5 Key Steps to Setting Realistic Marketing Goals

Creating marketing plans with achievable goals has become second nature for us over the last few years, and we understand that a lot of businesses struggle with identifying and setting realistic marketing goals. Some set lofty, unattainable goals and end up discouraged, or they set goals that are too easy and insignificant, causing them to miss out on potential growth. We’ve put together five tips and questions to get you thinking to ensure your marketing goals are both challenging and achievable.

1. Base your marketing goals on your business goals.

Spend some time evaluating your current position. Your marketing benchmarks (more conversions, increased growth or better retention) should fit into and support the overall goals you’ve already set for your business. There isn’t a magical list of marketing goals you should be trying to reach. Every business (even within the same industry) will have different goals and different timelines, and that’s ok.

Ask yourself:
What does each marketing benchmark represent? An increased social community is reaching new customers, or email marketing conversions means you’re increasing services-per-customer. Tie each metric at your disposal to what it means for the business.

2. Set goals that are specific and intentional.

The trouble with setting broad goals is it’s difficult for you to know when you’ve met them. Let’s use an example of you setting a goal of “eating healthier.” What does that actually mean and what is its overall significance? A specific goal for you would be, “I’m going to eat two fruits and vegetables at every meal for 30 days and lose 20 lbs in six months to help lower my blood pressure.” You’ll know when your goal has been met and if you’re able to celebrate your achievement.

The same goes for your marketing goals, but there’s a catch. Not only do you want your goals to be specific, but you also want them to be intentional. A lot of marketers choose arbitrary numbers for their goals instead of putting in the time for research and thought. Say they want to grow their presence on Facebook. They should check their analytics to see what normal growth looks like for their company or organization. This sets their baseline. Then, they can evaluate what they’ve done in the past and how it’s affected growth. These numbers combined with your available resources and planned initiatives will help you see what goals you can realistically achieve.

Ask yourself:
Do my goals match my initiatives? If my marketing plan for the year puts an emphasis on social media, then so should my goals. It doesn’t do me as much good to make all of my goals around mailers if that’s not where I’m trying to grow.

3. Set measurable goals.

It’s important for your goals to be measurable. Not only does this allow you to ensure specificity but it also gives you a measuring stick to hold up and show accountability. You can tell your CEO that you’ve got more followers on Facebook, or you can tell them you set a goal to gain 200 new followers by the end of March and have exceeded that goal by 18 percent.

Ask yourself:
How do I measure my goals? When creating your measurable goals, you should also create a plan to keep track of your progress. After all, it doesn’t do you any good to have measurable goals if you don’t actually measure them. By putting together a plan, you can keep track of conversions such as when a person goes from following you on Facebook to actually walking into your store.

For more information about measuring social media success, read more here.


4. Check your resources.

Take stock of your resources, knowledge and time. Create a content calendar that will help you plan out your time so you can see holes or places where you’ve overextended. Look at your budget to see where you’ve allocated dollars and what can be reasonably done with that money. Take time to search the web for resources you may not possess. We put together a blog post on email strategy to get you started, and HubSpot has a ton of resources as well.

Ask yourself:
What are you missing and what are you underutilizing? Look at each goal and ask yourself, can I really and truly accomplish this? Are the numbers, time frame and cost practical? If you keep to this, you’re sure to set goals you can achieve.

5. Get buy-in and set expectations.

You have to ensure essential stakeholders are on board with the goals you’ve set. You can’t do it all alone, and if you don’t have buy-in from those that directly influence whether or not you achieve your goals, you’ll find success difficult. Take the time to talk with your sales team, managers and staff. Don’t make assumptions. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the resources, knowledge and time they have available, and incorporate that knowledge into your plan. Loop everyone in on your measurement plan before you begin executing. This helps set the expectation of what can be tracked, and where the analytics trail might get cold. By tracking your goals, you not only provide accountability but also provide a feeling of accomplishment.

Ask yourself:
Have I provided essential stakeholders with goals and ways to measure them? Most people go into their jobs with preconceived ideas about what their goals should be. By sharing your goals with your team and making sure they understand how these goals will be measured, everyone will be on board.

These five goals and questions should help take some of the anxiety out of generating your new marketing goals and should help turn it into an exciting and energizing activity. Setting achievable goals will not only allow you to showcase you and your team’s success, but it will also establish the finish line you’re working toward. Your goals can be used to influence all of the decisions and initiatives you roll out during the year, making your life a little bit easier.