Great marketing plans are built on a foundation of goals that represent your most pressing business needs. But how do you define the right goals? It turns out that there are many common objectives across business types. In my 30 years of building marketing plans, these are the goals that consistently underpinned the most successful outcomes.
Increase sales. This one shouldn’t be a surprise because it tends to be the ultimate objective for your marketing efforts. This can be a challenging goal for some marketing organizations with longer sales cycles – in that case, it is often best to choose a leading indicator of growth. You can measure your success in terms of revenue or bookings based on your business model.
Generate leads (or opportunities). If you want a more real-time measurement of marketing effectiveness, pick an outcome that shows up earlier in the sales cycle. If you are measuring leads, it is best to choose a high-quality lead metric like marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales accepted leads (SALs) to avoid declaring success based on generating unqualified leads. Opportunities are even better because they have been fully accepted by the sales team, creating better alignment.
Acquire new customers. Bringing a new customer onboard is a great objective for many types of businesses, regardless of whether you sell to individuals or to companies. While this one seems pretty easy to measure, some companies have difficulty reliably counting new customers.
Reduce churn (or retain customers). If you have a SaaS business, this can be one of the most important measurements for your long term success. You can measure this based on retention (I retained 95% of my customers) or churn (we churned 5% of our customers).
Up-sell and cross-sell. If you have an established set of customers, a great way to grow is to sell more of the same product to existing customers (up-sell) or sell new solutions to existing customers (cross-sell). This is another one that can be difficult to measure for some companies based on their systems, but it is a consistently popular goal for more mature companies.
Improve awareness. It’s easy to say that raising your awareness is a goal of your marketing, but it is challenging to measure. If this is your goal, you might choose a resulting indicator as a measurement for awareness, like inbound leads, web traffic, or positive media mentions. The ultimate measure is an awareness research study with a baseline, but that data is not always available.
Increase customer satisfaction. Over the years, marketers have been increasingly charged with raising customer satisfaction – especially if the marketing team has any product responsibility. Functions like customer marketing or customer advocacy marketing are more common as a result. The most common measurement for customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), but you can also choose other survey instruments.
Launch a new product or solution. Bringing new solutions to market helps drive growth for your company – and product marketing teams are often responsible for launch management. Be careful not to measure your success by simply launching the product – instead, you should choose an indicator of market acceptance, like inquiries, reviews, leads, or new sales of the product depending on the length of the sales cycle.
Re-brand or re-position. Successfully re-positioning or re-branding your company or your product can accelerate growth in your business. This is another one that can be tricky to measure, but you should choose metrics like inclusion of your new positioning in media and analyst communications (as a leading indicator), brand awareness, or increased growth.
Increase web traffic. Sometimes your goal is pretty simple – like getting more people to show up to your website. This another area where a quality metric is really important – make sure you can measure qualified traffic, bounce rate, conversions, time on page, or similar indicators that you got the right people to come to your site.
Refine go-to-market strategy. Whether you are in a young company that is trying to find their right strategy to bring products to market, or a more mature company, the right strategy can make a break your success. Like other project-based goals, you don’t want to measure “completion of task”, instead you should focus on the result of your efforts, including accelerating leads, sales, or pipeline.
Launch a new initiative. This is my “other” goal for marketing. You may have a new account based marketing program in the works, a CRM implementation, a new customer program, a merger, or any other strategic initiative. Whatever it is, make sure you have a clear way to measure the results.
Did I miss any goals? Probably. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you think there are others that I should add to this list.