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Set Marketing Objectives the SMART Way

Unless you want to waste time and money, and risk having your audience think, “who signed that off?”, you’ve got to define your marketing objectives.

No pressure – this is for your benefit, after all. 

Once you have some direction behind every campaign, it’ll make your workflow so much more manageable.

Plus, your marketing strategy forms part of your overall business goals. 

Making gains with your promotional content will inevitably have a positive impact on the whole of the rest of your brand.

Goals and objectives: the same thing?

Nope. They might be used interchangeably, but goals and objectives are different beings. Allow us to explain.

Your goals are the things that you desire – in this case, for your business or marketing strategy. Goals are really important: they’re like benchmarks, and having a set of goals will usually help you to form your overall strategy.

Your objectives are more definite than your goals – they’re the directions. An objective outlines exactly how you’ll achieve a goal and what that means in a wider sense. Goals and objectives work together, but with separate identities.

wooden arrow signpost

Why are goals and objectives so important?

Although the audience will usually see words and pictures, marketing is really a numbers game behind the scenes. 

From lead generation to site metrics, you’re constantly measuring the impact of your activities on both customers and your business. 

Here’s why creating a structure for all of these daily measurables is important:

  • You’ll have a much more fluid workflow. Without defined reasons for tasks, it’s never clear whether your efforts are actually making a difference. You’re just floating around.
  • It improves your brand’s reputation. If you’re just throwing campaigns out into the abyss, people will either think badly of your business or they won’t even notice it at all.
  • Everybody needs that morale boost. That goes for goals and objectives in any business area. Giving your team a structured outlook is key to keeping them happy and efficient. 

Get clear objectives

Defining your marketing objectives starts with a creative thought process, before being narrowed down to a clear range of targets. 

birds eye view of table covered with laptops and electronics

Start by getting everybody on-board

It’s good to talk, and discussing your goals is a great first step. You can bring new concepts or even preconceived ideas to the table.

If you’re the sole employee of your company, talk it through with your peers, your dog, or even yourself. Here’s what we recommend discussing:

  • Give yourself (or your team) a quick refresher on your brand’s mission statement.
  • Consider the long-term business goals and see where marketing fits into that.
  • Figure out what your overarching marketing objective is.

Your overarching marketing objective is something significant that drives the rest of your goals. For example, you might need to increase revenue by $1,000,000 by the end of the year.

Take that significant objective and pull it into chunks: the smaller goals that you’re going to achieve period-to-period. 

Put goals through a SMART filter

You might already be familiar with the SMART acronym. It’s well-known for a good reason. 

As you start to define marketing objectives, this is a great framework to use. 

The SMART principles can keep your business on-track in any area, but applying them to your marketing goals to create objectives is crucial. Here’s what SMART stands for:


Every goal should focus on one clear metric or performance indicator. Everyone in your team needs to understand each specific goal and why it is important.


There must be a way for you to measure every objective you create against a metric. No abstract ideas here. This should be easy – marketing is full of measurables.


Your job as a marketer is to inspire and delight, so start with your own team. Every objective should push beyond the organic results you’d achieve with those measurables.


That said, don’t set yourself up to fail. Although they can be ambitious, every objective should be attainable with the resources you have to hand. 


Perhaps most important is the time limit you set yourself to achieve your marketing objectives. Like the initial goal itself, create realistic boundaries and stick to them.

woman's hand writing marketing strategy on paper

If you’ve never run your marketing goals through the SMART framework before, it might look like a ton of effort. In reality, what you’re really doing is just rewriting these goals.

Say your aim is to become more visible in search results – the team at Zyro can relate.

It’s a good, obvious ambition, but it’s vague. So re-frame it: We’ll publish 40 SEO-optimized blog posts within Q3 of 2021.

Map your objectives to your marketing funnel

Sadly, people don’t just materialize at your company’s online checkout with a full cart. The marketing funnel maps out the various stages leading up to purchase.

Make your objectives make sense, and match them with the stages in the funnel. This will show you how well-covered your efforts are, and help to further define your goals. 

While some marketers like to section the funnel into 7 or 8 parts, it generally consists of:

1. Discovery at the top of the funnel – people find out your brand exists.

2. Consideration in the middle – they’re actively thinking about making a purchase.

3. Purchase at the bottom of the funnel – the transaction takes place.

hand shot of person paying with card at contactless till

Critique your marketing objectives

Take a step back and analyze what you’ve already defined, before putting all of these new measurables into action. 

You don’t want to waste time when you’ve been actively trying to, well, not waste time.

Hopefully, the principles set out in the SMART framework will keep you on track, but it always pays to give your objectives a sanity check. Make sure:

  • The objective is worth the cost needed to fulfill it. Say you’re entering a brand new overseas market – will that really have the payoff you want it to have?
  • That it’s clear and measurable, right the way through. Get opinions from other people – can they find any loopholes or ambiguities?
  • It’s worth doing. Challenge yourself: read through each objective and ask “so what?” – if you can’t really answer that, will the objective actually move the needle?

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Olivia is a writer for Zyro and an eCommerce know-it-all. Having spent many years as a retail buyer, she loves writing about trend forecasting, brand building, and teaching others how to optimize online stores for success. She lives in London and spends a lot of time exploring the city’s parks with her whippet.

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