The most important content marketing goals

Smart marketing goals for your content and beyond

Content marketing is no walk in the park! Especially since almost all online marketing disciplines have been subsumed under one big umbrella term – content marketing – in recent years. You can simply no longer get around producing good content. That's exactly why it's vital that you set yourself clear content goals in order to succeed in the online world. After all, monitoring and tracking is just as much a part of content marketing as content creation itself. Today, we have prepared a guide for you to help you set smart and specific goals.

„Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.“
Joe Pulizzi

We are not quoting just anybody here, but the founder of the well-known American Content Marketing Institute (which, by the way, is always a source of well-founded information). Since this article is about content goals, let's focus on the last part of the quote: the goal of fostering profitable customer relationships. A fundamental part of any content strategy. 

One thing up front: Always align your content marketing goals with your company's higher-level marketing and communication goals. They should match up! An example: A shop for natural cosmetics that launched an online shop in 2020 (due to Covid-19) has set the increase of online sales as its marketing objective. So it is only logical that the content marketing goal should also contribute to achieving this goal. For instance, by way of building a community or by generating qualified leads.

Good to know: This magazine article is aimed at both B2C and B2B companies! Correctly formulated goals are relevant regardless of the industry you're in.

Meta-goals in content marketing

From big to small: Before we dive into the world of specific goals, let's take a little detour into the really important meta-level. If contributors (teammates, superiors, customers or partners) don't know where the content journey is going, they tend to get lost in minutiae. The result: no clear sense of direction and, in many cases, dissatisfaction.

3 meta-goals from which smart goals can be derived:

  • brand positioning
  • customer acquisition / lead generation
  • customer retention

Depending on the challenges your company is facing at the moment, you might want to focus on one or several meta-goals.

However, all goals have one thing in common: Content marketing always positions a company as an expert in their field – as an authority, so to speak.

It pays to invest a little more time in a thought-out content strategy. This strategy specifies which overarching goals should be achieved within a certain period of time. Starting from these strategic meta-goals, it is much easier to define tactical (short-term) goals in a second step. It all comes full circle: If there is a lack of direction regarding the marketing goals or the strategic content goals, short-term goals cannot be achieved. And vice versa.

Long-term content marketing goals

Long-term content marketing goals take several years to achieve. So be aware that success won't happen overnight. But if you have smart short-term goals, you'll have plenty of small successes to celebrate as you go along!

Examples of strategic content goals include:

  • building a community
  • brand development
  • achieving topic leadership / thought leadership
  • establishing your own communication channels (social media, website, e-mail marketing, ...)
  • optimising or changing your reputation
  • creating owned media (and thus achieving independence from paid media)
  • increasing visibility on Google
  • creating relationships with influencers
  • fostering loyal customer relationships

When considering these goals, it quickly becomes clear: They are difficult to formulate in a smart way! They are too big for that, and they extend over too long a period of time. 

Reading tip: Find out about the most important content KPIs!

Short-term content marketing goals

Short-term content marketing goals can be achieved within several months. You get them by breaking your long-term goals into small, bite-size pieces, so to speak. You can see from the many examples below that these goals target operative implementation.

Examples of short-term content goals include:

  • increasing or building reach (from website, social media, ...)
  • generating high-quality backlinks
  • boosting organic traffic
  • improving or achieving rankings
  • increasing the number of new website visitors
  • reducing the bounce rate
  • increasing the scroll depth
  • and many more!

Keep in mind: No single content piece (web copy, social media post, whitepaper, blog article, etc.) can fulfil all goals at the same time. This is a misconception that is all too easy to fall prey to. Always assign only one goal to an asset so it can have the desired effect.

Am richtigen zur richtigen Zeit posten - mit einer gut durchdachten Redaktionsplanung

Formulating smart content marketing goals 

If you're having a hard time naming any goals you have achieved over the course of the year, you probably didn't have smart goals. The more specific a goal is, the easier it is to plan and implement all actions required to achieve it. You probably know this from personal experience. It makes a huge difference whether your aunt wants a bouquet of sunflowers for her birthday or just "flowers". Which gift do you think will make her happier? Of course, the same applies to any company – no matter how big or small.

How to define smart goals

The concept of smart goals is certainly not new. Nevertheless, we would like to go into more detail today, especially regarding how they relate to content marketing. What makes this form of goal setting so powerful is its specificity. It gets straight to the point and leaves no room for speculation. Smart goals clearly state what should be achieved and pave the way for taking the right measures and producing the right content.

S – specific (What exactly is it that you want to achieve?)

"We want to generate more traffic" – how does that sound to you after reading this article almost all the way to the end? Clearly, this goal is not specific enough. It lacks basic information to make the goal tangible. 

Better: "We want to generate more organic traffic to our blog."

M – measurable (How will you determine whether you have achieved the goal or not?)

Concrete results require concrete numbers and proper metrics. Let's come back to the example from earlier: 

"We want to generate more organic traffic to our blog." The word "more" flips the coin in this case, because "more" is not measurable. Good thing we can track just about anything in digital marketing! 

Better: "We want to increase organic traffic to our blog by 500 per cent."

A – attainable (Can this goal be achieved?)

Studies (like those by Teresa Amabile or Gail Matthews) show that the most effective goals are challenging yet attainable. Never set goals that you already know you cannot achieve. The same applies to defining goals together with your colleagues and partners in the company. And it also works the other way around: Long-term goals that you can achieve within a few months are definitely not long-term goals.

Continuing with our example, it would now look something like this: "We want to increase organic traffic to our blog by 20 percent."

R – relevant (Does the short-term goal pay into achieving the meta-goal?)

Operational, short-term goals always emerge against the backdrop of the bigger picture. They pay into achieving your marketing goals. If your company is currently setting up a new social media presence – let's say on YouTube, the goal of increasing blog traffic is actually not relevant. If, on the other hand, the goal is customer loyalty or thought leadership via expertise, you're right on track (especially in combination with SEO). 

T – time-bound (By when should the goal be achieved?)

The time aspect is the easiest part: Always add a realistic deadline. So in the end, the goal is: "We want to increase organic traffic to our blog by 20 percent in the first half of 2021."

Practical examples of content goals

bad content goals good content goals
We want to significantly increase the traffic to our online magazine. We want to double the organic traffic to our online magazine in 2021 as compared to 2020.
We want to update certain web texts. We would like to update all product descriptions in the webshop until 31 December 2021.
Generate as many rankings as possible for the keyword "marketing goals". Improve Google rankings for the keyword "marketing goals" and move from the second to the first search results page by the end of March 2021.
Generate more leads. Increase qualified leads via e-mail marketing by 5% in the next month.
Let's do a podcast because it's cool! Develop a podcast and generate more than 2,000 listeners per month by the end of 2021.

You have probably already given a lot of thought to the content goals in your company while reading this. If you could use some help from an agency with plenty of experience in strategic content creation, we would be more than happy to support you. Just get in touch!

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