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How to set marketing objectives

COMPLETE WITH EXAMPLES AND INSPIRATION





Today, I was having a conversation with one of our amazing clients, a marketing junior from a medium-sized business in the tech field, and we were going through her marketing planning process.


As we jumped into the tactics she was going to take, I became that annoying person who started asking 'but why do that?' and 'what are you hoping to achieve?', and 'how will you qualify or measure success?'


The point of my questions wasn't to undermine the great tactics she was actually suggesting, but to point out, if she hasn't clearly defined why she's using them and what success looks like for each of them, how will she know how great (or not) they actually are?


Now, it can be easy to think, well, if she's running social ads and people are clicking on them, then the channel must be working.


But what if no one's actually doing anything once they click? They're not really travelling through and experiencing the website, they're not reading case studies, and most importantly, they aren't filling in a form and making an enquiry, or adding something to their cart and purchasing it.


The best place to start measuring success, in fact, to guide all measurement of success, and to guide your planning before that, is with a clear set of marketing objectives.


Why set marketing objectives?

Planning for business success is a little bit like planning to run a marathon at least as far as I can tell; the furthest I've ever actually run is to the corner when I hear the ice cream van!


It's like a marathon (I think), because finishing those 42-odd kilometres is just the end result, the big measure of ultimate success. But in order to actually get there without pulling out of the race early, there are a whole lot crucial milestones you want to hit first in order to pave the path to the beer at the end.


In business, we are setting those milestones right at the top. They are our business objectives, while ultimate success, is our business goal. In each department that contributes to achieving the business objectives, for example marketing and sales, we also need to set a specific set of departmental objectives that empowers that contribution.


Our marketing objectives guide and govern our performance in marketing, and what actions we're taking to reach those milestones that lead to achievement of the ultimate success. In this way, there is a direct line between our marketing objectives and our business objectives and goals.


As a simple example, at a business level, your goal may be to become number one in your field and location. You'll have business objectives around areas like revenue and market share, and then at a marketing level, you might have objectives around how many leads will be delivered to contribute to that revenue and potential growth in market share.


A quick note on objectives and goals

It's not unusual for the words 'goal' and 'objective' to be used interchangeably, but actually, they are quite different tools in business and marketing.


If we think of it a little like a hierarchy, goals sit at the top, objectives underneath them, and then our tactics below that.


Goals are broad in scope and give us direction and vision.


"I will run a marathon."


Objectives tell us what achieving that success actually looks like; they are specific targets, that are measurable.


You will have previously heard about SMART objectives — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely — it's these elements that make objectives more than goals.


"I will run a marathon this year."


"I will run a marathon in X time."


"I will run a marathon to support X charity."


All of these are a set of objectives against the ultimate goal of running the marathon.


Our tactics are the actions we will take to make those specific objectives a reality.


"I will enable myself to train running 3 times each week, by getting a babysitter in the afternoons."


"I will train on weights twice a week when my mum has the kids."


"I will alter my diet to include XYZ which is known to increase energy and enable endurance."


"I will stop drinking alcohol by substituting in bubbly, flavoured mineral water."


One place of common confusion, is setting objectives that are actually tactics. As noted though, goals and objectives govern everything, they are strategic, while your tactics form part of your action plan and should be more detailed and activity-based.


As an example, a business goal might be to increase annual revenue by X%.


To achieve that, a marketing objective might be to increase targeted website visitors by X% month-on-month for 12 months.


Tactics might then relate to ads, multichannel campaigns, email sequences.


Some examples and inspiration to get you thinking

Sometimes the toughest part of writing your first set of marketing objectives is just getting started; getting your head around the right way of thinking.


Below are some examples of objectives you might want to take and reframe for your business, remembering your marketing objectives should be derived from or related to your business objectives.


Awareness

  • Increase brand awareness measured by branded search volume by 10% within the next 12 months using always on campaigns.

  • Double the number of strategic partnerships with industry influencers by the end of the year to enhance brand visibility and credibility.

  • Expand market share by 5% in the next 18 months by entering into two new regional markets with tailored marketing campaigns.

  • Drive 15,000 unique visitors to the new product landing page within 2 months using omni-channel campaigns.

  • Secure 100 media mentions in trade publications within the next year to boost industry presence and credibility.


Engagement

  • Enhance subscriber engagement by growing newsletter subscribers by 30% within nine months.

  • Increase social media engagement by 20% within 6 months by focusing on interactive content.

  • Achieve a 15% click rate from email marketing campaigns by personalising content based on user behaviour over the next 6 months.

  • Decrease bounce rate to under 20% within 6 months.

  • Increase time on site to more than 2 minutes and pages per session to more than 3 within one quarter.


Conversion

  • Generate 100 new leads per month from social media.

  • Increase conversion rate on key landing pages to more than 7% by end of the quarter.

  • Convert 30% of free trial users into paying customers over the next 3 months with targeted nurture campaigns.

  • Increase direct sales from Instagram by 30% in the next quarter.

  • Increase customer referral rates from the referral program by 25% within 6 months.


From these objectives, writing up your tactics should be quite straight forward.


Have fun!


Image by Remy Gieling.



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