If you decide to take a road trip, it is a good idea to know where you are going and the best way to get there. Glancing at a map, you know that there are tons of roads heading in every direction. Foregoing any specific travel plans altogether will likely leave you lost and far from where you intend to go. However, with a little planning, you will discover that there are a few specific roads that will get you to your destination. And, of those, only one will get you there in the most effective and efficient manner. That is the road you will travel.

This same concept can be applied to your marketing goals. If you have an idea of what you are trying to achieve, it is important that you create a plan for how you are going to reach that end goal. In other words, the best route you can take to get there. Otherwise, you may find your marketing plan turned around, on the side of the road, or headed in the entirely wrong direction. Because marketing takes time, money, and resources, moving forward without setting goals seems like unwise business sense.

Marketing Goals: What are they? And why are they important? 

You’ve likely heard talk about setting goals the majority of your life. And you know that having goals is important. But how often have you actually set goals? And, of those goals you set, how often did you actually follow through with meeting them?

A goal is a method used for achieving any desired result. You decide what it is you want to attain and plan out the steps you will take to reach it. When it comes to a marketing goal definition, the same method is applied. However, the result that you are most often seeking is to show growth and success in your marketing efforts.

Marketing goals are made up of specific, measurable, realistic, and attainable metrics that can help you determine the overall success of your marketing campaigns. You put a lot of effort into your work, so you need to make sure it flows how it is intended to– and that it can be measured.

But why are they so important?

Just as we discussed above, if you’ve ever tried to travel very far without a detailed map, you are bound to end up lost. So, if you jump headfirst into your marketing efforts without a plan or goal, you are not likely to achieve the results you are looking for. Setting goals gives you the clarity needed to make sense of what it is you are trying to do.

It’s time to set your marketing goals

When it comes time to set your marketing goals, it is imperative that you know the outcome you are trying to reach. Because, truth be told, your goal is not the finished product itself. What you expect to make out of this finished product is more likely to be your end goal– in this scenario, finishing your product is just one task needed to reach that goal. So it is time to begin thinking about what it is you are desiring to achieve with your marketing efforts. Once you have an idea, you can move forward with creating your goals, step-by-step.

What are SMART goals? 

SMART goals are a common tool used by many who practice goal-setting and time-management. It has been created as a way to remind you of all the attributes your goals should have. And, since the main goal of marketing is achieving positive results, creating SMART goals can only head you in the right direction.

Your goals should be:

  • S = Specific
    When developing your marketing goals, you have to be specific. What exactly do you want to achieve? Who will help you achieve it? When do you need to achieve it by? What are the steps you will take? How will you monitor your goal’s progress and outcome? Where does it fit into your business or marketing plan? Answering these questions– or those more specific to your plan– will give you the clear direction you need.
  • M = Measurable
    You are going to need concrete methods of measuring your goal once you achieve it. After all, how will you know if you reached your marketing goal if you cannot measure it? Maybe you want to ensure that your ROI has reached a particular level. Or, perhaps you are working to increase your conversions by a certain percentage. Whatever your marketing goal is, make sure it is measurable– and know how you will measure it.
  • A = Aspirational
    To be aspirational, your goal must push you. Anyone can mosy around and conquer nothing. But, if you are ready to push yourself– and your business– to new heights, you need aspirational goals. Consider this: If you can obtain a metric outcome by doing things the way you do them now, then your goal should increase the outcome of that particular metric– taking you further than before.
  •  R = Realistic
    Sure, everyone would love to convert every lead and gain millions of followers on Instagram. But, if we are being real, neither of those things are necessarily likely to happen. Therefore, be realistic about what outcome you think you can reach. Then take into consideration the time, effort, and costs of making it happen. Be confident that you can make this goal happen. Your goal needs to be relevant. Going back to those millions of Instagram followers– if you gain their attention, then what? Will having followers do anything for your marketing plan? Does it fit the current direction you see your company moving in? Are you even ready to handle that much attention? Make sure the goal you choose and the route you choose to attain it is relevant to not only your marketing plan but your business plan, too.
  • T = Timely
    At last, create a concrete timeline for achieving your goal– including a start and end date. Having set deadlines throughout the entire time process can help you move the goal along. Not only does this ensure you don’t procrastinate, but it also gives you the greatest chance of successfully seeing your goal through to the end.

Tips for setting your SMART goals

Creating your marketing goals may sound like a piece of cake. However, if you are serious about utilizing SMART goals and actually reaching your goal successfully, there are a few things that you will want to take into consideration. Check out these SMART goal tips!

1. DO create actionable goals
Not every goal is actionable. Some may be too far-fetched. Others may be too vague. Do some investigating when creating your goals. Look at your competitors (again, don’t imitate them), analyze data from your previous attempts or efforts, take into consideration the market, economy, the time-frame allotted, and so forth. Are your goals really possible? Can you truly and successfully act on them? Finally, make sure you are seeing the broader picture and setting real end goals instead of taking for a goal something that would rather be considered a task– remember the finishing product example we used a few paragraphs above?

2. DON’T set too many goals
Remember, you are trying to be realistic. Decide what you can achieve by pushing yourself, but keeping it attainable. There are many aspects to your business and your marketing needs. Therefore, it is very likely that you will have multiple marketing goals. Too many, however, and you will find yourself overwhelmed and heading on the fast track to chaos. And, of course, a high probability of failed goals. Thoroughly analyze what you want to achieve and all the steps needed to take you there. Then set only the number of goals that you can manageably maintain for the specific time period established.

3. DO take your goal seriously
It’s easy to scribble down a goal and have a metric in mind that you’ll use and maybe one day you will see if it all comes together. This is not going to work. If you are ready to seek change and push your marketing efforts further than they’ve ever gone before, then take your SMART goals seriously. Let your goals lead your work and be certain to prioritize actions that are linked to the achievement of those goals instead of those that will only make you lose your focus and not meet them.

4. DON’T compare yourself to your competitors
Sure, you want to look at your competitors, keep them in your line of sight, and know what they are doing. But there is a good chance you and your competitors may be very different on the inside. Set your SMART goals based solely on your company. Remember– imitating is not winning.

5. DO leave room for failure
While you don’t want it to be true, not every great idea is going to be a success. Or perhaps the first step of your plan may not have gone as well as you hoped. Yes, your SMART goal needs to be specific and concrete, but leave yourself a bit of wiggle room in case it is not working as planned. Or allow yourself the ability to stop, gather your thoughts, and come up with a new plan.

SMART goal examples

BAD Goal GOOD Goal
To get more visitors to our website. We will work to rank number one for the keyword ____, as we estimate this will bring us 1,000 unique visitors to our website within the next 6-months.
To convert more leads this year. Our goal is to increase our conversion rate from 18% in 2018 to 28% in 2019.
To be as famous as our biggest competitor. We will increase our brand awareness through social media by increasing our followers on Instagram by 1,000 in the next 6-months.

Relating your marketing goals to your business goals

Your marketing goals are a subset of your business goals. Let’s use an example. If your business is a train, then your marketing is the engine. It drives the business forward. Your business would still exist without marketing, but it wouldn’t get very far.

As you put together your marketing SMART goals, you are going to need to keep in mind your business goals as a whole. To relate them, you will need to:

  • Consider the revenue of the business– and how much your marketing efforts add or subtract from this amount.
  • Determine the desired revenue goal of your business and decide how your marketing goals can help you reach this.
  • If your business goal is focused on a particular product line or aspect of the business, see how your marketing efforts can assist.
  • Use bottom-line metrics that will actually drive business growth. For example, measurable KPI’s, such as conversion rate, bounce rate, social media metrics, content reach rate, and so forth can give you solid numbers that will allow you to see the growth that is occurring in the business as a result of the marketing goals.

Set quarterly benchmarks and take the time to review your efforts, carefully making sure your marketing and your business goals are remaining in alignment.

Goals are set, now what? 

Congratulations! Once your goals are set, you are on your way to pushing forward and making some positive changes in the future of your company. Before you can celebrate too much, however, there is more work to be done. Your goals need to be clearly documented with a concrete timeline. Know when you are starting your goal and when you expect it to be finished. Then, let the goal commence!

As you move forward with your plan, such as with a content strategy, you need to closely follow along each step of your goal. Begin by developing your content plan and note how and when to monitor progress. Because you want to know what works and what doesn’t, it is very important to:

  • Track the progress of each goal.
  • Review the ending result.
  • Highlight learnings extracted from the goal. Did it work? Why or why not?

Note that your content marketing ROI will be reflected in the goals set. Keep an eye on how your ROI is affected by taking the necessary steps to measure the bottom line metrics used in your goal. Remember, your goal is to drive your business growth forward. If you don’t see this result at your goal’s end, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

Your pocket checklist

You are pumped and ready to move forward. In fact, you may already have ideas for your new SMART marketing goals bouncing around in your head. Before you wander too far, use this checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important steps.

  • Can you and your team understand exactly what you want to achieve with your specific goal?
  • Will your marketing results help the business achieve its goals?
  • Will you and your team be able to focus on every single goal within the time allotted?
  • Do you really believe you can achieve this goal/s?
  • Is it bold enough? Or have you already done something like this before?
  • Is it too bold that no one has ever done anything even close to it before?
  • Are you running any activities that are not aligned with your goals? RED ALERT!

Best of luck pushing yourself– and your business– to new heights with your content marketing goals for 2019.

And if you are looking for practical ways to drive growth and achieve your goals, enjoy this free collection of actionable worksheets to improve you Google Ranking:

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