Goal setting. It sounds easy enough, but it’s often a challenge for marketers. After all, you want a goal that’s difficult to achieve and forces you to work your butt off, but it can’t be so difficult it ends up being impossible to reach.
So, how do you strike that balance and set goals that are both achievable and tough? You set SMART goals.
First though, let’s define what SMART goals are, and then we can talk about how to set them.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Creating SMART goals helps ensure your goals are strategic and can be achieved within a defined time frame. To break it down even further, SMART goals are:
When setting goals, you need to make it clear what you’re hoping to achieve. Target a specific area for improvement and include real numbers and deadlines.
Make sure you can track your goals and measure their success.
Your goals should be challenging but still possible to achieve. You don’t want to set your team up for failure.
Be honest with yourself and make sure your goals are realistic for you and your team. Keep in mind any obstacles you may need to overcome to reach your goals.
It’s also important to choose goals that are relevant to your business and will make the biggest impact.
Give yourself a deadline as to when you want to achieve your goals. This will help you plan your tasks and allow you to see whether you’re on target for hitting your goal.
What SMART marketing goals look like
It’s not enough to say, “I want to generate more revenue” or “I want to increase leads from organic traffic.” Although these are a good start, they don’t meet the SMART goal criteria above.
Examples of SMART marketing goals include:
- We want to generate 50 new leads from our content marketing efforts between January 1 to March 31, 2018.
- We want to hit 5,000 visits from organic search in January 2018.
- We want to rank number one in Google for the keyword “fraud protection” by the end of June 2018.
How to set SMART goals
Why is goal setting important to inbound marketing? Goals give you something to work toward and help motivate your team to hit their targets. If you’ve never created SMART goals before – or if you just need a bit of a refresher – here are eight tips to get you started:
1. Summarize your goal
When you start setting goals for your content and inbound marketing tactics, you might not be exactly sure what you hope to accomplish. Before making your goals meet the SMART goal criteria, think about the big picture by summarizing what you hope to achieve.
Example: We want to increase leads.
2. Set a specific numerical goal
Now that you’ve written down a broad goal you hope to achieve, it’s time to narrow it down and set a specific value you want to work toward.
This is often the hardest part for marketers. To make the process easier, start by looking at your current data and trends. This will give you a better idea of where you are now, what’s achievable and how to plan for hitting your new goals.
Example: We want to increase leads by 50%.
3. Decide on a completion date
While everyone would love to see huge growth in a short period of time, what’s realistic based on the time and resources you have available?
Be honest about what you can achieve, but also, don’t be too generous with your time frame. If your goal doesn’t feel urgent, you’ll find yourself distracted by a million other priorities.
Example: We want to increase leads by 50% by the end of Q2 in 2018.
4. Write it down
Resist the urge to set goals in your head. Write everything down so you have a record of the goals you’re working toward and how you intend to achieve those goals. Seeing your goal in writing is a great motivator, and it ensures everyone on your team is on the same page and working toward the same smart objectives.
5. Break it down into smaller tasks
Even when a goal is attainable, it might be too large for you to complete in a single effort. By breaking down your goals into smaller tasks, you’re creating a game plan for how you’ll achieve your goals and you’re helping your team understand what needs to be accomplished.
Example: If your goal is to increase leads, some tasks you’ll need to complete include: conducting keyword research, increasing your blogging efforts, creating new content offers, promoting those content offers and developing a lead nurturing strategy.
Break it down even further by listing out the individual tasks for each of those tactics. Identify who owns each task, and specify the time frame in which each task needs to be completed.
6. Be aware of potential obstacles
In an ideal world, you’d set your SMART goals, everyone on your team would start working toward those goals and you’d achieve them every single time. But nothing ever goes according to plan.
Think through the obstacles your marketing team might face trying to achieve the goals you’ve set, and find ways to prevent or resolve them before they come up.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate
As you work toward your SMART goals, communicate your progress with the rest of the team. Let everyone know what challenges you’re experiencing and what milestones you’ve hit – and make sure everyone else on the team is comfortable doing the same.
8. Analyze and assess
Don’t just set your goals and forget about them. At least once a month, take the time to track your progress. The data you’ll want to review depends on the goals you’ve set.
Example: If your goal is to increase leads, look at the landing pages for your content offers. How many views does each landing page get? What is the conversion rate of the landing page?
Setting SMART marketing goals isn’t an easy process. It’s something that takes both time and effort to get right. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself setting goals that are too easy or difficult the first few times.
Goal setting is a learning process, and you’ll likely find yourself adjusting goals as you go. Don’t worry about getting your goals perfect the first (or second or third) time. The idea is to get something down on paper and to start working toward it.
Now, go forth and conquer your smart marketing strategies!
As you start hitting your goals, make sure you’re tracking the right metrics to prove your inbound marketing ROI. Learn the metrics you should be tracking by downloading our free e-book, Six Marketing Metrics You Can’t Afford to Ignore.