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Set campaign objectives

Before starting any marketing activity take time to consider what you want to achieve. With a clear understanding of your task, things can run smoothly and efficiently. Plus, you can set achievable targets to help you measure your campaign's success.

Part of setting your objectives is knowing your target audience. Who is the campaign aimed at? Where do they go for information? Are they digitally savvy? And, most importantly, what action do you want them to take? It's essential to have a clear picture of your audience – or different audiences – when setting your objectives.

Understanding your main objectives

To start with, make sure you are clear about what you want a campaign to do. It might help to consider the following questions:

  • Why is your campaign needed? What's the main issue you need to address? Is it a health problem? Is it to get people to stop smoking? Reduce hospital visits? Or tell people about a new health initiative?
  • What would be the best way to do this? Do you need to reach a new audience? Want to educate people? Make people feel empowered?
  • Has a similar campaign been run before? Look back to previous campaigns to avoid duplication. Are your objectives the same or different? See how successful they've been and learn from their mistakes.
  • Are there any particular challenges? Outline what local challenges you may have. If you know these from the start, you'll know how to tackle them. Know your audience.

Getting it down on paper

This is the exciting part! Give a brief description of what you did: when, where and how was the campaign run? Once you've answered these questions, your objectives should become apparent. You should feel like you've identified your main problem or issue – and looked at it from a number of angles. And be able to see a journey-like progression to a solution. Which means it's time to make a plan:

  • write down your agreed objectives
  • make sure they clearly answer what you want to achieve
  • prioritise them in order of importance
  • circulate these to team members so everyone is clear about your goals
  • map out a clear, achievable timeframe in which these goals can be met


After planning your campaign, you need to set realistic goals that will enable you to be successful. In project management terms, the acronym SMART is a really useful set of criteria that can help you when thinking about your goals:

S = Specific (make sure goals are well-defined and clear to all concerned)
M = Measurable (know if your goal is attainable and how and when it will be completed)
A = Achievable (your goals need to be attainable)
R = Realistic (ensure goals can be achieved within time and the availability of resources and knowledge)
T = Time-based (give enough time to achieve a goal but not so much it affects performance)

Taking time to consider whether your goals and objectives are SMART, will help increase your chances of success in the long run.

Choosing your campaign

You might not always be able to match a campaign exactly to your objectives. There may already be a specific campaign on the Campaign Resource Centre site that fits your needs.

For example, the Smokefree campaign would fit in with a local goal to reduce the number of smokers in your local area. However, you may have a goal that aligns with a seemingly different campaign. For instance, a Better Health campaign to encourage healthy eating could help toward an overarching goal to reduce the number of local hospital admissions.

Whatever campaign you choose, the Campaign Resource Centre site has a lot of background information that will help you decide whether a specific campaign meets your needs.

Measuring your objectives

To know whether your campaign has fulfilled your goals, it's always worthwhile measuring its success. So consider the following:

  • How can you capture information about the performance of different media channels? You can find information about measuring the effectiveness of campaigns on the Campaign Resource Centre site, as well as in the different How to Guides.
  • Do you already have targets in mind for the campaign? If not, it would be wise to set these set now. Targets are often based on previous campaigns so you can use these as a benchmark to achieve the same, or better, results.
  • Is it possible to adapt your campaign whilst it's in progress? Some media, like digital and emails, can be easily adapted to optimise your campaign and give you measurable results.
  • What are the key metrics you need to report on? Key metrics are sometimes called key performance indicators or KPIs. Examples of these are number of website visits; number of people registered; email open rates (as a percentage of mails sent); email click-through rates (as a percentage); or awareness of a campaign from market research interviews. Think about which ones work best for your campaign.
  • Is it possible to adapt your campaign whilst it's in progress? Some media, like digital and emails, can be easily adapted to optimise your campaign and give you measurable results.
  • Don't forget to add your plans for campaign measurement into your objectives timeframe. It's an essential part of the process.

Last updated: 25 July 2022