As more and more B2B businesses are emphasizing on and embracing inbound marketing, the competition to attract customers through the same is increasing as well. So, even if the target customer is engaging with your inbound marketing campaigns, how do you know if they are being motivated to make decisions that contribute towards growing your business?
This is why goal-setting is important to inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is known to be a non-intrusive, consensual business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. But when done in an unorganized way without setting goals first, it does not lead to as much business growth as it potentially can.
Simply put, if you do not know in which direction you are heading, you will never know when you get there or whether you are on track.
Inbound marketing can help people find value in your brand, but inbound marketing with set goals can convert those prospects into clients. Thus, it shortens sales cycles and generates revenue for your business.
Setting the right goals for inbound marketing is not that simple but if you can do it properly, you will not only have the numbers and statistics to guide your inbound marketing efforts in the right direction for your business needs, but you will also have a statistically proven higher ROI.Inbound marketing can help people find value in your brand, but inbound marketing with set goals can convert those prospects into clients. Click To Tweet
In this article, you’ll discover why goal setting is important to inbound marketing in the B2B industry and how you can set effective goals for your inbound marketing strategy to generate qualified leads that convert. Let us dive in.
Benefits of Goal Setting
The key idea behind goal setting is to have a roadmap of where you plan to take your business growth-wise within a certain period with your inbound marketing strategies. And creating this roadmap is an organized approach to B2B marketing that has its own benefits. Let’s see what they are.
Step-wise Targeting in the Buying Process
Any B2B buying process typically includes three steps, and they are awareness, consideration, and decision-making.
Even though no step is any more or less important than the others by default, your target customer is inevitably going to struggle more at a certain point in the buying process compared to others.
For example, your company might have no problem attracting leads but converting them might be an issue for you. And you need to design your inbound marketing strategy around this central aim.
So, as a B2B marketer when you set inbound marketing goals for your company, you need to decide which particular step in the buying process needs a marketing push. This is usually the first thing to decide when setting goals since not every company is going to struggle in the same ways.
More Focused Approach
There are innumerable inbound marketing tactics like topical blogs, social media campaigns, ebooks, SEO, viral videos, webinars, whitepaper, and so on. Among such a wide array of creative choices, it is easy to get confused if your marketing team does not have a clear-cut goal to funnel their ideas and efforts through.
For example, for a B2B company that aims at customers in the decision-making phase of the buying process, inbound marketing strategies like email marketing, segmentation, and CRM are going to work a lot better than tactics like SEO, social media marketing, and blogs, which are better suited for spreading brand awareness.
Goal setting beforehand makes sure that no inbound marketing activity goes to waste and all your efforts are streamlined to focus on efficiently meeting your goals.
If the inbound marketing goals are already set, the chance of misplaced efforts and creativity in content creation and distribution decreases exponentially. When the marketing team is aware of what the marketing campaign is aiming to achieve, they can create a guideline for themselves to employ content marketing strategies that hits the bullseye.
For example, when a B2B marketer tries to spread brand awareness through an educational blog post. Due to having a clear goal of attracting prospects and generating qualified leads, they would structure the blog post with instances of their brand activity and performance and add an appropriate call-to-action.
On the other hand, if the goals are not clear from the get-go, the blog might end up being overtly informational with the wrong inbound marketing tactic employed such as SEO and keywords, which might make the blog post rank higher, but not produce the desired results with the readers.
This is nothing but a missed opportunity. The absence and presence of a concrete content guideline based on set goals can be the difference between a successful and failed content marketing campaign.
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An important aspect of setting inbound marketing goals is setting a marketing budget and designing a marketing campaign in accordance with that. This would let your marketing team provide the best results while staying within the budget and generating an estimated return on investment (ROI).
When you set goals, budget optimization happens automatically since you are no longer spending money on unnecessary marketing channels that do not serve your purpose. Hence, you not only stay within your set budget but might also save some money.
As for ROI, you can surely expect a higher margin of profit than you would without goal setting. This is because everything becomes more quantifiable and manageable when you set goals beforehand.
An ROI model can be used to calculate the budget and ROI of your inbound marketing campaign. This essentially means, your campaign’s ROI is in your hands based on how you plan your ROI model. It is not a matter of chance or luck anymore. You simply aim towards a certain return margin and plan your campaign accordingly by making the necessary calculations.
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Sync Between Marketing, Sales, and Service Teams
The marketing, sales, and service departments are the three main components of a B2B business that need to work together to generate revenue. And, it is usually a lack of common understanding of the company’s vision that puts them out of sync.
Since marketing brings in the leads which go through the sales to reach the service team, all three teams must be on the same page regarding what promises were made with what aim in mind, to avoid seeming disingenuous to the client.
With goal setting, when all three teams are in the same room, a common space of communication is created. As a direct result, it becomes easier for the marketing team to bring in qualified leads, for the sales team to close them, and for the service team to deliver what was originally promised.
Thus, setting common, interconnected goals creates transparency between the different teams that make for faster and greater revenue generation.
One of the best benefits of goal setting is that you get to decide what your company’s “success” will look like. This removes the factor of chance and all anticipation and anxieties associated with it. You can not only measure your success but control it to a certain extent.
Goal setting gives you a benchmark of success for your inbound marketing campaigns. You can plan to increase revenue, reduce sales cycles and generate profits at a certain rate, and after launching the marketing campaign you can track how many of those goals were met and to what extent.
On the other hand, if you do not set goals it would be impossible for you to understand how inbound activities are translating to sales and profits, and if they are at all contributing to attaining your B2B marketing goals or not.
Now that you understand the importance of goal-setting for inbound marketing, let us help you figure out how to set effective goals for your inbound marketing campaigns.
How to Set Effective Goals for Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
We have already established that goal setting gives you some irrefutable advantages that inbound marketing alone cannot provide, the question that naturally arises is how do you set effective goals that are specific to your business and your industry?
Indeed, the goals for every B2B business are going to be different. But there are some basic steps you can follow that will make the process easier. We will help you with the how so you can work through the what easily.
Without further ado, let’s learn how to set effective goals for your inbound marketing strategy.
Figure Out Your Current Position
To have a clear picture of where you want to reach, you need to have a good understanding of where you are currently at. This step ensures that the goals you set would not be vague or unattainable, since accessing your position will give you a better idea of how much growth is possible in your present situation.
After all, inbound marketing works best for B2B businesses if it is properly evaluated and controlled.
In this evaluation, you need to figure out what kind of results your current marketing strategies are yielding. You can start by asking the following questions:
- What is your website’s monthly rate of traffic flow?
- How many leads did your marketing channels pull this month?
- What percentage of these leads are qualified for sales, and what percentage are not?
- Is it easy for your sales team to close these leads even if they are qualified?
- What percentage of sales-qualified leads (SQLs) are being converted and closed?
- How many sales are being made from your inbound marketing efforts?
- How much revenue are these particular sales efforts generating?
- What is your current ROI for inbound marketing?
The answers to these questions will help you fathom your business’ current footing so you can move forward from there.
Your next step would be to set SMART goals for your business. It is a mnemonic acronym for – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Let us briefly elaborate on each point and how SMART goal-setting can help your marketing campaigns succeed.
Set Specific Goals
No inbound marketing strategy can do everything at the same time for your business.
Even the most well-executed marketing tactics may fail to show results if your goal is something vague like “business growth”, or if you want to hit too many birds with the same stone. Your probability of success will increase exponentially when your “broader vision” is concise.
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You need to set specific goals that are realistic and attainable given the evaluation of your company’s current position. Each goal needs to respond to the pain points that were discovered in the assessment and separate marketing strategies need to be employed to achieve each objective.
For setting specific goals, make sure:
- You assign someone/a team to work on this specific goal
- They are on-board with what you are looking to achieve
- You know which area of your business this goal targets
- You have an idea of how long it might take to achieve this goal and assign a time limit accordingly
- The assigned person/team uses necessary resources and tactics to tackle this specific problem
- You know what attaining this goal will mean for your business and explain the same to the person/team
Measure The Numbers
You can manage what you can measure. After you decide upon what your broader vision is, it is necessary to talk numbers. The “growth” of your business transforms from an amorphous entity into something quantifiable through this step.
When you set a certain inbound marketing target in concrete numbers, you can tally that up to calculate how much you can expect to spend on a marketing campaign and how much business “growth” is likely to happen because of it. Consistent measurement and analysis of quantitative data will help you see the impact of a new marketing strategy being used.
Here, it is important to know the correct numbers to measure a B2B marketing campaign. Let us take a look at some things you need to determine to set the right benchmark for success for a marketing campaign.
- Low bounce rate and high click-through rate
- Increase in the percentage of website traffic
- Visitor-to-lead conversion rate
- Lead velocity rate (LVR)
- Number of qualified leads (both MQLs & SQLs)
- Cost per lead (CPL)
- Lead-to-close conversion rate (CVR)
- Spike in marketing originated customer rate
- A decrease in the marketing percentage of your customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Return on marketing investment (ROMI)
- Total revenue you expect to earn
Note – The above-given metrics cover important touchpoints in the entire B2B buying process. You need to take only those metrics into account that are relevant for your specific goals. No single inbound marketing tactic can serve all the metric targets that are given above at once.
You will never be satisfied with the results of your inbound marketing campaigns if the goals you set for them are too high to reach. In this case, even if your marketing campaigns succeed in attaining your goals to some degree, it would still seem like a failure since they would not succeed as much as you expected.
To set achievable goals, you will need to know your company’s current metrics. For example, if your newsletter subscriptions have increased by 15% last year, then setting a goal of increasing them by 20-25% in the next year is both growth-oriented and attainable.
If you are afraid this will stunt any possible extra growth, you can always set a moderate goal and a stretch goal which can serve as the lower and upper limit between which your marketing team needs to operate and produce results. More than anything, setting short-term attainable goals keeps your team’s morale high and motivates them to work even harder and smarter.
Another key factor to consider before locking in a goal is checking whether that goal is relevant for your particular business and industry at a certain time or not.
Take for example the pandemic situation, when SaaS firms and other service-based B2B companies found that 95% of their revenue comes from the churn, which includes upselling current customers and renewals. In this situation devising an inbound marketing strategy around attracting and converting new leads would not only be irrelevant but also imprudent.
So, doing market research is always advisable to check the relevance before setting a specific goal. Checking relevancy also applies to the kind of inbound marketing tactic you are using to attain a specific goal. Not every marketing tactic is relevant for every objective.
Tactics are usually divided according to stages of the B2B buying process. For instance:
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Keyword search
- Landing pages
- Email marketing
- Smart content
- Social monitoring
Set a Time Limit
The marketing goals that transform into results are the ones that are time-bound. It is necessary to implement a time-frame to determine when your marketing efforts should begin and when they should end to give you the best results.
Sure, long-term goals are great, but when you set a time-limit on goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant, the probability of achieving them with precision increases many folds. The reason is by doing so your team will stay focused and committed to what they need to achieve and by when they need to achieve it.
This also gives your team a reason to celebrate success at the end of the marketing cycle, which boosts morale.
Setting a time-bound goal is intimately connected with relevancy as well, since not every inbound marketing strategy is going to stay relevant through all four quarters of the year. This is why it is important to know when to put an end to a certain marketing campaign and dedicate your efforts and funds towards something more suited for a specific time of the year, based on your industry.
Monitor and Recalibrate
This is the last step but also the one that never ends. You need to set SMART goals only once before launching an inbound marketing campaign, but you need to monitor and recalibrate them constantly for as long as they run.
This is to make sure that you are always on track and achieve your goals without fail by taking immediate measures when something does not work anymore. But more importantly, it helps you figure out the reason something did not work or stopped working for your company, which is a valuable insight for all future campaigns.
Goals need to be compared against well-monitored weekly or monthly analytics and marketing reports, which will indicate which goals are being achieved with ease and which ones need more work.
Setting goals is not a one-and-done thing. And this is especially the case for the B2B market since the prospects are a lot more sensitive and not all marketing tactics may work on them according to your expectations. Monitoring the stats will help you change or modify ineffective inbound marketing strategies quickly.
Hence, monitoring and calibrating is the last but possibly the most crucial step that makes for a well-optimized marketing program, which can help you adapt to change and thrive despite all unexpected circumstances.
Goal setting is nothing but strategizing. And most times, the lack of overall strategy leads to the failure of inbound marketing campaigns in the B2B industry.
While your inbound marketing campaigns answer the “how” of attaining your business objectives, your goals answer the “what” and “why”. And if left unanswered, the probability of failure will increase due to vagueness, confusion, and miscommunication.
You can hire the most dedicated marketing professionals, but if they do not know what it is that you hope to achieve for your business through your marketing campaigns, they cannot serve you to the full potential of their skills and knowledge.
Similarly, if you cannot answer why you need to attain a certain goal, chances are that goal is not necessary for your business after all. Goal setting does not only help you utilize your marketing strategies to the fullest but also translates to savings in terms of money, time, as well as efforts.
We have discussed some of the key benefits of goal setting and elaborated on ways to effectively set goals. And now that you are fully aware as to why goal setting is important to inbound marketing, hopefully, you will make the right decision in determining your business’s path to glory, success, and growth.