It’s very healthy to be ambitious. But it often seems that the only way to get there is the fastest, with big steps in a small amount of time. However, practice often shows that great expectations lead to great disappointments. Why is that and what can you do to make it work?


Fit in 2 weeks


Why do we often expect so much from digital transformations and online marketing results? Is it because our timelines are filled with quick success stories? Because the latest tools promise the world? Or because we prefer to bend with every wind? Compare online success with getting fit. There is no formula to permanently lose 10 kilos in 2 weeks and proudly show your six-pack to the world. Change is not easy and fast. It starts with a clear goal and that first step on the treadmill. And persistence.


Small steps, big results


Many marketers are radically changing their course in order to grow. With the thought that everything will get better if you activate new channels, hire new copywriters, use new tooling for your marketing automation or even team up with a whole new agency that gives you the highest expectations. But if you do, you won’t find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t throw your strategy overboard if it doesn’t pay off, but take a moment to find out how you can improve it step by step instead of all at once. That sounds less exciting than big jumps, but it is easier to take many small steps than one very large. Small improvements even give more sustainable results.


Healthy online growth in 5 steps


Like getting fit, online success starts with a clear goal and tracking your progress. And to accept relapses. With these 5 steps, you lay the foundation to grow in the right direction with small jumps.


  • Step 1: Create KPIs that everyone knows
  • Step 2: Report on the correct results
  • Step 3: Focus on what works, improve what doesn’t
  • Step 4: Work on a culture where you can make mistakes
  • Step 5: Plan ahead and set priorities


1. Create KPIs that everyone knows


Be honest, do you sigh when you read about KPIs again? We get that. Whether you’re talking about KPIs or the more trendy OKRs, starting with goals is nothing new.

But practice has shown that things often go wrong with this basic principle. When are you really successful? Setting clear goals is one thing. The next important thing is to make sure your entire organization knows what the goals are and which KPIs they are going to target. Does everyone know exactly what you have in mind? Are you steering on profit or on turnover? Does only online turnover count or do you add online and offline turnover for an omnichannel turnover figure? Are you going to measure leads or sales? Is the distinction between campaign KPIs and business KPIs sufficiently clear? And does everyone understand the link between the two? Record all this together in a KPI framework, so that everyone knows when you’re successful or not.


2. Report on the correct results


Have you mapped out your KPIs? Then it’s important to link your marketing efforts to this. For example, if you count success on bottom-line profit, why would you rate Google Ads or Facebook campaigns by revenue? And if you target customers instead of leads, you should pay attention to that when you measure the results of your campaigns. Strong reporting is a must to steer towards the right insights.


Screenshot from our reporting engine which combines lead data from google analytics and sales data straight out of CRM systems. 


Reporting is more than reporting results, reporting is also proactive: with good forecasts, you can anticipate the results you expect and make adjustments on time. If your reporting is in order, you will notice that not everything is going as badly as you might think.

Also read: ‘How to report to your boss like a boss’

You discover channels that deserve extra love, and others that don’t. The BCG matrix is ​​a useful model to determine the right focus and budgets for your marketing.

Also read: ‘the BCG matrix for marketing purposes’


3. Focus on what works, improve what doesn’t


Again, that sounds logical, but things still often go wrong here. A waste of energy, time, and money if you focus on channels that do little for your results.

Start with what is going well. Can you scale this up? For example, does your Facebook lead-to-sale ratios turn out to be high, and is there still some stretch? Then shift budget from other, less successful channels and invest more in Facebook. Are you already getting the most out of it? Then look at other options within Facebook. Are there any ad formats you haven’t tested yet? Can you work with more different visuals? Find out how to get the most out of an already successful channel, until you don’t get any extra returns. Then you can look at other channels, for example, channels that are similar to Facebook, so you can test if you can achieve the same results there.

Then see if you can improve what is not working properly yet.

Note: if you identify good/bad channels, make sure you identify the correct errors – and thus correctly identify the source of the error. For example, has a marketing campaign flopped because the strategy is bad or because the landing page does not convert enough? A commonly used tool to find out what the causes are is the Ishikawa-diagram.


4. Work on a culture where you can make mistakes


Errors often arise with innovation, because there is simply no process to follow. With digital marketing, we are in fact constantly innovating. We try out new channels, discover new skills, and deal with the ever-changing (online) consumer. So accept that it’s normal to make mistakes. The advantage of iterative work is that you reduce the chance of major mistakes. Of course, it’s important to learn from mistakes. Not by accusing others, but by finding out what happened together. Therefore you should work on a healthy feedback culture in your company. Create the space and possibilities to easily give each other feedback and make adjustments, also when things go well. Your KPIs and good reporting help with this.


5. Plan ahead and set priorities


While patience is a virtue, you cannot wait for success endlessly. Put a time period on your plans and determine when you want to analyze the first results. At that point, decide whether your approach was the right one or not and move on. If you have several plans and experiments in progress, it’s important to set good priorities. That can be difficult, especially when everything seems equally important. This framework helps you to divide activities into “Must do”, “Nice to have” and “Won’t do”.


The first step


So change does not necessarily mean large projects or completely new strategies. It is better to work on a healthy basis: convert your ambitions into concrete goals and record them in a KPI framework that gets everyone on the same page. Then take small steps at a time. Experiment and learn from both success and failure. This way, you’ll work step by step on sustainable online results and get your organization a long-lasting fit.


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