If there’s one thing that marketers have learned in the past few years, it’s that setting smart marketing goals is key to attaining marketing results. But just because you’ve chatted about some goals in your last team meeting, or worse a brainstorming meeting early last year, doesn’t mean you’re making any progress to attaining those goals. In fact, many cut and paste marketing goals are as lame as CBD-infused nail polish. It’s time to set goals that matter and help you actually make progress.


Stop with the vanity metrics. 

When you hear the word “vain,” you might immediately think of the Kardashians, or selfie sticks, or Kardashians using selfie sticks. But there are some metrics out there that are even more vain. We’re talking more vain than the guy the entire “You’re So Vain” song was written about… that vain. Or, we should say, the people who use them are that vain. 

Let us elaborate. The problem started because marketers wanted to share everything they were working on, and wanted the rest of their organizations to know how hard they were working. So they started reporting on activity, rather than results. “5k emails were sent last month!” “We ran 600 campaigns last year!” “We added 10k new names to our CRM!” 

But while everyone in the meeting room cheered about these apparently impressive numbers, the company’s bottom line was sitting there, unmoving. Why? Because all this activity doesn’t automatically equate into an impact on the organization’s revenue. We call these metrics vanity metrics because they really don’t tell us anything about an organization’s progress or growth; they just tell us how busy marketers have been. 

If you want to set meaningful goals that will actually get you from where you are to where you want to go, you’ve got to set fire to vanity metrics. Just because it can be measured doesn’t make it valuable. Abandon them – forever. 


Connect marketing goals to the organization’s. 

Another proven way to improve your goals is to realize that business objectives and marketing objectives should be a cooperative effort. So often, executives set the organizational goals and the marketing team sets the marketing goals. Because the whole point of marketing is to ultimately contribute to those larger, organizational goals, this disconnect is a huge problem. 

Here’s an example. A VP of marketing sets a goal of attending 15 trade shows in a year in order to get more leads and raise awareness. But, her organization’s larger strategy is to grow existing customer relationships (by upselling and cross-selling), not on lead acquisition. Her trade show plan will not only cost a lot of money, but it’ll divert a lot of valuable attention and resources away from the organization’s overall strategy. In order for marketing to succeed, it has to support the organization’s success. And you can’t do that without making sure your goals bubble up to fuel the business’ goals.  


Allow for trial and error. 

You heard us and you set smart marketing goals that are not even remotely vain, and are designed to further your organization’s goals. But they still don’t seem to be panning out. What gives? The issue here is mindset. When you set new goals, you also need to be mindful of the timeframe in which you’re expecting to achieve them. 

Time-bound goals are great because they keep you accountable and on track. But, if the deadline you give yourself isn’t realistic, you could give up on something valuable before it has a chance to prove itself. Make sure you give yourself enough time to achieve your loftier, longer-term goals. And if you discover a goal isn’t working like you thought it would? Amend it! There’s nothing saying that you can’t be agile and adjust. If you figure out a better target to aim toward, then change course quickly so you have more time to reach it. 


Setting smart marketing goals is a little art and a little science, but if you approach it with these three guidelines in mind, you’ll have much better goals in your sights than ever before. Give us a call if you’d like help setting goals or crafting the right digital marketing strategy for you.