How to Use SMART Goals to Improve Your Marketing

Do you want this to be the year of consistent business growth? Setting SMART Goals for marketing will help you get there. Business owners often think of goals as synonymous with hopes or resolutions. In other words, it would be nice if they happened, but they may or may not. At Spade Design, we use the acronym SMART as a framework for everything we do. We don't deal in hopes and dreams but in data-driven planning that gets results. Here's how to take business goals and turn them into a strategy you work systematically to implement.

Written By Matthew Martin

March 22, 2018

Create a Roadmap For Success With SMART Goals for Marketing

Do you want this to be the year of consistent business growth? Setting SMART Goals for marketing will help you get there. Business owners often think of goals as synonymous with hopes or resolutions. In other words, it would be nice if they happened, but they may or may not.

At Spade Design, we use the acronym SMART as a framework for everything we do. We don’t deal in hopes and dreams but in data-driven planning that gets results. Here’s how to take business goals and turn them into a strategy you work systematically to implement.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals aren’t just for marketing. Use them when you’re developing a new product, launching a new business, even planning for personal development. Think SMART for an increased likelihood of meeting your goal.

  • Specific – Use numbers and details to refine your goal so it is focused and exact. For example, if you manufacture birdhouses you might say you want to increase sales by three percent over the next six months. If you sold 8,000 birdhouses during the same time frame last year, that would mean you need to sell an additional 240 this year.
  • Measurable – Make it a goal you can track. More brand engagement is nice, but how will you quantify that?
  • Attainable – Set a goal that is difficult enough you will have to work hard to reach it, but not so far-fetched you don’t have the resources to get there.
  • Realistic – Take a hard look at what you’re willing to commit and what your team is capable of. Be pragmatic about any challenges you’re going to face.
  • Time-based – Set a deadline for reaching your goal.

Why You Need SMART Goals

Sometimes business owners feel like using a framework limits creativity. If what you’ve done seems to have worked so far, do you really need to go to all that trouble? Goal setting is hard, and setting SMART goals helps eliminate the guesswork.

SMART goals make you define your vision. In life and in business you won’t reach your destination if you don’t decide where you’re going and map out how to get there. You might go a lot of interesting places, but you’ll waste a lot of time and never really know if you’ve arrived.

When you set SMART goals, you establish your workload and define priorities. You’re forced to spell out what each team member is responsible for doing and when they will perform each step.

You and your team know from the beginning what tools you will use, what parameters apply and by when you need to meet each milestone. Because your plan is written, there’s no confusion. If someone loses track of the information, it’s easy to go back to the original.

Setting SMART goals reduces waste. Teams don’t lose time while they wait to receive direction or funding approval from management. Perfectionists don’t take forever turning in work because they don’t feel like it’s good enough and they have an indefinite deadline.

When something isn’t working, you identify it quickly. Frequently measuring progress provides metrics for recognizing when you’re getting off course so you can pivot your strategy and jumpstart growth.

SMART Goal Examples For Websites

At Spade Design we frequently work with clients who want a new web design for their business or a website redesign for what they already have. A successful website can improve sales, create a cohesive brand identity, provide better customer service, cut expenses and streamline workflows.

We always start with SMART goals that break down objectives by the department. Departments may have multiple goals, each of which should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

SMART Goal Examples for Marketing

Most of the time marketing goals involve drawing more high-quality leads. For your website, that may mean attracting unique web visitors in a set time frame. When you set your goal, gather data on how much traffic your site currently receives and how much income that brings.

If you currently have an average of 1,000 unique visitors in a month and that directly results in $600 worth of revenue, it breaks down to $0.60/visitor. It’s not an exact science, but you look back at your data and see that amount is fairly consistent over time. If you can draw an additional 200 visitors each month, that’s roughly an additional $120.

Google Analytics makes that goal measurable. Set up an account or ask your web developer to do it for you. Within Google Analytics, find the date range in the top left, select month, and record your current users. Set a deadline for measuring again that gives you time to ramp up.

Take steps to achieve your goal by creating and promoting amazing content, developing your blog, or creating new resources. Release the results of that industry study you’ve been working on or generate compelling infographics.

  • Your specific goal is to increase site traffic by 200 visitors a month.
  • It’s measurable using Google Analytics.
  • It’s an attainable goal because while you will have to work to create and market content, you haven’t chosen a number of unique visitors that are too high.
  • The goal is reasonable if you either have the talent to develop content or a resource for obtaining it.
  • It is time-bound because you set a deadline for measuring.

If your goal is boosting user engagement, you might make that specific by focusing on improving the number of page views per visitor. When your page views are high, you know visitors find value in your content, your site navigation facilitates a positive user experience and visitors enjoy engaging with your brand.

Set a goal that involves numbers for the increase. Then place similar articles and side-panel links on pages so visitors can see their choices without having to think about it. Make navigation simple so there’s a seamless transition between reading about a product, comparing options and checking out.

Email marketing is extremely effective for many businesses. SMART goals for email marketing often target increasing subscribers by a certain percentage. To reach your goal, have your web design team place more signup boxes on key pages.

Offer incentives like free courses, downloads or content upgrades in exchange for an email address. Make the email you send valuable and compelling with an intriguing subject line, the user’s first name and useful content.

Other marketing goals might be to raise the number of leads that convert or improving awareness of products or services.

How to Use SMART Goals To Improve Your Marketing - Strategy - Spade Design - S.M.A.R.T. Goals

SMART Goals for Sales

Part of the reason for your website redesign might be to help your sales team. If your business is e-commerce or software as a service (SaaS) your goal is probably to generate more direct sales using your site. It usually works best to state your goal in terms of a percentage instead of a dollar amount. Your goal might look like this:

  • Specific – Improve sales with website conversion rates that increase by 5 percent.
  • Measurable – Measure conversion rates using Google Analytics.
  • Attainable – You do some research. It shows by offering quality products and showcasing them using social proof, content marketing and targeted paid ads you can realistically expect a 5 percent increase.
  • Reasonable – You’re working with a marketing agency that has achieved similar results for businesses like yours.
  • Time-bound – Your website redesign and marketing material development will take four months, with the additional time needed to see results. You set a goal of one year from the completion date for achieving that 5 percent increase.

If people don’t buy things through your website, if you’re a real estate professional or a lawyer for example, your goal won’t be to sell more through your site. It might be to improve the percentage of site visitors that become clients.

If your website redesign includes tools for your sales team, a SMART goal could be to provide better sales support and team communication with metrics that gauge how many successful interactions take place.

SMART Customer Support

Customer service helps you build relationships and turn one-time site visitors into repeat traffic. When they visit your website, a significant number of them expect to find self-service options so they can receive an answer without having to wait on a person or explain their problem over and over again.

Customer support goals might involve answering 100 percent of contact form communication within 24 hours. It’s specific, measurable and attainable if you use automated response tools. It’s reasonable if you specify who is responsible for a live human follow-up when needed and have a backup plan for staying on track.

Other customer service goals might be to reduce the number of steps it takes to complete a task for higher conversions. For instance, you might change your information request form so clients only have to give you a first name and email address instead of their full name, email, phone number and address. The step reduction is specific. To measure, check form completions against previous data. Make the rest of your goal achievable, reasonable and time-sensitive.

SMART goals can be effective for every department. Operations might set goals to automate information and task workflows. They might achieve goals by integrating accounting software or inventory management programs with their CRM. Human resource goals might be to improve the total number of candidates who complete the online application process. C-suite’s goals typically revolve around maximizing your website’s return on investment (ROI).

Measuring Website Goals

Set up goal monitoring from the day your site goes live, but realize it takes time to accumulate enough data to demonstrate your ROI. For most businesses, marketing takes a big chunk out of the budget. While it’s true you have to spend money to make money, you want to know it’s worth it.

Measuring specific goals establishes whether you’re getting that return on investment. It helps you know which web properties bring you actual profit so you can refine those for more income. If your blog, social media marketing or web design doesn’t bring revenue, analyze data to discover why. If they do, that return justifies future spending. Here’s how to measure.

  • Decide whether you’ll measure conversions (sales, contact form completion etc.) or engagement (how many people interact with your content).
  • Choose what analytics packages you’ll use for tracking. Besides Google Analytics, your website service might have other tools. Each social media platform has a dashboard for activity that takes place there.
  • Assign a dollar amount to each completed action. What is the average value of a sale? How much is a lead worth? You may want to break your customers into categories. If you practice law some clients just want documents created while others need you to guide them through complex legal processes. The amount of income involved varies.
  • Look for hidden value. If you provide customer service resources on your site, you satisfy a need that would otherwise take up employee time. Customers find answers immediately instead of having to wait until Monday morning for a resolution. Because that customer never calls in frustration, you may not realize they ever had an issue. What is that worth and how can you connect that to income?
  • Start collecting data. Analytics can be intimidating, but there are basic elements anyone can become comfortable with. Talk to your web design team about how they measure sessions, bounce rates, time on site and most popular pages.
  • As you reach each milestone or target date, monitor achievement. Calculate your ROI by dividing your return or profit by your expense and multiplying by 100. When your website redesign is new, expect to see negative numbers. It takes time for your site to start doing what it was designed for.

How Do You Recognize a Reasonable Time Frame?

Time-sensitive goals help you stay on track, but they can be tricky to set. Start by consulting an expert who has helped businesses achieve similar goals before.

At Spade Design, we have a systematic process for growth-driven web design that doesn’t stop at website launch. We specialize in specific industries so we have extensive experience in what’s reasonable for those sectors. Our time frame estimates are usually spot on.

Break your goals down into both short and long-term milestones. If by the end of the year you would like to receive 5,000 unique site visitors every month, separate parts of that goal into smaller monthly increments.

For each month, what are your weekly objectives? To hit weekly targets, what small tasks should you do on a daily basis?

Be realistic about your organization’s commitment to reaching goals. For some businesses, the current staff is constantly scrambling to meet deadlines. As the owner, you may feel you work every waking minute and continue troubleshooting in your sleep.

If you’re already at capacity, you may need to reevaluate processes, hire new staff or outsource some jobs before you can work toward new goals.

Understand some tasks require ongoing effort. Content marketing is extremely effective, but it requires consistency to provide value for your audience. You’ll need to routinely reevaluate some aspects of your website as you see trends and technology change.

Setting SMART Goals for SEO

Reputable SEO firms don’t guarantee search engine rankings, but they do help set goals and develop a plan for measuring results. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves making everything about your site and your online presence search engine friendly.

When you’re in the top five on search engine results pages, your site receives significantly more traffic. This often boils down to user-friendly design and the quality of your content.

Identify specifically what you’re trying to achieve. Who do you want to see your content? Where are you most likely to find them? When are they likely to search online and why do you feel the goal you’re setting is beneficial to your organization?

Then look at the internal strengths and weaknesses of your business. Grab a notepad or pull up a spreadsheet and start making a list. First, evaluate your strengths with these questions:

  • What are your current high ranking keywords?
  • Which content do you have that is well received?
  • Identify your number one top-performing digital asset. What can you learn from its success?
  • What is your top-performing product or service?
  • How is your business different from and better than your top competitors?
  • From where does your site get the bulk of its organic traffic?
  • What links receive the most clicks?

Then it’s time for the hard questions. This requires honesty, but is necessary for growth.

  • Where do your competitors currently outperform you?
  • Who is ahead of you in search engine rankings? What do they offer you don’t?
  • How big is the gap between where you are and where you want to be?
  • What types of content are unsuccessful? Why are they not driving traffic?
  • Do you have the necessary SEO skills and resources in-house?
  • Are you comfortable with the long-term commitment and dollar investment it takes to see results?

SEO SMART Goal Examples

Ranking number one isn’t specific enough to be a SMART goal. What you want isn’t to be in the top spot, you want the site traffic, brand awareness and revenue that brings.

Search engine ranking involves hundreds of factors and the evaluation process is constantly changing. Make your goal more results-focused and specific.

Keyword Ranking

If you have a small, local employment agency, it’s probably not a reasonable goal to rank in the top five for “writing a resume.” Monster, The Balance and Indeed all have extensive content on that topic and with their nationwide reach, they receive more traffic. Create that content if you feel it is of value to your users, but for ranking, you need long-tail keywords that are very specific to your location, product or service.

Consider keyword visibility for SEO. Can you really target the ones you’re going after? Do you have the available resources to hit your target? How does your audience size, site traffic and overall online presence compare with the results that are ahead of you?

If your business doesn’t have a nationwide audience like industry major players, keyword planning will be more effective if you aim for first-page visibility in local business results. Before you start, ask if you’re willing to invest long-term to see results. If you aren’t, your marketing dollars could go to waste.

Developing Backlinks

Backlinks are links to your website from another site you don’t own. They are a major part of off-site SEO.

Set a specific goal for the number of backlinks you would like to receive. It’s possible to manually track backlinks using Google Analytics, and there are other online tools to help you measure.

The goal is achievable when you use some of the tips listed in our future article “Off-Site Elements That Improve Site Ranking.” Talk to your web developer about what is a reasonable expectation and make your goal time-sensitive by not letting the month end before you reach your set backlinks for that time frame.

Establishing a Trust Citation Balance

A citation is a reference anywhere on the web to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). They don’t have to contain a link for them to count. They may exist in directory websites, blog mentions, press releases or social platforms.

Citations, along with links and reviews are a huge part of how search engines determine local ranking. It’s important that each citation exactly match the name, address and phone number on your website, or search engines and users think you may not be the best choice.

Search engine metrics that evaluate trust look at the quality of the backlinks tied to your site. In the past, the websites with the most backlinks ranked higher, no matter where they came from. If your site has backlinks to sites with low trust, it has a negative impact on your SEO.

For some businesses, before you can begin to rank for local keywords, your goals must involve clean up. You may need to hunt down and remove incorrect citations or request bad backlinks be deleted so they don’t impact your search engine ranking. Here’s how to make it SMART.

  • Set a specific number for the citations or backlinks you will target within a time frame.
  • Create a spreadsheet so you can follow up and measure
  • Schedule regular intervals for working through sources to make it achievable.
  • Be realistic about how frustrating the process will sometimes be.
  • Plan an end date for removing all incorrect citations or bad backlinks so your goal is time-bound.

Increasing Organic Traffic

One of the main reasons for search engine optimization is to bring more traffic to your website and your store. Organic traffic comes from unpaid sources. You don’t get it from ads, it happens naturally when people search for you and like the look of your content. Organic has high conversion rates. Here’s how to improve it:

  • Build more pages for your audience to browse. More high-quality content generates traffic.
  • Optimize on-page elements like your title, headers and images.
  • Make sure your site loads lightning-fast so users don’t get impatient and navigate away.
  • Track your traffic. Find out how many pages users view each visit, where they are based on IP address, how many visit more than once and where they come from.

A specific goal might be to increase traffic to cornerstone content by a set percentage. Measure it using Google Analytics. Make it achievable when you refine on-page elements. It’s reasonable if you have the staff and knowledge to make those changes. Measure frequently, but allow a year to see results.

SMART Goals for Ongoing Growth

The SMART acronym applies whether you’re planning your social media management strategy, preparing the launch of a new product or building a new business from the ground up. Spade Design can help you set, implement and track those goals for results that are measurable from the beginning and just keep getting better. Start your conversation with an expert today.










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