Small businesses are spoiled for choice when it comes to marketing these days.
Social media. Email campaigns. Blogging and guest posting.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the ways you can get your company in front of modern customers.
But if you’re a small business, you probably don’t have much wiggle room in your marketing budget to tackle all of ‘em.
Hey, we get it. Picking and choosing the “right” marketing channels for your business can be exhausting.
The solution? Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse.
Businesses should figure out their end-game before any sort of marketing campaign or push. Hey, it happens more often than you’d think. By nailing down your marketing objectives first, you can focus on campaigns that actually make sense.
This guide breaks down everything you need to know about marketing goals and how to set them, including:
- What exactly are marketing objectives, anyway?
- 8 examples of marketing objectives
- How to set SMART marketing objectives
- 6 metrics that’ll help you monitor your marketing objectives
- How to communicate your marketing goals and objectives
What exactly are marketing objectives, anyway?
Let’s kick things off with a kitchen-table definition of marketing objectives we can work with:
A marketing objective is a goal related to a promotional campaign, tool, or tactic. Ideally, these goals are specific, time-sensitive, and measurable.
Marketing goals should be clear and easy to communicate to your colleagues, helping you make sure that there is always a “why” behind your campaigns before you roll them out.
Why marketing objectives are so important
Goal-setting might not seem like a big deal at a glance.
However, remember that your marketing objectives have a huge impact on your ability to budget your time and cash.
Imagine trying to run a Facebook ad or cold emailing campaign “just because.” No rhyme or reason, no strategy or goals in mind.
How would you know if your campaigns were “successful?” Did you actually get a return on your investment? Was it all worth the time and money you put in?
Your answer can’t just be “Uh, I don’t know.”
If you can’t justify your marketing decisions or hold yourself accountable for your strategy, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Think about it this way. When you define marketing objectives, you’re also defining a way to stay focused on taking actions that meet your overall goals. From your day-to-day tasks to your budgets, these objectives are what’ll guide you every step of the way.
8 examples of marketing objectives
Good question! Note that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to setting marketing objectives. A solo business owner on a tight budget is going to have different priorities than, say, a 50-employee company.
Also, your goals are likely to change over time as your business shifts focus (think: releasing a new product, hiring new employees, and so on).
Below are some marketing objective examples and what you’ll need to do if you’re looking to achieve those goals.
1. Raise brand awareness
Spoiler alert: you aren’t the only company fighting tooth and nail for your target audience’s attention.
This is where having brand awareness can give you the edge. To raise brand awareness, you have to introduce your company to potential customers—and make a lasting impression on your current ones. This is definitely a broader marketing objective that you can achieve through a variety of ways:
- Earn shout-outs and mentions from relevant industry bloggers.
- Publish content and talk to colleagues, happy customers, and industry leaders on social media. (More social media best practices here.)
- Rebrand your business with fresh marketing creative, logos, and messaging.
2. Generate more leads
The fuller your pipeline of future customers, the better. Generating leads not only means finding new ways to market your business but also makes the most of the channels you’re already active on. You could:
- Create and promote an eBook to encourage email opt-ins so you can send them nurture emails to encourage them to buy later on:
- Run a paid ad on Facebook promoting your latest product (with an optimized audience).
- Attend an industry conference, event, or trade show where you can meet leads and collect their contact information.
3. Boost sales
Some marketing campaigns are focused primarily on making sales and increasing your bottom line. This might mean ramping up your outreach or simply running a sale to reel in new buyers.
- Introduce a new product or service for your business.
- Send a time-sensitive email coupon to your subscribers to drive short-term sales (maybe it’s the end of the month and you need to hit your quota).
- Promote special discounts and products to your social media followers.
4. Retain customers
Fact: it costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain the ones that you have. This is why it’s become so popular for businesses to measure their customer retention rates.
Rather than constantly chasing new leads, customer retention focuses on finding ways to keep your current buyers around for the long term.
- Conduct more frequent check-in calls, emails, and text messages with your clients (hint: RingCentral’s click-to-call feature can help here).
- Ask for customer reviews and feedback through surveys and social media to understand what you can improve about your product or customer experience.
- Prioritize timely responses to customers across all channels.
5. Increase customer lifetime value (LTV)
Your LTV measures how much money the average person spends with your business as long as they are a customer.
Piggybacking on the previous objective, it makes sense to try to sell more often to your current customers, considering they already know and trust you. Raising prices might be an option, but it’s not the only way to make it happen.
- Upsell and cross-sell your current customers with new product offers.
- Offer longer-term contracts for new customers at a lower initial price point.
- Encourage referrals from your current customers (or even people who aren’t customers!).
6. Increase web traffic
It’s no secret that most product discoveries and purchases start with a Google search. By increasing your search presence and rankings, you can poise yourself to be “first in line” when your target audience is searching for keywords related to your business. Here are a few ways to get more people onto your website:
- Build backlinks by linking to your site on guest blog posts.
- Publish more blog content on your website that targets keywords for search engines.
- Send traffic to your site by promoting content on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
7. Boost brand loyalty
Your customer experience is arguably just as important as whatever your business is selling.
Loyal customers don’t happen by accident, though. Today, many businesses have a strategy to regularly educate and talk to customers to create a sense of loyalty. Think about what your business can do to empower your prospects and customers in order to become indispensable to them:
- Focus on community-building on social media by asking questions and publishing customer-centric content. Learn more about the benefits of using social media in your marketing.
- Educate your target audience through your email newsletter (here’s how to build out a calendar), blog, and social posts.
- Make stellar customer service teamwork a priority so that you can solve more customers’ problems in less time—here’s one way to do it:
RingCentral’s customer engagement platform makes it a cinch to reach and respond to customers quickly—and on the channels they like to use.
8. Build industry authority
Competition is fierce in any given industry. To stand out from the crowd, you have to prove your experience and show that you’re the go-to expert for whatever questions your target market has. You don’t always have to talk about topics that are related directly to your product either.
- Publish educational content on your website.
- Create a client or customer case study that highlights how your product or service has helped someone.
- Score press mentions, interviews, and shout-outs from industry players that signal your expert status.
What are the most important marketing objectives for a new business or product?
Let’s say you’re a totally new business on the block or you’re struggling to bring a new product to market.
Prioritizing your objectives can be tricky when you’re starting from scratch. The good news is that many of the goals above can build upon each other to increase your exposure and generate new business.
How so? Here are some marketing objectives for a new product:
- Raise awareness by creating content such as blog posts or videos that highlight your product and the pain points that it solves.
- Publish that content to social media and include relevant keywords on your website to increase web traffic and generate leads.
- Engage with social media communities and industry influencers to build brand authority while also driving traffic to your site.
- Highlight a first-time customer discount on your website to entice new visitors.
See how that works? This progression is just one example of how you can introduce a new product to prospects. The key takeaway is that you should start with broader objectives like the ones highlighted above before figuring out specific ways to make those goals actionable.
And that actually leads us to our next point.
How to set SMART marketing objectives
Let’s say that you have a general idea of what your marketing goals should be.
Maybe you want more leads. Perhaps you know that your SEO is lacking, which means you aren’t popping up in Google searches when people are searching for products like yours.
As we mentioned earlier, an effective marketing objective needs to tick the boxes of being specific, measurable, and tied to a deadline.
Well, actually, there are two more characteristics of good objectives. You may have heard of the SMART framework for setting goals.
The SMART strategy encourages you to set up meaningful goals that inspire action. Here’s a quick rundown of what the acronym means:
- Specific: focusing on a single objective that can be summed up in one sentence
- Measurable: your goal can be tied to performance data through analytics and hard numbers
- Achievable: not too far-reaching or outside of your budget
- Relevant: your specific goal is tied to the big-picture goals of your business
- Time-sensitive: your goal should be completed within a certain time frame or deadline
With SMART objectives, you’re forcing yourself to focus on tasks that you and your team actually have a shot of completing and zero in on specific action items rather than broad, vague goals.
Examples of SMART marketing objectives (and why they work)
Before writing out your own, check out some sample marketing objectives based on the SMART framework:
Ex: “We will increase our organic search traffic by 25% and inbound leads by 10% in six months by publishing and promoting a new blog post every week.”
This goal is ambitious, yet still realistic. Although it might technically be two goals rolled into one, both are tied to the action item of blogging.
Ex: “Improving upon last year’s numbers, we will achieve a minimum 2% click-through rate for our welcome email campaign by revising our email formats, calls-to-action, and subject lines.”
Using industry benchmark data, we can confirm that this is a totally reasonable goal if you’re managing a small business. This objective is tied to a specific campaign and action items, meaning that the marketing team knows exactly where they need to make improvements.
6 metrics to help you monitor your marketing objectives
You have your goals and next steps in mind. What’s next?
Before you get into the nitty-gritty, you need to look at your numbers.
We can’t emphasize the importance of measurable marketing objectives enough. According to Google, marketers that measure their performance data are four times more likely to exceed their business goals.
After all, you need some sort of benchmark data to base your goals off of. This is why monitoring your marketing metrics and analytics is absolutely crucial to any sort of goal-setting.
Below are some examples of important metrics and tools to include in your marketing stack that’ll help track your progress as you work toward different marketing goals.
1. Website metrics
Google Analytics is a must-have for anyone looking to measure their marketing objectives.
Tracking everything from total traffic to individual visitor sources, the platform can show you:
- What your most popular pieces of content is
- Your biggest sources of traffic
- How long people are spending on your website
- Which keywords you’re ranking for
From running paid ads to building out email newsletter calendars and beyond, just about every major marketing activity related to your website ties back to Google Analytics. If you need to know how your site is performing, this is where to start.
2. Social media engagement
Beyond Google, social media dashboards can also be a treasure trove of marketing data.
For example, you can figure out your most popular posts and hashtags that drive engagement among your customers. Metrics like mentions and replies are also useful for figuring out whether or not your social efforts are paying off.
You don’t need special apps or tools either—each social platform offers some form of built-in basic analytics reporting for businesses. Here’s a snapshot from Twitter that shows how an individual tweet performed, for example:
3. Email engagement
For example, which subject lines resulted in the most opens from readers? Is there a particular type of email or offer that gets more clicks? Does a specific day of the week or time seem to outperform others?
Looking at your current crop of results can help you build more effective future campaigns, set goals, and even let you know if something doesn’t look right (for example, if certain words you’re using in the subject line are setting off spam filters).
4. Conversion rate
Your conversion rate clues you in on which products, calls-to-action, and pages are resulting in clicks. Conversions happen when someone takes an action on your website (think: purchasing a product or signing up for a newsletter).
Try to find a common thread between your highest-converting pages and links or which ads perform the best. Here’s a snapshot of how Google Analytics tracks pages on your website that get the most conversions (aka the ones that get the most leads or customers):
5. Customer lifetime value
You may remember LTV from earlier in this post—to make sure you’re building a business that grows, you should have a pulse on how much your customers are worth.
To calculate customer lifetime value, look at how much your customers spend, how frequently they buy from you, and how many unique customers you have within a given time period (such as a year).
Your end goal should be to increase this number over time while also ensuring that you acquire new leads over time as well.
6. Cost per lead
Speaking of which, you can use this cost per lead calculator to keep in check how much your business is spending to fill its pipeline. This is useful for figuring out not only how you should allocate your marketing resources but also which channels are most effective for getting you leads.
And now that you have your metrics and goals…
Don’t forget to communicate your marketing goals and objectives
Unless you run your marketing department by yourself, setting marketing objectives shouldn’t be a solo act.
Communicate with your team before, during, and after the goal-setting process. (More tips for effective teamwork here.) This is to double-check that you have the necessary resources to reach your goals—and to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. If nothing else, having a second opinion can help reinforce that your goals are on point.
Here are some strategies for communicating your marketing objectives.
Meet with your team and propose a SMART goal. Agree on a timeline, specific responsibilities, and deliverables. This is also the perfect time to review your existing marketing data as a group.
Check in and communicate with your teammates regularly about your goals. These check-ins might be part of larger meetings or one-on-one progress reports. (Learn how to create a marketing report.) And if you don’t have time to have meetings every week, that’s okay. There are collaboration tools like instant messaging platforms that let you and your team chat with each other, share files, and stay connected as you try to hit your goals.
For example, RingCentral Glip™ does exactly that, letting you share reports, send quick messages, and comment directly on these shared docs. It’s like a supercharged Whatsapp for businesses:
Debriefing time! After you have reached your deadline, get together and review the results of your campaign. Dig into your data to figure out if your marketing goals really were SMART. Now, it’s time to do it all over again. Start planning what your next move will be and set a course for the next SMART goal. Rinse and repeat.
Which marketing objectives are on the top of your list?
Taking the time to put some serious thought into your objectives now will help keep your priorities in order while also supporting your business’s big-picture goals.
And don’t let the process overwhelm you! Once you get a handle on setting SMART marketing objectives, coming up with future goals will quickly become second nature.
What’ll you tackle first?
Originally published Feb 04, 2020, updated Mar 07, 2021