As the owner of a small business, you know that solid marketing is crucial to your company’s overall success.
The thing is, “marketing” is a pretty broad term. If you go into things thinking that you need to have your hand in all things marketing, you’re going to stretch yourself and your team way too thin. What’s worse is your business probably won’t benefit all that much from your efforts.
This isn’t exactly an uncommon occurrence in the world of business. In fact, in 2017, HubSpot found nearly 40% of marketers don’t believe their marketing strategies are effective.
A report by CoSchedule found marketing teams that take the time to clearly define and document their marketing plan of attack are more than 3 times likelier to see their efforts pay off.
The point is this: Your marketing efforts can only be as strong as the foundation you’ve built them upon.
This is where marketing plan objectives come into play.
What Are Marketing Objectives?
The definition of a marketing objective is a clearly defined, measurable indicator of your marketing-related performance, as tied to both your marketing and overall business goals.
Difference Between Marketing Goals and Objectives
The development of your marketing objectives comes after the setting of your marketing goals.
The difference between marketing objectives and goals is as follows:
- A marketing goal is a general statement regarding what you hope to accomplish through a given marketing initiative.
- A marketing objective is a definitive milestone, marker or another indicator that specifies how, when and by what measurement you’ll reach your marketing goal.
They go hand in hand. A marketing objective defines the terms of success for a given initiative, while a marketing goal explains the rationale behind this definition of success.
Examples of items you might focus your marketing goals and objectives on include:
- Customer reviews
- Audience engagement
- Brand awareness
- Customer lifetime value
Marketing Objectives Examples
Here are a few examples of marketing goals versus marketing objectives. Note that the figures included are for example purposes only. Your figures should be specific to your business needs, strategies and resources.
Brand awareness: If your marketing goal is to increase brand awareness, your marketing objective may be to increase your unique visitor numbers by 15% over the next month.
Customer retention: If your marketing goal is to increase customer retention, your marketing objective would be to increase your customers’ repeat purchase rate by 10% by a specific point in time.
Lead generation: If your marketing goal is to generate more leads, your marketing objective might be to collect 1,000 email addresses in the next 30 days through a landing page offer.
You might expand on your lead generation objective as follows:
- Create a landing page, linking to this page via pay-per-click (PPC) ads
- Create gated content, such as an ebook or whitepaper, to entice mailing list conversions
- Develop PPC ad campaigns to be presented on platforms your target audience is known to use (Google, social media, etc.)
Here are a few other examples of digital marketing objectives you might mirror:
- By the end of the month, we will increase the average transaction value by 15% by cross-selling products at checkout.
- By the end of the year, we will increase market share by 10% by identifying a new market segment.
- We will increase 5-star customer review ratings by 15% by the quarter’s end.
- We will spend the next month performing market research and the following 2 weeks creating website messaging that aligns with the research.
- We will run A/B testing on 2 landing pages over a month to measure performance and ensure maximum return on investment (ROI).
Keep in mind, the best marketing objectives for one business won’t be the same as another. Your specific objectives may depend on factors such as your target audience, product or service offering, budget, available resources and sales goals, to name a few.
Advantages of Marketing Objectives
One advantage of setting marketing objectives is that you have a clear focus for your marketing team and your company’s marketing goals. This allows you to prioritize efforts and ensure everyone on your team is aligned.
Another key value of setting marketing objectives is that, upon completion of a given initiative, you’ll have a much better understanding of how and why you achieved (or failed to achieve) your goals and clearly know if you’ve achieved success (or not).
For example, let’s say the mailing list campaign example previously mentioned generated 2,000 new mailing list subscribers, twice many as originally hoped.
The team with a clear focus on their marketing objectives will be inclined to dig into why their campaign was able to generate 2 times the number of leads they’d expected. In turn, they’ll have a better understanding of what tactics, content types and channels to use in future campaigns.
This works the other way as well. Objective-focused teams will also be more apt to determine why a specific initiative didn’t pan out as well as they had hoped. They then can get to work on making necessary improvements moving forward.
How to Create a Marketing Objective
When you’re establishing marketing objectives, consider the acronym SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound.
Make Marketing Objectives Specific
Simply put, the more specific the marketing objective, the easier it will be to tell whether or not you’ve reached your established marketing goal.
For instance, compare a general statement, such as “We want to increase our conversion rate,” versus a substantive and specific one, such as “We will acquire 50 new customers from Facebook this quarter from paid advertising efforts.”
Set a clear milestone that can determine whether or not your efforts led to good things for your business.
By defining a specific indicator of success, it will be crystal clear as to whether or not you’ve achieved your goal as you wrap up your initiative.
Create Marketing Objectives That Are Measurable
Say your marketing goal is to increase brand awareness.
Here’s the problem: Brand awareness isn’t exactly a tangible thing that can be measured.
That said, you might tie to this marketing goal a marketing objective such as “increase our Twitter following 25% by the end of the quarter.” Determining whether you’ve reached this objective, of course, will be as simple as crunching the numbers once your campaign comes to a close.
Ensure Marketing Objectives Are Achievable
While there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic with regard to your marketing initiatives, setting the bar too high can be a recipe for disaster.
First of all, it’s disheartening to your marketing team. If you, for example, set your sights on increasing conversions by 300% in one month, your team is almost certainly going to be left disappointed when reality hits and they’ve come up short of their target.
Secondly, an unattainable objective defeats the purpose of setting one in the first place.
So, while you do want to set the bar high enough that achieving success has a positive impact on your company, you don’t want to set the bar so high that achieving success becomes an impossibility.
Make Marketing Objectives Relevant
Here’s where you’ll begin to tie your marketing objectives into your overall goals for your business.
Relevance means ensuring that accomplishing your marketing objectives will lead to tangible gains for the company overall.
As a simple example, if your marketing objective is to increase your average order value by 10% over the next 6 months, you’d easily be able to tie this into the overall business goal of increasing sales revenues.
Getting a bit more complex, if your marketing objective is to increase your Twitter following by 25% over 6 months, you’d need to provide evidence that this impacts brand awareness, which in turn impacts your company’s bottom line.
Again, while we can say in general terms that this is the case, it’s important to nail down the specifics in order to legitimize a given marketing initiative in the eyes of your various stakeholders.
Keep Marketing Objectives Time-Bound
Just as your marketing objectives need to define specific and measurable terms of success, these terms also need to be bound by a time limit.
This gives your team a better idea of what they need to do, how they need to do it and when they need to do it by.
Say, for example, your marketing objective is to increase the number of visitors to your site by 50%. If you were charged with doing this over the course of a year, you’d know that content marketing and SEO might be a viable pathway to go down. If you were tasked with doing so in 3 months, you’d know you need to implement a more immediate solution, such as PPC campaigns and other advertising initiatives.
Why Setting Marketing Objectives Is Crucial
Organizations that set marketing objectives often end up accomplishing much more than those that don’t.
Setting clearly defined marketing objectives allows you to better understand the path you’ll need to take to achieve your overall marketing goals.
In other words, your marketing objectives will help you narrow down:
- Which marketing tactics you’ll employ in a given scenario
- What type of content you’ll create for a given campaign
- What channels you’ll be operating on
And pretty much anything else that has to do with your individual marketing initiatives (as well as your overall approach to marketing).
In contrast, attempting to reach your marketing goals without a clear objective in place may very well lead you down multiple dead-end paths — and may stop you from reaching your goals at all.
Establishing Marketing Objectives for Your Business
Companies need to engage in marketing to succeed.
But failing to set specific, attainable marketing objectives can be a detriment to your business.
Have the best chance of achieving your goals by laying out exactly how to proceed toward them and documenting how you will measure success.