Setting goals for your digital marketing

Set the right goals for digital marketing using the 5Ss

Do your set of goals for online marketing cover all the bases? A good set of digital marketing goals covers a range of different measures to help set, review and control performance across all digital marketing activities.

The 5Ss of digital marketing is a good, simple starting point to help check you're covering the whole of digital marketing, not just sales!

PR Smith, my co-author on Emarketing Excellence developed the 5Ss of digital marketing around 2000, and although basic, it's still used by many planning their digital marketing strategy. So I thought I'd share it here by showing how it applies today to, a dynamic online business. To measure the goals suggested, see my post on goal setup in Google Analytics.

1. Sell - Grow sales

Start with your most important transactions that lead to revenue and profit! That's sales, or if you don't sell online, the leads that your online marketing will deliver which will convert through to sales or donations if you're a not-for-profit.

Notice how ASOS aim to increase sales through boosting trust in the online purchase process and offering free delivery.

Tip. Use a conversion models helps set quantitative targets to hit. Use this Excel digital marketing budgeting spreadsheet we have developed to help set the right goals.

2. Speak - Get closer to customers though dialogue and participation

Digital channels are not only great sales channels, they excel as communications channels to engage your audience through the 6 main digital marketing tools.We recommend creating detailed conversion or budget models which allow you to set goals by channel for reaching and influencing your audience.

Since digital channels work best when joined with other channels, the goals here should also include online visits prompted by traditional offline media.

Although is a pureplay, it's customer magazine is important in building the brand and influencing sales.

3. Serve - Add value

The company website and social customer service are a natural place for customers to go to get their questions answers or to complain... Paying attention to the quality of service you offer is also key to support your capability to Sell, Speak, Save and Sizzle.

So you need customer satisfaction goals to assess how you good you are at customer service and then improve it further.

ASOS have invested in a choice of customer service channels as this example shows.

4. Save - Save costs

Less glamorous than the sizzle of building your brand and social media engagement, but you should show the value you gain through using online cost savings to reduce service costs and save on traditional media like print and post.

This is most relevant for a multichannel retailer or service company who can set goals for number of catalogues downloaded or number of service transactions compared to other channels.

If you're fighting for budget for online channels, the savings you can demonstrate to your finance director or budget holder will improve help your cause.

5. Sizzle - Extending your brand online

Putting the Sizzle into your digital marketing will really help your sales and speak goals, but it's not to easy to set goals for and then to track. So what is the "Sizzle in your Sausage"?

Sizzle is about building your brand online. Think about what makes for a positive online brand experience is for your audience and you.

If the experience you create is effective, the benefits of engaging with your digital presence will be clear; the interactions within the site and with other channels will be smooth and the visitor will want to use your online services again, and tell their friends and colleagues about it.

So key sizzle goals are levels of satisfaction and recommendations or advocacy. ASOS have invested heavily in community platforms and social media to deliver the sizzle!

See our ideas on these tools for getting website feedback:

Source of 5S image: Multimedia Marketing. The 5Ss are introduced in Emarketing Excellence.

Share your thoughts

  • vkaaryacom commented on January 4, 2016

    Also have a look at this blog I have written on setting up and achieving online marketing Goals, well with a different kind of point of view and approach.

  • Maurice Chike Ugwonoh commented on November 9, 2013

    Hello Dave.

    I enjoyed the article above about using the 5S. I bumped into a video of PR Smith explaining it as a component of the SOSTAC framework on Youtube sometime ago. I’m glad that you have explained it a whole lot more in detail and it’s clear how one can apply it to goal setting.

    Your book, E-Excellence (3rd & 4th Edition) are also great reads and reference materials.

    One favor though, I have been searching for the benefits of a Digital Marketing Planning process for a while. Could you please help itemize a few and possible suggestion on how improve your suggested benefits regarless of the organization.

    Thanks Dave.

  • David Hall commented on December 3, 2010

    Hi Dave,

    Do like how this model has evolved. I still tend to think though Speak as defined does not quite cover all social communication bases. Whilst admittedly Serve successfully covers direct customer to client contact, I would argue that the gap Speak and Serve combined doesn’t straddle, and which is becoming increasingly key in finding both the next profitable segment and reputation management, is that of the macro feedback loop and more importantly webwide listening.

    Socialise connotes the idea of 2 way listening and the process of reaching out to engage, convey and convince the non vocal majority who still make decisions without further interaction with the company. Speak is one way communication. Socialise would also encourage the company to elicit preference information from broader targets and to work to nudge comments from the reticient within both the key buyer groups and the broader community of potential customers. It also enshrines a key behaviour, the need to monitor and evaluate all information flows and with intense scrutiny help them to inform both strategic and tactical business decisions.

    Perhaps Synergy was a bridge too far! And not that SMART!!

  • I came across the 5S’s last year, as outlined in eMarketing eXcellence and have continually used them within eMarketing Plans. They are really effective and the book is a great read for all marketing managers.

    • That’s good to hear you’ve been able to apply them in the real-world as well as the studying world – I try to make everything applicable to live projects.

      Thanks for your comments on the book Carol!

  • Thank you David, yes “Socialise” should include reputation management but I think it’s covered under “Speak”!

    Joining Up the digital channels and integrating with offline is a success factor too, but not sure how you would put SMART goals on that one. Still it should definitely be part of the vision for an organisation so it’s good to mention it.

  • David Hall commented on December 1, 2010

    Neat piece Dave. Marketing 4P’s Extends to 7P’s for services so there is synergy in taking your “5S’s to 7 or 8 as digital is all about the 1:1 value chain (you heard it here first!) and service.

    Share, Socialise, Synergise are all contenders. Share is a stunner as it can incorporate Affliate Marketing etc and Socialise as it handles the reputation management end of the interaction and helps smoothing of monetarisation process. Synergise is the cream on top as it focuses the attention on making sure all elements are harmonised and work together in tandem.

  • Matthew Oxley commented on November 30, 2010

    Interesting article Dave, and it certainly makes a change from the P’s , although since we’re talking ‘S’ , may I suggest share (or rather encouraging your users to do so) , as an addition?

    • I like it Matthew! That updates the 5Ss for 2011!

      In the book we do say that “Speak” is about dialogue, participation and encouraging sharing, but since many maybe see Speak = Shout and not listening your suggestion is a great one. Advocacy does deserve it’s own “S”. Or maybe it should be “Socialise!”.

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