Any healthy business that has its sights set on long-term growth employs a high-level digital marketing strategy that leads the general direction toward its long-term goals. These goals typically increased revenue, sales, market share, profits, company value, customer base, and other similar metrics.
To reach these broad long-term goals, businesses must set actionable, precise, and more bite-sized objectives that serve as milestones by which progress toward goals is measured. To this end, we need to talk about the engine of business growth: marketing.
In this article, we are going to specifically talk about marketing objectives; explain what they are, and discuss how they fit in a business’s overall marketing strategy.
What Is a Marketing Objective?
To lay it out as simply as possible, the relationship between marketing objectives and marketing goals is akin to the relationship between business objectives and business goals that we explained above.
When business objectives are set, marketing is leveraged as an instrument to help close the gap between where the company currently is and where it should be in a given time frame. As to how marketers should approach this, marketing goals are set to provide general guidelines in terms of where the resources should be poured into and what channels should be focused on. These marketing goals are in turn broken down into a set of marketing objectives which are measurable, tangible, and specific marketing actions that are assigned to specified marketing teams and members.
Although we spent some time discussing these four concepts—i.e., business goals, business objectives, marketing goals, and marketing objectives—terminology does not matter so long as the distinctions are made and the language defining these concepts is unified within an individual organization and the agencies they work with. The reasoning behind this is to give clarity to everyone involved by setting agreed-upon standards. It is much easier to track, review, and improve performance towards quantitative targets when all participants are in the same boat.
What Are Some Examples of Marketing Objectives?
Here is an example to further clarify how these pieces come together:
Imagine an American manufacturing company whose primary business goal is expanding its operations to the Asian markets. A business objective for this company would be to open two office locations in China within the next two years. With this business objective in mind, the company sets a marketing goal to increase brand awareness and product demand in the Chinese market. And to achieve this marketing goal, the marketing team set three marketing objectives: (1) create official accounts on Chinese social media networks and gain 100,000 followers across all of them within the first year, (2) build a Chinese website with a local domain name extension on a Chinese server in the first 3 months, and (3) conduct an SEO campaign to optimize for Chinese search engines and reach 30,000 annual visitors by the end of the first year.
How to Set Marketing Objectives?
As you can see in the example provided above, every marketing objective should follow the overarching business strategy which is in turn rooted in a company’s goals and needs. Marketing objectives are highly detailed and low-level tasks (in the grand scheme of things) assigned to specific accountable teams and individuals.
Just like their business counterparts, marketing objectives should be bound by SMART criteria. These criteria eliminate any sort of ambiguity from the equation, making your bottom-up marketing efforts more efficient and effective.
Marketing objectives must be specific and free from any guesswork in a way that there won’t be any major unanswered questions about it. The set objective should specify what you are trying to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, who should be involved, and what resources should be dedicated to it.
An objective that does not have quantitative metrics for progress measurement is not set properly. The KPIs used to track performance are dependent on the objective defined. In the example above, one of the KPIs used for tracking brand awareness is the total number of followers across all social media accounts.
It is imperative to ensure from the very beginning that the objective is achievable not only with regard to time and resource constraints but also the nature of the task. Imagine a scenario where the company in the example above spends millions of dollars and makes all the preparations only to find out that the product cannot be sold in the target country due to legal restrictions.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The objective should be relevant to the business and serve its goals. For example, a relevant marketing objective for a high-tech company in Boston could be to dominate the Boston SEO space.
There must always be a deadline that everyone strives to meet. This is the only way that we can ensure steady and consistent progress toward the objective. Time-bound objectives have higher success rates simply because they create a sense of urgency and help set priorities.