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Marketing plans are a never-ending involvement. The industry standards grow and change whenever something new comes up on the market. Your company needs to add ways to retain and grow its customer base and strengthen its brand recognition with each new competitor. With SMART goals, marketing can become almost effortless when you divide it into its constituent parts. Divide and conquer, as they say.
What Are SMART Goals?
One of the easiest ways to get lost in planning is to use vague, long-term goals that the company doesn’t have a clear way of following or completing. That’s why SMART goals have quickly become one of the most popular methods of improving leadership and maintaining good habits.
SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.” These pieces join to create a manageable and easy-to-follow plan that can boost productivity and improve company morale by providing a solid foundation for future work. Here’s a rough breakdown of each aspect of a SMART goal:
One of the primary reasons a SMART goal works better is its narrowness. Rather than tackling the problem or project as a whole, specificity calls for handling only one or a few tangible objectives at a time. This way, the marketing plan can be divided into its constituent pieces, and team members have a more precise overview of how to handle the situation.
If you don’t know how fast you’re going, you won’t know when you’ll get somewhere. The same principle applies to any marketing campaign. To ensure the plan can succeed, you need to have a way to track progress and mark milestones.
Luckily, there are many ways to go about this, from free SEO services to more robust consultancy and tracking networks. In other plans, the metric can simply be the number of objectives reached in the goal, such as how many customers were gained in the previous period.
While it helps to go big, setting unrealistic standards will only hurt your planning. For example, if you start with 1,000 Twitter followers and want to increase that number within a few months, creating a plan to multiply that number tenfold will be challenging. On the other hand, a more manageable figure is more likely to be met with enthusiasm.
While planning to improve company morale by increasing the number of vending machines can indirectly improve productivity and sales, it’s usually better to stick to something that will truly grow your company’s marketing efforts. Attainable goals to improve running campaigns from a technical standpoint need to be relevant to the task. See how you can optimize your processes and output by diagnosing what sets them back rather than just how your employees can work better.
The best way to ensure timeliness and prevent procrastination is to set explicit time constraints and schedules. However, keep in mind that the time-bounding aspect will directly influence the goal’s achievability. Having goals that are too stringent and short-term will make you switch lanes every so often, while a goal that is too lax might be too vague to find the right way of tackling it.
By combining these five factors, you can create SMART goals. Marketing is an industry like any other, and success can be easily measured by how often you reach your objectives. Using clear and concise goals that leave minimal margin for error can provide an excellent foundation to build new products and campaigns.
Why SMART Goals Are Important for Marketing
Among the most common reasons marketing campaigns fail, two attributed to planning: unrealistic expectations and misguided objectives. The first aspect is the biggest downfall of new campaigns. When companies don’t have enough starting leverage to grow, they may set impossible standards to achieve, which becomes the cornerstone of future difficulties.
Without an achievable goal, the plan can quickly spiral out of control as there aren’t enough resources or strategies to get to the final objective in time. Furthermore, if the plan’s achievability hinges on time constraints, managers might set vague schedules and milestones that can’t be adequately tracked and won’t align with company growth.
Misguided objectives are another side of the same coin. If a marketing campaign aims to do too many things at once, it might fail on all accounts. For example, relying on a single campaign to increase your brand awareness, improve customer relations, and gain profit can turn it into too ambitious of a goal to track.
SMART goals can subdivide these objectives into clear and concise milestones to follow. By implementing a clear objective and a path to reach it, you can easily communicate what you need to get done and find a way to do it.
15 SMART Goal Examples for Marketing
1. Increase Social Media Presence
“We will increase our social media presence by posting at least three daily Tweets for the upcoming two months. The goal is to increase our Twitter following by 8%. In addition, we will provide educational and industry news content relevant to our industry.“
S: This goal is specific to a single social media network and provides a clear avenue of growth: increased Twitter followers.
M: You can measure the campaign’s efficiency by tracking your company’s social media account’s number of Twitter followers throughout the plan.
A: This is an achievable plan. Twitter posts are not cumbersome and won’t require a significant branding effort with proper management and social media planning.
R: This is one of the most relevant marketing-based SMART goals. Marketing relies on a powerful branding message, and increasing social media presence and customer interaction are crucial.
T: The time constraint for this plan is two months. Of course, this is only an example, so it’s possible to put a shorter or longer period. Just note its achievability and constraints. With a more aggressive campaign, you need a shorter period.
2. Improve Customer Relations
“To improve customer interactions, we will redesign all our CTA content on the website. We will also perform A/B testing or outsource this to a company that can provide these services. The goal is to have redesigned and tested CTAs within four months.“
S: The goal’s directive is to change the CTAs on the websites to improve customer follow-through.
M: You can measure the improvement through tracking services provided by A/B testing or by tracking how many CTA examples have changed.
A: This is an achievable plan. Companies can use plenty of marketing consulting services to perform CTA testing and improve customer interaction.
R: CTAs are one of the most potent forms of client interaction and allow for effortless tracking of what portions of the offers work and what don’t.
T: The goal’s time constraint is four months. You can typically plan this sort of goal by gauging how long internal or external testing services will take.
3. Improve SEO Presence
“To get more SEO presence, we will increase the number and efficiency of backlinks from authoritative domains. To achieve this, we will perform an email campaign and provide at least 50 guest posts in the next three months.”
S: This goal is to build up your company’s SEO presence and SERP by increasing the number of backlinks from authoritative domains.
M: The campaign manager can measure the goal’s progress via Google’s ranking and tracking methods. They also provide backlinking data.
A: This is an achievable plan. Many websites allow for guest blogging campaigns and allow for one or two backlinks per blog post, which will boost your online presence.
R: Improving the company’s SERP through backlinks can be directly responsible for increasing its authority and online presence in the modern marketing world.
T: The goal is to achieve the allotted blog posts in three months.
4. Reduce Website Bounce Rate
“To reduce our bounce rate, we will improve the SEO on our website and optimize loading speed and performance. The goal is to reduce our loading times and website bandwidth use by at least 10% within three months.”
S: While this might seem like a more holistic goal, the specificity lies in improving loading speed and website performance. Other avenues to reduce bounce rates, like improved website UX and searchability, can be tackled via separate SMART goals. In addition, marketing can be easily subdivided into different areas through these goals to improve the overall client experience.
M: You can directly measure the effectiveness of the goal by tracking the website pages’ bounce rates through SEO services.
A: This is an achievable goal, mostly dependant on potential website improvements such as reduced off-site requests and different infrastructure designs.
R: The goal is directly relevant to marketing by increasing the odds customers stay on your webpage and interact with your CTA or sales components.
T: The constraint for this goal is three months. However, this can be easily made into a longer-term task.
5. Get More Clients
“Our consultancy business needs six additional clients in the next two months. We will obtain them by polling our current clients on how they found our services, implementing a social media outreach campaign, and leveraging our referrals.”
S: This plan aims to increase the number of clients the business serves in the upcoming months.
M: You can measure your current client satisfaction and gauge the results of the polling campaign directly. New client discovery and onboarding can also be tracked to ensure you’re hitting the mark.
A: This goal will be achievable based on your current client numbers and referrals.
R: The goal ties marketing with company growth, directly correlating the two aspects of your business.
T: You have two months for this goal to add new clients to the company.
6. Improve Branding and Instagram Presence
“We want to improve our branding and Instagram presence. To achieve this, we will increase the number of social media influencers we work with by 10 in the next four months. The final goal is to have at least 50 promoted posts on influencer pages.”
S: While this is a multi-pronged goal, it is squarely situated around a single social media platform, leveraging the company’s marketing efforts on external influencer content.
M: You can measure the campaign’s efficacy by tracking the number of promoted posts on influencer accounts and increasing Instagram followers and CTA follow-through rates.
A: This is an achievable goal, provided you have enough support for the project and proper influencer vetting and interactions.
R: The goal is inherently relevant to the long-term goal of increasing your social media presence and brand awareness by using one of the most popular platforms.
T: The goal needs to be reached within four months.
7. Generate High-Quality Leads
“I will encourage website visitors to sign up for a quote by filling out a form on our website and will hire one new employee to focus on these quotes. This form will be ready to go by next week and the new employee will be hired within two weeks. The call-to-action to fill out the quote form will be in at least three places within the site.”
S: Hiring an employee to handle the new quote request forms makes this very specific, as is the placing of the quote form in at least three places.
M: Keeping track of the number of individuals who not only ask for a quote but also make a purchase will make this measurable.
A: This is achievable. You have control over hiring someone and creating a quote form.
R: If a person is considering getting a quote, they are looking to purchase somewhere. Giving them the means to the next step makes it more likely you will get their business.
T: Having the form ready in a week and the new employee ready in two weeks makes this timely.
8. Establish Thought Leadership
“Within two months, I will start a blog on which I will post three times a week. These posts will answer questions and give readers information on how to best use our products. At least one post a week will be about how our product can enhance other products that are related to but not in direct competition with ours. This will encourage backlinks from the sites of those who sell the products.”
S: This is very specific. You mention what you will do, how you will do it, how often, and the overall purpose.
M: You can definitely measure whether or not you post and there are software programs available that track backlinks that you can measure.
A: Blogging is definitely achievable, as is the content. You can’t control the backlinks but can encourage them with quality content.
R: When people can count on you for accurate information and quality referrals, you become the go-to person in that area. The more backlinks you get, the more people become aware of you. This all adds up to being a thought leader.
T: You make this time-bound by giving yourself two months to set up the blog and establish the posting routine.
9. Turn Customers into Ambassadors
“In order to get customers to pass on the word about our business, I will initiate a referral program that rewards customers who refer us to their friends. Their referral will get a ten percent discount and so will they on an initial purchase. When they have referred ten people, the referring party will get fifty percent off on one item. This program will begin in one month.”
S: Starting a referral program makes this a specific action. It becomes even more specific when you detail how the program will work.
M: Keeping track of the referrals and discounts will make this measurable.
A: This is attainable. As long as you provide a good product or service, people are more than willing to pass on the word.
R: People are more likely to do business when they know of someone who had a good experience with that business, so this allows you to show appreciation to current customers as well as bring in new ones.
T: Starting this program in one month makes it time-bound.
10. Update Marketing Budget
“I will do an analysis over the coming three months that shows me where our marketing efforts are working and where they are not effective. At the end of that period, I will sit down with our marketing staff to rework the marketing budget to focus more on effective methods. After three additional months, I will again re-evaluate to make sure we are on the correct path.”
S: By stating what you will do and what step you will take next makes this extremely specific. You make it more so by adding in a re-evaluation step.
M: Sales figures will make this measurable. You will be able to see if there is an increase, decrease, or no change.
A: An analysis and re-structure are completely attainable. You have also allowed enough time to complete the goal.
R: By re-directing marketing efforts to the areas that are already successful and eliminating the ones that aren’t, you increase your chances of a better return for your investment.
T: Stating the time for evaluation completion and for re-evaluation both make this a time-bound goal.
11. Increase Average Sale Total
“Starting next week, our sales staff will be tasked with trying to sell each customer one additional service when they make a purchase. The additional purchase will be either a related item or an upgrade to the one purchased, if available. We will then evaluate the success of this in increasing sales totals at the end of a three-month period.”
S: By stating who will be given the task, what it is, and even specifying what will be offered all make this specific.
M: You can easily set up a system where you can track the additional sales that come from this tactic.
A: This is attainable as long as sales employees take the task seriously.
R: Every additional purchase increases your sales and makes people more aware of what is available for future purchases.
T: You have in place a time when this will start and a re-evaluation period. Both make this time-bound.
12. Empower Employees
“In order to help empower our employees with the most updated information and skills, I am initiating a monthly newsletter that will go out to all employees. This newsletter will cover the latest industry news as well as tips on how to improve performance in all areas of the job. It will also include personal development articles to help with work-life balance. A final element of the newsletter will be a feedback form where employees can make suggestions or voice complaints.”
S: You make this very specific by not only stating what you will do and why, but by also having a plan in place about content.
M: Tracking the number and content of the feedback form makes this measurable in that you can gauge the employee response and overall mood.
A: This is attainable. You only need to be able to compile the newsletter and see that it is distributed.
R: When employees feel their opinion matters and that they are knowledgeable, they are more willing to work at their best when it comes to effort.
T: making this a monthly newsletter adds the time-bound element, although you could make it even more so by stating when you will start the newsletter.
13. Develop Partnerships
“Within the coming three months, I will contact the owners of three related businesses to come up with a strategy that allows all of us to cross-promote services to our customers. This will include posting advertising from the other members of the group as well as referrals whenever possible. Each member of the group will start asking new customers where the customer gained knowledge of them to keep track of the success of the cross-promotion.”
S: This is very specific. You mention the time frame, how many other businesses you will contact, what the purpose is, and how the results will be measured.
M: As long as everyone cooperates in asking where the new customers heard of them and keeping track of the answers, this is measurable.
A: This is very attainable. Most businesses like cooperating with those who can help them.
R: By reaching out to the customers of other businesses, you reach a new customer base that may not have been aware of you.
T: You make note of reaching out within three months, making this a time-bound goal.
“In the coming month, I will have a website expert evaluate our website and make suggestions that will enhance the user experience and make visiting our website an easy experience where everything can be found quickly. Once the evaluation is complete, the suggestions will be put into place within a month.”
S: You add details that make this specific. The evaluation and what you will do with the results is very specific.
M: How long a visitor stays on your website, how many pages they visit, and how many take an action.
A: This is very attainable as it only requires having someone knowledgeable about website coding to help.
R: People stay longer on websites that they can easily navigate. The longer you keep them on your site, the more likely they are to take the next step in the sales process.
T: Placing time on the evaluation and then on putting suggestions into place both make this time-bound.
15. Attract a New Client Base
“Our current marketing efforts are directed more toward the middle-aged, married customer. Within two months, we will develop a marketing plan that includes reaching out to young, unmarried professionals who are running their own households. This will help bring awareness of our brand to people who may not plan on marrying but still have the same type of obligations, such as owning a home.”
S: By stating what group of potential customers you will be targeting, you make this specific.
M: Sales figures will make this measurable.
A: With some re-direction of marketing efforts, this goal is completely attainable.
R: Adding customers from a group that has so far been neglected is going to help increase sales.
T: Making sure these efforts are in place within two months makes this time-bound.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Marketing
By improving your vision with SMART goals, marketing efforts can be turned from multi-faceted problems into clear-cut objectives to follow. The guiding principles of the SMART method might require some time to implement correctly and some effort to fully realize. Improvement is an ongoing process, but using these goals can provide more achievable and meaningful milestones.
If you want to learn more about professional development, check out some of our other posts.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.