So you have decided to invest in marketing by hiring people. That is great – but how do you get the most out of their skills to grow your business?

Our suggestion is to start from goal-setting.

You might be wondering, what are the most valid goals to use.

Here’s a suggestion: how about revenue?

Start with the business goals that you actually care about, and build your marketing goals from there. What is it that you would like to hear at a quarterly marketing meeting?

“Our Facebook likes went up 3 percent.”

Or

“Our marketing and sales generated 15 percent more revenue from inbound leads than last quarter.”

Setting goals is a huge part of the relationship between the CEO and marketing. It is a major opportunity to grow your business in a systematic way.

Read further to learn how you can approach setting goals for your marketing.

How to build a successful marketing team? Download our free guide.

What are right goals for digital marketing?

As discussed, the right marketing goals are connected strongly to your overall business goals.

Start by defining the overall goal for your business, then think of how your marketing can help you to achieve it.

The goals you set for your marketing depend on many things:

  • What is your business like – how do you generate your income?
  • What is your business stage – a market leader or a startup?
  • How does your industry work?

 

For example, it makes sense to set your goals around the sales funnel of your business. Whether you operate a B2C or a B2B business makes a drastic difference in the sales funnel, and the goals need to be set accordingly.

Your goals will also be driven by the stage of the business. For example, if your business is a market leader, it makes more sense focusing on customer retention compared to a startup that is acquiring their first customers.

The nature of the industry will affect the sales cycle, which can in turn affect reporting models. If your sales cycle is longer, you might want to focus more on progress goals on a monthly or quarterly basis.

In short, there is no one right way to do this – but for sure, there are ways to approach the matter for best results.

Salesman on the phone


Does it take a long time to get a signature from a customer? Track progress instead.

 

Defining SMART goals

Goals are by definition something you aim for. They set a clear expectation for the future.

SMART goals is a famous and effective framework for defining goals. You can construct your overall goal from the KPI you defined earlier.

SMART goals have five criteria:

  • Specific. There is no room for judgment.
  • Measurable. It’s a number or thing you can track.
  • Actionable. It needs to be something your marketing can influence.
  • Realistic. Make sure the goal is realistic to attain.
  • Time-based. Set a timeframe.

 

Here are some examples of SMART goals for different industries:

B2B service business: increase monthly Sales Qualified Leads by 30 percent during this quarter.

E-commerce: Increase average visitors to sales conversion rate by 50 percent in 6 months

SaaS: Increase freemium to paid users rate by 50 percent this year.

A calendar


You can see SMART marketing goal in the calendar, as it has a deadline.

What is a good process for setting the goals?

How do you set the goal for the marketing in practice? What do you base it on? And do you just announce it to the team?

You should start defining the goal from your current situation. Have a good idea where you are. How is your marketing currently performing?

Conducting a digital marketing audit is highly recommended, especially when you’re setting the marketing goals for the first time. On the basis of the audit, you should have a good picture of what can be improved and how much. For the audit, you can have your marketing do the research or you can ask for outside help.

In setting the goal, it is advisable to involve your marketing team.

Once you have an understanding of the current performance, have a discussion with them about the goal.

Explain to them what are the business needs. Ask for their knowledge. Come to the conclusion together to commit all sides.

A big part of setting goals is also psychological. Everyone should truly care about reaching the goal and get excited of the mere thought of it.

Track progress of your marketing with KPIs

When you’re going for a goal, it makes sense to track your progress towards the end goal consistently. That is why we have Key Performance Indicators, KPIs.

So what is your KPI? What is that factor that you expect to grow, decrease or attain? There’s your KPI.

It could be leads, conversion rates or sales like in the examples above.

Many businesses are going for a single KPI that truly matters for your marketing team, often called a “North Star Metric”.

There could be several different KPIs related to the goal. That happens when the matter is complex or if you want to have different metrics balance each other,

For example, if you set your marketing team to gather leads at volume, it can make sense to balance this strict performance marketing metric with brand perception or customer experience metric. This can prevent chasing short-term with the expense of long-term success.

You can also use diversified supporting metrics for different teams or team members.

However, make sure you don’t drive the marketing team in the wrong direction or cause an internal conflict. The overall direction needs to be the same for the whole team and the whole organization.

First and foremost, the KPIs need to be simple and clear enough.

Now you have set the KPIs. It is time to move on to the goals.

How to manage the goals?

Now that you’ve set the goals and KPIs, you should follow them regularly – in two ways.

The first is consistent tracking. Your marketing team should follow the metrics preferably weekly or at least every two weeks. This way they can react to changes fast and detect fast what works and what doesn’t. This is one of the best practices of agile marketing.

The second is reporting. So how and how often the marketing team should report to the CEO? Again, it depends on the pulse of your business. Roughly, monthly to quarterly is generally a good way to go for strategic meetings like this.

As the CEO you need to have a clear enough idea of what is going on, without going too much into details and the day-to-day operations.

As another general rule, it is better to over-communicate than go in the dark.

An automatic email report or an easily available dashboard makes things easier for everyone. It enables a nimble way to report consistently without having time-consuming in-person meetings.

Once your target period is over, revise the goals and how they were met. Come up with new goals following a rinse and repeat process.

Regular goal-setting enables you to shift focus on things that require attention and come up with new KPIs if needed. For example, you can shift your focus from conversion rate to volume generation. Or from generating new customers to improving customer lifetime value.

What if the goal wasn’t met?

No need to panic. Carefully analyze what were the reasons. Was the goal set properly, in a SMART way? Were there individual mistakes or was the reason perhaps more systematic? How can you adjust and what can you learn from it?

Then do the improvements and start the process again.

Someone looking at reports on a laptop


Track progress towards the goal consistently.

Conclusion

For setting goals for your marketing, there’s is no one right way to do it.

However, there are good practices to goal-setting. Start from your business goal to translate it into marketing goals using the SMART framework.

Then track your progress consistently with KPIs that you have derived from the goals.

Coming up the metrics is fairly logical and straightforward. The main thing is building the process and especially executing it.

When setting and following the progress of the goals, it is vital to have good communication with the marketing team throughout the process.

When done right, setting and tracking goals can help build a tight relationship between business and marketing.

Use goals to utilize your marketing team effectively and to grow your business.

Want to learn more about successful marketing teams and how they are managed? Download our free guide below.

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