28 Sep 2017 Business

KPIs vs. Goals: Do you Know the Difference?

Recovery Brands
Recovery Brands

If you cringe when you see someone misuse “they’re” “their” and “there,” then you understand how I feel when people interchange “KPIs” and “goals.”

These two terms are not the same, and understanding the difference is key for marketers in any industry to effectively evaluate their efforts and define success.

In the addiction treatment industry specifically, the marketing department is often just one or two people. As such, you may report directly to a team of executives with little-to-no marketing experience. This disparity can make performance evaluations difficult.

A firm grasp of your KPIs and goals can help you articulate the value of each of your marketing efforts and demonstrate the effectiveness of your campaigns in reaching broader business objectives.

What’s the difference between KPIs and Goals?

To begin, let’s dissect the definitions of “goal” and “KPI” to help illuminate the distinction between the two terms:

Goal: a desired final outcome. A goal provides clear focus and direction for what’s most important.

KPI: stands for “key performance indicator.” Just as the name implies, it’s a metric used to evaluate performance toward achieving a goal.

Indicator: meaning a measurement or value
Performance: meaning it (the indicator) is reflective of success
Key: meaning it (the performance indicator) is of strategic significance

In short, a goal is a broadly defined destination. It provides clear focus and direction for your team to understand what’s most important. Meanwhile, KPIs are specific, tangible metrics used to evaluate your progress toward a goal.

Another important note: not every metric will be a KPI. For example, let’s say that your facility’s goal is to earn 200 admissions this year. Which of the following would be a suitable KPI to track your paid ad performance?

a) The number of impressions your ad receives
b) The number of converting clients per click

Both options are metrics related to the performance of your paid ad campaign, but only option B is of strategic significance — it tells you how your ads are performing against your goal to earn more admissions.

Why does it matter?

Establishing goals and KPIs will keep your team laser-focused on what’s important and vital to success.

For example, if a vanity metric (such as the number of likes your Facebook post receives) causes alarm, KPIs will keep your team fixated on improving metrics that truly impact your success.

Additionally, outlining your goals will help you strategically approach your marketing campaigns so you can deliver meaningful results.

How to set KPIs and Goals

We’ve put together a worksheet that you can use to think through your team’s goals and KPIs. Completing this exercise will help you:

  1. Connect broader business objectives to your marketing efforts
  2. Establish relevant KPIs to achieve business-impacting results
  3. Hone in on tactics to meet or exceed your KPI benchmarks

Note: you’ll need to complete multiple worksheets for each marketing effort.

You can download a clean copy of the worksheet here.

KPIs and Goals Worksheet


If you’re finding the exercise difficult, it’s likely an indication that you need to discuss your organization’s goals. If they are not clearly defined, this is a great opportunity to jumpstart conversations with your executive or leadership team. Clearly defined, business-wide goals will set up multiple departments for success, and will ultimately help your facility reach more people in need of treatment.

Did you try the worksheet? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 


Never miss a moment! Subscribe