When you outline your marketing objectives, you create a road map that helps dictate the planning, strategy, and execution of your marketing campaigns. Objectives help keep your marketing plans realistic and measurable, making it easier to track your success. Studies suggest that marketers who outline their objectives are nearly three times as likely to succeed than those who do not plan ahead.
What are marketing objectives?
Marketing objectives are a set of clearly defined, measurable goals established as part of a marketing plan. Marketing objectives provide specific targets to be met within a time frame, such as “decrease customer acquisition cost by 10% by the end of next quarter.”
You can structure your marketing objectives with tools like objectives and key results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- OKRs. Objectives describe a high-level goal (“objective”) and the measurable key results that will ladder up to that goal. For example, if the objective is to double last year’s revenue, two key results might be to increase new website visitors through digital marketing campaigns and to increase conversion rate through landing page optimization, each by a defined percentage. OKRs are scored on a 0 to 1 scale, 0 being a complete failure and 1 being a complete success.
- KPIs. KPIs are metrics that convey the performance of certain areas of a business. Marketing KPIs might include metrics such as monthly website visitors, SEO rankings, and conversion rates. KPIs help evaluate a company’s long-term performance and can reveal areas of weakness or improvement.
What makes a good marketing objective?
Good marketing objectives often follow the SMART methodology: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goal-setting. SMART goals are how businesses evaluate their marketing objectives to see if they meet the necessary criteria for success.
- Specific. Specificity encourages focused work, whereas having too broad a goal and too many paths to get there will create confusion and waste resources. Use real numbers to represent exactly what you want to achieve, and be clear about your desired outcomes. For example, “double last year’s revenue” is a more specific goal than simply “increase revenue.”
- Measurable. Objectives should have specific metrics associated with them, as this ensures that success or failure is assessed objectively. Some objectives can be measured in more than one way, so clarity from the beginning on how success will be measured is essential. For example, metrics like net promoter score (NPS) can make an otherwise vague objective like “increase brand affinity” measurable.
- Attainable. There’s always room for ambition, but an attainable objective will fall within the scope of the marketing department’s budget and time frame. “Obtain five million followers in three months for Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok platforms” might be a less attainable goal than “increase social media followings 15% across all platforms over the next six months.”
- Relevant. Knowing how objectives contribute to the company’s overall success will help clarify and streamline your marketing strategy. Define the purpose of your objectives and how each one benefits the business’s long-term goals. For a company with a high-level objective to increase customer retention rate, a relevant goal for the customer service team might be to “hire four more support reps over the next three months.”
- Time-based. Establishing a deadline for when the company should reach certain benchmarks will help focus the scope of your marketing efforts. Increasing your profits by a certain percentage is not specific enough unless there is a target time to meet this objective—do you want to increase the profit over three months? Six months? Two years?
How to set good marketing objectives for your business
Setting good marketing objectives can help outline your business’s best path to success.
- Align on company objectives. The head of the company and the leadership team come together to set high-level goals for the business. This bird’s-eye-view planning should always happen annually, and potentially every three to six months as well.
- Set marketing team goals. Once the high-level goals for the business are in place, each marketing team will set its goals. Individuals within a team may also set their own objectives, which ladder up to the team goals.
- Get clear on measurement. Identify the ways you will measure the success of your marketing efforts (such as which KPIs you’ll focus on).
- Measure and assess. Once the deadline has passed, such as the end of the quarter, evaluate the business’s performance and see if you met all planned objectives. If you didn’t—and that’s sometimes to be expected—regroup with your marketing team and brainstorm new ways to meet your objectives or strategize new objectives altogether.
Examples of marketing objectives
Objectives are not a one-size-fits-all operation. Different metrics are important to different businesses. But since marketing teams fulfill a fairly consistent set of responsibilities, the following marketing objectives can be a common starting point:
- Increase sales. Increasing sales is every business’s goal, so many marketing teams have a sales or revenue goal.
- Increase brand awareness. Exposing your brand to new customers—even if they don’t buy (yet)—is an important and common goal. Key results or KPIs associated with this objective might include website traffic or SEO impressions.
- Launch a new product. Getting a new product to market takes coordinated work and is a worthy goal.
- Lower customer acquisition cost (CAC). Sales are great, but businesses often incur a lot of costs to sell—think advertising budgets. Lowering your costs ultimately improves your bottom line.
Setting marketing objectives helps define the scope and potential effectiveness of your campaigns, while also establishing benchmarks to hit in both the short term and long term. Good marketing objectives clarify the intention and responsibility of the marketing team, detailing the necessary steps to reach their targets and creating accountability. Detailed objectives create a helpful roadmap for your team to follow, making it more likely your business will meet its marketing goals.
Objectives aren’t just reserved for the marketing team either—departments like sales and engineering often have their own set of objectives to meet as well. Objectives are a useful tool for workers at every level, from company executives to each individual employee. Whether you’re working at a big or small business, the SMART objective system helps divide your broader target into smaller, trackable steps, making your path to success both measurable and easier to visualize for everyone involved. You can also use the SMART method to set your own personal goals by breaking up your big vision into smaller, achievable milestones.