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How to come up with 2020 marketing goals based on business goals

How to come up with 2020 marketing goals based on business goals Blog Feature

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

November 15th, 2019 min read

You may have a great inbound marketing plan in mind, but have you set goals? Have you decided exactly how to measure the success of every effort you or your team are putting in? 

Creating them can be difficult at times, but it's essential to align marketing goals with business goals in order to get buy-in from the team and to figure out what metrics are needed to track them. 

By setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART), you and your team will know exactly what you are working towards - with no questions. 

First, to know what a good goal looks like, we should start with poorly-defined goals.

Poorly-defined marketing goal examples:

Here are some marketing goal examples that need more work:

    • I want more website visitors, leads, and sales.
    • I want to generate a larger email list.
    • I want to rank number one in Google.

It's easy to say that you want to generate more leads, but how many more leads do you need to achieve your goal? 10 more? 100 more? Thousands more? How many contacts do you want on your mailing list? What do you want to rank number one in Google for

Well-defined marketing goal examples:

Below are the same goals turned into well-defined marketing goals. (These marketing goals are based on the overall goals of the business.)

    • We need 20,000 visitors, 500 leads, and 12 customers within the next 12-months from our inbound marketing efforts in order to achieve our revenue goal of $600,000 from inbound marketing.
    • We would like to generate 2 customers from our current client list using email marketing. We would also like to add all qualified leads to our mailing list, allowing us to keep these leads warm for future sales.

How to set marketing goals based on business goals

Below are the 10 steps for setting well-defined marketing goals that are in sync with the goals of the business:

1. Identify how much revenue you need to generate from your inbound marketing efforts

This is easy. Say your business did $2,000,000 in sales last year. Your CEO just said that he wants to grow the business 30%. You know that you already have $1,800,000 on the books for next year and expect another $200,000 from other marketing efforts, such as trade shows. That leaves you with a gap of $600,000 that you need to close within the next 12-months.

2. Determine how many sales you need to hit those revenue goals

Take your revenue gap and divide it by the value of your average sale. For example, if the revenue needed is $600,000 and your average sale is $50,000, then you need 12 new customers.

3. Identify your closing rate and how many opportunities you need

We'll continue working backwards to identify how many opportunities you need. For example, if you need 12 customers and your closing rate is 50%, and 50% of your opportunities go for a close, then you'll need 48 opportunities in order to hit your business goal.

4. Identify how many SQLs you need

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead that will be passed to the sales team. If this is your first inbound marketing campaign, then you may not know this number, so take your best estimate. I often find that 50% is a good number to start with and adjust over time. For our example, we can estimate that we need to pass 96 SQL's to our sales team.

5. Identify how many MQLs you need

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a lead that is qualified, but not sales ready. MQL's need more marketing such as lead nurturing to become more sales ready. Again, 50% is a safe number if you have no history and you can always adjust this later. Going off our example, we'll need to generate 192 MQLs within the next 12-months.

6. Identify how many leads you need

We define a lead as a visitor that has converted on one of your offers. Not all of your leads will be qualified, so it's important to estimate a number that will provide you with enough MQL's to achieve your goals.  

The more attractive your content is for your qualified leads, the higher your conversion rate from lead to MQL will be. To generate 192 leads, in this example, I would estimate that 500 leads will need to be generated to achieve your revenue goals. Monitor this closely and make the necessary adjustments over time.

7. Identify how much traffic you need to achieve your goals

Based on our experience, we would estimate a traffic to lead conversion rate of 2.5% over the next 12-months. We'll plan on this being lower in the beginning as content is being created and higher in the fourth quarter of the program. In our example, you'll need 20,000 website visitors within the next 12-months.

8. Implement your other key business goals

It's also important that you put emphasis on other key business goals. Here are some examples of other business goals you may need to create metrics for:

    • Sales for a particular product line
    • Revenue from existing customers
    • Increase retention rates from current customers
    • Number of job applicants (May be important if your business is growing)
    • Downloads of a high lead-to-customer converting offer

These types of business goals will certainly depend on your business' needs.

9. Set quarterly benchmarks

If you're just getting started, remember that results will take some time. You'll get a lot more traction in the 4th quarter than you did in the 1st. Set your benchmarks for the fourth quarter much higher than your benchmarks for the first quarter.

For our example, our quarterly benchmarks may include generating 1000 visitors in the first quarter and 8000 visitors in the fourth quarter. Set benchmarks for all metrics all the way down to new customers. Make sure you include metrics for your other key business goals.

If you find you're struggling to meet a critical metric, never fear!

Learn all about fixing six of the most important marketing KPIs and hitting your business goals in this free guide


My parting words: Your goals will not be perfect. Don't waste hours upon hours tweaking numbers and sharing with others on the team to get their thoughts. What you should do is get accurate data about previous time periods, define the capabilities of your team, and make smart decisions on where you want to go with your marketing. Then, GET STARTED!

Build your marketing strategy around these goals, and after a quarter, take a step back with your new data. Adjusting goals (whether you overshot or undershot) shouldn't be perceived as negative - it's something that's completely necessary in order to keep moving forward. 

If you need help setting your inbound marketing goals based on your business goals, talk to usWe're happy to help. 

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