Marketing goals give your team focus and direction. The goals you set should guide every action you take. Pair these with the right marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) to reveal strengths and weaknesses, and ensure you stay on track.
With clearly defined goals, you can quickly and easily prioritize tasks, allocate resources effectively, and measure the success of your efforts.
With laser-focused marketing KPIs, you can monitor goal performance, optimize strategies, make data-driven decisions, and drive tangible results for the business.
But, how do you set powerful and relevant marketing goals? And which marketing KPIs should you measure?
In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of establishing strong marketing goals and highlight the essential KPIs you should focus on for each one. By following these steps, you’ll be able to align your marketing efforts with your company’s objectives and yield meaningful results.
Table of Contents
- Contact form submissions
- Demos booked
- Page-to-page conversion rate
- Newsletter subscribers
- Email open and click-through rates
- Webinar registrations and attendance rate
- In-app onboarding completions
- Product webinar registrants
- Onboarding drip sequence opens
How to create well-honed marketing goals and KPIs
Rather than choosing marketing goals arbitrarily, you should base them on your broader company aims.
To set smart marketing goals for your business, start by understanding the company’s wider objectives and how your marketing team can contribute to their achievement.
Once clarified, you can define specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your marketing efforts that align with your company’s overarching vision.
Instead of something vague like “increase our number of website leads,” craft a well-defined goal such as “acquire 100 new leads from our inbound marketing efforts within the next six months.” Further distill this objective by adding a revenue target, such as generating $10,000 in sales from those leads. This goal’s greater specificity makes it SMARTer than the inexplicit variation.
Bad goal: Increase sign ups.
Good goal: Drive 100 free trial sign ups per month that upgrade to paid plans at a 10% conversion rate before trial expiration, to support revenue target of $10MM annual run rate.
Relatedly, avoid vanity metrics that look good on the surface but provide little value to company performance. You need concrete KPIs that show the direct impact of your efforts on your business objectives.
With a SMART goal, you can more easily tailor your marketing activities so they contribute directly to your overarching goals. This needs to be a team effort though so everyone associated with the project or campaign works toward the same accomplishment. Involve your team in the goal-setting process and make sure they understand how their individual aims drive the larger company objectives.
Once you’ve established and aligned your goals, you can turn to your KPIs — the metrics you’ll use to measure your SMART goals. Before I go over the best KPIs to measure, let’s discuss goal prioritization in greater depth.
How to prioritize goals
It’s important to understand the umbrella scheme goals follow and how they affect each other, from individual to departmental objectives and, ultimately, the broader company goals. Aligning goals in this manner ensures your efforts will have a maximum impact on overall business performance.
Here’s a breakdown on how to prioritize goals effectively based on their hierarchy:
- Company goals: Start by identifying your business’s primary objectives. These goals define the company’s overarching vision and direction. They could be increasing revenue, expanding market share, or launching a new product line.
- Departmental goals: Based on those broader goals, establish specific objectives for each department that directly support the overall company objectives. For instance, if the company aims to acquire more paying customers, a goal for your marketing team might be to increase the number of qualified leads generated through marketing campaigns.
- Individual goals: Break down departmental goals into narrower, well-defined targets for each team member. Every individual goal should further the departmental one and align with the respective roles and responsibilities of the assigned member. For example, if the departmental goal is to increase the number of demos booked, an individual objective could be to improve the demo sign-up rate by optimizing the process for booking demos.
By following a ladder approach to goal setting, you can develop focused marketing strategies and campaigns that contribute to achieving your aims.
Prioritize the goals that have the greatest impact on the wider company objectives. As users move through the customer journey, your marketing priorities will also change.
Next are essential KPIs for measuring marketing goals, which we’ve segmented into the acquisition, activation, or engagement stages of the customer journey.
Acquisition KPIs: Securing new users
At the beginning of the buyer journey, your marketing goals should prioritize acquiring new users. Sales and marketing teams will both be responsible for driving new customer acquisition.
Here are some of the most common SaaS marketing goals at this stage and which KPIs you should employ to monitor them.
1) Contact form submissions
The purpose of increasing contact form submissions is to encourage potential consumers to reach out to your business through the form on your website or landing page.
Measure contact submissions effectiveness by tracking the following KPIs:
- Total form submissions: The overall number of contact form submissions over a specific time period. This helps you gauge initial engagement and interest from website visitors.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of website visitors who submit the contact form out of the total number of visitors. This calculation helps you assess the conversion efficiency of your form so you can optimize its design and placement.
Earning more contact form submissions indicates a strong level of interest and intent from potential customers. Inquiries often lead to meaningful conversations such as sales propositions, partnership opportunities, or customer support requests, making this a worthwhile goal to set at the acquisition stage. If you increase contact form submissions, you expand your pool of prospects and create chances to convert them into buyers.
2) Demos booked
Increasing the number of demos booked means more potential customers will participate in product demonstrations or consultations. This allows interested prospects to experience your SaaS solution firsthand.
To quantify how well your efforts contributed to demos booked, follow KPIs such as:
- Total demos booked: The number of demos scheduled and confirmed within a specific period. This metric reflects the overall interest and demand for your product or service.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of demo participants who convert into paying customers. This metric provides insights into the quality of leads generated through demos and assesses the effectiveness of your sales process.
- Lead-to-demo ratio: The ratio of leads generated to the number of demos booked. This reveals how successful your lead-generation efforts are and identifies areas for improvement in attracting qualified prospects.
- Demo-to-close time: The average time it takes from the demo booking to closing a deal. That helps you evaluate the efficiency of your sales cycle and spot any bottlenecks that may need attention.
Demos play a crucial role in the sales process for a SaaS business. They let you show off product features, functionality, and benefits directly to potential customers.
In those meetings, you can engage prospects on a deeper level, overcome objections, and increase the likelihood of converting them into paying customers, so prioritize scheduling more demos.
The goal of increasing sign-ups is to encourage website visitors or potential customers to register and create an account on your SaaS platform or website.
KPIs to track for this metric include:
- Total sign-ups: The number of user registrations within a specific time frame. This indicates the overall interest and growth of your user base.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of website visitors who successfully complete the sign-up process out of the total number of visitors. That number determines the efficiency of your registration flow.
- Source of sign-ups: The source or channel that drives the most sign-ups. That information helps identify which marketing initiatives or channels are most effective in generating user registrations.
- Onboarding progress: The movement of new sign-ups through the initial onboarding process. Track the completion rate of onboarding steps or key actions that lead to activation and engagement with your product to learn how smooth the process is (and if any alterations are necessary).
When visitors sign up, they demonstrate a high level of commitment to and interest in your product or service. Gaining more sign-ups expands your user base and opens opportunities to nurture and convert these new arrivals into paying customers.
4) Page-to-page conversion rate
This metric tracks the effectiveness of specific website pages in guiding visitors toward desired actions or conversions. Each page of your website should have an intended action (or conversion) you want visitors to take. Some conversions you may want to monitor include form submissions, downloads, purchases, newsletter subscriptions, or any other meaningful engagement that aligns with your marketing goals.
Calculate the conversion rate for each page by dividing the total number of conversions by the total number of visitors the individual pages receive during a specific period. The resulting percentage quantifies the effectiveness of the page in driving conversions. You can then compare conversion rate performance between pages to see which have the highest.
Page-to-page rate is essential for understanding web page performance in terms of engaging and converting visitors. It helps you identify on-page problems or opportunities for improvement in the user journey so you can optimize page success and increase conversions.
5) Resource downloads/Other form fills
Measure resource downloads and other form fills to track the number of times users complete a form or request access to gated resources on your website. You can monitor this metric using the following KPIs:
- Resource downloads: The number of downloads for each resource, such as ebooks, white papers, case studies, or guides. You can use analytics tools or lead generation platforms to capture that data. Consider categorizing resources to understand which content types resonate most with your audience.
- Form fills: The number of times users complete a form on your website to access gated content, subscribe to a newsletter, request a demo, or register for an event. Track the form submissions or interactions to measure user interest and engagement.
- Conversion rate: The number of resource downloads or form fills divided by the total number of visitors to the corresponding landing pages. This calculation helps you understand the effectiveness of your content and lead-generation efforts.
Resource downloads and form fills serve as valuable interactions with your audience and indicate their interest in your content, products, or services. Measuring these actions helps you assess your lead generation effectiveness, as well as identifies potential leads for further nurturing and conversion.
6) Newsletter subscribers
By following your newsletter subscriber count, you can track how many people have opted in to receive regular email updates, news, promotions, and valuable content from your business. For an accurate assessment of your newsletter subscribers, track these KPIs:
- Conversion rate: The number of new subscribers divided by the total number of visitors or potential opt-ins during a specific period. This metric provides a concrete understanding of the effectiveness of your subscription acquisition strategies.
- Unsubscribe rate: The number of people who opt out of your newsletter over a specific time frame. Understanding why people unsubscribe can help you refine your email content, frequency, and targeting to improve retention.
Acquiring new newsletter subscribers demonstrates an active interest in your brand, as these people are more likely to engage with your content, products, or services. A robust subscriber base allows you to nurture relationships, maintain brand visibility, and drive traffic and conversions over time.
7) Email open and click-through rates
You can monitor the success of your email marketing campaigns by measuring email open and click-through rates (CTRs). As its name implies, open rate shows how many people open your emails. To calculate it, divide the number of unique email opens by the total number of emails delivered, then multiply by 100.
Meanwhile, CTR shows how many people then engage with the content by clicking on the links or CTAs contained in the email. Quantity this percentage by dividing the number of unique clicks by the total number of emails delivered, then multiplying by 100.
Most email marketing platforms provide built-in tracking and reporting tools to measure these for accurate analysis. Depending on the service provider, you might also gain access to more in-depth metrics like email forwarding or list growth rates.
Email open and click-through rates are powerful indicators of email subscriber engagement. They offer insights into your email campaign performance, content relevance, and the effectiveness of your email subject lines and CTAs so you can fine-tune your strategy, increase engagement, and drive more conversions.
8) Webinar registrations and attendees
Webinar registrations and attendees determine the number of individuals who sign up for and attend your webinars. You can track them with KPIs like:
- Registration tracking: The number of people who sign up for a webinar. You can automate this using a webinar platform or registration tool that captures and tracks webinar sign-ups. This provides a clear idea of how many people are interested in attending your webinar. Alternatively, you can manually maintain a sign-up list each time someone registers for your event.
- Attendance tracking: How many people actually attended the event. Many webinar platforms offer attendance tracking features that log the number of participants who joined the webinar or accessed the recording.
- Conversion rate: The registration-to-attendee conversion rate, calculated by dividing the number of webinar registrants by the number of attendees, then multiplying by 100. This percentage indicates the effectiveness of your webinar promotion and registration process, as well as interest levels among registrants.
Webinars are an excellent method for educating, engaging, and building relationships with your target audience. By measuring their number of registrations and attendees, you can assess the interest in your webinar topics, gauge the effectiveness of your promotional efforts, and evaluate the impact of your webinars on lead generation, brand awareness, and customer engagement.
Activation KPIs: Onboarding new users and helping them unlock the value of your product/service
Once you’ve acquired new users, the focus shifts to activation — onboarding new users and helping them gain the most from your SaaS product or service. Marketing and product teams typically drive these goals. Below are some key performance indicators to keep an eye on.
1) In-app onboarding completions
The purpose of measuring in-app onboarding completions is to track the number of users who successfully finish the process specifically within your application or software. The best way to calculate that is through:
- Completion rate: Calculated by dividing the number of users who complete the onboarding process by the total number of users who started it, multiplied by 100. This percentage provides a clear measure of how many users are successfully onboarded and ready to use your product or service to its full potential.
- Time to completion: The average time it takes for users to go through the entire onboarding process. This metric helps evaluate the efficiency of its flow and can identify any areas where the process may be too lengthy or complex, leading to user frustration or abandonment.
In-app onboarding plays a crucial role in guiding users through the initial steps of implementing your product or service. It familiarizes them with key features, functionality, and benefits, which contributes to a positive user experience and increased adoption.
2) Product webinar registrants/attendees
This goal has the same purpose as that of general webinar registrations and attendance but with a specific focus on product webinars.
To determine the success of these types of events, consider following these metrics:
- Registrant count: The number of people who register for your webinars. This metric indicates the level of interest and engagement in your product. It also helps gauge the effectiveness of your webinar promotion and identify opportunities to increase registration numbers.
- Attendance rate: The percentage of registrants who attend the webinar. This metric provides insight into the quality of your registrants and the effectiveness of your webinar content and scheduling. A high attendance rate indicates strong interest and engagement, while a low rate may require adjustments to your promotional efforts, timing, or content delivery.
- Conversion rate: The number of webinar attendees who fulfilled your desired outcomes, such as scheduling product trials, requesting demos, or purchasing. This rate clearly evaluates the effectiveness of your webinar in driving actionable results and generating qualified leads or customers.
- Engagement metrics: These include questions asked, polls answered, or chat participation during the event. Engagement metrics indicate the level of interaction and interest among participants and provide valuable feedback for future webinar or product improvements.
Product webinars are an effective marketing and educational tool to show off your product’s features, benefits, and use cases to potential customers. By measuring the number of registrants and attendees these events draw in, you can assess the level of interest in your product, identify qualified leads, and increase the likelihood of product adoption.
3) Onboarding drip sequence open and click-through rate
The open and click-through rates of your onboarding drip sequence assess its effectiveness in onboarding new users and increasing product adoption.
Open rate calculates the percentage of recipients who open your onboarding emails. It indicates the initial level of engagement and interest from new users. A higher open rate suggests your subject lines and email previews are compelling and resonate with your audience, while a lower rate may indicate a need for optimization.
Meanwhile, CTR shows the percentage of recipients who click on links or CTAs within your onboarding emails specifically. It reflects the level of user engagement and their eagerness to interact with your content. A higher CTR suggests your emails effectively drive users to take desired onboarding actions, such as accessing tutorials, setting up profiles, or exploring specific features.
Also measure the conversion rate of your drip sequence to determine the percentage of users who complete desired actions or milestones as a result of your onboarding emails. That could include account setup, profile completion, feature activation, or other key steps in the user journey. This rate serves as a concrete evaluation of how well your onboarding drip sequence guides users toward meaningful interactions with your product.
A well-designed onboarding drip sequence is critical to introduce new users to your product, demonstrate its value, and facilitate their initial interactions. By tracking the open and click-through rates of your onboarding emails, you can quantify user engagement and receptiveness to your onboarding content.
By tracking upgrades, you can measure how many users upgrade from a free or lower-tier plan to a paid or higher-tier plan of your product or service.
For an accurate count, monitor the following metrics:
- Upgrade conversion rate: The percentage of users who upgrade to a higher-tier plan compared to the total number of eligible users. This indicates the effectiveness of your upgrade prompts, pricing incentives, and the overall value proposition in convincing users to upgrade.
- Average revenue per user (ARPU) increase: The average increase in revenue per user resulting from upgrades. This number reflects the incremental revenue generated from users transitioning to higher-tier plans and determines the impact on your business’s financial performance.
- Upgrade cohort analysis: The behavior and conversion rates of different user cohorts based on their sign-up or onboarding dates. This allows you to identify patterns or trends in upgrade behavior, understand the factors influencing user decisions, and tailor your upgrade strategies accordingly.
Tracking upgrades is essential for SaaS businesses, as they directly impact revenue growth and customer lifetime value. Converting free users or lower-tier subscribers into (higher) paying customers not only increases your revenue stream but also signifies the value and satisfaction they derive from your product.
Slightly different from affiliates, who may be sending new customers your way regardless of whether they use your product or service, referrals from existing clients are a great indicator of who has found value with your brand and wants to share it with their friends and family.
The core motivation of someone willing to recommend your brand is that they believe you will benefit their referral in some way. This is an excellent way to measure how well you are meeting the needs of your current customer base. If they are willing to send their contacts your way, they are trusting your brand to do their recommendation justice — and their past experiences with you give them that confidence.
Engagement KPIs: Keeping users engaged and preventing churn
Once you have activated users, you must keep them engaged and direct your efforts to customer retention. Your product marketing and customer support teams are typically responsible for driving user engagement and keeping churn to a minimum. Here are some of the most important objectives for the engagement phase.
How often do customers come back to your product or service in their regular day-to-day life? Do you see customers using your product every day? Or do they only come back every other month when they need a specific report? Is your software running in the background, helping to keep their business processes executing smoothly? Or do they need to manually trigger something every quarter?
Your customer retention rate can make or break your business. Retaining existing customers is four to five times more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Plus, if you are excellent at acquisition and terrible at retention, you’re going to eventually run through your entire viable audience, with no one left to sell to.
To help determine your retention goals, you should monitor:
- Number of active users (NAU): The number of people who regularly use your product or service, calculated by finding the sum of the number of daily users and the number of returning users. It’s a great way to see how consistently people employ your product or service. By understanding active user behavior, you can see which features they take advantage of most and optimize your product or service accordingly.
- Retention rate: To determine this metric, divide the number of customers at the end of a set period by the number of customers at the start of that period. Retention rate lets you see how well your business retains customers over a set period of time. If this number is low, it might indicate buyers aren’t deriving value from your product or service.
I don’t have to mention the ideal retention rate is 100%. You want every single customer you land to become a lifetime customer.
The goal of tracking renewals is to measure the percentage of customers who renew their SaaS subscriptions for another billing period or term. This metric uncovers your renewal performance, customer lifetime value (LTV), and the health of your customer base.
Use the following metrics to monitor renewals:
- Renewal rate: The percentage of users who renew their subscription after their current contract has expired. A high renewal rate suggests customers are satisfied and find your product or service valuable. Conversely, a low rate is a sign there’s room for improvement within your product or service.
- Customer stickiness: How frequently users come back to use your product or service. The easiest way to measure stickiness is to calculate the ratio of daily active users (DAU) to monthly active users (MAU). You can dive deeper into this KPI by calculating feature stickiness, or whether these customers convert on new products or services as well.
As mentioned above, it’s both easier and more cost effective to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one. So, by focusing on increasing renewals, you can maintain a steady revenue stream, increase user longevity, and build strong consumer relationships.
Tracking churn reveals how many customers cancel or discontinue their subscriptions within a given time frame, providing a clear understanding of customer attrition. You can measure churn by tracking the following KPIs:
- Churn rate: The percentage of customers who stopped using your product or service over a specified period of time. Every SaaS company experiences churn, but a high rate suggests a problem with your product or service that’s causing people to leave.
- Revenue churn rate: Revenue lost from churned customers over a set span of time. Revenue churn could happen due to customers canceling or downgrading their subscription.
High churn rates can hinder revenue growth, increase customer acquisition costs, and undermine the long-term success of your company. By uncovering the causes of churn, you can remedy problems, enhance customer retention strategies, and ensure a healthy and sustainable consumer base.
4) Returning users
Look at how many customers return to your product after churning. Perhaps they came back because you released a new feature that they wanted, or you were able to win back their business with a new deal.
Focus on returning users to determine the rate at which customers come back to use your product or service, and what triggered that response. These numbers can serve as a reliable measure of customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. If you notice a higher-than-usual number of churned customers returning to your product or service, take a look at potential triggers. Did you release a new feature lately? Did you start any new ad campaigns? Were you featured in the social media story of a famous influencer?
For this KPI, dig into the number of former users who repurchase after churning. This metric will depend on your definition of churn. For example, in a SaaS product, churn can be clearly seen when someone cancels their account or doesn’t renew their subscription. However, an eCommerce brand might measure churn as not having re-purchased a product for a certain number of months.
It’s important to get to the root cause of those returning customers to learn what you can do to replicate the behavior across your other churned customers (and even prevent churn in the first place).
Increasing the rate of returning users is crucial for building a strong following, driving higher profits, and fostering long-term success. By encouraging customers to return to and rely on your product, you can boost customer lifetime value, reduce customer acquisition costs, and establish a solid foundation for sustainable growth.
Wrapping up — Make your marketing goals support company goals
Your SaaS company’s growth heavily relies on setting realistic marketing objectives and monitoring those goals with specific KPIs.
Rather than isolated measurements, the success of your marketing efforts is determined by their contribution to the business’s overall objectives. By aligning your marketing goals, strategies, and metrics with the organization’s broader aims, you set your SaaS business on a path to sustainable growth, increased customer engagement, and long-term wins.
Remember to establish a clear hierarchy of goals, prioritize them according to their impact on company objectives, and communicate each one’s importance to your team. Continuously monitor and analyze your KPIs to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven adjustments to your marketing and sales strategies. This proactivity will keep your data fresh and accurate and your goals relevant.