Create an Achievable Goal & Plan Your Marketing Strategy in 1 day

Written by Sarah on 5th December 2016

After a pretty rollercoaster of a year, it’s time to start putting the ups and downs behind us and start looking ahead to 2017.  It’s usually around this time that many of us start to think about what we’re hoping to achieve by this time next year.

But just thinking about it isn’t going to achieve anything. Sure you might have it all in your head about what your goal is and how you’re gonna achieve it, but are you going to be able to remember that come June?

Plus, just thinking about it isn’t backed up with actual facts about your business. Just taking a half a day to actually look through your business data will help you to create more informed and achievable goals.

Sometimes, planning for the year ahead can feel like it takes up way too much of your time, but it doesn’t have to.

With this 3 step process, you can allocate just one day and get to grips with what 2017 has in store.

Step 1: Review your data – 1 hour

You can’t make any valid decisions without reviewing how you’re currently performing, so this step is all about looking back at your data and seeing how 2016 went for your business.

Now for me, this is my favourite part of any strategy creation. Getting lost in the data, trying to figure out why and how events happened; it’s all part of the fun for me.

But not everyone is like that, so here are the key pieces of data you need to look at for your ecommerce business.

Sales are the lifeblood of any ecommerce business, so the first thing we’re going to do is look at how we did sales-wise.

For this you can either head to your ecommerce platform or use Google Analytics. In this post we’ll be using Google Analytics.

What we want to know is whether our sales are up or down compared to the previous year and identify if seasonal changes continued as before.

Make sure you look at the general trend of sales over the year, this will help you to identify any low sales points throughout the year that you could work to improve next year.

We’ll therefore head to the Ecommerce Report, and view all of the data from the last year and comparing it to the previous year.

Marketing Plan for 2017 - Data Analysis

You can see in this example that overall, we’re up on revenue! We had a peak in May, but then a drop on the previous year in June.

Luckily for us though, we’ve been keeping on top of what’s been happening each month, as you can see with our annotations, and it actually looks like there was a problem with our tracking code around that time.

Note: I can’t stress how important it is to use the annotations tool. Whether it’s a new sales campaign, some A/B testing you ran, or a technical issue you found and fixed; make sure you put it all on there.

Looking at some other trends throughout the year, we can see that we haven’t done too well throughout the summer (tracking issues aside), perhaps we need to look at a campaign that can generate more interest during that period.

Next, we want to know where those sales came from, so we’ll segment them down by channel.

Before you begin looking into this, you’ll need to know the dates of any campaigns that you ran (you should already have them in your annotations) and the cost per acquisition of each of these channels. This will then help us to identify what worked and what didn’t.

We’ll head to the Acquisition > Channel report once we’re done looking at the overview, we can drill deeper down with the Source / Medium report.

For the channels that worked, see if you can identify why they worked. What we mean by worked are the channels that drove profitable sales.

So was it a good offer? Did you target a new audience that responded well to your product?

Looking at our data, Referrals worked really well for this business this year, growing revenue by a huge 686% on the previous year.

By drilling down into which referrals worked for us, we can plan how we can find out why they worked, and plan how we can capitalize on this next year.

Email was also a channel that worked really well, and again, we can then dig deeper into which campaigns drove the most revenue and replicate them in 2017.

For the channels that didn’t work, we need to identify why they didn’t work. Are your target customers not active on that channel for example? Did it bring in customers but cost too much?

For this business, revenue from Organic traffic dropped by 24% and revenue for paid traffic dropped by 27%, so it looks like we’ll have to review our search strategy in 2017.

I’d also be looking at lowering the costs of that paid strategy. Our CPA was around 47% of the revenue that we generated, which is too high for us to be profitable.

So we’ve looked at revenue, but I’d also be looking at conversion rates too. For many of our channels, the conversion rate had dropped on the previous year, it’s just that the average order value had increased to push revenue up.

By using this information about what did and didn’t work, you can figure out 1) how to replicate this year’s successful campaigns and 2) how to improve the campaigns that didn’t work so well.

If you’re not into digging right through your data, that’s all you need to do it. It involves 3 metrics (revenue, CPA, and conversion rate) and a bit of segmentation.

Of course if you do dig deeper, you might find a little bit more data (perhaps looking at the assisted conversions suggested that PPC, while having a poor CPA, actually drives brand awareness), but with just an hour of digging, you should have a good enough basis to plan for the next year.

Step 2: Create Achievable Goals – 30 minutes

Now that you have that data, it’s time to create your goal.

You’ll have noticed that the heading for this section actually says achievable goals and there’s a reason for that.

Anybody can create a goal by simply plucking a number out of the air. “Let’s increase our revenue to $1,000,000/year!” you might decide. But do you know if that’s actually achievable?

There’s no doubt that you could, many a company have achieved greater feats in that space of time (and I really hope you do too!), but at the same time there’s nothing worse than month after month, not hitting your target because you got too ambitious. In fact it can be downright demotivational.

So how do we make our goals achievable?

This method was heavily inspired by Noah Kagan’s approach to Quant Based Marketing and I go into much more detail about that here, but here’s the simple version.

Let’s go back to our previous example, you want to your business to be making $1 million a year.

Let’s also say that currently your business is making an average of $1,000/month.

In order to hit that $1 million target by next year we’d need to grow our sales month on month by 78%.

We worked that out using this formula:


Ta = Target Revenue

C = Current Revenue

TF = Time Frame

This is where we can start to identify whether it’s actually achievable.

For some businesses a month on month growth of 78% might seem totally feasible; you already have the processes ready to scale that quickly and the strategies that you know will get you that growth.

But for others that might seem a little too ambitious. This is when we can start to play around with that formula to identify what you think is possible and what isn’t.

All you need to do is play around with the target revenue & time frame until you get to a goal that you feel is ambitious but still achievable for you and your team.

Even better, we’ve created a Google Spreadsheet with all the formulas set up for you. All you need to do is add in your current revenue, target and time frame. Get access below. (Don’t forget to make your own copy!)

This method can be used with any KPI too, whether it’s conversion rate, traffic or CPA.

Step 3: How you’ll achieve it – 6.5 hours

So you’ve got your goal, and you know how you’ve done in the past year, now it’s time to put it all together into an actionable plan.

6.5 hours might sound like a long time, but really it’s just the rest of your working day. It’s important to spend the right amount of time so that you come up with a plan that is actionable and makes sense for your business.

Personally, I always find that I’m more likely to stick to a plan if I’ve already got everything planned out on a very granular level.

With your overall goal confirmed, the next steps are to actually break down month on month how each channel needs to grow and the strategies I need to employ.

Look at how your channels currently contribute to your sales, for example referral traffic currently drives 44.5% of our revenue so we’d like to expect that this trend would continue. So in the first 3 months this is how we’d expect each channel to grow in order to hit targets.

Of course these monthly figures aren’t set in stone, and growth isn’t always likely to be linear, so feel free to tweak the growth based on the fluctuations you’ve noticed in your initial analysis.

We might decide to decrease growth in the summer, but increase it in the lead up to Christmas and Black Friday.

With each channel now having it’s own goals set, you can then decide which strategies you’ll employ to achieve them.

It’s also important at this stage to get your team involved. They’ll be dealing with areas of your business that you might not have close contact with, and they’ll be better positioned to recommend tactics that they know work.

One thing to bear in mind is that it can often be difficult to plan campaigns 12 months in advance, a lot can change in 12 months! However, having a loose outline of the campaign or strategy you intend to employ written into the plan will help when you come closer to the time.

And that’s it! After one day of analysis and planning, both you and the rest of your team should now have a clear plan of what you’ll be working on next year.

To finish here’s some of the things that I believe are essential to any solid plan:

  • Achievable Goals
    – Broken down into goals for specific channels and campaigns
  • An outline of the strategies you intend to employ including:
    – Individual goals
    – Who is responsible for the task
  • Key events to be aware of throughout the year that may influence or impact any strategies
  • A way to track your progress
  • The document is easy to share with the whole team

Don’t forget, you can download our spreadsheet template to make planning 2017 even easier.

Good luck, and see you in the new year!