The hard truth about marketing objectives is that you shouldn’t look at a few examples and choose those that seem to fit the best. The examples should only be used as inspiration.
It’s on you to set specific marketing objectives because every business is different and the highest priority needs in marketing change over time. Deciding where your marketing focus should be for the year ahead is an essential part of every marketing plan.
In this article, we’ll dive into examples of great marketing objectives, including ways to measure them. It’s then followed by the best practices you should apply to either adjust those examples according to your needs or come up with your own marketing objectives from scratch.
You should now have enough inspiration to come up with your own objectives, so it’s time to go through three best practices that will ensure they fit well with your marketing strategy and plans.
Start from your most important marketing needs
Increasing your conversion rates is always nice. But if only 1% of your target audience is aware that your brand exists, you may want to reassess your priorities.
Look, no one but your team can tell what’s your biggest marketing opportunity to tackle. This is why it’s crucial to do proper market research that feeds into your marketing strategy—you’d be playing a guessing game otherwise.
Your brand diagnosis along with all the data from CRM and analytics systems have the answers. You can’t set the best marketing objectives if you don’t look at the big picture.
Well, the big picture can be an actual picture. It’s called a marketing funnel, and most of the objectives we talked about here influence its “flow”:
People drop off at each of those stages. Not everyone who sees your Facebook ad will click. Not everyone who clicks will sign up for your newsletter. Not everyone who signs up for your newsletter will buy… you get the idea.
You need to measure where the most drop-offs occur and then take steps to rectify the issue.
But keep in mind that maybe the biggest opportunity lies in feeding way more people into the funnel if we circle back to the brand awareness vs. conversions prioritization I mentioned earlier.
So identify the most significant bottlenecks and choose KPIs that will track your progress toward fixing them. Here are a few ideas for each stage of the funnel:
- Awareness – SOV, brand awareness, traffic quantity.
- Interest – Email subscribers, returning visitors.
- Consideration – Traffic quality.
- Conversion – Conversion rates, sales, AOV.
Of course, conversion is just the first win. Then comes the retention stage where you may want to improve metrics like NPS, churn rate, or customer lifespan.
Be aligned with SMART criteria
You probably noticed a pattern in all the examples—they align with SMART objectives, a widespread management concept that stands for:
- Specific – Clearly state the desirable outcome and answer “who, what, when, how much, etc.”
- Measurable – You must be able to track progress with KPIs.
- Achievable – Be bold with your goals but also be realistic; use current growth as a benchmark.
- Relevant – Does the objective align with your overall marketing and business strategy?
- Timely – Set up a time frame for achieving the goal.
Each objective example from earlier was aligned with all of these criteria. Yours should too. This is best illustrated if we dissect one of our objectives:
Focus on only one or two strategic objectives
You can come up with tons of marketing objectives, but that doesn’t mean you should. As Michael Porter would say, strategy is deciding what not to do.
So here are a couple of golden rules for choosing:
- Less is more – The fewer objectives a marketing campaign has, the more effective it is. In fact, having just one or two strategic objectives works best. This is based on analyzing campaigns that were submitted for Effies awards, a marketing version of the Oscars.
- Focus on both short and long term – Achieving your marketing objectives should result in improving both short- and long-term marketing KPIs. In other words, have objectives that directly translate into more profit and others that help with brand building.
As a general rule, the ideal balance between marketing spend on sales uplift and brand building is roughly 40:60. It’s one of the most important marketing concepts to keep in mind.
There’s a whole publication around this concept. The key takeaway is that brand building is proven to be the primary driver of long-term growth and success.
So choose and balance your objectives accordingly.
We’ve got the strategic objectives covered. It’s the main component for planning your marketing activities for the year ahead.
While we talked about ruthless prioritization and “less is more,” remember that this applies only to the big picture. Your strategic objectives should be branched out into many smaller tactical goals, usually per each marketing channel.
This is the way of strategic marketing planning.
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