Growing your business – be S.M.A.R.T about your marketing goals

The thought of sitting down and creating goals for your business, then tracking, analysing and acting on the data can seem like a dreary task and just a little bit…

Nervous wide-eye Caucasian woman in front of a computer  keyboard

The thought of sitting down and creating goals for your business, then tracking, analysing and acting on the data can seem like a dreary task and just a little bit of a waste of time. But creating a small set of SMART goals for your marketing campaigns and business will take the edge off and get you started.

In the corporate world, I spent a considerable amount of time tracking and reporting metrics for my part of the business. It was time-consuming and a task that was far from my favourite. There was so much data being tracked and reported on, and it would overwhelm me at times.

However, there were some easily identifiable key pieces of data which offered a snapshot of trends and therefore an indication of what needed to be worked on in the coming month (and the quarter) to achieve our business goals.

The rest of the data was interesting but superfluous at best, only adding unwanted noise to the reports. So, I created a one-page report capturing the data and circulated that instead.

SMART goals and your digital marketing

There are numerous ways of creating goals, but, for marketing purposes, sticking with the SMART framework is a good and reliable choice. This will get you monitoring the right data and help you make strategic decisions.

SMART goals have been kicking around since the 1980s and are a tried and tested method you can just pick up and run with.

Specific Where do you want to be?
Measurable Does the data exist, can you measure it easily?
Achievable Is the goal a sensible one? Is it realistic, but also does it push you to excel without demotivating you?
Relevant What piece of information indicates that you are or are not heading in the right direction? Are you targeting – traffic, time on site, bounce rate, page views per session, micro conversions?
Time-bound The timeframe you’re giving yourself to get it done… monthly stepping stones are better than chunks.


Now, with as little pain as possible, we need to translate the theory into practice.

The problem is there are a lot of things we could measure which would make us feel good, but in isolation, they don’t mean much. I’m talking about things like the number of followers on social media platforms or the amount of blog comments.

These are lovely to see, but they are not key performance indicators for a business goal, like trying to increase your revenue over a period of time. These are often referred to as “vanity metrics”.

An inbound case study example

Our example business is as follows: a B2B service provider with a long lead-in time for sales — it’s a reasonably high value service — requiring in-depth research by any potential customers to understand what they need and what the different available solutions are before becoming comfortable enough to consider who to go with and making the decision to buy.

“As a business goal, the organisation wants to increase their revenue by 100% over a period of 18 months”

They have very little traffic to their website at the moment. They’ve done their persona research. They know their website is their core property on the internet and there are potentially three or four social networks and platforms where their target audience hang out.

This is an ideal candidate for an inbound marketing campaign. It’s always best to start at the beginning. So, our business will need to start driving targeted traffic towards their website, by way of daily blogging with solid content. This will start the leads flowing through, and it will also help in getting organic traffic from the search engines.

The blog content will be repurposed for Slideshare and LinkedIn, since they know that’s where their target audience does a lot of their research and networking. Any paid ads would also be through LinkedIn.

Lastly, our business has lists of email addresses and existing clients, to whom they’ll send targeted emails to drive further traffic to the website.

So, they know who they are targeting, they know where they are going to start conversations with their audience and, because they have their persona research, they know what useful and valuable content they need to deliver.

Next, they need to measure their efforts.

Full service data collection with Google Analytics. Google Analytics collects a lot more data — useful for digging deep and diagnosing what’s really going on — but for the moment, we only need to take an initial benchmark of where we are in terms of monthly;

  • Visits to the website
  • Time visitors spend on site
  • Number of pages viewed per visitor
  • Where they’ve come from (social media, referred from other sites, search engines, email newsletter etc)
  • How many leads the traffic is generating and how many of those leads convert to customers
  • SMART goals based on your simple research

It’s quite possible that you don’t have any of the above data to start off with or you’re not sure where your numbers could potentially get to. So, we need to benchmark against industry standards and competitors

I’d like to reiterate my previous advice of not shooting too high to start with because lack of success will dent your motivation. Conversely, if you set your goals too low, there’s also a chance you might derail your efforts by becoming complacent.

The most important piece of information for you to assimilate is that targeted traffic with the right content will convert to leads which you then convert to sales. These are what we will set up as our SMART goals; traffic, leads and conversions.

In order to do so, we need to work out some basic projections, and our example company can help us with this. The following is what we know;

They are currently making £100,000 in offline sales
They want to increase that number to £200,000 through £100,000 of online sales
Each sale is worth on average £10,000
Their offline conversion rate for leads is almost 10%
Average lead-to-close time is five months
Benchmarking shows chosen keywords to have the potential to bring in traffic
The industry standard conversion rate for website visitors is 1%
Based on this information, we can conclude that our company needs to make ten sales in total.

From this simple amount of data, we can work out exactly what they need to do over the next 18 months.

We know they need 1,000 visitors to generate ten leads at a 1% conversion rate
Of those 10 leads, they will convert one to a sale with a lead time of five months
By month five, they need to be generating ten leads per month to start making sales from month nine

Want to grow your business Be SMART about your marketing goals

This data is simplified, but it goes to show that once you have all your information, you can build the SMART goals to keep you focused on improving your business in increments.

SMART goals for website traffic

For our example business, the SMART goals may look something like this.

Month 1 – Our goal is 200 website visitors in one month

Month 2 – Our goal is 400 website visitors in one month

Month 3 – Our goal is 600 website visitors in one month

Month 4 – Our goal is 800 website visitors in one month

In normal circumstances, after month four, you would still want to see incremental increases in the amount of well-targeted traffic being generated. If you exceed the goals, you need to increase them further the following month.

SMART goals for leads from the website

Month 1 – No leads

Month 2 – Our goal is 2 website leads in one month

Month 3 – Our goal is 4 website leads in one month

Month 4 – Our goal is 8 website leads in one month

As the website traffic grows, you’ll want to adjust these goals upwards. You should also expect to be working on conversion rate optimisation, which should lead to further goal increases.

SMART goals for sales from the website

Month 1 – 7 No sales

Month 7 – Our goal is one sale in one month

Month 8 – Our goal is one sale in one month

Month 9 – Our goal is one sale in one month

With more and more leads, you will have the opportunity to achieve more sales. You’ll also want to fine tune your sales process to make sure that you are achieving the best conversion rate you can from lead to sale.

Now you are armed with all the information you need to start off the process for your business. Once you have the right information to hand, it couldn’t be simpler to start creating your SMART marketing goals.

To help you with the task, we’re offering a free SMART marketing goal template which you can download by clicking the image below.

Thanks to Dawid Małecki and Estée Janssens for their images in this post. Post edited in July 2018.

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1 Comment

  1. Nick Colakovic on 4 April 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Google Analytics definitely provide in-depth information that is valuable for creating marketing strategies, adjusting tactics and reaching the set goals.

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