9 Common Mistakes When Setting Marketing Goals (And How to Avoid Them)

Published on: | Updated on: | Caroline Lane

As an executive, you’re the captain of the ship. 

Your leadership and decisions have a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. No pressure, right?

As long as you avoid these common mistakes when setting your marketing goals, you can make the most of your marketing strategy and drive revenue.  

Let’s set sail! 

marketing goals

What Are the Most Common Marketing Goal Mistakes?   

1. You set goals that are too vague and/or ambitious

When you set marketing goals, they need to be specific and clear. Goals that are too broad or vague make it difficult for your employees, across all departments, to agree on what success looks like. Goals that are too ambitious lead to a team that might give up or feel unmotivated because they know they can never hit that out-of-reach target. 

2. Your marketing goals aren’t related to business goals: 

If your marketing goals aren’t tied to your business goals, then the marketing goals are missing the point. Focusing your marketing strategy on what you’re actually trying to accomplish in your business, whether that’s an increase in revenue or improving customer service, is imperative.

3. You set lead gen goals instead of revenue goals: 

By wholly focusing on leads rather than revenue, you might miss the opportunity to generate both. If your team is tasked with generating leads without a clear revenue-related goal in mind, then they might not drive the bottom line. 

4. Your goals don’t cover everything marketing actually does:

Sometimes, marketing might have to veer from their primary task to accomplish something else; that’s inevitable in running a company. For example, your marketing team might have to take point on publicizing an upcoming company event. But while they’re focused on this new goal, they might not have the bandwidth to continue working on the original goals. When setting marketing goals, you have to fully consider your team’s time, effort, capabilities, and what they end up spending time on. 

5. You’re setting “tactics,” not goals:

There are lots of methods through which you can achieve your goals, but you can’t let the “getting there” obscure the goal itself. You have to keep the end in sight and not just set “tactics,” which are means to that end. Things like increasing traffic, being mentioned in top-tier publications, or doubling the number of leads might be critical components of achieving the goal, but they are not the goal itself. They are strategies that you and your CMO might want to test but can also be scratched off the plan if they don’t help you advance toward the goal. 

6. Your goals have no budget or resources to back them: 

This mistake goes hand-in-hand with goals that are simply too ambitious; while it’s admirable to have big hopes and plans for your company, setting goals without having the proper backing isn’t a good idea. Bootstrapped marketing campaigns can bring you great results, but you shouldn’t count on them going viral (they rarely do, and that doesn’t make your CMO a bad leader).

7. You’re not providing transparency for your marketing team:

If your marketing team doesn’t have a firm grasp on the bottom line (including conversion rates, sales cycles, current pipeline, upsell rates and churn), they lack the details that will enable them to think critically and put the right plan in place. Without full transparency, the team also won’t be able, to be honest in their assessment of the goal and how realistic it is. 

8. You’re ignoring historical data: 

If you set goals in a vacuum and ignore past figures, you’re taking a test without studying. Historical data, both from your company and the industry at large, is there to help you make the most well-informed decisions that contextually make sense, and ignoring that data will put you at a significant disadvantage. 

9. You set goals, then forget them: 

While setting and forgetting works well for marketing automation, your goals require constant attention. If you don’t revisit your goals and their associated KPIs often, you might be missing that they’re no longer attainable. Staying attentive and focused on your goals and not being afraid to tweak them based on your progress will keep you on track.  
revenue marketing strategy

How to Set Good Marketing Goals 

Now that you’ve seen the most common mistakes when it comes to setting marketing goals, you’re one step closer to avoiding them altogetherAll you need is the proper framework to do so. Here are some ways to ensure that you set good marketing goals:

  • Set smart goals
  • Focus goals on metrics that matter to the business as a whole
  • Leverage data to understand what's attainable
  • Let your Head of Marketing do their job

Let's take a deeper look at all of these best practices:

Set SMART goals for the entire company using GOST or OKR framework: 

SMART goal is:  

  • Specific – the goal is clear-cut and avoids broad or vague expectations 
  • Measurable – there is an agreed-upon way of determining whether the goal was met 
  • Attainable – the goal is within reach 
  • Realistic – your marketing team is proven to be able to accomplish the goal 
  • Time-bound – your goal must be complete within a specific window of time, or else it must be reevaluated 

To set SMART goals, you can follow the GOST framework, which stands for goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Goals refer to what your company is trying to accomplish within a specific timeframe. Objectives are how you’ll go about achieving those goals. Strategies are the ways you’ll meet those objectives, and often become department-level. Finally, tactics are what you’ll use to accomplish what you’ve laid out as strategies. By following the GOST framework, you’ll be able to align your company and its goals and keep it that way. 

Another usable framework is Objectives and Key Results (OKR). With OKR, you have an overarching company objective coupled with the key results each member of the team can contribute to achieving the determined and collective objective. 

Focus goals on metrics that matter:

Prioritize what is measurable and essential, and set your goals accordingly. Focus on revenue marketing and driving the bottom line in an attainable and realistic way.

Leverage data to understand if your goals are attainable:

marketing automation agency can help you do this by cleaning up your data and making clear categorizations and separations. By paying attention to historical data, you can avoid setting goals that are too ambitious and impossible to achieve.  

Let your Head of Marketing do their job: 

As CEO, you hired a marketing team for a reason! Let the head of marketing take the reins and do their job. Your marketing head is trained to think critically and enact marketing strategies that will see a positive increase in your revenue and metrics. 

revenue marketing

Key Takeaways 

The role of a CEO in setting the right marketing goals is crucial in ensuring your company’s success. Avoid the nine common mistakes by focusing on your revenue and setting SMART goals. Do this by following the GOST or OKR frameworks, prioritizing and focusing on what matters, and utilizing the full potential of your marketing team. 

Want to Know More About Setting Marketing Goals? 

To set the right goals, take charge of your marketing strategy, and ensure smooth sailing, download our GOST Framework Template today! 

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