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The process of developing marketing plans, objectives, and strategies lies in the effort to raise brand awareness and promote products and services. Marketing objectives work to provide guidance for marketing strategies and serve as the foundation on which to set marketing goals. By creating clear strategies and ways to measure the success of a marketing objective, you’ll need to be clear on what you want to accomplish in order to plan how to get there. Let’s take a closer look at marketing objectives to get a better understanding of their role in the marketing plan, how to develop your own, and the measurements that validate your efforts.

What is a Marketing Objective?

Marketing objectives look at the big picture and take into account all the departments or employees that the objective affects. You may need accounting to weigh in on the budget, ensure customer service understands new policy or procedure, or empower sales teams to meet sales goals. Marketing objectives, whether short-term or long-term, aim to reinforce or uphold the company’s mission statement or corporate vision.

The value of a well-planned, well-executed marketing objective lies within the clear goals of the objectives that set the stage for your marketing success. Without goals, you’ll struggle to identify areas that need improvement, or be hard-pressed to verify your success.

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How is a Marketing Strategy Different From a Marketing Objective?

Marketing objectives give birth to marketing strategies. While marketing teams determine the objectives, strategies involve the participation of the many teams. The marketing strategy is the detailed plan to achieve the objective through marketing campaigns, advertising, and promotion. Teams work together to analyze the marketing strategy and identify areas of concern before they become a concern. For instance, the sales team may provide guidance for reaching the right demographic, or the legal team draws up the rules of a contest. Keeping that idea in mind, here is a timeline of how a marketing objective establishes a marketing strategy.

  • Objective: Company A sets a marketing objective to promote their brand. Specifically, the company plans to launch an entirely new soda flavor.
  • Goal: The goal is set to reach 1000 possible customers with a 10% conversion rate.
  • Strategy: Develop a contest to name the new soda flavor. To run a successful contest, departments work together to determine the contest rules, legal language, the prize or prizes and the most effective advertising options.

Defining Marketing Objectives

Before setting goals, identify your objectives first. Have a thorough understanding of what the objective hopes to achieve and define a clear direction to reach it. Your objective outlines the role and intentions for each team and provides room for questions, clarification, and to gain support from upper management.

Although marketing objectives assume various shapes and sizes, they function to address one of four major categories for building and growing a business:

  1. Profitability
  2. Market share
  3. Promotion
  4. Growth

Determine the primary objective

Once you’ve established the category or categories of focus, develop a specific objective for that role. For example, your objective may center around promotion to drive interest in your brand. Or, if a long-time product sees a drop in sales over time, you may focus on revitalizing the forgotten item, especially if it joins a trend. Be sure to revisit your company’s vision statement and question whether or not the objective achieves the company’s mission.

Define the achievement

Typically, an overarching objective allows room to set specific goals accompanied by milestones or to employ the metrics that determine their success. The objective implies you know what you hope to accomplish and the goals and strategies fill in the blanks and answer the questions of who, why, how, what, and where. Specific, but overarching objectives may include:

  • Profitability: Increase revenue by 15% .
  • Growth: Increase customer return rate.
  • Market share: Double the 18-35 demographic.
  • Promotion: Launch new product or service.

Set SMART goals

Next, the objective needs specific goals in order to determine its direction and measure its success. Goals keep the objective on track and provide a roadmap for sales or customer service to meet or exceed each goal. For a goal to be its most effective, follow SMART principles to create them:

  • Specific: A goal needs a specific reason for being and one that gives you a concrete result you can measure. Example: Increase profit margin by 5% within six months.
  • Measurable: In this example, the impacts of the margin increase are measurable and provide data that supports the goal, or to make adjustments that make it feasible.
  • Achievable: When designing a timeline, ensure you set an adequate time frame to reach the goal. Set expectations that teams can meet to support their success and participation.
  • Relevant: The goals work to achieve the objective, so they should mesh. If the objective is to increase profitability, then increasing the profit margin is in sync with the objective.
  • Time-bound: While you allow time for the strategies to unfold and work, give your goals a reasonable end date. SMART goals let you alter your stipulations as the goal unfolds.

Set measurements

You’ll need a set of metrics that let you look at the results and decide whether or not a strategy is working, or how it worked in the past. Historic data guides the way to setting new marketing objectives with key information to past strategies. Here, you can analyze a strategy’s strengths or avoid its pitfalls. We will look closer at measurements and KPIs a little further down.

How to Determine the Goals of Marketing Objectives

Image via Unsplash by @homajob

It’s one thing to state an objective, it’s another to design a thorough plan to achieve it. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at how to pinpoint marketing goals based on the marketing objectives and the goals for the business.

Objective: Increase traffic to website and improve online sales

In order to increase website traffic, teams analyze their current practices and may perform competitor research to understand their traffic funnels. Setting goals to increase traffic includes:

  • Test one new traffic generation method each month.
  • Increase website traffic 3% by the end of the third quarter.
  • Decrease abandoned shopping carts by 25%.

Example: When the adventure camera maker, GoPro, wanted to engage customers and improve online sales, they set out to challenge their users to create short films to share on the company’s site. After a new customer video uploads, GoPro attaches its logo and shares clips across social media channels that drives traffic to the website. The adventurous videos shared by consumers reduce the number of abandoned carts by instilling buyer confidence through peer reviews and evidence of the camera’s ability.

Objective: Improve product awareness

Consider what it means to improve product awareness: a company seeks to establish a leadership role in the market and develop its reputation as the example. This applies to both start-ups promoting the product that launched the business and to established companies that add products or improve services. Set goals that work to alert consumers to the company and its brand and keep customer persona in mind.

  • Gain 1500 organic visitors to website each month.
  • Gain 250 shares of each blog post.

Example: A local sporting goods company aims to target millennials with their newest line of hiking gear, but are aware that millennials respond to non-traditional advertising methods. The company sets a first quarter goal to sponsor three local hiking groups and provide refreshments for the hikers. In the second quarter, the sporting goods company starts its own hiking group and awards participants with samples of its gear.

Objective: Manage and sustain the brand

In some cases, the brand or company has been around for a long time and people take it for granted. A business wants to stay in the public eye and run ads or promotions to rekindle a relationship or re-establish why the brand works in the first place.

Example: Fast food companies have been around for many years and consumers may become immune to advertising since they are so familiar with the brand. A company like McDonald’s might set goals to develop new sandwiches, improve the menu, or run a promotion or contest that drives sales and repeat customers. Think of the McDonald’s Monopoly game.

Objective: Increase market share

Companies inspire competition and each business gains a share of the market. When a business wants to increase their market share, marketing objective goals approach it by developing an understanding of their ideal customer to appeal to them directly.

  • Sign up 100 new email subscribers per month.
  • Develop video series that teaches customers how to use the product.
  • Schedule two local media interviews or spots each month.

Example: Consider Nike. When the brand first launched, they entered an already competitive market. Their strategies include the now famous Nike swoosh that represents the Greek goddess of victory, along with the well-known tagline, “Just Do It.” Both approaches attracted customers and created a culture of Nike users who promoted the brand through use and reviews. Product lines Nike develops echo the same culture and values that built their community.

Objective: Launch a new product

When a company is ready to launch a new product, they consider the product, the demographic, and the competition. Ask if the objective applies to new customers, or if it appeals to an existing market. Design goals that delight loyal customers and/or attract a new following.

  • Define price points by month’s end.
  • Develop interactive web page to demonstrate product.
  • Offer 10% discount and reach sales of 1,000 units in first month.

Example: When the eyewear company, Warby Parker, entered the market, rather than focus on selling a new product, they sold an idea. Warby Parker shared its story and elevated its appeal by assuring customers the company had their best interests in mind. The story of the founder’s struggles to purchase quality, affordable glasses, and how it inspired the company, relates to the customer’s own experience and bonds the mission to the client.

Objective: Improve customer service

Of course, when it comes to running a business, gaining customers is the primary marketing plan and an objective to strive for. Goals that improve customer relationships seek to gain consumer trust and inspire loyalty. Implement or revisit loyalty programs, memberships, and customer support options to set goals that improve the customer experience.

  • Follow up each purchase with a satisfaction survey.
  • Provide free product demonstration with specified purchase such as a kit or bundle.
  • Chat with 100 potential customers per month and enter 30% into loyalty program.

Example: Engaging with customers isn’t a new concept, but it is one that has evolved over time. Social media and the abundance of personal devices presents opportunities to reach customers in many ways. Frito-Lay understands its customers and strives to involve them in their process. The company sponsors a contest called “Do Us a Flavor”, in which they encourage customers to come up with different flavor combinations they would like the company to develop. Frito-Lay chooses three flavors and awards prizes to the winners. They team with influencers to promote the contest, new flavors, and the overall brand.

Measure Your Success

Setting your key performance indicators (KPIs) is a crucial phase of your marketing objective. Once you’ve defined your goals and begun to implement your strategies, you’ll need a way to track each metric and determine its success or evaluate its weakness. You may opt to use online programs or software for lead generation, subscriptions, or to compile sales data. Spreadsheets let you manually track your progress.

Measuring sales growth

Monitoring sales growth applies to the revenue difference in units produced to units sold. Ensure your sales teams follow up with and nurture leads to turn them into customers. Monitor for changes within a specific time frame and note any trends or fluctuations to adjust strategies accordingly.

Key indicators: 

  • Number of new leads generated from marketing strategy.
  • Number of closed deals from quality leads.

Measuring changes to profit

Changes in profit may come from decreases in production costs (move to a smaller building, outsource manufacturing) or increases in consumer cost (raise prices by 1% every six months), factor both into the end result. Monitor for unexpected expenses or hidden costs and make adjustments to the budget or resources.

Key indicators: 

  • How many shoppers completed a purchase?
  • How many abandon shopping carts?
  • Changes in percentage of dollars spent over specified time period.

Measuring market share

Before you can monitor your share of the market, it’s helpful to know what it is. You can calculate yours by dividing the company’s total revenue by the total revenue of the market. The result is your estimated portion. To monitor how your marketing objectives affect market share, research how the competition markets its products or services and find creative ways to meet your own growth potential.

Key indicators: 

  • Number of positive reviews.
  • Number of new email subscribers or memberships.

Measuring lead quality

While you want your marketing objectives and strategies to attract potential customers, or leads, the quality of a lead might make the difference in the sale. For example, a bakery participates in a local festival with free samples and sells their most popular items. The bakery encourages every customer to sign up for its free recipe book and 80% of customers fill out the form. Of that 80%, only 20% complete the newsletter sign-up process. The bakery, rather than focus on the 80%, markets to the 20% who have gone the distance to be part of the bakery’s circle. You can break it down even further by analyzing SQL (sales qualified leads) or MQL (marketing qualified leads). Measure the quality of leads by:

  • The number of leads
  • Percentage increase in number of leads
  • Cost per lead
  • Conversion rate (leads that become customers)

Measuring customer quality

You’ll want to measure new customers and repeat customers to understand how to improve your approach to attracting them, and if you’re successful at customer retention. Since there may be different strategies for groups of customers, be sure the goals of your marketing objective reflect how the plan speaks to both.

Measure new customers success by:

  • The number of new customers gained over a specified time period.
  • Percentage change of new customers over a specified time period.
  • Cost to acquire a new customer, how cost is offset.
  • How many leads become customers, set specific parameters.

Measure repeat customer success by:

  • Number of times customer returns
  • Customer retention rate
  • Dollars spent over lifetime
  • Rates of referral

Measuring website metrics

Determine when to change or address website items like efficacy of the landing page, how long the customer clicks around, and whether they are a qualified lead. Your marketing objectives target a certain demographic or qualifier. If your site isn’t turning browsers into customers, look at the data that details customer behavior on your site.

Key indicators:

  • Number of visits to the website.
  • Unique visits.
  • Page views: time spent clicking through the site.
  • Bounce rate: number of visitors who leave after viewing one page.
  • Time on site: the average time a customer spends on each web page.

Measuring social media channels

Measuring the success of social media channels works a lot like website metrics as they both measure traffic and engagement. These measurements lend insight into the efficacy of your platforms, or how each platform responds to a strategy. When evaluating your social media presence, apply measurements to all aspects of social media interaction and behavior.

Key indicators:

  • Number of new followers over a specified period of time.
  • Number of comments on posts over a specified period of time.
  • Number of content shares.
  • Number of leads gained through social media ads or campaigns.
  • Number of clicks to website via social media.

Points to Remember

While you’re developing your marketing objectives, ensure your goals and strategies support it, but don’t forget to be creative, innovative, and even a little daring.

Don’t skimp on research

Get to know your customers and your competition. Consider organizing a focus group to gain insight into what your customers want. Read surveys you send out, and respond to issues with proactive actions. Develop personas and profiles to further define your ideal customers.

Be original

Follow the lead of major brands and step outside the marketing box. Explore today’s numerous avenues to reach customers and ask for feedback from employees or team members for ideas or suggestions. Creativity might be the difference between lukewarm responses and sheer excitement.

Involve your customers

Evolve your customer into more than just the person who buys your product or service. Involve them in business decisions, ask for feedback and respond accordingly. Make customers part of the company’s culture to instill feelings of belonging. Market to your ideal customer and communicate as if they were right in front of you.

Align with a cause

People respond to charitable actions, especially when big companies acknowledge a societal issue and pledge to help. Participating in charitable organizations or drives, donating to causes, or altering a brand to meet current thinking elevates your company as one with a conscious and a heart. Align with a cause that supports your company’s mission.

  • A health food company supports animal rights.
  • A clothing company donates unsold items to developing countries.
  • A book publisher sponsors new authors.
  • A restaurant donates food to a local soup kitchen.

Stay human

Above all else, remember that actual people populate companies and communities. Let customers in on silly company blunders or share a secret with your members. Communicate with customers in ways that celebrate that they are more than a number on a spreadsheet.

To sum up, marketing objectives lay the foundation for marketing goals and strategies that create interest, engage customers, and elevate a brand. Marketing objectives align with the company’s values and seek to fulfill its mission. Your measurable results provide insight into what is working or what needs to change.

When you’re ready to develop the next marketing objective, remember the words of the great Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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