March 7, 2018

Why Successful Demand Generation Requires SMART Goals


If I've learned anything over the last five years, it's how incredibly critical planning is. As much as I want to be the type of person who flies by the seat of my pants, as a demand generation marketer, it's just not in my cards — nor should it be in yours.

If you're genuinely striving to make a significant impact on your organization's growth and success, you need to take a step back and adequately plan what your SMART goals are, what key performance indicators (KPIs) and leading performance indicators (LPIs) you will track to gauge success and what tactics you'll deploy to accomplish your goals. I'll take you through these steps and show you the consequences of neglecting marketing operations.

A Refresher on SMART Goals

I'm not typically one for sports analogies, but I came across a great quote recently about the importance of goal setting that really hit home: "The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score."

Think about this for a minute in the context of demand generation. Let's be honest: demand gen can be exhausting. You're constantly looking for innovative ways to find qualified leads and build genuine relationships through helpful content and channels. Without defining smart, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals, you could spend all day and night chasing and nurturing leads that never turn into paying customers. You want to strive to work smarter, not harder.

My two biggest pieces of advice when it comes to SMART goal setting are:

  1. Start with the highest-level goal first, like determining marketing's contribution to revenue, and work backwards from there to determine individual visit, lead and MQL goals.
  2. Always leverage performance trends and/or industry benchmarks to ensure your goals are attainable and measurable, as mentioned above.

Determining marketing's contribution to revenue may feel like an overwhelming task. Thankfully, we've developed an awesome template that can help. First you have to determine what marketing's contribution to revenue should be. If this number hasn't already been determined, use industry benchmarks (listed below) to calculate what contribution is attainable and aligns with your overall company revenue goal. From there, use our marketing goals template along with either your existing funnel conversion rates or industry benchmarks (provided in the template) to identify the number of visits, leads and MQLs that the marketing team needs to produce each month (or quarter) to track to your higher-level goal.

Download the Essential Guide to Demand Generation

% of Pipeline Source by Marketing Sourced from Bridge Group SaaS Inside Sales Report 2015
Annual Contract Value (ACV) % of Pipeline Sourced by Marketing
Less than $5K 51%
$5K - $20K 43%
$25K - $100K 41%
$100K+ 35%

If you understand the visit, lead and MQL goals that you're striving for, then you can tailor your campaigns strategy and tactics to drive success in those areas. Your chosen tactics and campaign strategies should indicate  which KPIs and LPIs you need to track to evaluate your performance.

Measuring Success

This is where the fun lies for demand gen marketers — in determining what metrics you should look at to measure success based on the strategy you employed and the visit, lead and MQL goals you've identified. You get to determine how you show your team's worth to your organization and figure out how to blow your executives' minds by proving the amount of business you were able to generate.

Setting objective success metrics with KPIs and LPIs also helps ensure that all of your marketing initiatives are designed to have the biggest impact. Not only can you prove marketing's contribution to your company's bottom line, you can also show which levers had the most impact and determine where there's room to improve your strategy.

The four KPIs we always recommend tracking are:

  1. Funnel metrics
  2. Web traffic
  3. Customer lifetime value (CLV)
  4. Cost of customer acquisition (CCA)

Based on the funnel gaps you identify from your SMART goal setting, your LPIs can vary. Below are some of the LPIs I most often track for clients and recommend:

  • Page views per visit
  • Bounce rate; exit rate
  • Average time on page
  • Premium content offer conversion rate
  • Webinar conversion rate
  • Email performance: delivery rate, open rate, click-through rate, lost rate
  • Blog performance: queries, views/sessions, CTA click-to-submission rate, leads generated

Aligning Tactics with Success Metrics

I don't think there's anything sadder for a marketer than pouring considerable effort into creating and executing a campaign and then having no way to evaluate the success of your efforts.

That's one of the many reasons that setting SMART goals and identifying KPIs and LPIs is so important to your demand gen efforts. Once you set these goal posts for yourself and your team, you need to make sure you have a plan and means for tracking your success. That may seem obvious, but let me tell you a quick story.

For a client, our team recognized an opportunity to increase MQL generation with a new type of form. We thought — Awesome! We'll build this form and measure view-to-submission rate on the landing page along with the total number of submissions. But once this strategy was built, we realized we couldn't accurately report the LPIs we identified based on the structure we employed. So it was back to the drawing board.

Don't let this happen to you. Once you get into strategies and tactics, double-check that you can thoroughly and clearly measure the campaign you're about to execute and that your tactics align with your chosen LPIs.

Make all Your Intentions and Actions SMART

To be successful as a demand generation marketer, you must first set SMART goals and make sure all KPIs, LPIs and campaign tactics map back to your SMART goals. I cannot stress the importance of this enough! At the end of the day, your executive team wants to understand how marketing is making an impact on revenue, so if you're unable to produce a compelling answer, you won't be able to convey the value of your efforts. Success begins with SMART goal setting; that's where you should begin your quest for demand generation domination.

Download our Essential Guide to Demand Generation below to get started on using this powerful strategy at your organization.

New call-to-action

Olivia Perek-Clark

Olivia Perek-Clark leads New Breed’s Learning and Development team. She is a seasoned Demand Generation and Inbound Marketing Strategist turned team trainer who has a passion for developing systems and content that help other New Breeders do their best work for our clients.


Ready to jumpstart your acquisition, retention and expansion efforts?

Request Assessment