How to Set Up Content Marketing Goals That Drive Growth

Published 12/04/2021
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Content marketing is finally on everyone’s radar. The day has come where others in your company are telling you about the importance of creating content. Your sales team is asking for more lead magnets. Human Resources want to do a blog post. The boss wants videos! How do you decide which to do?
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Take a big step back and simply ask: WHY. 

Content marketing can achieve all kinds of results for your company like awareness, sales, buzz, loyalty, etc. But if you try to do all of it, you’ll have a difficult time achieving any of it. 

Instead, set clear content marketing goals from the beginning and develop a content marketing strategy that guides everyone’s decisions. This will enable you to pick and choose the right content. At Zengrowth, we have an expertise on goals designed for growth. To set content marketing goals that drive growth, you need to start by going back to the basics. 

Really reflect on what content marketing is and why it’s important. When you do this, you start to see if you’re creating content for the sake of it – i.e., “We need to rank on Google...My boss wants to see 2 blog posts a week” – or if you’re creating fresh, relevant pieces of content that are going to truly connect you with your audience and promote growth. 

Today we’ll look at content marketing through a goal-based lens, talk techniques and see some helpful examples of content marketing goals.  

What is Content Marketing and why is it Important?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

There are several different types of content marketing—the most popular being blog posts, webinars, social media posts and video. You may be asking yourself why these ways of connecting with potential and existing customers are so important, It comes down to the fact that people would rather discover you than be interrupted by ads about you.

In 2019, 25.8% of internet users were blocking ads on their devices while 70% of people said they would rather get information about a company or learn something from a blog post or an article rather than a traditional ad. 

This is why almost three-quarters of marketers are actively investing in Content Marketing. People want info – they expect it – and content marketers are equipped to deliver it in a SMART way. (More on that acronym later.) 

3 Techniques for Setting Content Marketing Goals 

Producing content without clear goals does very little for your marketing results. But what do people mean by ‘clear goals’?

The secret sauce to making your content marketing goals successful is in articulating them to your entire organization so everyone is working toward the same mission. That means that different people will be reading and interpreting your goals within their own context. 

This can be a challenge if you don’t communicate your goals properly. Luckily, you have a few proven techniques to help you craft your goals for mass adoption. 

Here are the three most popular:

1. The SMART Technique

When you set SMART goals, it means they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Let’s take a look at each area a little more closely.

Specific goals are focused and clearly defined for everyone. It’s much better to say, “We want to generate 1,000 leads with this webinar” instead of, “We want to gain more customers with this webinar.”

Measurable goals have benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators that you can quantify or measure. Peter Drucker, known as the founder of modern management, put it best when he said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”  

Achievable goals are within the reach of your team. It’s good to aim high, but you have to be realistic and assess everyone’s capabilities so that you don’t set your company up for failure. 

Relevant goals align with your brand mission and what you want to accomplish. This means that each marketing objective should not only benefit your organization, but should also somehow relate to your vision.

Time Bound goals come with a ticking clock. Not literally, of course. You simply need a timeline with start and endpoints.

Example of a SMART content goal: “Increase our web traffic by 10% during Q2 by creating a quality how-to video series showcasing our products, to be posted bi-weekly on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. 

2. The CLEAR Technique

Some people feel that the SMART technique doesn’t fully address the quick-paced, agile environments businesses find themselves in today. That’s why some prefer CLEAR goals. They incorporate some of the principles above while taking into account your unique team and their investment in these goals. 

CLEAR stands for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable and Refinable goals. We’ll shed a little light on each part.

Collaborative goals encourage employees to work together in teams and solve problems collaboratively. The idea is to motivate with an internal buy-in and also maintain momentum.  

Limited goals are created with a limited scope, length and budget in mind. Remember, you never want to bite off more than you can chew! 

Emotional goals facilitate a real, emotional connection with employees. What you plan together should tap into their passion, their talents and their energy.  

Appreciable goals are larger goals that have been broken down into smaller, organized action items. This enables your team to reach targets in a timely manner and stay on track.  

Refinable goals have the ability to change as new situations arise or new information presents itself. Of course, you’ll have a clear final objective that won’t shift much, but how you get there should be flexible.

Example of a CLEAR content goal: The content marketing team will collaborate with SEO in the beginning of spring of 2021 to create a content calendar for Q3 and Q4 to be approved by... 

3. The Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) Technique 

Objectives and Key Results is a goal management framework for executing strategies. It was born out of Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives process developed in a1952 and later implemented and refined by Intel and Google. 

Using OKRs creates a cultural shift from output to outcomes, enabling focus and an increase in performance and engagement. Let’s break it down.

Objectives (a.k.a. goals specifying what you’d like to achieve in the future) are defined and then reviewed monthly or weekly. Typically three to five objectives are specified to create a “destination” for your team. 

Contrary to SMART goals and CLEAR goals, these objectives should not be technical and shouldn’t contain a metric. They should be qualitative, time bound, and actionable. 

Here are some examples of objectives we use at Zengrowth: 


  1. Objective one: Drive quality leads to the sales pipeline from content
  2. Objective two: Improve all traffic (new users) to X in Q1

Key Results quantify each objective with three to five results you can measure. These are success measurements that make it easier for employees and leads them to monitor progress. Metrics should have a starting value and a target value that measures said progress.   

Examples of key results (KRs) based on those two objectives:

Key Results for objective one:

  • Achieve conversion rate from All Traffic → Get started visits of X%
  • Generate 7 qualified leads from MOFU, 3 BOFU articles, lead magnets, content partnerships
  • Generate 2 qualified leads from review websites

Key Results for objective two:

  • Drive X traffic coming from promo channels (Zest, Growth Hackers, Indie Hackers, Quora)
  • Drive X unique pageviews to blog via TOFU pieces
  • Get 1 quality backlink per month (min. DA=45)
  • Grow newsletter subscription base to X

Crafting Your Own Content Marketing Goals 

Whichever method you choose to use, you are going to zero in on two or three overarching goals that are important to your business and then create a hierarchy. This hierarchy is not just based on the traditional sales funnel; it also addresses post-sale interactions geared toward customer retention. 

Here are some typical categories that are focused on growth:

Targeted awareness 

This means you want the right people to discover your product and see how you solve their pain points. This is often accomplished through education, thought-leadership, and content partnerships.

Targeted awareness Content Goal Examples:

  1. Drive organic traffic (earn backlinks, rank on the SERPs, etc.)
  2. Educate your audience and establish authority/expertise
  3. Build trust and brand affinity  
  4. Improve the perception of your business
  5. Generate leads (form completions, sign-ups, etc)

Conversion to customers 

This goal requires content that’s going to sell your product in an organic way. (Think product demos, white papers, case studies, etc.) Ideally, you avoid being “salesy” and instead present your value in a clear and compelling way. Connect with the audience and make the case for your product – how it is the obvious choice.

Conversion to customers Content Goal Examples:

  1. Conduct product demos
  2. Increase account sign-ups
  3. Drive content downloads/click-throughs
  4. Grow subscriptions
  5. Generate revenue

Recurring revenue 

This content goal focuses on building brand loyalty and keeping your customers happy. You can start by creating content that empowers customers to succeed when using your product. Feel free to share anything else that is useful, encourages customer feedback, and represents who you are as a company. This includes tutorials, webinars, videos, surveys, podcasts and newsletters that constantly reinforce your value.  

Recurring revenue Content Goal Examples:

  1. Deepen loyalty with existing customers
  2. Improve customer retention / reduce churn
  3. Generate social sharing, brand advocacy, testimonials
  4. Expand product usage
  5. Up-sell and cross-sell

Once you have your goal hierarchy in place, you can brainstorm the types of content that will work for each goal. Remember that the best goals that lead to growth and success are always measurable. That means you will need to assign key performance indicators (KPIs) to each of your goals. Below are some examples to get you started.

KPI Examples 

Targeted Awareness 

  • Improved ranking on search engines to drive organic traffic
  • Content engagement (view + time on page/video)
  • Increase in site traffic driven through content
  • Number of mentions, shares, and comments on social media

Conversion to Customers 

  • More signups of high-quality leads through content
  • Number of people subscribing to your newsletter
  • Reaching revenue targets 
  • Number of demo or product info requests

Recurring Revenue 

  • Customer webinar engagement
  • Video tutorial view
  • Customer product reviews
  • Customer churn rate

Well-planned, Measurable Goals That Drive Growth

Now that you have plenty of examples and content goal-setting techniques at your fingertips, it’s time to get growing! When creating goals, you must make sure they are measurable so you can track progress and tweak directions as needed. 

When your boss asks why you haven’t started a podcast, you can point to your goals and explain why podcasts won’t drive results. Bosses love results!

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