Blog cover: Website Goals: the ultimate guide (with examples)

Summary: Smart website goals could mean the difference between a website that's a cost and one that is an investment. Learn the 4-step website goal-setting process.

Most business owners don't have a clue what their website goals are. Their website is just sitting there, doing nothing for their business.

In other words: the website is a cost rather than an investment.

You're probably not running your company without clear goals. So why should your website be any different?

Setting smart goals for your website could mean the difference between a website that's a cost and one that helps move your business forward.

So without any further ado, let's take a deep dive into website goals and work on turning your website into an investment.

We'll go over the 4-step website goal-setting process and examples of SMART goals you can use as inspiration.

The 4-step website goal-setting process

The website goal process consisting out of 4 phases
A visual representation of the 4-step website goal setting process.

As you can see in the visual (and likely read in the title), the website goal-setting process consists out of 4 steps and is circular. This means your work is never really done, but that's a good thing.

A great website should keep evolving with your business to perform at its peak performance. Success today is no guarantee for success tomorrow. Likewise, failure today might just as well be a success tomorrow.

By using this 4-step process, you'll implement what's working, continually refine what isn't, and carry on the cycle of continuous improvement.

Step 1. Plan — Plan out your website goals

The first step is simply planning out what goals you want to achieve.

1.1 Define general goals

Start by gathering information from everyone involved.

If you're a one-man company, ask yourself what you would like to achieve with the website. This might be:

  • Getting more qualified leads.
  • Increasing your newsletter subscriptions.
  • Creating more awareness around your new service.

If your company has employees and/or departments (marketing, sales, HR etc.), you'll need to interview all of the stakeholders to learn more about their needs and how the website might be able to help them.

Examples of this might be:

  • HR: showcasing open job opportunities.
  • Sales: connecting the website's contact form with the CRM for easy lead follow-up.
  • Marketing: a website that's easy to update with new content without technical knowledge.

After interviewing all stakeholders, write down a list of general website goals.

After this step... you should have a general list of general website goals.

1.2 Audit your starting point

Now that you have a list of general goals, it's time to take a look at the current performance of your website.

Why is that important? You can check if you:

  1. are already measuring your website's performance through some form of analytics tool (such as Google Analytics).
  2. have data to measure against (is it achievable and is it realistic?)

Take the list of general goals you created in the previous step. Next, take a look at your analytics and take note of all the datapoints you could use to measure your goal.

For example, if your general goal is to increase your sales, you could use the following metrics:

  • Average monthly sales
  • Revenue by traffic source
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • ...

If you're starting a new website or you don't have access to any data, you'll have to make an educated guess. You can always adjust later if your guess is way off.

After this step... you should have a clear view of the current metrics you want to improve upon and will use to measure your progress. If you don't have access to any metrics, make an educated guess on the improvement you want to achieve.

1.3 Refine your goals to be SMART

You now have a list of general goals and a clear understanding of your current situation. Next up: refining your goals.

Say you want your website to bring in more clients. So you state that the goal of your website is going to be just that. Then you wait for the clients to role in.

Unfortunately that's not how it works (I wish!).

Saying you want your website to bring in more clients is too vague. How many is 'more'? How will your website bring in those clients exactly? When will you start and stop measuring? Is it even realistic to bring in clients through your website in your specific sector? ...

You get the picture.

You need to rewrite the general goal into one that is specific to make sure you can actually achieve it.

How do you do just that? By making sure your goals follow the SMART criteria:

1. Specific (S)

Is your goal expressed in such a way that it is clear and specific enough?

Questions to ask:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How will you accomplish this?

Good example: we want to increase our contact form submissions by 20% by removing unnecessary fields.

2. Measurable (M)

Is your goal expressed in such a way that its progress can be measured?

Questions to ask:

  • What metric will you measure?
  • How will you measure your progress?

Good example: we will measure the amount of people who visit the thank you page that is shown after a form submission.

3. Assignable (A)

Is your goal expressed in such a way that it is clear who is responsible for achieving it?

Questions to ask:

  • Who will overview the progress of this goal?
  • Who will be held accountable for its success?

Good example: Mark from the Marketing department will be the lead on our project to increase contact form submissions.

4. Realistic (R)

Is your goal expressed in such a way that it can actually be achieved?

Questions to ask:

  • Is this goal realistic?
  • Do we have the neceessary resources to accomplish this goal?

Good example: we currently have budget set aside for a web developer to make changes to our contact form.

5. Time related (T)

Is your goal expressed in such a way that it has a clear deadline?

Questions to ask:

  • How long will it take to accomplisch this goal?
  • When is the completion of this goal due?

Good example: we'll measure our goal over a period of 6 months.

After this step... you should have rewritten your general goals from step 1.1 into specific goals that follow the SMART criteria.

Step 2. Do — Implement your website goals

Alright, enough of all that planning. It's time to implement tho.

If you've done step 1 correctly, you have a couple of smart website goals that are specific. This means they describe in detail what needs to be done to actually achieve those goals. This might be:

  • Implement a new feature on your website
  • Change an existing part of your website
  • Start a new content marketing campaign
  • Launch an advertisement
  • ...

Whatever it is, now is the time to make it happen.

After this step... you should have implemented the smart website goals you planned out in step 1.

Step 3. Check — Monitor the impact

You've implemented your smart website goal. Next up? Measuring whether or not you achieved it (makes sense, right?).

First, make sure your Analytics tool is set up correctly to measure all important metrics for your specific website goal.

Next, plan a fixed moment (weekly, two-weekly, monthly, quarterly, ...) to take a look at the metrics of your goal. By doing this periodically, you'll not only make it a habit, but you'll also be able to react quickly to possible errors in measuring, errors in the implementation of your website goal, etc.

There are three possible outcomes for your website goals: success, failure, and mixed:

Option 1: Success

You achieved your website goal. Congratulations!

Ask yourself:

  • What went great?
  • How can I replicate this?
  • How can I further improve this?

Document the answers to these questions thoroughly.

Option 2: Failure

As I said before, it's hard to get it right on your first try. It's therefore very likely that you didn't achieve your website goal. But don't fret, failure is an excellent opportunity to learn.

Ask yourself:

  • What went wrong?
  • Why did it go wrong?
  • How can I improve?

Document the answers to these questions thoroughly.

4.3 Mixed

The last option is that it didn't went great, but you can't call it an absolute failiure either. Your goal stagnated, dipped a little bit or grew only by a slight margin. Just as is the case with failiure, you should ask yourself:

  • What went wrong?
  • Why did it go wrong?
  • How can we improve?

Document the answers to these questions thoroughly.

After this step... you should have a clear understanding of how the implementation from step 2 impacted your goal.

Step 4. Adjust — Optimise your website goals

Final step: making adjustments based on what you learned in step 3.

The best way to adjust is to make small changes. Small changes have a number of benefits:

  • Fast and easy implementation
  • Easy to track their impact
  • Easy to roll back if needed

Say your goal was to get more contact form submissions by changing a couple of fields, but your goal failed. So you decide to adjust and implement a redesign of your contact page to achieve that goal. After implementing the redesign, your contact form submissions tank. Panic!

How can you tell what impacted your contact form submissions?

You can't. And that's exactly why you shouldn't implement large changes to reach your website goals.

So take a look at your results and the answers you've documented in step 3, and think about the most efficient, small-scale change possible to improve on those results.

Examples of smart website goals

By now you hopefully understand that smart goals are essential to the success of your website. To get you started on your own goal-setting, I've listed a couple of examples of smart goals below categorized by department.

1. Owner or CEO

Maximizing Return on Investment (ROI)

As an owner or CEO, you want your website to contribute to the bottom line of your business. The first step to increase the ROI is by creating smaller goals divided by department (sales, marketing, HR, ...). Then you can evaluate the overall impact of those smaller goals on the company as a whole.

In other words: all goals below are part of the bigger goal of maximizing return on investment.

2. Sales

Increasing sales

Increasing sales is probably one of the most common goals for any company that sells (digital) products or services online. Who doesn't want to sell more, right? Relevant metrics might be the amount of sales, number of cart abandonments, source of traffic or cost of aquisition.

Example: We want to achieve an increase in sales by 10% over the period of this quarter compared to last year by implementing an automatic abandonned cart email follow-up system.

Increase customer support satisfaction

Maybe your website has some form of online customer support? An example would be an online chat tool used to answer first-line questions of customers. In such a case, increasing customer support satisfaction can be something that can contributes to increased sales. Relevant metrics might be the response rate of the support team.

Example: And the end of the year, we want to achieve an increase in customer support satisfaction of 5% by reducing first the first response rate with 20%. We'll do this by educating our support team.

3. Marketing

Increasing qualified leads

This is probably one of the all-time classic goals for businesses that provide services. Relevant metrics can be the number of clicks on a specific button, pageviews on a success page after a form submission, or submissions received in your CRM.

Example: Increase the contact form submissions by 10% over the span of the next 6 months by implementing a content marketing strategy to drive more traffic to our services pages.

Increasing awareness

If nobody knows your company, you're out of luck. Increasing awareness is a great goal to make people aware of your business and/or your (new) offering. Relevant metrics can be the number of pageviews or unique website visitors.

Example: Increase the amount of unique pageviews on our service page by 10% compared to last year by running an advertising campaign on Google Ads.

4. HR

Increasing job applications

A website can be a great tool to centralize your job offerings and allow for easy sharing of those job offerings to social media and other relevant channels. Relevant metrics can be the number of applications, pageviews or website visitors.

Example: Increase the amount of job applications through our website by 20% compared to last year by running a LinkedIn advertisement campaign that leads people to the job listing on our webiste.

5. IT

Reducing maintenance cost

Maybe your website is filled with plugins and other technicalities that need attention every now and then? This can be a huge time-sink for your IT department. Relevant metric might be the amount of time spent on maintenance.

Example: We want to decrease time spent on maintenance of our website by 100% compared to last year by implementing an auto-update system.

Ready to start setting smart website goals?

Not setting smart goals for your website is a huge missed opportunity. It could be the difference between a website that's a cost, rather than an investment.

By following the simple 4-step process I explained in this article, you'll be able to continuously improve your website and make sure it actively helps move your business forward.

So then, what are you waiting for? Go set those smart website goals!

Maarten Van Herendael

Maarten Van Herendael

Maarten is Heave's founder. His passion is to help businesses like yours do great things with a website that looks better and sells more. You can find Maarten on LinkedIn.