Let’s start with a question: “Are your digital marketing objectives designed to deliver the outcomes your organization needs to succeed?”
To non-marketers, this may sound like a simple question. To experienced-marketers, this question probably triggers some level of anxiety. I’ve come across many marketers who answered with a quick “yes”. Once we dig a little deeper, it turns out they don’t actually know. There are one of two common reasons this happens:
- Marketers don’t understand (often at no fault of their own) what the organization is looking to achieve.
- Marketers haven’t taken the time to align their individual initiatives with the organizational objectives.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be overly difficult or complex to figure this out. The bad news is that we have to make the time in our already over-booked schedules dedicated to solving this. Below is a simple framework that, when followed, helps align digital marketing objectives with overall business goals.
Align marketing objectives to business goals
Businesses will flounder if key departments aren’t working toward a common goal for the business. For marketing leaders, digital marketing objectives should roll up to the overall business objectives of the organization. It influences strategy and the way teams are structured.
Owners should clearly communicate business objectives—whether that’s a board of directors, founder, or group of partners. Poorly communicated business objectives can be a major pain point for marketing leaders. They will need to open up a dialogue with key relationships who have a seat at that table.
There are three main goals of any business:
- Market share
Let’s take a closer look at each business objective and how marketing can support them.
Business Objective #1: Increase Market Share
A company’s market share is its total sales in relation to the overall sales of the industry. For instance, your business may have an objective of increasing market share from 25% to 50% in three years. Now, it’s the CMO’s responsibility to figure out how to make that happen. Here are five ways marketing leaders can support increasing market share:
- Innovation. Working with product or R&D teams to develop new value propositions to bring to market.
- Lower prices. Lowering prices may cut into margins, but it could entice buyers to ditch your competitor and purchase from you.
- Strengthen customer relationships. In businesses that operate on a recurring revenue model, strengthening customer relationships can reduce churn and maximize customer lifetime value. Listen to Hunter Montgomery, CMO at ChurnZero, share how this is possible:
- Increase quality. Some buyers place a premium on quality in their purchase decision. Marketing plays a role in increasing the perceived quality of a product or service. Work key points of differentiation into marketing messages.
- Acquisition. Another way to grow market share is to acquire other businesses and retain their customer base. Marketing plays a critical role in this kind of activity, especially when navigating new brand architectures.
Business Objective #2: Increase Revenue
Another business objective is to increase revenue. For example, your business may have an objective of increasing revenue by 100% in two years. Here are four ways marketing can support the business objective of increasing revenue:
- Increase the number of customers. More paying customers means more revenue. Marketing can play a key role by increasing the number of qualified buyers who consider your product or service.
- Increase the average transaction size. Work with product or service R&D teams to package and position offerings that may lead to add-ons or up-sells. This is one way to increase the average size of transactions.
- Increase the frequency of transactions per customer. “Customer marketing” is the practice of marketing to your existing customer base. Marketers can help extend a customer’s lifetime value by increasing the number or frequency of transactions per customer.
- Raise your prices — this is another lever to pull to increase revenue. While it may seem simple, raising prices too high can be a risky move for some businesses. Marketing must work with product, finance, and leadership teams to understand the risks and rewards of raising prices.
Business Objective #3: Increase Profit
While not always the case, increasing profit may come at the expense of market share, or even revenue. Marketers supporting a business seeking to increase profits need to adjust their marketing objectives accordingly. Essentially, CMOs in this position need to increase the efficiency of delivering value to customers.
- Increase the right kind of revenue. Know which subset of your market is the most profitable, and focus efforts to attract only those buyers.
- Create higher margin offerings. Work with product teams to package and price offerings in a way that increases margin, contributing to profitability.
- Reduce operating expenses, like management overhead for sales, product and customer success teams. Leverage first-party data to focus digital marketing efforts on the right kind of buyers to improve return on ad spend.
Establish S.M.A.R.T. digital marketing objectives
“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” – Earl Nightingale
Marketing leaders can develop objectives at each level once everyone has a shared understanding of the organization’s business objectives. This way, marketing, campaign, and media objectives are working towards the same goal.
However, “generating more leads” or “increasing organic web traffic” are incomplete objectives. These are too vague, unquantifiable, unowned, and not bound by any timeframe. Instead, marketing leaders should establish S.M.A.R.T. digital marketing objectives.
George T. Doran presented S.M.A.R.T. goals in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. The paper, titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives,” discussed the difficulty and importance of setting objectives.
- Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
- Attainable: make sure the goal is reasonable
- Relevant: make sure your marketing objective relates to the business goal
- Time-bound: specify when the result can be achieved.
Remember: goals drive behavior
Goals are a big driver of behavior. It’s important to be aware that if to focus on one thing means to focus less on other things. For example, you may sacrifice total lead volume if you’re focused on the profit-per-lead. It’s amazing how some marketers rush forward with goals without thinking about how it will impact the company.
Re-visit goals within the context of your environment over time. Goals should be pressure tested against new changes in the business environment. Many times, marketers will set a goal and head toward it without changing it. Other times, marketers sometimes completely forget about their goals. This can be the case when something unforeseen happens in the marketplace, like a global pandemic. You should re-visit that goal and update it if you need to.
Example business and digital marketing objectives
At Silverback Strategies, we help clients hit the marketing and digital marketing objectives that feed into their larger business goals. In some cases, we’ve had the ability to impact client business objectives directly. Here are some examples:
Example Business Objectives
- Increase market share in a specific geographic market. We helped Long Roofing achieve this business objective by helping them expand into New England. They saw an increase of in-market revenue by 200% year-over-year.
Example Marketing Objectives
- Increase leads by 100% year-over-year. We helped AAFMAA achieve this goal, and used analytics to prove the marketing impact of radio advertising.
Example Digital Marketing Objectives
- Increase enrollments sourced from organic search by 50% in 1 year. We helped Cornell University achieve these results by focusing on content for dozens of professional certification programs.
- Increase ad spend by 300% in 2H with measurably positive return. In the B2B SaaS space, finding a target return on ad spend can help companies profitably increase ad spend. That’s exactly how we helped LexisNexis. This was largely due to iterating on campaign performance to reduce cost-per-lead by 60%.
Work with a new kind of agency
One of the very first things we do with clients is align digital marketing objectives to business goals. This is essential to driving meaningful results. Contact us today.
We believe people drive performance. That’s why we invest so much in our people and understanding the dynamics of high-performing teams. And it works. Our employees and clients are happy and the results are impressive. In fact, AdAge, Inc Magazine and the Washington Post have recognized Silverback as a top place to work in the United States.