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6 Strategic Marketing Goals and How to Measure Them

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6 Strategic Marketing Goals and How to Measure Them

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Marketing goals can be defined as broad, long-term outcomes that a company wants to achieve via marketing efforts.

Setting clear marketing goals is important, as this can effectively focus your team on a shared vision. But the thing is, you need to choose your goals carefully. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of time on things that bring poor results or even undermine your past efforts.

In this article, we’ve curated a short list of strategic goals that are worth considering in any marketing strategy, along with some ideas on how you can measure them:

  1. Improve product satisfaction
  2. Grow organic traffic
  3. Generate leads
  4. Establish thought leadership
  5. Increase brand awareness
  6. Increase revenue

1. Improve product satisfaction

Any successful marketing needs to be founded on a good product that satisfies existing market demand. Otherwise, none of your marketing efforts will “stick.” Meaning, no matter how you promote the product, you will fail to convince your audience and build sustainable growth.

Conversely, a product that users are willing to use, buy, and recommend to others will reinforce all marketing activities. In fact, a lot of successful companies have grown solely or mainly via word-of-mouth recommendations sparked by the remarkable value of their products (e.g., Whatsapp, Tesla).

To set yourself on the right path of improving product satisfaction, you need to achieve product-market fit.

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Once you know you’re in the right market with the right kind of product, you can start delighting your users with useful features and a great user experience. Keep in mind that even seemingly simple product improvements can go a long way.

How to measure

You can measure product satisfaction in two ways: ask your users what they think or gather relevant data from product usage.

Surveys

In surveys, you should ask all kinds of questions that help you understand how well your product satisfies users’ needs. You can also use tried and tested methods like the popular and uncomplicated Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey.

This survey comprises just one question: “How likely are you to recommend [product] to a friend or colleague?” The answers are given on a 10-point scale.

Scale from 1 to 10. Less than 6 are detractors. 7 and 8 are passives. 9 and 10 are promoters

You can find multiple tools online that will help you distribute the survey and calculate your NPS (e.g., Hotjar, Survicate).

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Product engagement

If you’re running an online service, consider measuring product satisfaction with product analysis tools (also called product intelligence tools) like Mixpanel or Amplitude. They work by gathering data from your users’ in-app behavior and allowing you to analyze the data to gain insights from it.

For example, by measuring how often your users reach out for particular features inside your product, you can see whether those features bring value or not. Then, you can discard unused features based on real data or conduct experiments (e.g., tweaking your features or making them more visible).

User retention

User retention (or cohort retention) is a metric used for measuring the ability to keep customers over a specified period of time.

If your customers go as quickly as they come, this is usually a huge red flag (with some exceptions, e.g., e‑commerce). If you’re not operating in a niche where a short usage period is natural, low user retention is a sign that:

  1. Users don’t find what you’ve promised in your marketing communication.
  2. Your product delivers the promise, but your competitors do a better job.

In these scenarios, it’s likely you’re wasting money and brand equity by providing something people are not willing to stay with. So you need to improve your product fast.

That said, even if you have the best product on the market, the so-called customer churn (i.e., when customers stop using your product) is a natural phenomenon to some extent. The key here is to determine whether you have a healthy retention rate.

Organic traffic, also called organic search traffic, refers to the visitors who come to your website via the non-paid search results from a search engine (e.g., Google, DuckDuckGo).

To take advantage of the organic traffic potential from search engines, you need to publish content based on search demand and the business value of a particular topic (the so-called SEO content).

That way, whenever someone searches for a solution via a search engine, they will find your content and, consequently, your brand and product.

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Here are the top reasons why you should join the majority of marketers who invest in creating SEO content to grow organic traffic:

  • SEO content can influence and even drive the entire marketing funnel.
  • Such content brings almost free, continuous traffic.
  • Compounding effects. A blog post written years ago can get you traffic now and into the future as long as you rank high.
  • How much your organic traffic grows depends more on content quality and creativity rather than budget.
  • The flywheel effect: Content marketing done right can be a self-reinforcing mechanism that helps you get results more easily as you go along.

Let me just add that this is not some hypothesis. At Ahrefs, we’ve been systematically developing search engine optimized articles and videos, and the articles alone bring us approximately 384K organic visits every month.

Overview data of Ahrefs blog

How to measure

We can recommend two types of tools here.

Firstly, measuring organic traffic is best done via Google Search Console (GSC). This is a free tool that gives the most accurate organic traffic data. GSC will show you the number of clicks coming from Google Search, Discover, or News. It’ll also show you the number of times your content has been displayed by Google (i.e., impressions):

GSC search results data of Ahrefs blog

While GSC does a great job of providing these simple metrics, it lacks features and data for comprehensive organic traffic analysis.

This brings us to other types of tools: SEO tools that fill the gaps of GSC, such as the free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

For example, while GSC will show you up to 1K keywords and up to 1K backlinks, Ahrefs Webmaster Tools will show you that and many more data points without any limits.

AWT shows dropdown list of no. of keywords grouped by countries

To sum up, you can use GSC for measuring organic traffic and other more advanced SEO tools for SEO analysis and finding growth opportunities.

To put things simply, the more leads you generate, the more revenue you make. This is because every lead is a potential customer. However, not every lead will become a customer, so you need a lot more leads to get your desired number of customers.

A lead is anyone who has expressed interest in a product or service by sharing their contact information (e.g., email address) with a company in exchange for some kind of value (e.g., free ebook, free tool, weekly email newsletter with educational materials).

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More often than not, potential customers are not instantly ready to buy. This is especially when they have little or no acquaintance with your brand.

When there is a lot of competition in the market, your potential customers are likely to do some research and compare you to others before they make a purchase. Moreover, if your product is complex and/or expensive, people need to make sure the product will solve their problem or will be worth their money and effort.

This is where lead generation comes in. When a person gives you their contact information, you gain an opportunity to contact them directly in the future. You can use that opportunity to nurture your relationship with them to a point where they are ready to buy.

To generate leads, you will need three things:

  1. Traffic – In other words, visitors coming through your marketing channels.
  2. Offer – The value you are going to provide in exchange for contact information (e.g., free ebook).
  3. Lead capture – A form where people can submit their contact information (e.g., name, phone number, email address).
Infographic of lead generation process: traffic, offer, lead capture

How to measure

How you measure your lead generation depends on your offer. This can be the number of newsletter subscribers, trial sign-ups, app downloads, or whatever else you are planning to provide.

The simplest way to measure incoming leads is via the same tool you use to capture your leads. For example, our email capture form uses Mailchimp’s functionality. It’s the same app we use to monitor the number of leads and send a weekly newsletter to people who signed up.

Email lead capture form

You can also aggregate your data in a business intelligence software like Google Data Studio or Klipfolio. Then view the data next to other important metrics for quick insights, such as the conversion rate from leads to customers.

4. Establish thought leadership

In marketing, thought leadership is demonstrating your brand has expertise in its area of business. Effective thought leadership creates a belief among your target audience that your solutions are the best.

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Through effective thought leadership, you become an authority in your industry—that status reinforces every message you send out. And so, in the classic conundrum of whether the messenger is more important than the message, you can actually have both.

The more sophisticated and technically oriented the market, the more thought leadership counts. A good example of this is the electric car market. Tesla is an undisputed thought leader in this area. That’s why it surpasses sales of other established car brands with larger advertising budgets. In fact, Tesla is famous for its anti-advertising attitude.

How to measure

Measuring your progress in becoming a thought leader depends on where you share your ideas. Here, we’ll show examples of two effective channels and their respective metrics.

Quality backlinks

A backlink is a link on one website that links to another website. Backlinks act as votes. Even Google thinks so, treating backlinks as one of the most important ranking factors.

And so if you publish content that gets this kind of vote, you’re on the right track of becoming an authority in your industry. This is because people are digitally voting for what you say, resulting in direct traffic from those pages and higher search engine rankings.

To illustrate, one of the widely discussed subjects in the SEO community is building links through outreach. Our CMO, Tim Soulo, has joined the conversation with an article called I Just Deleted Your Outreach Email. And NO, I Don’t Feel Sorry, which explains how to do effective outreach that doesn’t feel like spam.

That article alone got over 2K backlinks (aka digital votes).

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Backlinks report of Tim's "outreach" blog post

And just a quick reminder—sharing ideas through such articles brings customers:

Registration form reply from customer who said they found Ahrefs via Tim's content

Speaking engagements

Speaking engagements come in different shapes and sizes. These can be either big industry events like BrightonSEO (with some 4K attendees) or more cozy settings with smaller audiences like podcast interviews.

What they all have in common is getting attention from industry professionals and even industry authorities. So the more you speak at those events, the more likely you are to reach people with your ideas (and your name) and become an authority in your niche.

With speaking engagements, you can put your name on the map, attract followers to your social media channels, and communicate with these followers directly later on.

Once you have more budget, you can even up the ante by creating your own conference, especially if you want to popularize an original concept. That’s what Hubspot has done with the term “inbound marketing” and its INBOUND event.

Speaker on stage at Hubspot's INBOUND event

5. Increase brand awareness

A brand is a central concept in marketing, and it’s been this way for decades. This is because brands have powerful effects on consumers:

  • A brand makes recognizing the product as easy as remembering the word or the shape of a logo.
  • A brand evokes associations with positive experiences.
  • A brand allows for rationalizing the cost of the product.

Building brand awareness increases the odds of consumers associating your brand or product with a specific need.

Just think about it. Starbucks is one of the most valuable brands in the world. For millions of people, Starbucks is the synonym of coffee. So essentially, it isn’t an exaggeration to say its business relies on a mental association between a logo and a need for coffee. That’s how powerful brand awareness is.

And the amazing part is, however absurd this may sound, the Starbucks logo has nothing to do with coffee. Starbucks has even dropped the word “coffee” from the logo.

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Pics of Starbucks logos from 1971 to 2011

How to measure

Measuring brand awareness is the domain of specialized research companies. A common method for measuring it is through surveys. However, this option has its flaws: It’s expensive and time-consuming.

Alternatively, you can gauge the overall trend of your brand awareness yourself using online tools. The only caveat is this method will give more accurate estimations for online businesses than the predominantly offline ones.

You can also use a keyword research tool to discover the search volume of your brand name. The reason is this: If your brand awareness increases, more people will want to buy from you and look up your brand on the web.

For example, if you use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, you can just plug in your brand name and instantly get:

  • The number of estimated monthly searches for a specific country (and globally).
  • A graph of monthly searches plotted in time that offers quick insights into trends.
Keywords Explorer overview of they keyword "Twilio"

You can also easily measure your performance against your competitors’ (technically, this kind of comparison is called measuring the share of voice).

List of keywords and other data for Twilio and its competitors

If you’re not an Ahrefs user or just need a point of reference without the search volume data, you can use Google Trends to gauge interest in branded queries.

So far, we’ve discussed rather indirect ways to increase revenue. Now, we’ll discuss three ideas for increasing revenue directly.

The first way is revising your pricing. If you have solid reasons for thinking you’re not charging enough for the value you provide, you can try to increase prices. Even a price increase of a few percent can result in significant returns if multiplied by hundreds or even thousands of new customers. Word of advice: A good practice here is to keep the original price for any existing customers.

A seemingly counterintuitive way (also quite risky) to increase your profits is through lowering prices (e.g., penetration pricing, loss leader strategy). This can lower the barrier enough for the arrival of new customers (you can even win your competitors’ customers this way).

Recommended reading: How to Increase SaaS Prices the Right (and Profitable) Way

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The second way is adding new services and/or products. For instance, a dog food brand decides to expand its assortment by offering dog accessories like toys, dog care products, or beddings. It can even create special product bundles and call it “new dog owner essentials.”

The third way is cross-selling and upselling. Cross-selling means suggesting other products in addition to the chosen product. Upselling suggests a more expensive version of the chosen product.

Let’s learn from the best here. When you’re shopping for a new iMac, you will first see a standard price for the product:

Standard price and other details for iMac

Then you will be offered an array of upsell options:

Pic of iMac with upgrade options for memory and storage next to it

Followed by an even wider array of cross-selling suggestions:

Other add-ons for the iMac, e.g., AppleCare

How to measure

The easiest way to measure revenue is to measure the number and the value of sales. But a lot of companies also need to measure recurring revenue from subscriptions, the revenue growth rate, and the value of each new customer.

Recurring revenue

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) measures how much you’re earning each month through recurring contracts (i.e., subscriptions).

MRR = number of subscribers on a monthly plan * average revenue per user

For annual plans, you have to divide the plan price by 12 and then multiply by the number of customers on that plan.

For example: If you have 700 customers on a $9 per month plan and 100 customers on a $97 yearly plan, your MRR will be:

(700 x $9) + ($97/12 x 100) = $7,108 MRR

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If you want to track annual recurring revenue (ARR) as well, all you need to do is multiply MRR by 12.

In our example, that is:

$7,108*12 = $85,296 ARR

Revenue growth rate

Revenue growth rate measures the month-over-month percentage increase in revenue. This metric is an indicator of how quickly your company is growing.

You can measure the revenue growth rate for any period you need: weeks, months, or years.

Let’s say you want to measure the annual growth rate compared to the previous year. The formula for that will be:

(revenue year 2 — revenue year 1) / revenue year 1 x 100 = revenue growth rate (%)

In our example, that is:

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($170,592 — $85,296) / $85,296 x 100 = 100% revenue growth rate

Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the total worth of a customer to a business over the whole period of their relationship. CLV can also be used as a predictive metric of how much revenue each new customer will bring on average.

There are multiple models of calculating CLV. Without going into too much detail about each alternative, here’s a fairly simple formula to calculate CLV:

customer lifetime value = average order value x purchase frequency rate x average customer lifetime

Where:

  • Average order value is your total revenue divided by the number of purchases.
  • Purchase frequency rate is the total number of purchases divided by the number of customers.
  • Average customer lifetime is the number of days between the first and last purchase date, divided by 365.

Final thoughts

Marketing goals, by nature, are usually grand and ambitious. Hence, they can be quite intimidating.

But no worries. You can overcome that problem by setting achievable goals and breaking your overarching goal into smaller bits. You can see how it’s done in practice using SEO goals as an example in the below article:

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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