Short Term Goals vs. Long Term Marketing Goals: Biggest Goal-Setting Mistakes

Author's avatar Goal Setting May 13, 2022 16 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    You’d assume goal setting is a child’s play.

    But when David from the team asks about the quarter’s short term and long term marketing goals, you end up scratching your head wondering how short term vs long term goals compare and which ones should you be having. ?

    Fret not though. Because setting both short and long term marketing goals can help you set better (and more achievable) goals on the whole.

    So, in this post, let’s look at what short term and long term goals are, how they compare with each other, and the whole enchilada.

    Here’s a full breakdown of what you’ll learn:


    What are Short Term and Long Term Goals?

    Before we dive any further into this guide on short term vs long term goals, let’s quickly revise what each is.

    Short term goals are goals to quickly accomplish in the near future – say today, tomorrow, the week, even the month.

    You can see the results of short term goals in a short while. For example, by checking off an example goal of ‘write a blog post,’ you can get the satisfaction of the job done.

    On the other hand, long term goals are goals that extend over a defined period of time. The best way to accomplish them is to break such a goal down into smaller goals that you can complete on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

    For example, ‘grow blog traffic by X%’ is a long term goal that you can achieve in a set time (never overnight) by writing one new blog post every week (short term goals).

    Short Term vs Long Term Goals: Which Ones Should You Set?

    Both short term and long term goals are essentially linked. It’s probably why the majority, 67.3%, of our respondents reveal they favor both short term vs long term goals equally.

    18.2%, however, say they prefer long term marketing goals over short term ones. And, 14.6% favor short term marketing goals.

    Short Term vs Long Term Goals: Which Ones Should You Set?

    This opinion is from respondents who come from various industries.

    For example, 26.4% are from the professional services industry, 17% are from marketing agencies, 15.1% are from the ecommerce sphere, and 94% are from the SaaS verticle.

    So why exactly do some of these folks favor short term goals vs long term goals and vice versa?

    Let’s explore that next:

    Short term marketing goals are better than long terms goals

    Tess Tobias of Encite Branding + Marketing + Creative makes the case for short term goals – chiefly applauding the detail they offer.

    “Setting short-term marketing goals will allow you to pay detailed attention to what works and what does not,” Tobias points out.

    To add, these goals “are more manageable when it comes to campaigns and strategy development. They are also an efficient way to manage documentation and analyze growth and success.”

    At Cleared, the team is focused on short term goals according to Ryan Rockefeller. They set small goals, for instance, raising a score or metric by at least 11% each quarter to see if their strategies are working.

    “In doing so, we look at various factors that can potentially hinder our ability to increase our score. Then we make changes to overcome those obstacles,” Rockefeller explains.

    Long term marketing goals are better than short terms goals

    Famlee Digital’s Peter Lee says they rely on long term goals because their primary focus is on a tactic (SEO) that delivers only long term results.

    In Lee’s words: “Since our primary focus is SEO, we put more emphasis on longer term marketing as it’s a long term game. Rankings can change frequently in the short term depending on various factors, which is why we put more of an emphasis on long term marketing goals than we do short term.”

    Lee admits, “Short term marketing goals are great for some services, having micro goals within a macro project can help with keeping things on track.” However, “It’s important that your short term goals are ones you know that are deliverable, giving the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing.”

    Eden Cheng from PeopleFinderFree is on the same page. “Short term and long term should be well defined. Several days or months involved should be mentioned. Not doing so forces businesses to follow a goal without knowing whether or not the expected results are generated.”

    To add, Cheng writes: “It’s crucial to track progress in between so that any loopholes can be spotted and rectified. But, when no one knows the duration, nothing makes sense.”

    Both short term and long term marketing goals are equally important

    The majority of the people we talked to agree that setting both short and long term marketing goals is essential.

    Kristaps Brencans of On The Map explains the importance of doing so: “Both short-term and long-term goals are essential components of marketing efforts.

    The long-term strategy is what continuously builds sales momentum, and the short-term should be analyzed and used to feed long-term success. It’s all about settling in the center of the balance beam, which is admittedly difficult, but brand growth depends on it.”

    Tenscope’s David Smith agrees. “Fixing long-term goals helps paint the bigger picture and inspire the team. However, setting objectives in the short term is just as important because they serve as recurrent indicators to know whether we are on the right track to reach our next milestone.”

    “And last but not least, accomplishing goals often gives the team momentum and empowers them to keep going after the next one,” Smith adds.

    Stephen Light of Nolah Mattress is of the same opinion. “Short and long-term marketing goals have to work symbiotically to produce a strategy that will bring success and longevity. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but once you figure it out, the rewards are plenty.”

    Light also warns: “Focus too much on the short-term in particular, and businesses will find that customer retention and brand awareness suffer.”

    And, while you’re setting these goals, it’s important “you should have separate expectations for each, and don’t get them confused,” advises Stephen Heffernan of The Connected Narrative. Otherwise, you’ll easily lose focus and the confidence to keep going.”

    Now to set these goals the right way, follow the advice that Jordan Brannon from Coalition Technologies shares: “Micro or short term goals should be tied to areas you believe your business can succeed in within 3-9 months of being set.”

    On the flip side, “Macro or longer term goals can be contributed to by setting shorter term goals a business sets prior, but typically these goals will take 9+ months to achieve.”

    In short, “short term goals need long term goals in order to have an ultimate purpose. And you won’t ever reach your long term goals unless your short term goals are designed as a scaffold toward them,” summarizes Will Ward, Translation Equipment HQ.

    Put simply, “You cannot separate short term goals from long term goals,” Ward says.

    Short Term and Long Term Goals Examples

    You can best understand how both types of marketing goals compare when you look at some examples.

    As mentioned, short term goals are ones that can be completed quickly. So some examples are:

    Short term marketing goals examples:

    • Writing two eBooks quarterly
    • Creating explainer videos for your brand
    • Planning and executing a social media giveaway

    Long term marketing goals examples:

    • Developing a strong social media presence
    • Using video marketing to rank better on the SERPs
    • Establishing your business as the go-to authority in your field

    Short Term Goals vs. Long Term Marketing Goals: Biggest Goal-Setting Mistakes

    With the showdown between short term vs long term goals out of the way, let’s look at some common mistakes that marketing teams make as they set these goals.

    1. Setting unrealistic goals 
    2. Lack of consistency between short term and long term goals
    3. Failing to align goals with brand purpose
    4. Incorrectly prioritizing goals
    5. Inadequately estimating success
    6. Incorrectly tying goals to the wrong KPIs
    7. Not setting challenging goals

    1. Setting unrealistic goals  

    “When setting objectives, one of the mistakes is that businesses try to cover more than they can, i.e., they are not realistic in time,” notes Leszek Dudkiewicz from Passport Photo Online.

    To explain this further, Dudkiewicz shares they set unrealistic goals when they started their outreach strategy.

    “With a new team, I made the mistake of setting unattainable objectives for the quarter. As time went by, seeing that it could not be done, the team started to get frustrated, and we had to have a meeting to reorganize them,” Dudkiewicz writes.

    “Though it was my failure as a manager, that reorganization turned into positive results. So it’s essential to know how to pull back in time.”

    The solution? Set SMART marketing goals. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and (set within a) Time frame.

    Doing so helps you create goals that are not only realistic but also challenge your team just enough to keep them buzzing with excitement to hit the measurable target.

    Related: 15 Tips for Setting Realistic Website Traffic Goals

    2. Lack of consistency between short term and long term goals

    “I think one of the most crucial and perhaps, the most overlooked mistake that companies make while drafting their long-term and short-term goals is the lack of consistency and relation between the two,” opines Perfect Steel Solutions’ Austin Fain.

    “What these companies fail to understand is that both of these goals are interrelated and one cannot be completed without the other.”

    Essentially, you can only accomplish long term goals by dividing them into actionable short term goals. Similarly, you can only tie your short term goals with your business goals and strategy by aligning them with your long term goals.

    Says Fain, “Treating them as two completely different faucets can lead to mismanagement and eventually a failure to achieve the long-term goals.”

    Fain shares they’ve made the same mistake. “I was once a victim of this thinking as well, because when I made the long-term plans regarding the marketing of my company – I left the drafting of shorter-term milestones to the lower level team without sharing my long-term vision of increasing sales.”

    “It was a big mistake because both of the goals turned out to be completely opposite – whereby long-term goals were based on brand awareness and loyalty and the short term were based on short-term sales.”

    “My team focused on short-term sales which did not garner many loyal customers and thus, my target for brand awareness was not achieved,” Fain elaborates. “It was then that I realized that both short and long-term goals must be aligned properly in order to achieve the overarching vision of the company!”

    3. Failing to align goals with brand purpose

    Do this and you risk failing to hit your business goals altogether.

    Lisa Richards of The Candida Diet talks about it. “In setting long-term marketing goals, one of the common mistakes companies make is failing to determine and execute their brand purpose.”

    “Brand purpose shows the motivations of a company and how it positions itself in the industry,” Richards defines. “Identifying what sets your brand apart and what solutions you offer is the foundation of robust long-term brand building.”

    “On the other hand, companies that fail in their short-term marketing goals revolve around misdirected and untargeted campaigns.”

    “A marketing campaign driven by consumer data and analytics is the key,” outlines Richards.

    “By focusing on areas where your business attracts and sees success with leads. Our company has always strived to solidify our brand, promote our brand purpose, and make consumer data-driven goals. We will continue to replicate our processes and shift priorities when the need calls.”

    4. Incorrectly prioritizing goals

    “Companies often make the mistake of placing a higher level of importance on either their long term or short term goals instead of prioritizing them equally,” notes Jeremy Yamaguchi of Lawn Love.

    In fact, it’s only when you adequately prioritize both types of goals that you can accomplish them. Paying too much attention to short term goals, for example, can mean you aren’t achieving anything in the long haul that’s backed by strategy.

    Yamaguchi’s been there. “In the past, my company has made the mistake of focusing mainly on short-term goals, however that led to us getting off-track and burning out.”

    On the other hand, focusing too much on long term goals will mean you aren’t achieving anything measurable in the short term. So it’s crucial you work on prioritizing both short term and long term marketing goals.

    Related: Goals vs. KPIs: How to Set KPIs and Targets That Will Help You Reach Your Business Goals

    5. Inadequately estimating success

    “Often companies tend to look at short term boosts – quarterly results, for instance with their short term goals with a disconnect with long-term marketing strategy –

    processes and goals to sustain this growth,” notes Abhishek Joshi of Dog with Blog.

    This can mean your team is sourcing motivation by achieving short term marketing goals. Sure, it’s important to celebrate short term wins. However, it’s important that your team be aware that those achievements aren’t the end all be all. Instead, short term wins should be seen as milestones accomplished or progress made in achieving the long term goals.

    As Joshi puts it: “Without a long term strategy, short term ‘success’ will be short-lived.”

    “At the start of my career, I ran a PPC campaign that delivered stellar results but our systems weren’t built for the recurring customer payments and often led to a bad UX, so investment in data centricity and warehouse should have cascaded from long term vision to specific campaigns too,” Joshi explains sharing their experience.

    “Post that, I learned to see the campaigns from a distance – what it would entail if we stretch the timelines, what would be the ripple effect of the campaign etc.”

    Related: Marketing Reporting: The KPIs, Reports, & Dashboard Templates You Need to Get Started

    6. Incorrectly tying goals to the wrong KPIs

    “Marketing teams have a tough job to measure. Their ultimate goal is to drive new sales, but they also don’t have much direct control over this process,” notes Pixoul’s Devon Fata.

    “One of the biggest mistakes I made earlier in my career was to tie my marketing team’s compensation to our sales metrics rather than to things more directly within their control.

    I ultimately found that the marketing team wasn’t being fairly evaluated at all. They were getting rewarded for successes that had nothing to do with their work, and getting punished in quarters when they had done a ton of work to bring in new customers.”

    Related: The 20 Most Important B2B KPIs According to More Than 50 Businesses

    7. Not setting challenging goals

    And finally, setting the same goals every time is also a problem as Maryia Fokina of Tidio observes. 

    Where setting overly ambitious goals does little to motivate your marketing team and improve their performance, setting the same goals each time also slows their growth.

    “Even if the goals are always ambitious and bring tangible results, it’s extremely important to differentiate both long term and short term marketing goals to make your strategy work,” Fokina opines.

    “Good marketing is an extremely flexible process, and your strategy simply cannot be overused, even if it ‘worked perfectly last year.’”

    “The world is moving extremely fast, and so is your audience’s attention,” Fokina admits. “Thus, it’s extremely important to be able to catch it with something new and unique every time.”

    so like Fokina’s team, consider: “testing new goals, constantly adapt them, and come up with a never-ending stream of ideas.”


    Set and Track Your Short Term and Long Term Goals in Databox

    With this comparison between short term vs long term goals, it’s clear that you need both types of goals. You also need to ensure they relate with each other and that you prioritize them equally.

    Unsure how to track how well you and your team are achieving your marketing goals? Simply create SMART goals then set up progress dashboards in Databox that show how much of each goal is achieved.

    With Databox, you can set goals for any of the metrics (from any of the data sources) you’re already tracking. You can track and manage your goals all from one screen, or, visualize goal progress toward any metric in your dashboards.

    Visualize your goals in Databox now.

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    Article by
    Masooma Memon

    Masooma is a freelance writer for SaaS and a lover to-do lists. When she's not writing, she usually has her head buried in a business book or fantasy novel.

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