A friend recently asked me, “Do you have a 5 year plan?”
We were having one of those all-cards-on-the-table, let’s-be-brutally-honest kind of conversations. The short answer was “yes.” But I said it another way.
“If you don’t have a plan, how do you know you’re doing the right things today?”
That put it into perspective for him.
The same basic principle is true for your business: if you don’t have a plan, how will you measure progress? How will you know that your actions today are making a contribution to where you want to be tomorrow? Next week? In 6 or 12 months?
As you already know, we’re big fans of Hubspot. They – like us – recommend always starting with a goal before diving into the minutiae that is titing. Especially if you’re focused on inbound or conversion optimization. Both require a data-driven, always-improving approach so you continually get more out of your efforts.
It’s not enough to just set goals, either. You have to set the right kinds of goals. There’s a helpful process for this called SMART goal setting, and having SMART marketing goals for your business will help you measure and evaluate the effectiveness of every marketing activity.
What is a SMART goal?
SMART goals – or SMART criteria – is a goal-setting system originally devised by the one-and-only Peter Drucker. It’s really simple.
SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-bound. So rather than setting a goal like this:
I want more customers this year
Set a goal that looks more like this:
I will improve my marketing automation funnel to get 30% more customers from my on-site conversions by Dec 31 of this year
See the difference? Sure, you can measure “more customers,” but “30% more” is a lot easier to define and measure.
Rather than going through a long definition of SMART, I’ll give you just what you need to know. Answer these questions every time you set a goal, and you’ll have SMART marketing goals in place:
- Specific – Is the goal specific and contained?
- Measurable – How will you observe and measure your progress?
- Assignable – Who is responsible for the success of this goal?
- Realistic – Can you realistically achieve this goal?
- Time-bound – When will you achieve the goal?
Where do I start?
When you set SMART marketing goals, the first question is really: what jobs do you need your marketing to accomplish?
We’re big fans of the Jobs to Be Done methodology (JTBD), which means we look at every solution as performing a job. [NOTE: if you’re looking to improve the performance of your website, check out our free Jobs to Be Done Guide to Get a High Performing Website.]
So what problems do you need to solve? Define these and you’ll know exactly where to start in setting SMART marketing goals and beyond. A few common problems your marketing might have:
- You’re not getting enough leads
- You’re not getting enough sales
- Your sales close rate is really low
- You don’t know how to differentiate from your competitors
- You need more traffic
- You need to raise your email open rate
- And on…
Let’s say you’ve identified “not getting enough leads” as the problem you’re going to tackle first. The key metric you’ll measure is number of leads.
To set your SMART marketing goal, you’ll need to be specific: that means definining a lead and how you plan to get more of them.
For instance you may set the following definitions:
- A lead is someone who subscribes to your blog OR a lead is anyone who expresses interest in your offer (by downloading something, talking to you at an event, or requesting information directly)
- You can get more leads by increasing the number of visitors to your site and converting more of them, and increasing your presence and leads generated at live events
That was easy. You just went from the vague goal “get more leads” to having three highly-specific ways to get them. What’s more, you can measure all of these metrics pretty easily.
In this case, you have three separate goals that you need to accomplish to satisfy your “get more leads” goal:
- Increase website traffic
- Increase visitor-to-subscriber conversion rate
- Increase leads generated at live events
Now to make them fully SMART, you would just add three key pieces of information: how much of an increase you want, who will be responsible, and a deadline. Taking the first goal as an example, your final goal would look like this:
Shivira the Marketing Director will increase website traffic by 35% through inbound marketing by the end of Q2
Now get to it!
What is realistic, really?
Let’s say you’ve decided to start a new exercise habit. First off…congratulations! You’ll feel a million times better. You haven’t exercised in years and you’ve never lifted weights, and you’re ready to start. So you set a goal:
I will exercise every day for a year for at least 30 minutes and deadlift 500 pounds.
Whoa there! You had me up until “deadlift 500 pounds.” The first part of the goal is fantastic. The second part just isn’t going to happen in a year.
The same is true when you set your SMART marketing goals.
Target steady improvements rather than huge, instantaneous wins. Your chances of getting a huge win – say, doubling or tripling one of your key metrics – aren’t that great unless you’re starting from a very low number.
So if you’ve never gotten more than 10,000 email subscribers in a month, you shouldn’t set a monthly goal of 20,000 subscribers. Go for modest monthly gains instead.
Think about this way: you only need a 6% monthly increase in a key metric to double it over the course of a year. So you don’t need big monthly gains in a short period to make a huge difference to your business. Slow and steady wins the day.
Setting your SMART marketing goals
Now that you know how to do it, no doubt you’re wondering which goals to set. My advice is to start with the one key lever you want to pull on your business. Whether that’s leads, sales, visitors…whatever.
Pick one and set your SMART marketing goals to drive that metric. Take a monthly or quarterly approach, depending on how fast you can move and the resources at your disposal.
If you’re already thinking about your goals on an annual basis, take a few minutes to convert them into shorter-term SMART goals to keep your sprints short and focused.
Ready to set some SMART marketing goals for your website? Download our Jobs to Be Done Guide to Get a High Performing Website now, for free.