Learning how goal setting works in marketing gives you a great position to build your marketing efforts on. Luckily, learning how to set marketing goals and objectives correctly, isn’t all too hard!
That being said, it can take some time, critical thinking, and determination to come up with worthy and strategically-oriented marketing goals. This article helps to clear things up and make the process easier for you!
What are marketing goals and objectives?
Marketing goals and objectives are the goals and objectives you set for your marketing campaigns. These goals should apply to your business’s overall goals and support your business moving forwards,
Your marketing goals focus on specifying your company’s mission and broader, long-term goals. Your marketing objectives focus on making these higher-level goals achievable.
See your marketing objectives as your marketing goals, broken down into smaller chunks. This makes your goals more achievable.
Why set marketing goals and objectives?
The reason for this is simple: Without goals, you won’t know where you are going. I’ve covered multiple posts on the importance of strategy in marketing. Without goals and objectives, you can’t create a strategy.
Without a strategy, you can’t create a solid plan, and failing to plan is planning to fail!
On top of this, clear goals and objectives help to motivate you and your marketing team. They make it clear what you need to do, where you’re going and make decision-making easier.
If you weren’t convinced of the importance of setting solid marketing goals and objectives, I’m sure you are now!
How to set goals and objectives
Now we know the importance of marketing goals and objectives; it’s time we get into how to set them.
Smart marketing objectives and goals
Setting SMART-goals is extremely important in marketing. It’s a structure that is used for creating goals for anything, not just things that are marketing-related. Any goal you ever set should be a SMART goals to make sure they are as effective as possible.
What are SMART marketing goals?
SMART-goals stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals. Any goal or objective you ever set needs to cover these five points.
·S – specific
All goals should be specific and clear. When your goals are crystal clear, it’s a lot easier to develop a strategy around them.
There should be no doubt about what you want to achieve. Goals shouldn’t be vague or leave any information out that’s important for someone reading them.
An example of a vague goal: Make people happy.
A specific goal: Make our company the leading company in our industry in customer satisfaction by 2022, according to Google and Yelp reviews.
As you can see, the second goal gives you a lot more important information. It also covers other aspects of smart goals.
This helps you to focus on the things that are important and allows you to measure your goals. Without these things, you can’t develop a marketing strategy.
·M – Measurable
It always helps to know your progress towards a goal, and that’s where making your goal measurable comes in. If you can’t measure your goals, then how will you know if you are moving forwards?
Also, how will you ever know if you’ve achieved your goal?
You won’t. That’s why you always ensure the goals you set for yourself or your company are measurable.
The way you make a goal measurable is by establishing your KPIs as you set the goal. (More on putting this all together once we’ve covered everything!)
KPI stands for key performance indicator. These are the things you should measure to track if you are moving forward or not. Take the previous example we used…
“A specific goal: Make our company the leading company in our industry in customer satisfaction by 2022, according to Google and Yelp reviews.”
The last part: “according to Google and yelp reviews” shows you how you will measure your progress.
I’d say that we can specify this KPI a little clearer. Are we talking about the number of reviews or the rating? Is there a minimum? Do we only count the new reviews or also reviews in the past?
A – Attainable
Setting goals that you cannot achieve does more harm than good. That being said, you need to push it to keep improving.
There’s a fine line between setting goals that will push your team and goals that will ruin your spirit. “Attainable” also has a lot to do with the “specific” part of this post.
A goal like “make people happy,” isn’t specific, and therefore isn’t attainable.
Depending on how you look at it, you can never reach that goal, or you can easily and always reach it. It’s not specific enough to make the goal attainable.
Is making one person happy enough? What do we class as happy?
These questions just keep piling up…
·R – Relevant
This one seems obvious, but there’s a lot that people miss here. The real problem is that many people don’t see the difference between relevant goals and irrelevant goals.
There are many biases people have that can lead them to set irrelevant goals. Things like follower numbers and other ego-boosting goals may seem important, but really don’t serve your company at all!
Here’s an example…
Irrelevant: Growing our Instagram following by 10.000 followers.
Relevant: Gaining an extra 10.000 relevant followers (followers that fit our buyer persona) on our Instagram profile and thereby increasing the engagement rate by 1%, by 2022.
The problem isn’t the 10.000 followers part; the problem here was that it wasn’t based around a business goal. Gaining more followers can improve your social media results, but only if these followers are relevant.
(A note on this example: The word “relevant” should be specified more clearly to make it measurable.)
For example, if you gain 10.000 relevant followers and delete 15.000 irrelevant followers, then your numbers are shrinking. However, this has a good result on your business.
This part takes some critical thinking to do properly. Take your time on it!
·T – Time-based
Everything takes up the time that you assign to it. If you don’t set an end date to your goals, then the goals will always be “pending.”
This makes your goals impossible to achieve and removes the drive to achieve them. Setting a date by when the goals should be completed helps to motivate your team and make your goals more attainable.
As you can see, many of the topics that SMART marketing goals cover overlap. It’s a simple structure to create good marketing goals from, just take your time and think critically about your goals.
The SMART-concept should also apply to your marketing objectives.
Qualitative and quantitative marketing goals
When setting marketing goals, try to set a mixture of qualitative and quantitative goals. This prevents you from leaning too far towards the analytical side of things. This often happens during marketing campaigns, so it can be beneficial to focus on qualitative goals too.
Quantitative marketing goals and objectives
Quantitative goals and objectives are goals and objectives that can be measured, and that are backed by data/numbers. They focus on some sort of quantity, hence the name…
These are often the KPIs measured by digital marketing teams. Think of things like website traffic, conversion metrics and value of sales.
Quantitative goals and objectives are the first things that come up. What’s focused on less, is qualitative goals and objectives.
Qualitative marketing goals and objectives
Qualitative goals and objectives focus on quality. These are not as easily measured and focus more on a feeling.
Things like customers’ opinions and how they feel about you, the difference your product makes in the lives of customers or the quality of the end result of a product.
As you can see, these things can be hard to measure. Most are opinion-based, which makes it even harder to measure. However, qualitative goals and quantitative goals are both vital to a well-rounded set of marketing goals.
Measuring qualitative marketing goals
Even though it’s hard to accurately measure qualitative marketing goals, there are certain methods of doing this.
Take the example of customer satisfaction. Here are a few things you can measure to gauge if you are moving the needle towards this qualitative marketing goal.
Online reviews are great for gauging what your clients think of you. You could set a KPI based on customer reviews and feedback.
There are a few things to be aware of here. The first is that many reviews are given in a way that’s easiest for the client.
This can lead to the standard: “Good. 5-stars”-reviews
If you’re asking for a good review, or even just slightly pressuring for a review, then your client will probably give a 5-star review, with nothing to back it up. You will need to think of a way to deal with this problem if you want to get accurate information coming in.
Maybe you will only count reviews with over five words? Maybe you’ll only measure the bad reviews?
There’s no right or wrong, just different.
2. Client retention and churn rate
By reducing your company’s churn rate, you can state that the clients are more satisfied than before.
The churn rate is simply how long clients stay on for. For example, an SEO-agency that sells SEO management. This relieves the business owner from a great deal of time and effort on their online marketing and delivers them more leads.
For this example, let’s say clients stay on for six months, and then stop using the service. If we could increase this from six months on average to eight months in the next two years, this would show that customers are more satisfied with our services.
As you can tell, there are a few things to be aware of. The first is if the time a client stays on for, really suggests anything about the quality.
In SEO, for example, a lot of campaigns last for six months, and then work is decreased or stopped for a period. For some services, like long-term website management, a longer period would suggest a higher level of customer satisfaction.
Another thing you need to look out for when using the churn rate as a qualitative goal is that it may push your employees to focus on keeping clients on for longer.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but it causes a conflict of interest.
Tactics like automatic billing and changes to your terms and conditions can move your customer retention numbers up a lot in the short term.
However, this can cause the opposite effect and reduce client satisfaction!
If you focus too much on the metric, then this could cause false conclusions being drawn.
3. Measuring the number of returning customers
This is another metric that has to do with customer retention, but it may be more suited to your business model.
If clients come back and order from you again, then it’s safe to say they had a reasonable, if not great, experience. You’ve provided something of value to them that made them want to come back.
This is easy to measure but again comes with a few drawbacks. For example, most marketing campaigns actively try to increase the lifetime customer value. Especially things like email marketing and certain PPC strategies that focus on retargeting.
This can warp the numbers and make it difficult to tell what results are coming from where. By measuring your other campaigns in detail, you can account for the effect they are having on this qualitative goal and its metrics
Measuring your marketing goals and objectives
Once you have your goals and KPIs in place, it’s important that you measure your progress efficiently and effectively.
There are two main things you need to keep in mind when measuring your goals. The first is other factors that influence your KPIs.
As you’ve seen in the previous examples of measuring qualitative goals, there are often other things that change the feedback you get from your KPIs. Be aware of this, as you may see a big improvement in your KPI without it being the result of your efforts to reach your goal.
This is usually because of a goal or KPI not being properly specified or the wrong metrics being measured. There are a few examples of this in the previous part of the post.
Some things you can do to deal with this:
· Track your other marketing campaigns and goals
Make sure you track your other marketing campaigns and see what effect they are having across the board. Check if any of them are influencing your other goal’s KPIs or indirectly influencing a higher level of the marketing funnel.
For example, if your KPI is conversion rate, any communication with potential customers before a purchase can influence this.
Are your efforts to drive more website visitors bringing in a less targeted audience? If so, this will negatively impact your conversion rates.
Similarly, your striving towards your qualitative goals may positively influence your conversion rates.
These things aren’t a problem and can be accounted for. However, it’s important to keep an overview of all of your different marketing efforts and how they influence each other.
· Understand your sales funnel
By understanding your own sales funnel, you see what parts of your marketing impact each other and in what way. By doing this, you can properly judge what will impact your KPI.
Something else you need to keep an eye on is statistical significance. When you get any data, there is always a likelihood that a small shift is purely down to chance.
If you want to measure something properly and ensure you are reaching your goals and objectives, then you need your statistics to have a high significance level. Marketing is far more than just moving the needle; it’s about creating the changes you want and are aiming for.
When should you revisit your marketing goals?
According to a recent study by Databox that I participated in, most SEO’s set or revisit their goals either weekly/bi-weekly, or bi-monthly/quarterly. I’ve attached an overview of the research below, but if you want to find out more about setting SEO goals, check out Databox’s post on how to set SEO goals!
Overview of the results of a Databox study on SEO goal setting (https://databox.com/how-to-set-seo-goals)
Owned, earned and paid media in marketing goal setting
A good marketing strategy, or marketing campaign, will cover earned media, paid media, and owned media. The reason for this is that it increases your business’s effectiveness.
(Check out this article if you aren’t sure about what owned, earned and paid media is.)
It’s best to set marketing goals that target each of these forms of media. The reason being that one without the other will either stunt your credibility (earned), stunt your growth (paid) or stunt your sustainability (owned).
This doesn’t mean that you must use pay-to-play marketing tactics or that you have to have earned media to get clients. It just means that the broader your coverage, the better your overall results will be.
It’s the same with multi-channel marketing. This website has some great facts on multi-channel marketing.
Marketing goal examples
As promised, I’ll offer a few examples of marketing goals that follow the above guidelines.
- Become one of the top five businesses in annual revenue within our industry, by 2022.
Some examples of objectives could be:
- Increase the average customer spend to $95 before the end of 2020
- Increase the number of new paying customers per year by 9% by 2022
As you can see, there are multiple points of leverage for increasing revenue. You could even set multiple objectives to reach your goal. Doing this can be a challenge and cost a lot of resources, but it doesn’t have to.
- Reach a 20% market share within X-industry by 2025.
KPI: Market share
Some examples of objectives:
- Improve the number of new paying customers by 4%, by 2024
- Improve customer retention rate by 2.3% before the start of 2025
- Become one of the best-known companies within our industry in our country, by the end of 2020
- Brand recognition
Some examples of objectives (assuming KPI = number of positive and extensive reviews):
- Reach 1.000.000 people in total within our county during the next year
- Increase the amount of direct traffic to our website by 10% within the next 1.5 years
- Increase the number of external links and mentions to our website from 13,454 to 34,950, by 2020
As you can see, both your marketing goals and marketing objectives should be specific. Goals are more general, and objectives are more actionable. You need objectives to give you something, or multiple things, to focus on.
By setting both qualitative and quantitative SMART goals and solid KPIs, you can ensure that your goal setting will support you want into the future!
Goal setting in marketing is extremely important. Good marketing goals and objectives provide a clear path for your business to follow.
After reading this article, you should be in a great position to draw up some solid marketing goals for your business. Good luck with establishing your marketing goals!
If you need any help, feel free to leave a comment or send a message!