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How to Set Marketing Goals #semrushchat

Elena Terenteva
How to Set Marketing Goals #semrushchat

2016 is already here and January is the time for companies to prepare marketing plans for the first quarter. “Increase your company’s total revenue by 25 percent,” “adopt new channels to attract more traffic” these are only examples of the goals that can be set in a yearly meeting. But are these and others are going to be good or bad from a business perspective?

During our last SEMrush Chat in December, a lot of people mentioned that they haven’t even set any goals at all, so we decided to help by discussing how to set clear and direct marketing goals with Kevan Lee @kevanlee, an epic content creator from Buffer.

So, let’s roll with the first question right away!How are marketing goals different from objectives and KPIs

Before we talk about quarterly and yearly marketing goals, we should first discuss how they differ them from KPIs, which we use to evaluate the success of a campaign or an individual staff member.

Cammy also shared a nice infographic that illustrates the measurements as a foundation for all your marketing efforts and goals as a sort of vision of what would represent the success.

Your objectives will depend on your vision, and your KPIs will, in turn, indicate whether these objectives have been completed.

Above is further proof from Marianne Sweeny that KPIs are only valuable, if they work in conjunction with your goals and your overall vision of the future market situation.

So, goals require long-term planning, while KPIs are simply proof of a concept. Kate Smith @SmittyQ14 also added that goals clarify desired results. Objectives are actionable ways to achieve them. KPIs show how you’re achieving them (or not).

To summarize these opinions, we can say that goals are your overall marketing strategy, objectives are how you will reach them, and KPIs are how you will judge future success.Difference between marketing goals, objectives and KPIs

If you have ever performed detailed competitor research, you already know that your clients’ goals are not so different from yours. Below we asked our participants to also share common goals and ways that marketers can set and achieve them.

How to set the most common marketing goals

Setting the right goals is an art and becoming an experienced marketer involves devoting a lot of effort to mastering this skill. Here are a few tips from our participants.

So, the first one is to treat numbers as a foundation for your marketing success but not your  main goal.

Return on investment (ROI) is a measurement that helps marketers understand whether their efforts are really worthwhile. The whole process of a marketing job could be simplified to five basic actions, and Jacob McEwen kindly shared them above.

Let’s summarize these opinions. The most common goals for marketers are: social media engagement, increased conversions, ROI, improved brand awareness and brand loyalty.

The most common marketing goals

Now we understand what the most common goals marketers can set. The next question appeals to our participants’ experiences and will help marketers decide whether they should set goals yearly, monthly, quarterly or weekly.

Should marketers set goals yearly, monthly, quarterly or weekly

Quarterly goals are most often set by marketers, and they usually match budget revisions in the account department. But for some niches, it’s not enough to live from quarter to quarter. Let’s see what our participants have to say about that.

It’s true in the last few years, only those companies that have adapted their strategy to be flexible have survived.

It is essential for marketers to also be flexible and have an open mind, so they won’t deny any channel or goal without proper research and testing.

Let’s summarize these tips from our participants. In order to achieve your goals, you must set reasonable deadlines, and divide each task into smaller steps and track all important milestones. You have to walk before you can run!

How should marketers set their goals

Your overall marketing success will depend on how many goals you set from the beginning. If you set too many, you more than likely won’t complete them all. If you have too few, you conversions will decrease respectively. Let’s ask our participants about some possible solutions.

How many goals should marketers set?

Kevan kindly shared expert opinion about the amount of Big Hairy Audacious Goals and Objectives and Key Results. One big goal goes first drawing on a five or so lesser goals and objectives.

Apart from the number of goals you set, prioritizing is the second key point for marketers that desire to achieve marketing success in this day and age. What will come first for your company?

It’s also important to set goals that are a bit beyond achievable, because if you don’t, the marketing team will only do what’s necessary to tick the box.

Set a manageable amount of goals! Overdoing it means that you won’t accomplish anything.

How to prioritize marketing goals

Above we learned that each marketing goal should be based on measurements and numbers. But, for instance, how are you supposed to calculate brand awareness and set goals there? Also, even more interesting – how can you check to see if all your goals are achievable?

Reality check: challenging yet still achievable marketing goals

Remember, you don’t have to do it perfectly, but just do it sometimes. It’s common for companies to set goals that can’t be completely achieved in the set period of time. This will inspire your staff to work hard.

Kevan also confessed that he likes to set unrealistic goals, because figuring out how to achieve them makes you think outside of the box. But being a realist is a mature trait that will help you take control of your life and avoid frustration. The same thing is true for digital marketing only realists can make it through!

The future is hidden within the past. In other words, the decisions we make right now will significantly affect those we make in the future. So, don’t hesitate to measure or even double-check the previous period to define tendencies and fix problems as soon they will be revealed.

Be realistic when setting your goals and deciding how many to set. Remember that excess optimism always turns to frustration and pessimism makes for laziness when it comes to marketing.

Your goal setting reality check

We’ve already learned that setting goals in a business environment is sometimes a challenging task for digital marketers. Depending on your niche, your list of challenges will be slightly different. So we decided to ask our participants about the major challengers marketers should be aware of.

The biggest challenge marketers face when setting goals

No doubt, setting goals and taking responsibility for their achieving them is a tough task by itself. All marketers make mistakes, but only experts can learn from them.

Companies tend to hide their flaws under the mask of a prosperous enterprise. Who has the guts to face the fact that their goals aren’t being met? It can go as far as not providing the real information to marketer, if he works on the outsource. Therefore, it’s hard to understand what the situation is and what should be done to fix it.

As marketers, we love our jobs, but sometimes we lack an open mind and imagination. Sometimes even a professional who is ranked a10 out of 10 might dwell into company’s business so hard that forgets to pay attention to things outside the existing business and solutions.

When in doubt, marketers turn to numbers, and as we saw in question number two, it’s pretty easy to get caught. To avoid mistakes you should start with the basic cycle and at the same time plan some innovations.

All in all, the biggest challenges for marketers when it comes to setting goals are aiming too high right away and not aiming high enough.

The biggest challenges that marketers face

The very last question was addressed to Kevan, and we asked him about Buffer’s goals for 2016. It’s nice to learn from a theory, but what does it mean in practice?

Marketers' goals for 2016

And we received a perfectly crafted and direct answer to this question.

To summarize, we added some goals of our own. Enjoy! Build a community and connect with your potential audience, check your ROI to ensure you’re on the right path and gather more leads that will lead to more sales.

Marketing goals for 2016

That’s it for today! Special thanks goes to Kevan Lee @kevanlee for sharing his expertise and to all of our chat participants.

Don’t forget to catch our next SEMruch Chat on Wednesday!

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Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies.
Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.
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Great article and I really like the format. It's always great to review how we arrive at our marketing goals, what they are, how we get there and how we measure success. I found this discussion enlightening.
Elena Terenteva
Fred Hernandez
Thank you so much, Fred!
Hope to see you among chat's participants :)