Becoming a Marketing Hero: What Benchmarks to Use to Set Goals for Success

Matt Ulmer
Matt Ulmer VP of Operations & Client Relations
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How many times have you forgotten the brand behind your favorite Super Bowl ads?

Or how many times did you shop at Office Depot because of all the media attention they received for that Elf Yourself website?

In marketing, when it comes down to it, customer acquisition is all that matters. Even if a marketing department claims the goal of a campaign is brand building, which you could argue for most Super Bowl ads, the purpose of building the brand is ultimately to acquire new customers.

So when it comes to measuring the success of your marketing efforts, and setting goals to accomplish, always keep customer acquisition in mind.

Benchmarks to Use

How many impressions did your text-only paid search ad earn on Google search results? Does it really matter if no one clicked the ad or took an action to become a sales lead?

Maybe. But only in the right context.

Brand Building

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I happen to be a big proponent of brand building. I think you’re more likely to get people to buy your offering if they’re already familiar with you in some way. So I’m a big time advocate for running banner ads on websites where your target audience might be. Those ads may not earn many if any conversions, but they’re building familiarity with your brand that will lead to conversions later.

But when it comes to setting benchmarks for how to track the ultimate progress of your marketing efforts, worry much less about how many eyeballs an ad received and much more about how many times that ad drove an action.


Metrics that Matter

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Metrics to truly care about, metrics that should increase as you conduct more and more brand building, include: 

  • Clicks – the number of times someone saw an ad and clicked on it, thus being taken to your intended destination. Be it your website, a dedicated landing page, or anything else. 
  • Conversions – the number of people who clicked to your site then converted, either by completing a form, initiating a chat, calling a number, signing up for a newsletter, or even making a purchase. Read more about conversions 
  • Sales – this is the biggie. To truly know how effective your marketing is, you need to be able to trace your clicks and conversions all the way through to a sale, to know if your leads are converting, and for how much money. 


Why Tracking Sales is So Vital

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What if you have a ton of conversions and think you are absolutely crushing it, and then a sales report comes in and revenue is down? What then?

Is the problem your sales team, not being able to close? Is the problem operational, with how quickly a sales team receives leads or how your team follows up? Is the problem with how you’re tracking conversions, that you think you’re arming the sales team with hundreds of quality leads when you’re really getting customer support calls or inquiries from people in the very early stages of research?

You don’t know if you can’t track how your conversions become sales.

Do the more expensive marketing opportunities deliver the larger sales contracts, and are thus worth putting more budget towards? Do the efforts that bring in a high volume of conversions translate into a lower amount of sales, and thus perhaps aren’t worth as large a budget as you’ve been giving them?

You don’t know if you can’t track it.

Here’s How to Start:

  1. Get granular in how you attribute site visits and conversions to a specific marketing effort. One of the best ways to do this is to create custom URLs for a given destination page based on the marketing source. We offer a free tool to do this easily. 
  2. Get a CRM system and set up your site so that conversions feed automatically into the CRM. Salesforce is a popular tool, but we also recommend HubSpot because it offers so much additional marketing opportunity beyond storing leads. 
  3. Use HubSpot or another marketing automation platform to continue outreach to your conversions, to warm them up for your sales team. We are experts in this space and can help with any need.   
  4. Use the CRM data in conjunction with the custom URL data, so that sales dollars are traced back to the originating campaign.  

Trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll agree once you’re able to see which marketing efforts lead to the most sales, and can thus focus your budget on those efforts, thereby increasing sales.

In other words, when you become the hero.

How to Set Goals

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It’s very important to set achievable goals for yourself that you then try to reach. Even if it’s only internal, even if it’s only for you, you need something to reach for. Your goals determine your management of each campaign.

For example, if you are trying to build your brand, and therefore do need to worry about impressions, you should monitor how your efforts are performing in terms of views and adjust accordingly. If impressions seem low, are you using the right terms, bidding too low, appearing on the wrong sites, targeting too narrow a demographic?

On the other hand, if you’re targeting clicks, and find that even though your impressions are incredibly high, you can’t get anyone to click an ad, what then? Are your ads focused on the wrong message? Is it an issue with ad copy or with an ad image? As with impressions, are you on the wrong sites or targeting the wrong demographic?

And finally, if you’re targeting conversions, and are getting plenty of clicks, but none of them convert, what can you do? Is it an issue with your destination page, either too large a disconnect from the message of the ad, or simply not presented well enough, with too much or too little copy? Is the conversion offer not enticing enough, not offering enough of a reason for a user to take action? Is the ad attracting an audience that isn’t actually the group of people who would convert?

Which Goals Matter? 

Continuously monitor all this information with an eye on your goals, and how close you are to reaching them. Goals can include any and all of the following:

  • Number of site visitors
  • Number of conversions
  • If you have sales tied to your marketing, revenue generated (or number of products sold, amount of services provided, etc.)


Plus secondary goals of:

  • Pageviews – how many pages your users visit (note that if your marketing efforts bring users directly to the only page they need to take an action, pageviews may actually be low)
  • Time on site – how long users spend on your site, indicating whether they’re engaged
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of users who leave your destination page without taking action (unlike the others, you want this one as low as possible)

You should set these goals for your website overall, plus for each individual marketing effort. Starting a new paid search campaign? Set goals for how many clicks, conversions, and products sold it should achieve.

I can’t tell you what the specific numbers of your goals should be, because I don’t know the specifics of your business. But I can tell you what to do to intelligently determine your goals.

Use Your Current Metrics

The first thing you need to do is know what your current metrics are. Are you using Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager to track your site? You should be.

Make sure every conversion point – every form, every button, every desired action – is tracked. If your forms take users to a success page, track the visits to that success page as a Google Analytics Goal. If a user can click a link to send an email or perform some other action, track it as an Event.

Every possible conversion opportunity should be tracked. Then start monitoring how it’s all performing. Analyze the data for your current marketing campaigns, including clicks/visits but also consider the secondaries of time on site, bounce rate, etc. Then use all that information to set your goals.

Don’t Overshoot 

When setting your goals for the first time, don’t shoot for the moon. Shoot for the high end of what’s possible. If you average 3,000 visits a month, don’t set a goal of 10,000, unless you’re quadrupling your marketing budget. Set realistic expectations.

As you begin to meet and beat your goals, then make bigger leaps. But start from a place of realism. Start with something attainable and build from there. It does no one any favors to miss unachievable goals by a mile. But it also doesn’t help to surpass paltry goals.

Find that middle ground sweet spot. And then beat it. And watch your sales grow, you marketing hero.