How To Set Marketing Goals and Targets

by David Lawrence on 
January 29, 2021 | 
Digital Marketing Strategy
David Lawrence

Not every marketer is a numbers person.

And even if they were, it can be challenging to understand the numbers which will truly make a difference as opposed to those which won't. Keen to know the difference? Read on.

I’m going to start by talking about marketing goals. Spoiler alert though, a marketing goal (often total leads, sales or revenue) is not the #1 marketing number for transforming your business.

That said, if you don’t have a clear and written goal, you better sort this out ASAP. One study suggests we’re 42% more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.

A clear and written goal is an important part of your marketing strategy. However, the reality is that no matter how hard you focus on this number, success is unlikely to just happen.

Success is going to come down to three things:

  • Goal: Set a realistic marketing goal which, if achieved, will make a meaningful difference to your business
  • Strategy: Create an effective marketing strategy to reach this goal
  • Execution: Work your butt off to execute your strategy at each and every step

Here’s where things go wrong:

  • It might seem simple to set a goal, but don't rush into simply picking a number. Take the time to get it right for your team.
  • It’s pretty hard to create an effective strategy. Exactly how will you use your finite resources to navigate your way to your goal? You better have some experienced people on board to get this right.
  • It’s even harder to perfectly execute your strategy given the number of distractions, setbacks and other challenges you will face as a marketer. Will you have the time and resources to pivot when some part of your strategy fails to deliver?

Keep an eye on what’s critical

In my experience, the most important marketing numbers are those that predict the future by telling you if you’re executing on your strategy effectively. Sometimes it’s a single number, but typically it’s a few different numbers.

A lot of marketing teams put their energies into the wrong activities because they focus too heavily on the wrong numbers:

  • Social likes and shares
  • Website visitors and time on site
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per lead
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • And more...

Don’t get me wrong, for most marketing teams there is value in the above numbers. Depending on your role, these numbers might be the most important thing you look at each day. Outcomes can often be improved by tweaking how you’re going in these areas. It’s even possible one or more of these metrics will be perfect to tell you if your marketing team is on track in terms of executing a strategy which will see you reach your goal.

But it’s much more likely that focusing on these numbers will be telling you how you’re performing in individual channels relative to other time periods, or they’ll tell you how you performed in the past. They are unlikely to let you know if things are drifting in terms of executing the strategy required to reach your goal.

In summary, these sorts of metrics are typically found in marketing reports and tell you how you’ve performed in the past. They are not generally the marketing numbers which will transform your results.

What do transformative numbers look like?

As already mentioned, the most important numbers predict the future rather than summarise the past. These numbers will tell you at a glance exactly where you are in terms of the execution of your strategy and taking those steps which matter.

As an example, let’s look at a B2B company with a long and complex buyer journey. The overall marketing goal might be to generate a certain number of sales opportunities (highly qualified leads) each and every month.

The most important marketing numbers will be those that show they are executing on activities they know from past experience (and the current strategy) will result in generating sales opportunities in the future.

  • How many emails were sent to their database?
  • How much did they spend on paid media?
  • How much quality content was produced and promoted?
  • How many media mentions were secured?
  • How many speaking events/webinars did they present?
  • How many 5 star reviews were acquired?

The B2B marketing team in this example knows that if they can set (and hit) targets for each of the above questions they are well on their way to hitting their big picture goal. If they lose momentum in any of these areas they will risk a setback at some point in the future.

Time to put this into action

Again, I’m not suggesting that you dispense with your existing marketing reports. Knowing what is happening within different channels and understanding current performance is critically important to making sure things are being done well across the board.

What I’m proposing is that you create a separate and simple scorecard which contains only those numbers which will tell you whether your strategy is being executed. Are you on track to deliver future success based on actions you know from past experience will move you closer to your goal?

Good scorecards can be created quickly and without a lot of fuss. You can use Excel or Google Sheets to track a small number of key numbers. It’s fine if this is a manual process as you won’t need to calculate too many numbers. Want to get team buy-in? Consider displaying and updating the scorecard in a place where everyone sees it on a regular basis. Talk about scorecard progress in weekly meetings. The scorecard should genuinely change behaviour and keep you on track as a team.

Great scorecards are the result of creating a good scorecard and evolving it over a number of months as you learn what really moves the needle.

In summary

Through trial and error, we have a scorecard that works brilliantly for us. It didn’t happen on day one though.

If you’re struggling to understand what will work best for your marketing team then don’t hesitate to get in touch! We love helping marketing teams reach their goals. You can reach us on 1300 059 620 or by sending us a message.

David Lawrence Featured Image
David Lawrence
Co-Founder & Managing Director | Rocket Agency

David Lawrence is the MD and Co-Founder of Rocket, an award-winning Australian digital marketing agency. He is also the co-author of the Amazon #1 best-selling marketing book 'Smarter Marketer'. David has presented at several events including Inbound, Search Marketing Summit, Mumbrella360, CEO Institute and a variety of seminars and in-house sessions.

David has built his expertise from a diverse career, starting with an economics degree before jumping into all things web in the late 90s.

Today, David is Rocket's Managing Director and is known for his ability to find clarity in the bigger picture. He is highly respected as a digital marketing authority, sharing his expertise with an extensive network here in Australia and around the world.

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