How to use SMART goals in your marketing

How do you measure your success when it comes to your marketing? It could be through achieving milestones, reaching conversion targets, or achieving a certain ROI. Regardless of how you measure your success, there’s always a stage when you have to decide what success is going to look like.

If you’re launching a new campaign, how do you start? You’ll set certain goals which, if you reach them, signify that your campaign has done its job. Setting goals is great and is crucial in making sure your marketing is effective. What if you’re setting the wrong goals, though?

Setting the right goals is just as important as the creative side of a project.

Start with SMART

Creating effective goals can change the outcome of your campaign from disappointment to elation! That’s where SMART goals come in. Most commonly associated with Peter Drucker, SMART goals are designed to give you objectives that are clear and achievable. It’s an acronym that stands for the following:

If your goals are all of these things, they’ll be suitable for assessing whether or not your marketing project has been a success or a failure. SMART ensures that your goals are never too easy or too difficult. Consistently easy goals mean you’ll never be forced to improve. Consistently difficult goals mean you’ll struggle to find a formula that works.


To start, your goal needs to be clear and specific. If your goal doesn’t have enough detail, you’ll struggle to know when you’ve met it. Having a very specific goal also means you’ll be more motivated to hit it, as you’ll know exactly where the end point is.

Mindtools ( suggests answering five ‘W’ questions to help you define your goal:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

Not all of these questions will apply to your situation, but they’re all worth considering when writing your goal. Remember, your goal doesn’t need to be long, it just needs to be detailed. Here’s an example of a specific goal:

“I want to build a new e-commerce website for Bob’s company, Acme Corporation, as well as providing hosting and email capabilities to him. I want this new website to help Bob achieve higher sales figures and grow his company.”


Often, when deciding upon goals, it can be easy to forget about how you’re going to track your progress. By deciding upon a series of milestones, deadlines, or performance indicators, you will know when you have made progress. This is important in knowing when you’re getting closer to achieving your goal. It also helps to keep everyone involved motivated.

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?
  • What’s the deadline?
  • What will indicate the ongoing progress of my goal?

There are a lot more questions you could ask here, but it all depends on the specifics of your goal. The key is to have a deadline and a way to measure your progress along the way. If it’s number focused, such as the example below, you’ll also want to consider what success looks like. Here’s an example of a measurable goal:

“Bob’s new website will need to be completed in 4-months. Along the way, the copy will need to be drafted and approved, as will the website design. The website can be considered a success if it increases online sales by 10% in the first year.”

This is a simple example, but it gives us everything we need. In reality, we would want to go into more detail here and include other ways of demonstrating success, such as website traffic. We’d also want to include more milestones along the way.

Measurable goals are key to keeping motivated and tracking your progress.


There’s no point having a goal if it isn’t achievable. It’s vital that, when you’re setting a goal, you’re realistic in regards to the opportunities and resources available to you. Your goal should challenge you, but if it’s not attainable you’ll risk demotivating yourself when you find that you can’t complete it.

Start by considering the following questions:

  • Do I have the resources, such as time and finances, to complete this goal?
  • Can I complete this goal within the time allotted?
  • How will I accomplish this goal?

As with other aspects of SMART, there will be more questions to ask. These will depend on your specific goal and what you need to accomplish it.

The key is to be objective and realistic when setting your goal. Consider each step of the process carefully and what you will need to complete it. If you’re part of a team, use everyone’s knowledge and expertise to come up with a goal that is challenging but achievable! Here’s an example of an achievable goal in action:

“Bob’s website has launched and he’s keen to increase his traffic. After consulting with his SEO team, he’s decided to try to increase his website traffic by 10% within the first 6-months.”

Within a marketing setting, this example will be familiar. There’s a goal you want to achieve for your company or for a client and you have to decide how long you need and how much it will cost. In this case, Bob consults with the experts, his SEO team, before deciding on his goal. He’s come out of it with a goal that is difficult but achievable.


A goal being relevant is probably the most difficult facet of SMART to define. Simply put, it’s whether or not a goal matters to you. If it doesn’t inspire or motivate you then you won’t be your best when trying to achieve it.

Remember to consider how a new goal might affect other goals you have. One goal should never make another more difficult to attain. If your new goal negatively affects your chance of achieving another, you should rethink your strategy.

In marketing, you also have to consider whether a goal is relevant to your team. It should push your team to succeed and make them passionate in their attempts to accomplish it.

When you’re trying to make your goal relevant, consider the following questions:

  • Is it the right time to take on this goal?
  • Is this goal worthwhile?
  • Does this conflict with any other goals?
  • Do I have the right people around me to complete this goal?


All your goals, no matter how large or small, need to have a deadline. It can be easy to let day-to-day tasks take precedence over your goals, but having a firm timeframe enables you to maintain focus.

Before you set a deadline, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How long is this going to take me to accomplish?
  • Can I split this goal into smaller, sub-goals?
    • How long will each sub-goal take me to complete?
  • When does this goal need to be achieved by?
  • What can I do today to move closer to fulfilling this goal?

Structuring your overarching goal into smaller, sub-goals will make it a lot easier to set a realistic deadline. This also makes completing your goal more manageable by giving you milestones to measure your progress.

It’s important to consider when a goal needs to be achieved by. In the marketing world, if you have a firm deadline from a client or your boss, you will need to manage your time very carefully. It can make it more difficult when you don’t have control over the ultimate deadline but remember to split up the goal and make it easier to tackle!

Here’s an example of a timely goal:

“Jon wants to increase the effectiveness of his paid search advertisements. To do this, he needs to increase his click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate. After careful consideration, he decides that his goal will be to increase his CTR by 1% and his conversion rate by 0.5%. He knows that to make the necessary changes to his ads and the structure of his ads account, and to measure the results will take approximately 8 weeks. He then gives himself some time to make further iterations and changes, settling on a deadline of 16 weeks.”

In this simple example, Jon decides what he wants to achieve and then thinks about the smaller things he’ll need to do to make it happen. He’s realistic with his timeframe and leaves himself some buffer time. Giving yourself some extra time on top of your estimations will prepare you for any problems or changes you need to make during the process!

SMART goals, whilst widely known, are often overlooked. It’s easy to make quick decisions in a bid to save time, but properly planning out your marketing goals will allow you to set more realistic and achievable goals that still drive your business forward. Next time you’re setting an important goal for your marketing department or team, consider sitting down and carefully considering every aspect of SMART.

Have any more questions about SMART goals or any other areas of your marketing? Get in touch with our team of marketing experts today!


Content Marketing Manager