- Setting digital marketing goals for the new year is crucial, but they need to be consistent with your broader marketing and business plans
- Business goals can include go-to-market strategies, introducing new products or services, rebranding, expanding into new markets, and increasing customer loyalty
- Your marketing investment should be based on your business’ maturity in the market
- Marketing goals should be broken into short-term, medium-term and long-term plans
- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals are essential for tracking progress and achieving success
- Your marketing goals need to be backed up by everyone in the business if you want to succeed
Where to start with business and marketing goals
Setting goals for your business and marketing plan is a big job. Before you begin, you’ll need to know where your business is headed and how marketing can help you get there.
Your marketing plan shouldn’t be separate from the business plan. The two work together very closely, and every action needs to support your overarching objectives.
If you’ve never taken the time to create these types of goals, this article will help you understand how to approach the task. To start, we recommend that you reflect on what your business and marketing efforts have already achieved. That provides a baseline you can use to make tweaks, pivot your business or continue down your current path.
The major types of business goals
Setting goals is a huge part of running a business.
Your goals serve as motivation, and they help increase performance within the company. The stage your business is in (and how quickly you want to get to the next stage) determines how you should approach goals.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, the five stages of a business’ lifecycle are Launch, Growth, Shake-Out, Maturity and Decline.
Within each stage of the business lifecycle, you need to consider the level of marketing investment you can afford – but more on that later. For now, let’s explore some of the most common business goals:
- Go-to-market. Launching your brand? You should set a strong business plan and structure before you start spreading the word. This is key to making a good first impression on your customers. That’s not to say you won’t make mistakes, but understanding your customer journey and how that impacts your business plan is crucial.
- New product or service offering. Decided to grow your service or product offering and want to make some noise? You can leverage your existing customer base and brand equity to give your new product a go.
- Rebranding. Refreshing your brand image is a great way to keep customers engaged for longer. Similar to launching a new product or service, you want to make some noise and be proud of your new look (even if the change is subtle, like with recent rebrandings from Uber and Slack):
- Expanding into new markets. This could mean expanding to a new geographical location, such as interstate or internationally. It may also mean targeting a new customer demographic.
- Increase customer loyalty and lifetime value. You’ve heard the saying that it’s more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Often, chasing lots of new customers can end up diminishing the value of your existing customers, so it’s important to maintain balance.
These are just some of the many business goals available. They’re here to provide inspiration, but you’re welcome to tear up the rule book and choose goals that suit your business specifically.
The major types of marketing goals
A digital marketing campaign without a clear goal will probably be a waste of time and money.
Marketing goals go hand-in-hand with your business goals. For example, if you want to launch a new product, the accompanying marketing goal could be “increase sales using paid advertising.”
There’s lots of different ways to approach marketing. That can be a challenge all on its own. To help keep your marketing on track, we recommend setting SMART digital marketing goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.
Marketing goals that meet the SMART criteria are more successful, and they’re less likely to lead to wasted budget.
Below are the most common marketing goals:
- Brand Awareness
- Brand Engagement
- Website or Store Traffic
- Website or Store Sales
- Lead Generation
- Lead Nurturing
Achieving these goals isn’t always easy. Each goal can be affected by dozens of different things, so it’s not as simple as running a Google Ads campaign and hoping for the best.
If you’re serious about marketing then we’d recommend allocating some of your budget to each aspect of marketing. Forbes outlines these as Branding, Advertising, Communications, Sales, and Customer Acquisition. Each component needs to be well thought-out to establish maximum impact.
Level of Investment
But how much money do I need to invest to make these goals happen?
That’s a great question. A simple place to start is by figuring out your revenue. Adam Turinas suggests that your marketing spend should be 5% to 25% of your total revenue.
Another question to ask yourself is how big the company is and whether you want to grow it. Four common approaches to business growth and determining marketing budgets are:
- Launch. Starting a new business from the ground up. You will have little to no brand awareness in the market, and can be faced with a lot of competitors.
- It’s recommended that you spend 10% or more, according to HubSpot.
- Maintain. Your business is established and you want to maintain the level of revenue, customers and product offering.
- It’s recommended that you spend 2%-10% of total revenue.
- Grow. You might want to increase your customers, staff, product offering or geographical reach and grow the business.
- It’s recommended that you spend 10%-15% of total revenue if you plan on growing by less than 50% in a 12-month period
- Dominate. You want to be the market leader for a product or service. This involves extensive resources.
- It’s recommended that you spend 20%-25% of total revenue if you plan on increasing growth by 50% or more in a 12-month period.
How to create your marketing goals
All marketing plans need a variety of short, medium and long-term marketing goals.
These goals should align with your business plan and where you see your business in the future. While it’s easy to be swept up in quick wins, we recommend starting with the big picture and working backwards.
Big picture thinking
Where do you see your business in the next two years? How about five years?
These long-term predictions form the basis of your marketing strategy. There’s no need to project too far into the future – lots can change in a few years. Looking 2-5 years ahead is enough to give you a solid direction in planning your marketing activities.
To help increase creativity, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have the right people for business growth?
- Is your business gaining momentum, maintaining or going backwards?
- Will you continue selling your products or services
- Do you need to decrease or increase your offering?
- Are there any changes in your market, customer’s needs or competitors?
- Can you improve efficiencies to find extra resources for marketing?
Because of the fast-moving nature of digital marketing, a short-term marketing goal is anything that happens in the next 3 months. Your short-term goals should produce quick wins to help build towards your medium and long-term goals.
A medium-term marketing goal is considered to be 6-12 months. These goals are often dependent on the success of your short-term marketing goals.
A long-term goal is anything from 12 months onward. We recommend setting 24 months worth of long-term goals. You can look further into the future, but your goals will need to be adjusted to make sure they’re still achievable.
Other factors that can affect your marketing plan are the stability of your company, the industry, customer shifts, new technologies and the economy. These make it difficult to set effective goals beyond 24 months.
Finding the resources for your marketing plan
It can be helpful to work out the above goals and then reverse engineer them to confirm what resources you’ll need. Keep in mind that resources go beyond the financial aspect – they can include human resourcing (staff), raw materials, equipment, software/hardware, company infrastructure and more.
Short-term marketing goals in action
Okay, you’ve worked out what your business goals are and what you want your marketing to achieve. It’s time to dive into how we get there.
Here are some examples of how you can put short-term marketing goals into action:
Brand awareness is the first step to marketing. You can’t expect people to buy your product or service if they have no idea who you are.
The more a person knows your brand, the more likely they are to buy from you. That’s simple, but businesses struggle to get the word out, and it’s hard to quantify a return on investment when you’re trying to boost brand awareness. Building brand awareness is an important goal – just be mindful that it’s hard to measure.
Some strategic ways to increase brand awareness are:
- Be consistent across all your marketing and business materials
- Know your message and stand for something
- Have an omnichannel approach, rather than focusing on one platform
- Partner with like minded businesses or people
- Work with an agency on a digital marketing plan
Back in the day, the goal was to bring foot traffic to your brick and mortar store.
As we move towards a predominately digital-first approach, the new goal is website traffic. Set monthly, quarterly or yearly goals for the increases you’d like to see. For instance, aiming for a quarterly traffic increase of 10-15% would be a meaningful and achievable benchmark.
You could work towards that 10-15% increase by doing things like:
- Building a faster website with an excellent user experience
- Engaging with people on social media to increase your customer base
- Investing in Search Engine Optimisation so that your website shows up on Google
- Paying for Google Ads or social media advertising
- Using physical signage in your store to direct people to the website
The ultimate goal is to get website users to buy your product or service. We call this a “conversion.”
Conversions look a little different for every business. For example, B2B companies often want phone calls, emails or website enquiries. On the other hand, B2C companies usually want online sales, service books, calls, emails, or foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar store.
There are lots of tactics you can use to increase conversions and improve your conversion rate:
- Lead magnets: The most popular form of lead magnets are (free) digital products that customers can access in exchange for their contact information. The customer fills out their name, phone number and email address, and they’re given access to something like a free consultation, ebook, seminar or newsletter. Lead magnets are a great way to collect first-party data and nurture potential customers over the long term.
- Remarketing: Remarketing is the process of sending ads to people who have already visited your site. These ads tend to follow customers around the internet, encouraging them to revisit the site and complete their purchase. The most common remarketing platforms are Meta, Google, TikTok and YouTube. Remarketing campaigns are cost-effective because the audience has already expressed an interest in your business.
Attention spans are shrinking – we’re down to just 8 seconds on average.
That’s a problem for businesses. You only have a few seconds to give customers what they’re looking for. If you can’t, they’re likely to go somewhere else. Although ‘user engagement’ can seem like a fluffy marketing goal, it’s a big piece of brand equity and brand loyalty.
To increase user engagement, you want to create a positive experience for customers across all platforms. Your website, social media, emails (or other communication touch points) and customer support teams should be consistent.
Here are some tactics for increasing engagement:
- Map the customer journey. Take the time to record and understand every touchpoint a customer experiences, from first contact through to conversion (and beyond).
- Create personalised content. Understand who your target audience is and what messaging will resonate with them most.
- Personalise each touchpoint. Who doesn’t love a marketing email with your name included in the intro, or a video response to an enquiry? Personalised content catches the eye in the way that generic content can’t, so it’s perfect for increasing engagement rates.
- Interact with users on social media. Always like and respond to comments, questions and shares on social media. This helps the algorithm prioritise your content and shows that you care about the customer and the time they’ve taken to engage with your brand.
- Encourage User Generated Content. USG is a fantastic trust-building tool. This could be a written testimonial, an unboxing video or a short-form video on Instagram or TikTok. User generated content is genuine, so it resonates with customers. You can even offer special deals that encourage customers to leave a review, tag your brand in their posts, or make a short video about their purchase.
Long-term marketing goals in action
You can think of your long-term marketing goals as the ultimate outcome. Reaching that outcome means continuously investing in short and medium-term marketing. Each little step brings you closer to the goal, making it easy to achieve your biggest ambitions.
This is what some of your long-term marketing goals look like in practice:
Brand recognition & recall
Brand Recall is the “likelihood of someone remembering your brand, its products and its services, either by themselves or with a nudge in the right direction.”
The goal is to increase top-of-mind awareness with as little prompting as possible. This is a different metric from brand awareness. Just because someone has heard of your brand doesn’t mean they’ll remember it.
Here are some of the ways you can increase your brand recognition and recall:
- Stay consistent with your branding (visual identity) and communication style (personality)
- Building and maintaining a positive brand reputation
- Be clear about what you do and what you stand for
- Be active and consistent on social media
- Use repetition and reinforcement across all channels, including advertising, social media, email, content, events and your website
Brand loyalty and advocacy
The modern customer wants more than a good deal – they’re looking for an exceptional experience from start to finish.
You want customers to return to your brand, even in the face of competitive offers. To foster that, you need to focus on these five things:
- Emotional connection. Customers will return to a business if they’ve had a positive experience, if your product or service meets their expectations, and if those emotions are consistent every time they use your products.
- Customer reviews and referrals. Get reviews from the customers who’ve had a great experience. Their feedback helps demonstrate to other potential customers the positive experience they will receive if they engage with you.
- Know your brand voice and values. More and more consumers are buying from brands that align with their personal values. This is known as brand affinity. You need to have a reason for being in business that goes beyond ‘making money.’
- Reward good behaviour. Loyalty programs exist for a reason – we want to reward positive consumer behaviour through the exchange of value. This could be loyalty points, cash back, product or service upgrades, etc.
- Build a community. As we use digital spaces for conversation and connection, brand community is another way to foster loyalty and advocacy. Find a platform that allows you to collaborate and share ideas with your customers. For example, this could be your blog comments section, a forum thread, social media group or Discord channel.
The beautiful thing about building brand loyalty and advocacy is that it has a compounding effect. Encouraging customers to advocate for your brand is a great way to build momentum, as long as you’re willing to make the effort to get the ball rolling.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website to increase its visibility in Search Engines (such as Google and Bing). Working with a Brisbane SEO agency is something you should consider from day dot.
Google rankings are determined by a highly complex, ever-evolving algorithm. The algorithm aims to show people the most relevant websites available. If someone is online searching for products or services you sell, SEO is one of the best ways to get their attention. Plus, your brick-and-mortar store is only open 9 to 5, but your online store has the potential to turn traffic into sales 24/7!
SEO is a big investment that can take months to pay off. But it’s incredibly effective in attracting new customers, and it’s the best thing you can do to grow your brand over the long term.
Measure success & ROI with SMART goals
Every marketing plan should outline your SMART goals. SMART goals represent Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound goals that reduce guesswork and help achieve success.
Using the SMART system sets a clear timeline and helps you create milestones to track and keep people accountable.
Effective goals are specific. Asking questions such as what needs to be accomplished and who is responsible for it are good starting points. Break down the steps required to achieve each goal. Be as detailed as you can, and make sure those resources can be available when executing the plan.
Goals are only useful if you can measure the outcome. Otherwise, how will you know if you’ve been successful? Measurable goals are extremely important when you’re spending money on marketing and trying to show how it benefited the business.
For example, the goal could be to increase sales revenue by 5% over the next quarter. To do this, you want to run a social media campaign promoting a ‘buy two get one free’ offer.
To measure this, we work out what a 5% increase in revenue looks like. That helps us figure out how many products we need to sell to hit the goal. Once we know the number of products, we can decide how much money to allocate to the social media campaign and what a good outcome looks like.
You need to be brutally honest with yourself when setting goals. There’s no point in having a goal that’s bound by an unrealistic budget or timeframe. Making goals achievable usually means adjusting the parameters or breaking the goal into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Think back to the Big Picture goals from earlier. Why are you setting these goals, and are they relevant to what you want to achieve? For instance, if we want to grow sales revenue, it probably won’t help us to increase our social media following.
On the other hand, if the goal is to increase brand awareness, a social media campaign could be the perfect marketing tool.
Make sure your goals are relevant to the big picture, and ask yourself how each digital marketing campaign is helping you get there.
Setting time frames is critical. Making your goals time-bound helps with focus and prioritisation, and it allows you to identify important milestones along the way. We recommend a combination of short, medium and long-term SMART goals, as each will build momentum in the direction you want to take.
Make sure everyone gets onboard
No matter the size of your business, it’s crucial that you have the awareness and buy-in of your team when it comes to marketing objectives.
As mentioned earlier, the customer journey is so important, and how staff interact with customers needs to be consistent. Therefore, if your team isn’t aware of what you’re trying to achieve, this can cause a breakdown in the level of service and make it impossible to reach your goals.
Nail your digital marketing goals with Gordon Digital!
There you have it, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to setting digital marketing goals. Hopefully, they’ll help your business grow and get you where you want to be.
If you need help with defining your digital marketing plan, get in contact with us. At Gordon Digital, we provide strategic digital marketing plans that are based on your business goals. For us, your long-term success is our long-term success, so we design strategies that get you where you need to go.
We’re experienced in working with a huge range of businesses. Regardless of your industry, we can design a digital marketing strategy that helps you hit your goals.
Talk to us for more, or book your free strategy session today!