Recalibrating for 2021: Marketing Goals to Make an Impact

By / Technology

As a marketer, you know that without carefully crafted, quantifiable goals to meet the unique needs of your organization, you could waste time—and budget. Trying to rationalize your spending without clear thought to support achieving returns will leave you and your team spinning your wheels until they burn out. You know that you are working toward a big-picture goal, but if you have yet to define just what that looks like, I have some good news.

While impactful goal setting isn’t one-size-fits-all, there are some proven methods for how to set marketing goals that will move your needle towards success.


The first target-setting method is one you have likely heard of, SMART goals. Cross-industry leaders use SMART goals to grow and transform their enterprises methodically. For those in need of a quick refresher, the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based, outlined below:

  • Specific
    A vague goal would be increasing website traffic—a specific goal would be to drive traffic of 1500 unique visitors each week.
  • Measurable
    Your objectives ought to incorporate milestones and metrics. For example, producing one blog post per month as a means of increasing monthly website traffic by 25%.
  • Attainable
    While it’s great to aim for the moon, seeing results is what will ultimately keep you going. Stick to achievable short-term goals to achieve quick wins and keep motivation high.
  • Relevant
    Make sure your goal fits with your overall business objectives and makes sense for you to pursue.
  • Time-Based
    Though it (almost) goes without saying, your goals should always have a targeted deadline to ensure those for 2021 don’t inadvertently become 2022—or 2023 goals.

Let’s assume you’re starting with a clean slate, entrusted to create all new marketing objectives for your team. With your focus on the SMART framework above, the next consideration should be categorizing your success measures and choosing which to prioritize.

Outcome vs. Performance

When developing marketing goals, characterize them as either outcome- or performance-oriented. That distinction won’t create distance or confusion, they go hand-in-hand, and both look back to move forward.

An outcome goal is a precise result you are seeking, such as a 10% increase in revenue, whereas a performance goal is an objective that provides a path to desired outcomes. This could include measures like brand awareness, social media engagement, and email subscriber growth. Though performance goals are not always easy to tie back to outcomes, defining and reaching them is essential for your management process.

Outline Your Outcome-Based Goals

As this represents the ultimate measure of your overall strategy success, being realistic is crucial. Let’s say that two years ago, you guided your organization to $2 million in revenue, and last year you reached $2.2 million—a 10% increase. Assuming variables like consumer behaviors and market trends are consistent, a realistic revenue goal could be another 10% increase to $2.4 million.

Identify Performance Goals

Each performance goal is an objective to guide how you reach an outcome, like our revenue growth example above. Think of performance goals as a way to evaluate your path to the result rather than the result itself. These goals could include:

  • Increased Brand Awareness
    When consumers know your name—and view what you’re offering as different from your competitors—your sales chances increase.
  • Lead Generation
    As lead generation is central to most marketing strategies, it’s probably the measure with which your sales team is most concerned.
  • Website Metrics
    Metrics like total traffic, traffic sources, bounce rate, average time on page, and exit pages offer a useful picture of how you’re doing in earning your audience’s attention and consideration.
  • SEO Performance
    The keyword phrases used to reach your website can tell you a lot about what your potential customers think, and with that, how likely they might be to do business with you.
  • Social Media Engagement
    Social media can be your best ally in understanding your brand sentiment, which lets you know how likely clients and customers are to think of you in their search.
  • Driving Advertising Impressions
    Your impression rate tells you how many targets have seen your branding or campaign. The more impressions you earn, the more consumers will see your business as a preferred solution to their challenges.
  • Improved Email Marketing
    Email marketing is a form of direct communication with your audience. Incorporating form-fills or other components can create relationships, gain leads, and be an opportunity for reusing or including shareable content.

Understand Your Leading Indicators

Lastly, you will need to determine which performance goals most reliably lead to desired outcomes—and to what degree you can control them. One way to define your leading indicators is by identifying how you measure your value drivers. The most effective way to do that is to use historic outcomes as your starting point.

You need to determine what you need to achieve your goals and results, the key activities that will drive success, and evaluating your current resources to see if you can achieve the impact you want or need to reset your sights. Measure which efforts have been most successful and work backward from the profitable behavior you want—this will help you see the steps proven to get you there.

For example, if your research shows that you will need 5,000 additional social media followers to impact your revenue goal—and each follower has historically cost about $200—then you need $1 million to move the needle. If that is beyond your budget, re-focus with more achievable indicators.

Be Ready to Adjust

Every year, new experiences, regulations, attitudes, and many other developments change the demands of industries and consumer groups. Now is the time to pay attention to what’s happening: circulating market trends, the challenges your team is discussing, and the results your customers actively want to see.

Though your business is likely to shift its attention throughout the year, prime your goals to follow. Of course, this year has made it clear that it’s impossible to prepare for everything—but thinking ahead, mapping your goals, and planning contingencies will always be a good idea.

Whatever your goals, whether refining internal processes or investing in branding,  if you need an agency to partner with to make your existing strategy actionable—or to guide you in the right goal setting direction—let’s schedule a conversation.

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