SMART goals are crucial to any sound marketing plan. A team without clearly defined goals doesn’t have direction, and the brand as a whole suffers.
According to a Coschedule survey, marketers who set well-defined goals are 376% more likely to report success. The survey also found that 70% of the most organized marketers achieve their goals most of the time, while 10% of organized marketers always achieve them.
So how exactly do you set SMART goals for marketing teams?
Read on to learn about:
- What SMART goals are
- How to come up with and write marketing objectives
- How to set key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Tools to help you track your marketing goals
Let’s get started!
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
The SMART framework is designed to help create goals that are clear, carefully planned, and easy to track.
Let’s look at the factors that go into making up SMART goals for your marketing team:
1. Make goals specific
Your marketing team needs to understand your goals and objectives. Understanding means knowing what they need to achieve and how they’ll get there.
Therefore, the goals must be clearly outlined and as precise as possible. There is no space for vagueness or language that is open to multiple interpretations here. Be specific.
Here’s an example of a goal that’s not specific:
“Improve content performance by 15% this quarter.”
Just saying “content” isn’t specific enough. Instead, try:
“Improve MQL generation across all blog posts by 15% this quarter.”
2. Make goals measurable
Setting measurable goals means understanding the metrics you will track and how you will determine the success or failure of your campaign. Measuring success or failure is vital as it allows you to monitor your progress, assess what is working well, and make amends accordingly.
Therefore, you must set key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks, and communicate these clearly to your team.
3. Make goals achievable
By all means, set the bar high for your team, but ensure your goals are within the realm of what is realistic and practical. You don’t want goals that are too easy that they’re not challenging enough to motivate the team, but you don’t want them to be so hard that people are discouraged from trying in the first place.
Find a happy medium. Take into account your team’s skills, capacity, and other conflicting priorities. It’s best to seek everyone’s input on whether a goal is achievable before finalizing it.
You must also take into account factors such as the time available, vacation time, and the budget for the project.
4. Make goals relevant
Project and campaign goals within the marketing team must relate to the objectives of your company as a whole. Ensure you effectively communicate the company vision so that your team understands the underlying purpose behind each goal and campaign.
Here’s an example: imagine your company wants to grow revenue by 20% year-over-year. Your marketing team’s objective could be to bring in 20% more qualified leads in order to help towards that overall goal. The marketing goal is directly relevant to the company’s larger mission.
5. Make goals time-bound
Goals must have a deadline. Without it, you risk your team feeling directionless and perhaps even slacking off due to a perceived lack of urgency. Creating a timeline for the campaign will help you determine whether you’re on track to achieving your goals (or not). If things start to fall behind, you can adjust your strategies accordingly.
Your deadlines, like the goal, must be realistic and practical. Ask your team if they can deliver within the desired timeframe. Keep in mind that your timeline should be aligned with the company’s timeline too.
If you want to monitor how long different steps are taking and how much time each team member is spending on the project, you can use a timesheet app to do so.
Now that you understand the anatomy of a SMART goal or objective, let’s look at how to write them.
Writing marketing objectives
Writing marketing objectives requires careful thought, planning, and strategy. Here are the steps you should follow.
1. Set a single sales target that aligns with your marketing goals
Marketing and sales go hand in hand. Your marketing efforts exist to increase sales or conversions. Therefore, when setting your marketing goals, you should ensure that sales and marketing goals are aligned and complement one another.
If you don’t already have a defined monthly sales target for your team, work backwards from your company’s annual sales target. If you’re setting a quarterly revenue goal for your team, this is how you should go about doing it:
- Calculate what your marketing team contributed last quarter.
- Use those numbers to create new targets for the coming quarter (i.e. 10% increase in marketing attributed revenue quarter-over-quarter).
- Look at your funnel and conversion rates from the previous time period and use that to determine your goals and objectives. For example, if you’re using pirate metrics, here’s an example of what numbers you’ll need to determine your marketing goals:
Your sales target can be communicated in a total dollar figure or as a percentage increase.
2. Determine your marketing targets by channel
As you create your marketing goals and objectives, determine your targets for each channel. These probably won’t be equal across all channels. Your marketing targets should depend on the behavior of your desired customer base and your customer engagement strategy.
For example, if you run a clothing company directed at young people, you might set a goal of growing your social media followers and working with popular Instagram influencers. If you want to drive more traffic to your website, you might make an effort to improve your blog performance through SEO efforts. If you want to convert more traffic into leads, your might test new CTAs or pop-up forms.
Determine the results you’d like to see not just overall, but from each of your main marketing channels.
3. Break down your goals into monthly and quarterly targets
Seeing huge target numbers can feel overwhelming or impossible to achieve. By breaking down your goals into monthly and quarterly targets, you’ll make them feel much more achievable. In addition, the team gets a buzz and a burst of motivation each time it hits one of its interim goals.
When breaking down your annual goals into smaller ones, keep in mind busier and quieter periods. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, you likely won’t be getting as many signups for your product during December. That’s why it might be worth frontloading earlier months with higher targets to make up for the numbers you’ll likely experience in December.
4. Combine all key goals in one summary paragraph
Combine all your key goals into one short summary. This should be no more than a sentence or two, or a paragraph at most.
A simple example might be: “we will increase sales of our premium product by 10% by the end of the year.”
5. Create a visual marketing plan
Your visual marketing plan should be a one-page document that outlines your key goals, objectives, and the timeframe for achieving them. Here’s a good example of how it might look:
A visual plan makes it easier to see where you are and where you’re trying to get to at a glance. Distribute it to all members of the team. You can even color-code responsibilities by team members if you wish.
Set clear key performance indicators (KPIs)
Once you have your goals and objectives, it’s time to assign key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are there to help you determine whether or not you’re on track to achieving your objectives and goals. Like your goals, they should be as specific as possible.
KPI examples for marketing teams:
- Lead generation. This might encompass total number of leads, increase in leads, cost per lead, or leads generated per channel. 300 MQLs from organic traffic this quarter.
- Newsletter growth: Email marketing is a channel you own and have full ownership of, so it’s an important channel to keep in your marketing mix. Metrics can include CTR, open rate, unsubscribe rate, total subscribers, etc. 3,000 new signups to our email newsletter this quarter.
- Website metrics. This might include new website visitors, page views per visit, time spent on-site, or bounce rate. Decrease bounce rate from 20% to 15% by the end of the year.
- Market share. This is the portion of the market that your brand controls. You might wish to increase your market share by a specific percentage in your niche or region. Increase market share by 5% by the end of the quarter.
- Social media engagement. You might look at total followers, numbers of likes and comments, shares, or web traffic from social media. Increase Twitter followers by 15% MoM.
- New customer acquisition. This includes total number of new customers, cost per new customer, percentage increase in new customers, and lead-to-conversion rate. Decrease customer acquisition cost by 15% by the end of the quarter.
- Lifetime value of a customer. How much does someone spend with your company on average over the lifetime of their relationship with you? Increase LTV by 15% this year.
- SEO performance. This includes metrics like total organic traffic, search engine results page position, and number of keywords your website ranks for. Secure 1-3 position rankings for 90% of our target keywords by the end of the year.
- Conversion rates. How many people performed your desired action? In sales, this probably directly correlates with people who made a purchase. Increase conversions from MQL to SQL from 30% to 35% this quarter.
- Sales growth. Is your total revenue and total number of customers growing over time? Drive $500,000 in marketing-attributed revenue this quarter.
More goal-setting resources for specific marketing roles
Want more marketing goals? Check out these 180+ OKR and goal examples for every role in tech. Check out role-specific examples for these positions:
- Brand Strategist
- Managing Editor
- Marketing Coordinator
- SEO Specialist
- Marketing Manager
- Content Marketing Manager
- Growth Marketing Manager
- Director of Marketing
- VP, Marketing
- Web Developer
Make sure you and your team members agree on your KPIs. This ensures that you will all be guided by the same metrics.
Tracking marketing goals
For the duration of your marketing campaign, you’ll need to monitor whether or not you’re on track to hitting your goals based on your KPIs. Here are some of the best ways to do that:
With Hypercontext Goals, you can collaboratively set role-specific and team goals, measure them and ensure that you’ll discuss them more frequently than at the end of each quarter. With a library of over 180+ goal examples, you and your team will always have a fresh source of inspiration to set ambitious, but attainable goals.
Hypercontext’s software will also ensure that you’re talking about goals during every one-on-one and team meeting (if you choose to do so), that way they’re always top of mind.
Many of the available marketing software tools allow you to track progress towards your objectives. You can:
- Customize your dashboard to include the relevant KPIs
- Automate many processes and receive automatically generated reports based on parameters you specify
- Share these reports with the relevant members of your team and other stakeholders.
The downside to Excel is that you have to input everything manually. That makes it a time-consuming choice for tracking your KPIs and progress towards your goals. However, it’s an affordable option and many companies still use it. If you’re knowledgeable about Excel and managing a relatively simple project, it can work effectively. On the other hand, you can also consider a more collaborative option like Google Sheets.
Encountering a problem
If you’re leading a marketing team, you’ll need to be on the lookout for potential problems so you can head them off early before they impede progress towards your team goals. By keeping track of your marketing goals and monitoring progress towards KPIs on a regular basis, you’ll be able to identify and tackle roadblocks as they come up. Then you can support your team or adjust the campaign accordingly.
Make sure you keep all relevant stakeholders updated. Problems happen, but trying to ignore them or brush them under the carpet is a mistake. Communication with your team and others within the company is the best way to spot problems early and resolve them before they become critical.
Goal-setting is key to the success of any marketing strategy. And following the SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound—system will help you to create appropriate goals and achieve them.
Get your whole team involved with goal-setting. If everyone has a voice in the process, they’ll be more invested and more likely to achieve those goals. Ensure that there is clear and open communication throughout the project so that you can monitor success and head off any small problems before they become big ones.
With a collaborative approach and a great set of SMART goals, your team will be well on their way to smashing all its targets.