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The Ultimate Guide to Setting SMART Marketing Goals


We are fast approaching the end of 2014. Let’s think about it: Friday is October 31st. At 12:01AM on November 1st, every grocery store, drug store, and Target will replace its Halloween decorations with Christmas decorations.  And you know what that means. Candy Corn at clearance prices! No. It means that we are fast approaching the end of 2014. Maybe not quite as fast as these retail establishments would like, but we’re getting there at a steady pace. This time of year presents us with two unique business opportunities: First, we have a whole year’s worth of data to look at and comb for insights into what worked and what didn’t in our marketing strategy; and second, we can launch the new year with all these insights in mind as we set “SMART” marketing goals for 2015. This post is going to walk you through setting SMART marketing goals, and even provide you with a downloadable goal-setting template to help put this advice into action so you can hit the ground running in 2015.

The Smarts of “SMART” Goals

New Years Resolutions are great in theory, but they often don’t make it past February in practice.  This is because the resolutions and goals we set January 1stare rarely “SMART”— i.e., they are rarely Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Let’s look at each of these qualifications a little more closely, so you have a firm sense of what it looks like to create smart marketing goals.

  • Specific: Identify a specific end that you want to achieve.  Compare the two statements below:
  1. “We want to create more content and make sure it’s geared toward our Buyer Personas.”
  2. “We want to develop a “Small Business Owner” Buyer Persona and target him with content every week.”
  • Measurable: Include a means of measuring your success. Maybe you want to increase visits to your site: put a number on that desired increase. Returning to the example above, once you’ve developed your “Small Business Owner” Buyer Persona, you could specify how many posts you want to target to them per week. By the way, for a guide to developing great Buyer Personas click here.
  • Actionable: We want goals that we can take action on.  To help with this, start the statements of your goals off with action verbs: develop, create, draft,post, launch, promote, or one of the millions of other action verbs out there. “Develop a ‘Small Business Owner’ Buyer Persona and post two blogs targeted to this Persona every week.”
  • Realistic: Goals should push us to grow and improve, but they should be attainable. You and your team will quickly lose motivation in the pursuit of your goals if they can’t possibly be reached.  This is where looking over your progress during the past year can help you: where have you slacked off? Where could you pick up the pace and focus more attention?
  • Time-bound: Give yourself a deadline. Deadlines help us manage our tasks and projects according to priority. They motivate us to identify all the steps leading up to launch and lay out a manageable timeline for accomplishing them in time for the launch.

So here’s our original example goal, reworked to be a “SMART” goal:

“Develop a ‘Small Business Owner’ Buyer Persona by January 31, 2015 and publish at least 104 blog posts (two per week) targeted toward this Persona by December 31, 2015.”

Keeping all this in mind, let’s look at our template for developing your marketing goals. Once you’ve worked with your marketing team to fill out all the information in this template, you should be able to develop a single SMART Goal to write in the “Goal” section at the top of the template.


Summarizing our goals helps us to refine and clarify them.  We may all have a general, hazy sense of where we could improve, but writing down a summary forces us to identify it in a concrete form.  So discuss with your team and answer the question “What is our Overall Marketing Goal?” If you feel like this is too broad for a starting point, move on in the template. By the end, your answer to this question will have a bit more definintion and you may feel that you are more equipped to answer.



For inbound marketers, most goals will generally fall into one of three categories: we want to draw more visitors to our website; we want more visitors to convert to leads; we want more leads to convert to customers or clients.


Use the dropdown in the template to select which one of these categories your goal falls into.


Once you’ve categorized your goal, you should put a number on it. This template provides you with calculators that make determining that number easy.  The calculators have been set up to take into account, some standard, statistical increase factors to help you determine what your numbers should be—which can be especially challenging if you’re new to inbound marketing.


Notice that each of the three calculators corresponds with one of the three categories identified in the previous section. Use the calculator that is relevant to you and simply plug in your current numbers in order to see what your goal numbers should be. So, let’s say we want to increase our visitor to lead conversion rate.  We plug in our current numbers of “15,000” visits and “0.06%” conversion, and the calculator will give us a new number to shoot for.


Remember that SMART goals have to be “Time-bound.” Decide how long you want to give yourself and your team to meet the goal. Setting a deadline helps you set the pace of your marketing strategy that is going to help you achieve that goal.



Its great to look forward into a bright future 6 months from now when your goal is achieved and you can rest on your laurels for, ya know, 30 seconds.  But that bright future is only reached by time spent now.  So determine how much time you are going to dedicate to this every week.



You are guaranteed to meet obstacles along the way to achieving your goal. Don’t let them take you by surprise. By thinking about them and writing them down now, you can take them into account in your planning and make sure that way when they do arise, they don’t even phase you. This way you won’t miss a beat.



Now you are ready to set stellar goals for your 2015 marketing efforts.  Hey, maybe there’s something to be learned from those stores that want to get the jump on year-end merchandise. If you get started on developing your 2015 goals as soon as you hear the first Christmas carol playing in the mall, you’ll be that much more ready to dive into the new year! So download the Template here and get to it!

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