How to Set Marketing Goals You Can Measure (FREE TEMPLATE)

by Katy French

Is your marketing generating the results you want? Are you effectively measuring ROI? Is your team struggling to stay on the same page? If any part of your marketing operation is misaligned, the root cause may be one of the most commonly overlooked problems: weak marketing goals. 

If your goals are too ambitious, too vague, or not aligned to your business, your entire marketing infrastructure will suffer. You won’t be able to measure your work effectively. You won’t be able to brainstorm the right ideas to connect with your audience. And you’ll face plenty of other frustrations. So how do you prevent yourself from making these mistakes? Build a content strategy around solid, measurable goals that really support your brand. 

5 Keys to SMART Marketing Goals

Setting the right marketing goals is both an art and a science. Luckily, there is one handy way to ensure that the goals you’re setting are right for your marketing operation: Vet them using the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely).

Note: Some people use different words within this acronym, but for our purposes, these are the terms that help us most. 

  • Specific: You need to be selective about what you choose to tackle. If your goals are too vague, it will be difficult to build an effective strategy around them. If they’re too broad, you won’t be able to make much of a dent in any one area. Thus, you need to size down and think about exactly what you want to achieve. For example, let’s say you want to “become the most popular brand in your industry.” That is a pretty broad goal, and that language is pretty blurry (what does “popular” really mean)? Instead, it’s smarter to tackle one specific concrete goal (e.g., generate X leads from a single campaign). 
  • Measurable: Sure, we all want to be #1 in our industries. It’s a great aspiration, but when it comes to marketing goals, you need to choose something that is specific and, most importantly, quantifiable. This is the only way to actually measure your success (or failure), tweak your strategy, and get better results. Even if you have a broader goal (e.g., build strong relationships with the right people), you still need to break that into smaller, more measurable pieces. (We’ll discuss this later. )
  • Attainable: This is one of the more common mistakes we see brands make when it comes to goal-setting. You may be a positive, passionate marketer who’s ready to bust your ass to achieve your goals, and we love that for you. But it’s important to stay grounded. An unrealistic goal (e.g., 10 million views on your next video campaign) won’t help you get where you need to go—it will only make you feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Conversely, setting goals that are too easy to achieve won’t help you grow or learn. (In fact, if you find that you are often hitting your goals, you probably need to challenge yourself more.) Instead, choose goals that are ambitious but reasonable.
  • Relevant: Ultimately, everything you do is in service of your larger business goals. Thus, you need to create goals that directly support your business. When your goals are aligned, it is easier to get everyone on board, get the resources you need, and come up with the right strategies for success.
  • Timely: Remember: Marketing takes time, and one campaign’s results can take months to really come to fruition. So think about whether or not your goal is truly achievable within the given timeframe (e.g., a quarter). 

While your brand’s goals will shift from quarter to quarter, year to year, if they’re built on the SMART framework, you can be confident that you’re focusing on the right things. 

What to Know Before You Set Goals

Before you start committing to marketing goals, you need to know your business goals (aka revenue goals), as well as the most important metrics related to those goals (e.g., customer lifetime value, opportunity win rate, average deal size, budget or cash burn rate if applicable, etc). 

As leads drive revenue, you will use those key business goals to inform your goal-setting. For example, our annual new business goal is the main metric that drives our strategy each quarter. While increasing that number is our ultimate goal as a department, we break our strategy down into smaller measurable goals that support that increase. 

How to Set Measurable Marketing Goals

So how do you actually determine your goals? Use the OKR (Objectives & Key Results) system to turn your aspirations into concrete, measurable goals you can easily track.

Before you dive in, download our free template to document your goals. 

Content Strategy Goals CTA

1) Identify your Objectives. 

Before you worry about measurement methodologies, start by setting your Objectives. Objectives are immeasurable, as they are those high-level aspirations that would most impact business goals. You might even think of these objectives as the core pillars that support your larger business goals. Choose 3-5 objectives to start.

Objective example: Develop a new social media marketing strategy to increase sales.

Note: These can be articulated in simple, plain English.

2) Identify your Key Results. 

One of the biggest challenges in setting marketing goals is tracking them. Thus, we use Objectives to articulate our high-level goals, and we use Key Results to break those goals down into measurable parts. Key Results should be concrete things that you can measure immediately (or can quickly figure out how to measure). 

For each Objective, identify several Key Results that support it (2-3 is usually good, but you can include more if you like). 

Objective example: Develop a new social media marketing strategy to increase sales.

Key results example: 

  1. Boost our organic engagement rate to +5%.
  2. Increase site traffic from paid social by 20%

If you’re not sure how to quantify your Key Results, see our guide to choose the right metrics for your content strategy.

Note: A Key Result can be a specific task as well. For the example above, “Create an Instagram Business Profile” could be a result, as you can clearly determine whether or not that has been achieved by the end of the quarter. 

3) Set up your infrastructure. 

You can only manage what you measure, so you need the infrastructure (tools, channels, knowledge) in place to track your results. If you’re a younger marketing operation, this may require a fair amount of effort to configure your tech and tools. But it is crucial to track your success, get insights, and tweak your strategy accordingly. 

How to Turn Your Goals Into Real Results

In a dream world, you would set these goals, come up with the perfect strategy, and tick them off one by one. But, as we know, marketing is not always a cakewalk. As you work to make your goals a reality, keep a few things in mind: 

  • Be flexible. Choosing the right goals is the first step to a successful strategy, but don’t be tied to those goals if they’re no longer relevant. For example, if you launch a fresh campaign and you immediately see that your LinkedIn spend is yielding far better returns than your Facebook spend, you don’t need to wait for a full quarter to justify putting less toward Facebook and more toward LinkedIn. 
  • Experiment more. While you might think you know what will work, trying new things can yield exciting results. One of the best parts of setting measurable goals is the ability to track them as you go. So consider ways you may make an even bigger impact (e.g., experimenting with new content formats).
  • Focus on your audience’s needs. Ultimately, your audience is who you’re serving (not just your boss). The more you focus on their unique needs and wants, the more successful you’ll be. If you’re not sure who your audience is or what they want, see our guide to create marketing personas to clarify who you’re speaking to. 

Of course, turning your goals into a reality takes more than a plan on paper. You need the right skills, resources, and people-power. If you need support in any of these areas, a content agency can help. Follow our tips to find the right partner with the right expertise, or find out what it’s like to work with us. Until then, good luck!

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  • Arlyn Lopez says:

    Thank you so much for very useful article, these articles are what i used for my freelancing career. I am grateful that i found your website. Thank you and looking forward to more educational article like these.

    More power column five media!