Without goals, your marketing strategy is bound to fail.
Goals give your marketing team a sense of direction and enable you to track your progress. But if you don’t set practical, concrete goals, you’ll spend your money and time aimlessly. Not only that, but it’ll be impossible to tell how successful your efforts were; a lack of goals means you have no metrics to measure.
On the other hand, establishing good goals can turn your underperforming marketing strategies into lead-generating campaigns. In fact, marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success.
But there’s a catch: not all goals are created equal. If you have a bad goal, it won’t matter if you achieve it, because it wasn’t a worthwhile pursuit to begin with.
That’s why more businesses are turning to SMART goals. With SMART marketing goals, you can easily create solid, actionable targets for your marketing strategies.
What Are SMART Marketing Goals?
A SMART marketing goal is a target you shoot for in your marketing efforts. The “SMART” part is an acronym that breaks down the aspects of your goal:
This nifty shorthand makes goal-setting easier and helps you avoid making bad goals. However, you must craft a SMART goal carefully because it will drive all of your efforts in marketing.
Let’s look at each aspect more closely because every goal should have all of these characteristics:
Your goal should always use specific language.
If you’re sitting down with your team to brainstorm, it’s okay to start generally, but always work your way to a more detailed goal.
An example of a broad goal is to “Raise brand awareness,” but it’s rather vague and doesn’t translate well into actionable steps. You can be more specific like so:
- Tim will increase web traffic by publishing and promoting blog posts
- Laura will grow our social media following
- Zoe will improve click-through rates on paid ads
When you make your goals specific, it makes everyone’s responsibilities very clear. You can specify your goals by mentioning:
- The outcome you’re looking for
- The action you need to perform
- The names or roles performing the action
Sometimes goals need to be intentionally vague because it’s difficult to predict all of the variables. Even so, try to be as specific as possible and if you realize the goal is too detailed, you can either adjust it or make it more general.
You must be able to track and quantify every marketing goal. Otherwise, how will you know if you’re successful or not?
You could say, “I will grow our email list using lead magnets,” but how many is enough? A SMART goal would be, “I will grow our email list by 1,000 subscribers using lead magnets.”
Typically, you can make a goal measurable by including a number. For example:
- Tim will increase web traffic by 10% through publishing and promoting blog posts
- Laura will double our social media following
- Zoe will improve click-through rates by 8% on paid ads
Once you make a goal measurable, you can see how well you’re performing. If you notice that you’re not on track to meet your goals, you can change your approach, ask for help, or put more effort in.
Avoid tracking retrospectively and make sure to incorporate a solid goal tracking system. After all, it’s much easier to track before launching a campaign.
One of the classic mistakes of goal-setting is choosing one that is simply too difficult to attain.
When crafting goals, it’s extremely important to consider your budget, resources, abilities, and situation. Do you have the skills, time, and money to accomplish the goals you're setting?
For example, let’s say your blog traffic has consistently increased by 3% per month for the past six months. It’s a little ambitious to try to increase your traffic by 50% during the next month. A more attainable goal would be trying to boost traffic by 5–8%.
When you set an unattainable goal, you create a stressful environment for everyone working toward it. The goal is unrealistic and you (and your team!) will feel discouraged if you don’t meet it.
The last thing you want to do is spend months (or years) on a goal that doesn’t matter for your business.
A SMART goal is always relevant to your larger company goals. If you want to increase revenue and you decide to set a goal to grow your social media following, ask yourself, “Will growing my social media result in more revenue?” It seems simple, but it’s easy to overlook.
Depending on your industry and customers, a better path for increasing revenue could be building your email list. In that case, the more appropriate goal would be to invest in lead magnets, a newsletter, and strategic emails.
When you look at your current marketing goals, think about what would happen if you accomplished them. If you met those goals, would the results be relevant to your business?
Lastly, SMART goals must be time-bound.
Once you set a specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant goal, consider how long it’ll take to accomplish. Typically, this is in the form of a timeframe or deadline, such as growing an email list to 1,000 subscribers in three months.
Give yourself a window of time that motivates you to work toward your goal and keeps you on track. Without a timeline, you can easily neglect your goals or accidentally prioritize other tasks.
If you set a goal that meets all of these attributes, you’ll set your marketing department up for success.
4 Examples of SMART Marketing Goals
To get some ideas for your own company, check out these examples of SMART marketing goals, told from the perspective of a fictional marketer:
1. Boost Blog Traffic
- Specific: I want to increase traffic to our blog by publishing more quality blog posts. Our in-house writer will publish four blog posts per week instead of two. In addition, I will write one post per week.
- Measurable: We’re aiming for a 5% increase in traffic.
- Attainable: Since we grew by about 3% for the last few months, 5% is a reasonable goal.
- Relevant: Our business is new and our target audience doesn’t know a lot about us. We need to raise brand awareness and nurture leads for our sales team. We can accomplish all of these with more blog traffic.
- Time-bound: We want to increase our traffic from 3–5% by the end of the next month.
Goal: By the end of June, we will increase our blog traffic from 3–5% by publishing three more posts per week.
2. Grow an Email List
- Specific: I want to start building a list of email subscribers by creating two lead magnets with the help from our in-house writers.
- Measurable: We’re shooting for 1,000 subscribers and creating two white papers as lead magnets.
- Attainable: Our blog already receives thousands of views and, after some research, I found similar companies reaching 1,000 subscribers between one and six months.
- Relevant: We can easily nurture leads for our sales team with a list of subscribers who fit our ideal customer profile.
- Time-bound: This should be achieved within four months.
Goal: We will have a list of 1,000 email subscribers by the end of our second quarter. I will assign two writers to compose one white paper each and publish them in the first week of the quarter. While they’re working on this, I will set up an email service.
3. Acquire High-Authority Backlinks
- Specific: I want to boost traffic to our homepage by acquiring high-authority backlinks from websites like Entrepreneur.
- Measurable: We’re aiming to get 10 backlinks with a minimum domain rating of 50.
- Attainable: Our company has a good relationship with key individuals at various publishers. Our in-house writer also has the bandwidth to write 10 articles in the allotted time.
- Relevant: Our homepage already produces quality leads for our sales team. By increasing traffic to our established website, it will mean a higher number of leads.
- Time-bound: We want 10 backlinks within three months.
Goal: We will get 10 backlinks over the next three months by reaching out to publishers and writing guest posts for their websites. Our in-house writer will incorporate a backlink to our homepage into each article.
4. Increase Landing Page Conversions
- Specific: I want to generate more leads with our existing landing page by rewriting the copy.
- Measurable: We want to see a 10% increase in our conversions. We will A/B test the new copy landing page against the old copy landing page.
- Attainable: Our conversions from this landing page used to be much higher, but the copy is now outdated. The last time we updated our landing page copy, we saw an 8% increase in conversions. It’s well within our budget and resources to rewrite the copy and hit our goal of a 10% increase.
- Relevant: Our sales team needs more leads and an increase in landing page conversions will help them out.
- Time-bound: We want the new landing page finished within a month and we will A/B test for six months.
Goal: We will increase conversions from our landing page by 10% over the next six months by rewriting the copy and A/B testing it against the old landing page.
Use SMART Goals to Produce Results
The two biggest mistakes you can make here are not setting goals at all and setting bad goals. That’s why the concept of SMART goals was invented—to help you craft worthwhile marketing goals.
Without good goals, you won’t see good results. Marketing efforts based on bad goals will lack direction and fail to produce leads.
But here’s the good news: if you use SMART goals in your marketing campaigns, you’ll start seeing strong results.
Your department will have the clarity and confidence it needs to execute a marketing campaign, which will lead to new clients and increased revenue for your business.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Salvatore Lamborn.