To effectively lead a marketing team, you must know your top goals. Whether your goal is to increase revenue or improve your customers’ understanding of your products, starting with a clear objective helps you create a sound marketing strategy for 2023 and beyond.
But sometimes, you may struggle to identify the most important goals for your organization. For this reason, we surveyed 500+ marketing executives to point you in the right direction. About half of marketing leaders say they will change their marketing goals in 2023.
Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader: Data from 500+ Marketing Executives on How to Get Ahead in 2023
Here, we’ll look at the top five goals that marketing leaders plan to prioritize in the upcoming year. Plus, you’ll hear how to achieve these goals from experts at Uber, Dropbox, ClickUp, and other businesses.
1. Increasing Revenue and Sales
Of marketing leaders, 22% report “increasing revenue and sales” as their top priority for 2023. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. A marketer‘s core job is to impact a business’s bottom line by attracting the right audiences and driving leads down the pipeline for sales.
Gaurav Agarwal, chief growth officer at ClickUp, told me increasing revenue and driving sales is a top priority for his team.
He says, “As a fast-growing company with industry-leading NDR, adding in new revenue sustainably is our top priority. We are hyper-focused on building out different growth and sales capabilities to achieve that goal.”
Agarwal continues, “As we embark on our 2023 planning, we do so with a renewed focus on efficiency and clear goals around our different self-serve and sales-assisted motions.”
He adds, “We are also doubling down on organic growth strategies and efforts to better monetize our user base and leads. It is our priority to take a full-funnel approach to build compounding revenue machines.”
To increase revenue, marketing leaders must identify areas of their customer journey that can be further optimized. Additionally, like Agarwal and ClickUp, marketing leaders will want to focus on lead generation.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to effective lead generation. To improve your lead generation strategy, you might test out new landing page CTAs, try creating stronger offers, or re-focus your efforts on more powerful lead-nurturing campaigns.
It’s also important to continually test new platforms — like TikTok or podcasting — to reach new audiences.
Michelle Keene, Dropbox’s senior director of global marketing and document workflows, told me that increasing revenue is a top goal of hers for 2023.
As she puts it, “In 2023, a year that is expected to be dominated by economic uncertainty, the shift to profitable growth [rather than growth at all costs] will only be accelerated — moving from a nice idea to a requirement.”
To combat this challenge, Keene offers five key principles for marketing leaders to follow:
- Move from a revenue-only goal to a revenue and cost-of-acquisition goal.
- Find technology solutions that enable CAC measurement at the program level.
- Evolve your marketing attribution models.
- Deeply understand your target audiences and their needs to deliver the right messages at the right time.
- Encourage ongoing deployment of hypothesis-driven experiments and optimizations.
She adds, “As a marketing leader, I am embracing this challenge, making efficient growth a top priority in 2023. While any mindset shift is challenging, the benefits far outweigh the change management costs.”
“It can transform the way senior executives view marketing — not as an expense, but as an investment — which is really empowering and energizing for me.”
2. Improving Sales and Marketing Alignment
Ensuring your marketing team is strongly aligned with sales is critical for hitting and even exceeding revenue goals. In fact, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams are 6% more likely to exceed revenue goals.
This is why 19% of marketing executives say improving sales alignment is a top goal of theirs for 2023.
To foster better alignment, consider asking your sales and marketing teams to create your buyer personas together. Sales teams have unique insights into prospects since they speak with them daily.
By partnering with sales teams, you can create a more comprehensive picture of your target persona — including specific challenges or pain points you might have missed in your marketing research.
Consider working with the sales team to get their input on any content gaps in the buyer‘s journey. For instance, a sales rep might point out that you don’t have enough e-books or blog posts that speak to many of your customers’ specific challenges.
This collaboration of both teams can help you create a great buyer experience, as customers will have content that solves their problems, and sales will have what they need to close deals.
3. Fostering Relationships With Customers and Increasing Brand Loyalty
Of the marketing executives who said they’re changing their goals in 2023, 19% report “fostering relationships with customers and increasing brand loyalty” as their new top priority.
Customer experience matters more than ever because your happiest customers become the strongest marketers for your brand. A satisfied customer will share their positive experiences online and with friends and family.
According to an RRD survey of 1,000 consumers, 40% of consumers make purchases based on word-of-mouth recommendations.
All of which is to say: How your customers feel about your brand matters greatly for your bottom line — so it’s vital you do everything to foster stronger relationships with them.
Jennifer Chou, Dropbox’s senior director of integrated marketing, believes having a strong understanding of your customers is a vital first step in building brand loyalty.
She told me, “Marketing is about storytelling and helping people envision how your solutions can help them achieve their goals. Having a better understanding of your customers and their needs is critical to creating that intangible connection that builds affinity, consideration, and, ultimately, loyalty.”
She continues, “Customers want to relate to companies in new ways and feel that connection that this company understands what I’m dealing with and is building products for me. This is truly important for us as we think about 2023.
“Dropbox has so much more to offer with our newest products and features. We are enabling better workflows around our users’ content. This means we need to know their challenges and goals as well or even better than they do, so they can focus on the work that matters.”
(P.S. Are you already a Dropbox customer? If so, click here for 20% off eligible HubSpot products, or sign up for free.)
To cultivate a strong relationship between your brand and its community, ensure your marketing materials convey your brand’s values. People will feel more connected to your business if they believe your company cares about issues that matter most to them.
As Daniel Godoy, Microsoft’s Global Head of Programmatic Evangelist puts it, “The best way to win trust is by putting upfront the values your brand cares about, and having transparent communication that highlights your purpose commitments.”
“According to Microsoft Advertising Research, 85% of consumers only consider brands they trust. And 72% only support brands that are being authentic in their advertising.”
Additionally, try creating opportunities for your customers to interact with each other. For instance, you might create a Facebook or Slack group so your customers can engage with each other, share industry best practices, and get ideas or suggestions to help them work through their business challenges.
HubSpot’s Social team created a Facebook group and have since leveraged the group to foster a stronger sense of community among its members.
Finally, ensure you create a strong online customer support experience.
Among other best practices, consider investing in a CRM, offer omnichannel support via email, phone, online chat, or social media, and train your customer service reps to use customer interactions as opportunities to build brand loyalty.
4. Advertising Products or Services
Of marketing executives, 19% want to focus on advertising their products and services effectively in 2023.
Advertising isn’t what it used to be. This isn’t the days of Mad Men’s Don Draper and creating quippy billboard slogans — at least, not entirely. Beyond the more classic channels like print, TV, radio, and direct mail, many brands now advertise almost exclusively on digital platforms.
Digital advertising is incredibly effective for reaching large audiences at a relatively low cost compared to more traditional methods, like TV. Many digital advertising platforms offer helpful tools for empowering marketers to create engaging ads and iterate quickly if something isn’t working.
Google’s responsive ads feature, for instance, tests various headlines and descriptions and ultimately displays the combination that performs best with an intended audience.
Social media is another powerful option for advertising in 2023. To create a strong social media advertising strategy:
- Research your buyer personas and audience.
- Determine which social platforms you’ll market on most effectively.
- Establish your most important metrics and KPIs.
- Get to know your competition.
- Create unique and engaging content.
- Organize a schedule for your posts.
You’d also want to create a robust social media marketing strategy.
5. Improving Customer Understanding of Products and Services
Finally, 19% of marketing executives hope to improve customer understanding of their products or services in 2023.
This goal resonates with Michelle Lisowski, director and head of B2B marketing for Uber for Business.
She told me, “I see an incredible opportunity as a marketing leader to take a brand that consumers already know and love, and communicate it in a new way that is relevant to B2B audiences. Building this strategy requires taking our buyers’ unique needs into consideration.
“We have to help them see how Uber’s products and services can enhance everyday work experiences, whether it’s traveling for business or ordering afternoon coffee for delivery right to the office.”
Lisowski continues, “In many ways, our team acts like a B2B startup in a large, consumer-oriented company. We have the benefit of being able to plug into established marketing channel teams and expertise, but still need to build go-to-market motions that will resonate with our enterprise audience.
Our focus in 2023 will be combining data and direct customer feedback to help make our marketing even more effective. Ultimately, we want to generate trust and familiarity through one-to-one engagements that build lasting customer relationships.”
If your business is entering new markets, it’s vital you take the time to understand your new customers so you can effectively show how your product helps them.
A third of consumers prefer to learn about products by searching the internet, so to improve your customers’ understanding of your products or services, consider starting with a strong SEO strategy. Creating product-led content can help prospects know how your product works before they make a purchase.
Also, a good SEO strategy shows what your product is to a cold audience. Let’s say you work for a video editing company. By writing content like “Why Video Marketing Matters” and “5 Ways to Create Higher-Quality Videos”, your audience will begin to understand that your company is in the video industry.
However, you don’t want to stop here. Go further by creating comparison articles that target high-intent X vs. Y keywords. Even if your software isn’t well known in buyer cycles, you can go after X vs. Y vs. Z (where Z is your software) and leave the URL as example.com/x-vs-y.
Once readers have found value in your content, they’ll explore your site further. This is where you need knowledge base articles for interested prospects to know and understand the unique features of your product.
Social media is another good contender for developing an understanding of your products or services.
In fact, if you’re marketing to Gen Z or millennials, it’s imperative you use social media for product education, since social media is Gen Z’s favorite channel for learning about new products, and it’s millennials’ second favorite (right behind search engines).
While those are the top five goals shared by marketing leaders, I’d like to highlight an additional five for consideration. These include:
- Driving traffic to your website (17%).
- Increasing engagement (17%).
- Growing your community/following on social media (17%).
- Leveraging your CRM to its fullest potential (16%).
- Lead generation (15%).
7 Tips to Help You Excel as a Marketer
To grow your marketing career, you must know how to solve problems and think about the big picture. Here are some tips on how to do that.
1. Market your product where your customers are.
The traditional marketing funnel isn’t what it used to be. Creating website content and hoping your audience finds it, joins your email list, and you nurture them is so 2014.
People now source content and advice from multiple platforms. That includes YouTube, podcasts, forums, Slack, and social media communities.
Growth Advisor Gaetano Nino DiNardi, puts it this way: “I spend most of my time reading threads and interacting on social platforms — LinkedIn and Twitter. Or consuming video content on YouTube.
The inverse is also true — I spend very little time reading content on websites. Meanwhile, most B2B marketers spend all their time creating content for websites.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create content on your website. As Gaetano suggests, you may need to invest in social and video content if you’re in B2B. If you work in B2C or D2C, where your audience hangs out may be different.
2. Go for an engaged audience over a large audience.
Getting caught up with your number of email subscribers is wrong. If you have an extensive list of unengaged users, these can happen:
- Your email deliverability may suffer because of many unopened emails.
- Recipients who don’t open your emails may mark your email as spam.
- Many email service providers will charge you for your active (but unengaged) and unsubscribed users.
The solution is simple. Clean your list!
Remove unengaged users from your list because they could be uninterested in your product. Focus on users who open, read, and sometimes respond to your emails.
This would result in having a smaller list, but it’s better to have 997 engaging users than 10,000 unengaged subscribers who aren’t a part of your community.
3. Create goals and KPIs that align with your company’s objectives.
Setting goals and KPIs that align with your company’s objectives positions you for success.
Jordan DiPietro, HubSpot’s former vice president of marketing, says, “Choose a KPI that is most aligned with your company’s overarching business objectives — it could be a revenue metric, it could be a reach metric, or in the case of HubSpot Media, it could be both!
The important thing is that your KPIs and the action plans associated with those KPIs are ones that can be directly connected to the KPIs of the business.”
Once you have this dialed in, access to budget and proving the usefulness of your marketing activities to your higher-ups becomes easier.
4. Be open to experimentation.
Delving into a new channel or engaging in a new marketing activity requires resources and a budget.
Instead of jumping on a shiny new channel or platform because of FOMO, think hard about the decision you want to make if you have a limited budget.
If you don’t have budget constraints, well, congratulations! Go all in and test multiple channels and platforms. Forget about the naysayers who say email, SEO, newsletters, and everything they tried is dead.
As Neil Patel puts it, “Constantly experiment within your organization. For example, people have been saying Facebook’s reach is dying. Just because Facebook’s reach is dying doesn’t mean there’s no revenue to be made from Facebook organic.
“Maybe not as much as before. Maybe you don’t put as many resources behind it. Maybe you repurpose content, so it’s not as expensive. But that doesn’t mean Facebook organic doesn’t work.
It just means the ROI you can generate from Facebook is winding down. But as long as it’s profitable, keep doing more of it because something is better than nothing.”
5. Be prepared to pivot.
According to our State of Marketing report, 51% of marketers confirm that if an economic downturn or recession were to occur, it would affect their marketing activities. In fact, 24% of all marketers expect they would have to reduce their marketing budget if a recession occurs.
What does this mean? Plan to pivot. What happens if you have a budget cut? What happens if your resources become limited? What content will you prioritize? Which activities will you focus on?
Thinking about these ahead of time will help you excel and ensure your company grows amidst a downturn.
6. Figure out ways to measure the ROI of your marketing initiatives.
Of marketers, 51% say measuring the ROI of their marketing efforts is their biggest challenge. Here is Neil Patel’s take on how marketers can fix this:
Jim Habig, vice president of marketing at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions agrees that ROI is important, but it’s not the only metric that matters to him.
He told me, “Let’s not discount the importance of other measures of long-range brand strength. With only 5% of buyers in-market at any given time, you need to ensure your brand creates pull for decision-makers now and in the future.”
7. Think about how you’d differentiate your brand.
According to our State of Marketing report, 47% of marketers reported that generating traffic and leads was their biggest challenge. This problem persists because the competition for customers’ attention has increased.
For instance, the SaaS industry had about 350 Martech tools 11 years ago.
Today, that figure has ballooned to over 10,000. The worst part is that most of these tools produce the same outcome for users. One way to stand out and attract customers is by finding ways to differentiate your brand.
Done right, branding differentiation will get you the lion’s share of your buyers’ attention.
Setting Goals Like a Marketing Leader
Determining your top goal depends on your company’s needs.
If your company seeks visibility, an increase in traffic may show you are moving in the right direction.
If your company seeks external funding, revenue goals may take center stage.
If your company is struggling to meet its financial goals, revenue from your marketing initiatives should be your core goal.
Lots of thoughts should go into the goals and KPIs you set. This ensures you stay focused on your north-star metrics as the year progresses.
Plus, knowing your goals will help you plan accordingly — including where to allocate budget and resources, who you might need to hire, and areas for improvement in your current strategy.