Marketing objectives & setting SMART goals to achieve them

Posted by Rob Kendal on 19-Oct-2015 13:00:00

Defining and establishing solid marketing objectives is a crucial part of being able to progress with any marketing campaign and the various stages:

  • Planning the campaign
  • Executing the campaign
  • Measuring the results
  • Repeating a successful process

But how can you set off on the right foot and make sure you're not just going through the motions, or that you've even delivered an effective campaign? Well hopefully by being SMART about it you can set and achieve marketing goals like a pro...

marketing objectives laid out on a felt background with title of blog post

Update: if you're not sure where to start when it comes to planning out your best marketing campaign yet, our marketing strategy blueprint can help your business growth goals.

What is SMART goal planning?

No, being SMART has nothing to do with cleverness, or intelligence, but has everything to do with being able to define, set, attain, and measure your goals. SMART is simply an acronym for the following:

  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Attainable
  • R - Relevant
  • T - Timely
Let's dig into these titles and see how they fit together...

How will SMART goal planning help meet our marketing objectives?

Ultimately, being able to align your marketing objectives with each of the SMART titles will not only help you yield better results, but will also help you measure them to be able to repeat the ones the worked well and place less focus on the ones that don't.

Getting specific

Here's where it all starts: whatever you want to achieve at the end of this should be nice and specific. A goal like 'I want to write more blog posts each month', whilst a good idea, is a bit generalised and vague. How many blog posts is 'more'? 2, 3, 100? How will you measure when you've hit this goal?

A more specific goal would be 'I want to write 2 blog posts a week', or 'I want to increase our website visitors by 200 a month'.

Staying specific really helps you to focus on results and makes measuring those results possible and more accurate in the long run.

Measurable effort

Whilst being measurable partly means being specific in choosing what target you want to hit - which feeds into the previous section - it also means choosing a goal that is inherently able to quantified well in some way. If you picked a more vague goal, such as 'improve the performance of our landing page' this is difficult to quantify or measure; what defines the performance of the page? A better goal to swap in its place might be 'increase the conversion rate of our landing page'.

Modern tracking techniques and software, such as the HubSpot platform or Google Analytics, provide a wealth of different, traceable, measurable statistics. Want to know how many page views a specific web page got? No problem!

Attainable results

Are your goals realistically doable? Can you really achieve 2000 new customers a month? How do you know? This is where industry benchmarking comes into play. By looking at the figures in your industry, or certainly as close as possible to your industry, you will have a better idea of if you can hope to achieve what you want to achieve. 

For example, your a car sales company and you want to achieve 15 new customers a month, if your industry benchmarks suggest that an average figure of 8 customers is regularly attained by successful campaigns, you might need to reduce your targets a little.

Is it relevant?

Relevancy is, well, all relative. In essence we're really talking about the specifics matching your overall goal. As an example, if you want to increase your overall website customer conversion rate then you will almost certainly want to increase your overall website visitors because you know that X amount of visitors tends to convert to Y% of customers converted. Setting a website visitor target is very relevant in this case. 

On the other hand, however, if you primarily sell children's clothing through a retail outlet, setting a goal of increasing your monthly blog subscribers by 20 a month, whilst specific in nature, isn't necessarily relevant because you are most interested in increasing footfall through your non-digital doors.

Is your deadline timely?

Set yourself a time frame to achieve your goal. Again, this item interacts with some of the others and rarely works in isolation; you wouldn't want to pluck an arbitrary figure from the air of '6 months', for instance. 

However, looking at the other points, you can choose a suitable time frame to achieve your goals:

  • Attainable - Is 3 weeks enough to hit your targets? Would 3 months work better for you?
  • Relevant - If your pop-up café is going to be closed in 5 months, should your promotional goals on its behalf extend to 6-7 months?


What does a SMART marketing objective look like?

It's more simple than you might think. A good starting template for setting a SMART goal looks like this:

"Improve [_____] by [_____]% (starting at this amount, [_____] and go to this [_____] by [_____])"

So, fitting this into a more realistic example, your particular goals might look like this:

"Increase website visits by 45% (starting at 450 per month, achieving 653 per month by February 2016)"

How does this fit with our SMART items? Well, much like this:

  • S - Specific - We've outlined that we want to increase website visits by a defined and specific amount. In this case, by 45% their current value.
  • M - Measurable - Can we measure this goal? Definitely. Through tools like HubSpot and Google Analytics we can see exactly how much traffic we have and how it has increased
  • A - Attainable - Is it realistic to expect to be able to increase our monthly visits by over 200 per month? Given a solid time frame and with hard work in the right areas, yes it is. If we'd set a goal of 2000, then maybe not so much...
  • R - Relevant - Simply raising our monthly website visits by itself, although commendable, is a rather an arbitrary goal, but context is everything! If we're interested in upping our conversions of visitors to leads, for example, then the number of monthly website visitors has a direct bearing on this. Therefore this is a very relevant goal.
  • T - Timely - Have we given ourselves enough time to achieve our target? This is a fine balance, but what we're looking for is a large enough time period to realistically see results without it being so large that we lose focus and momentum. Four months (at the time of writing) is a good time period to be able to see positive results at this stage.


Being SMART can work for you

Hopefully you'll be well on your way to setting some specific, measurable, attainable, relevant marketing objectives that can be achieved in a timely manner. 

Whatever you want to achieve simply break it down into goals that can input into the SMART formula and then make sure to measure the results and tweak where needed. 

If you'd like to know more about building strong customer profiles to tie into your goals then we have a great post about that. 


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Topics: Guides & Infographics Lead Generation Inbound Marketing

Written by Rob Kendal

Rob has enjoyed a rewarding career in technology, from IT infrastructure through to software development, working with clients such as Virgin Holidays and the NHS. He understands the needs, challenges and logistics involved in making technology work for business and how to market it effectively.
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