003, the US bill permits e-mail marketers to send unsolicited e-mail as long as it adheres to defined unsubscribe, content and sending practices. Full disclosure of the senders identity and contact info must be included in the email.

The teeth of the CASL lie in its focus on consent (“opt in”) to receive commercial electronic messages as opposed to the softer, more passive “opt out” of US regulations. In other words, the CASL requires that users explicitly indicate that they wish to receive any messages. As of July 1, 2014, marketers must receive the recipient’s consent, either express or implied, for all commercial electronic messages sent in and out of Canada.

What is consent in this context?

• Anyone who receives a commercial electronic message from you must have given you his or her permission (consent) to do so ahead of time

• There are two types of consent:

– Express, meaning someone actively gave you permission to send him or her a commercial electronic message

– Implied, meaning it would be reasonable to conclude you have someone’s permission to send them a message based on a prior business relationship

Express consent is straightforward in its requirement of the recipient specifically agreeing to receive commercial electronic messages indefinitely until revoked by the recipient. Express (opt-in) consent must be identified; the recipient should have a clear understanding of what they are opting in for. An example would be signing up for a newsletter or blog subscription on a website. Businesses collect email addresses through sign ups and express consent is established through this process. Canadian lawmakers will be happy; the recipient knows, understands and agrees to the communications they will receive from the sender.

Implied consent applies to most day-to-day B2B communications. In this scenario, if a business relationship already exists with the person to whom the email is sent, implied consent is established.

Implied consent, unlike express consent, is not indefinite. Implied consent only permits sending commercial electronic messages for two years following the last business situation that created an applicable relationship, such as a purchase. As such, it will be critical to develop a means to track the currency of all relationships upon which any implied consent is based.

Implied consent also applies if the recipient’s electronic address is “conspicuously published”. For example, placing an email address on a website would establish implied consent for any party to communicate with that address. Implied consent also applies if the recipient has disclosed their electronic address directly to the sender, and has not expressly stated that they do not wish to receive unsolicited messages.

CASL goes much deeper than this brief discussion, covering many areas from activities for harvesting email addresses to computer application installations. It is comprehensive in scope and depth. Most plain speak discussion of CASL is published online by law firms, which indicates the devil is in the details and is best interpreted by those that speak legalese.

For our purposes, we believe the takeaway is paying close attention to best email campaign practices to ensure you are compliant. If you are not involved in the practice of spamming your fellow Canadians with irritating business solicitation with no base of an existing relationship you should have nothing to worry about. If you are not buying email lists and maintaining good list management you should have no problem.

This law targets mass market email advertising, largely unsolicited and undesired by all Canadian businesses. These are the advertising bad guys, the dark side of online marketing. For those who still send unsolicited e-mail messages using questionable email lists, your days will be numbered. No doubt, they deserve their just deserts.

March 27 update: this law applies not only to any commercial messages sent in Canada but also any commercial messages RECEIVED in Canada. The fines are $10 million for corporate violators. Other G20 member countries are touted as participating in enforcement, so the impact will be international. This week the story was picked by the Globe & Mail and the Financial Post.

Why are C-suites Afraid to Update their Marketing Strategy?

Most C-suite executives are familiar with the terms Online Presence/Brand, Search Engine Optimization/Marketing (SEO or SEM), and Content Marketing. They may not be intimate with the specific tactics employed under these headings, but they have no doubt read of their importance and want them included in the corporate marketing strategy. However, once the executives learn more about the lengthy process and gradual build on return, they sometimes shy away.

That’s because many company executives are like shareholders of public companies, they’re thirsty for quick gain. They expect ROI (totally understandable) and they want it now (not so much). I understand their concern. They are the ones who have to authorize the marketing budget, and they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the corporation’s financial health. What they fail to realize is that the business—consumer dynamic has changed and that sacrificing the long game for a short gain can be fatal.Short-term promotions with the goal of producing immediate sales remain an integral part of a comprehensive campaign, but consumers have greater expectations now. They want much more information: background about products, services and the people delivering them. Buyers expect a range of anecdotal information as well, so a Google search is a prerequisite to any significant purchase. What type of people work for your company, are there shared values or common interests? What are others saying about your company and what it offers? The buying/selling process has always been built on relationships; people tend to buy from people they like or have some affinity with. The difference now is that virtual relationship can form without your knowledge, so it is imperative that organizations have all the “touch points” and messaging necessary to quickly establish a friendly, open and positive relationship.

This represents a fundamental shift in marketing strategy. Relationships have always been a cornerstone, but it used to be the corporations determining how that relationship developed by spoon-feeding a specific formula to the market. The Internet has not only provided new tools and accessibility — it has truly emancipated the consumer. Today any consumer with an Internet connection can research, query, comment, opine, refer, start a dialogue… each consumer has a discernible voice as part of the buying collective. And corporations are expected to hear that voice and respond, they are expected to be involved in the digital conversation.

Corporate mission and vision statements alone no longer cut it. Your audience doesn’t want to listen to a monologue, nor are they interested in corporate-speak. They want the same thing you expect from your friends: honesty, reliability, accessibility, information — essentially you should be there when they need them and ready to say the fight thing at the right time. Using SEO with a comprehensive content marketing strategy will establish an online presence to offer that kind of virtual support. It is a very effective means of reaching out to potential clients, and being receptive to those who reach out to you; and has become a requirement for building sustainable growth. Rather than a quick fix, this is an ongoing strategy that takes several months to ramp up, but rewards you with long-term and ongoing results.

The whole point to investing in marketing is to attain growth: stronger brand, greater market share, higher sales, larger profit. Executives naturally favour limited risk with quick return and those who haven’t realized the marketing dynamic shift may not appreciate the need to satisfy the public’s demand for engagement. Sustainable growth requires a foundation. That foundation is built on relationships which should now include an active (and continuously evolving) network of communication points.