How to embrace SMART goals to maximize your eCommerce conversion rates

Editorial Team

6 min read
Person pointing at shirt image on eCommerce site

eCommerce merchants are constantly trying to improve conversion rates, with most vendors using a combination of advertising, marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and promotions to achieve this objective. While making these investments can produce tangible results, it’s hard to measure the efficacy of any single strategy unless you align them with SMART goals.

The article below explains what SMART goals are. It also details how you can use this goal-setting framework to help improve eCommerce conversion rates or achieve any other business or personal objective.

What are SMART goals?

Developed by consultant George Doran and popularized by famed management guru Peter Drucker, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

You need all five components working together for a goal to become truly SMART.

1. Specific goals

A goal must be specific to provide momentum in the right direction. Without specificity, you might end up committing resources and time to things that don’t help you achieve much larger goals. For example, wanting to make more sales is an extremely broad goal – especially if you carry a lot of inventory. Wanting to increase sales of a specific product or service allows you to concentrate on a more focused outcome.

If you struggle to come up with a particular goal, try asking yourself questions such as:

  • What is a specific outcome that would benefit my business?
  • How exactly would this outcome help my business?
  • What resources do I have (e.g., time, money, and people)?

2. Measurable goals

Wanting to increase conversions is aspirational. Yet without some quantifiable metric to measure progress, it’s impossible to know whether you’re succeeding or failing at that goal.

For example, maybe you determine that improving customer service could lead to increased sales online. You might reformulate your broader goal of increasing web conversions as:

  • Reducing average call center wait times by 50%
  • Increasing the number of people who respond to surveys by 10%
  • Improving average customer satisfaction scores by half a star

These are all just examples. Using data points allows you to create milestones against which to benchmark your progress over time.

3. Attainable goals

A SMART goal must be attainable, meaning it’s within the realm of possibilities given constraints such as money, ability, and life circumstances. Becoming a millionaire over the next year could happen, for example, but it’s very unlikely. By contrast, increasing web traffic by 1% every day over the next 12 months is technically doable.

Here, the focus should be on avoiding unrealistic goals that can inevitably lead to defeat. Not only is this demotivating, but it also ends up wasting valuable time and money if you’re chasing unattainable objectives.

When choosing low-hanging fruit, however, you can rack up easy wins that propel you to much larger goals. This is especially true when choosing objectives over which you have more control.

Achieving the No. 1 search engine spot for a given keyword, for example, isn’t something you can influence directly. Writing a series of 1,000-word articles around that keyword is something you can start doing right away. This momentum will help inch you closer and closer to the much harder goal of ranking well in the search engines.

4. Relevant goals

To truly motivate you, a goal must be relevant to your long-term objectives in life or business. This is why it’s important to ask why a goal is important to you when choosing something specific (from step one).

For example, if your newsletter only draws a tiny sliver of online sales, trying to double your current readership probably won’t help much. Instead, commit to alternative goals such as:

  • Boosting conversions among the newsletter subscribers you already have – perhaps with better images, tighter copy, or by changing your email outreach frequency
  • Increasing the amount of traffic that higher-converting sales channels currently enjoy (e.g., social media or paid advertising)

5. Time-bound goals

If football games didn’t use clocks, there would be no way to determine who wins and loses. Both sides would simply keep trying to outscore the other.

The same is true when setting eCommerce goals.

Having a well-defined end date allows you to measure how successful your conversion-boosting strategies are. Anyone can increase web conversions by 10% if they have an infinite amount of time. Increasing conversions by 10% before the holidays creates a sense of urgency. This forces you to allocate resources more efficiently.

Setting SMART goals to improve eCommerce conversions

Imagine your SMART goal is to increase online conversions of a certain product by 5% over the next 30 days – using a budget of $1,000. To achieve this goal, you might try any number of conversion-boosting tactics. For example, a common approach is to use A/B testing to improve conversions for a specific product or product line. With our current SMART goal, you might:

  • Make identical copies of your best-performing sales page for the product.
  • Tweak those copies with different messages, images, and layouts.
  • Every day, send $33 of ad traffic to all competing landing pages.
  • After several days, make the highest converter your new official sales page.

Rinse and repeat as you continue incorporating the best-performing elements, graphics, and messaging into a vastly improved sales page. If you’re spending about $33 a day on average, you can keep these iterative improvements going on for a month. Hopefully, you’ll achieve that 5% conversion boost.

The SMART concept is a proven formula for helping to achieve desirable outcomes, but it’s not a surefire recipe for success. For example, your budget might be too small. Your timeframe could be unrealistic. Or, perhaps there are seasonal factors or consumer preferences that simply make your product less appealing to the average user.

While it’s tempting to view this as a flaw in the SMART framework design, it often just means you need to make your goal more specific or attainable. In other words, your goal simply might not be SMART enough and you may have to make some adjustments.

In addition, the general trajectory often matters more than the goal itself. Imagine that you achieved 4% conversion growth over your month-long sprint (instead of your original target of 5%). Technically speaking, you didn’t achieve your SMART goal. However, you’re clearly moving in the right direction. Perhaps with a few more changes (or a little more time) you could easily surpass 5% growth.

Remember that A/B testing individual sales pages is just one of many approaches. What if you had taken your $1,000 budget and divided it across other conversion-boosting tactics? Consider the following:

  • Collecting customer feedback from those who have purchased the product in the past
  • Hiring copywriters and graphic designers to help you design better sales pages
  • Investing in faster hosting to improve download speeds for customers

If you’re like most eCommerce merchants, you’re likely spending money on some or all of these components. The beauty of having SMART goals is that these investments can yield actionable insights and measurable results since you’re now tracking progress with clearly defined objectives.

To learn more about how Clover can help you with your eCommerce goals and objectives, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.

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