How to set targets that will allow your campaigns to soar

Key performance indicators (KPIs), we are told, are the key to adopting a data-driven approach to marketing.

The problem: Setting targets for those KPIs isn’t always easy.

To be effective, KPI targets need to be in the perfect spot between “way-too-easy to achieve” and “getting a spacecraft to Mars would be more achievable than this.”

So, how do you set KPI goals that are ambitious-yet-achievable?

By setting benchmarks.

In this post we’ll look at how you can mine past data to find the sweet spot for your KPI targets.

Look at past performance

Your organization’s data is a treasure trove of information. By looking at what you’ve done in the past, you can start to craft a reasonable target.

The advantage of looking at your own performance is that it’s the only set of data that speaks to your organization’s unique situation. Think about it: Your organization is the only one that in your location, at this time, with its own unique value proposition.

After all, you wouldn’t expect your neighbourhood coffee shop to use Starbucks as a benchmark for its revenue targets. That would result in crazy, unachievable goals! You probably wouldn’t even use another independent coffee shop in another part of the city.

By mining your own data you can get a sense for what might be a reasonable target for your organization.

As a bonus, it also gives you a sense of where your performance is at right now. That way you can see areas where you need to improve.

Set your most important KPIs first

Setting your most important KPIs first is the best way to start defining your targets elsewhere.

Let’s say your organization has a revenue target of $10,000. You sell widgets at $10 each, so therefore you know you’ll need to sell around 1,000 widgets to reach your target.


You’ve got your first goal.

But you also need to set targets for actually driving those conversions.

You are given a budget of around $1,000 to spend on Facebook ads. You know that your cost-per-acquisition has, in the past, been $1.50 on Facebook.

But to reach your goal of selling 1,000 widgets, you know you’ll need to get your cost-per-acquisition on Facebook down to $1.00.

There. Now you’ve got your second goal.

By setting your most important targets first, deciding your goals for individual campaigns becomes a matter of simple math.

Decide where you “need” to get to, then work backwards

For most organizations, KPI targets aren’t an option.

They’re a necessity.

Revenue is a good example. For many organizations – both for-profit and otherwise – revenue targets need to be met.

Otherwise, they probably aren’t going to be around for too much longer.

The problem is: How do you start to attack a target that’s so far into the future?

You work backwards.

It’s the best way to help make a gargantuan goal achievable.

Think of them as checkpoints. By breaking up the goal into more achievable chunks, you can check up every week, month or quarter to see you if you are or aren’t on pace to hit your target.

Let’s say you’re trying to hit a two-year revenue target of $200,000.

You could set a revenue target of $60,000 in the first year as you start to refine your practices and get the right marketing infrastructure in place.

From there, you can break it up into quarterly or, potentially, even more granular timelines.

Then, if you hit that target, you can set to work on bringing in the extra $140,000 in year two.


No target is perfect.

Inevitably, you’ll find that some of the goals you set were way-too-easy to achieve while others were simply too ambitious.

That’s why you’ll want to continually check in on your targets. This gives you a chance not just to monitor your performance, but to measure your success in setting SMART goals.

By regularly checking in on progress against your targets you can learn from and, where necessary, correct your targets.

Mark Brownlee is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Banfield.

Share this article