Using SMART Goals to Establish Your Marketing Rhythm

October 10, 2022

This article was originally published to LinkedIn.

“Write it down” — for many, words that go as far back as elementary school.

Maybe that phrase takes you back to the days of your school planner notebook, jotting down assignments before the bell rang. Or, now as an adult, it’s become habit with countless things. In professional development, this quote is conveyed through note taking, or possibly even your approach to leadership.

Whatever comes to mind, the common denominator is clearly defining what you must accomplish, and when it must be done.

As marketing professionals, we dial in our campaigns and programs to maximize their outputs towards metrics that paint success. But, if you don’t first define what you want to work towards, it's difficult to focus your marketing activities and spend around a constant purpose...

Thus, goal setting is an incredibly worthwhile investment. With proper goal setting, did you know you can improve your marketing’s likelihood of success by 376%?

This article is a short crash course into SMART goals for marketers – what they are, how to approach setting your SMART goals own, and why I personally love them when crafting a marketing strategy.

What are SMART marketing goals?

The acronym SMART is a foundational yet essential framework for strong goal setting. SMART goals allow marketers to clearly define what specific objectives their programs should achieve, and when. Moreover, having agreed-upon goals among a team or with clients helps ensure alignment and accountability along the way.

So, what are the qualities of a "SMART" goal?

By setting SMART goals, you can ensure that your marketing programs are pointed to maximize impact and have the quickest potential for further growth.

Why are SMART goals important for successful campaigns?

For marketing professionals, the SMART goal framework serves two critical functions: 1) fosters stronger internal alignment for marketing-related projects and programs, and 2) prevents “moving targets” from developing at both the team and organization level.

Marketing teams are constantly optimizing and refining their programs and campaigns. SMART goals keep the strategic priorities in place, as to what a specific initiative intends to achieve and what signifies that the objective has been reached.

So, how might you frame a SMART marketing goal? Some examples include:

With these examples, you begin to see how SMART goals can fit into your marketing plan.

If the specificity of SMART goals seems daunting at first (e.g., “I don’t have past data to lean on,” “what if our goals are too lofty,”), trying to set your initial SMART goals around the programs and activities most in your control. For instance, can you dedicate an effort to lifting a single key social media metric? What about monthly leads, or email engagement from current customers? When starting out with SMART goals, keeping your efforts focused and manageable will be the key to taking on future, larger-scale objectives.

Tips for setting your own SMART goals

In planning a marketing strategy, I've found that creating SMART goals for each stage of your marketing funnel is a strong setting-off point for the quarter or year.

Ask yourself, what SMART goals might you assign to your top-of-funnel activities, middle-of-funnel activities, and bottom-of-funnel activities? In its simplest form, think 1) awareness goals [social media impressions, website traffic], 2) consideration goals [engagement, clicks], and 3) action goals [purchase, leads generated, downloads, etc.]. With each funnel’s activities being assigned SMART goals, marketers can be confident that their activities contribute a calculated impact to the organization.

Something else that’s seriously cool about SMART goals is how much they can amplify the impact and contributions of each member on your team. As progress is made towards the goal, the feeling can be incredibly uplifting for a team. In other words, SMART goals can be momentum builders.

If you find yourself in a leadership role where you are mentoring junior team members, building SMART goals around their projects can be instrumental in heightening morale and securing more wins.

Whether you have new marketing initiatives on the horizon, are revisiting your team’s approach to goal setting, or want to make more compelling cases about your programs' successes to senior leadership, SMART goals are the vehicle to get you there. SMART goals are not the only framework to business goal setting, but they are the most foundational for marketers by nature of their specific characteristics.

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