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The Importance of Setting SMART Marketing Goals

Amber Klein
July 14, 2020

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Goal setting is the backbone of effective marketing. Goals help us prove how successful we are, provide focus, and push us to succeed. And while we know how important goals are to measure our success, more than 80% of small business owners do not keep track of their business goals. Perhaps that’s because goal setting can be one of the most difficult things we have to do as marketers. While we all have hopes of what we want to accomplish with our marketing and business, that’s not enough. We also have to make sure that our goals are grounded in reality and can be used as benchmarks for future strategies and plans. This is where SMART marketing goals come into play.

First, let’s tackle what a SMART marketing goal is. A SMART goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

SMART goals are a way of creating targets for your marketing strategy and business that align with your objectives, provide a clear timeline, and are achievable.

Now that you know what the acronym stands for, let’s address why each of these elements are important to consider in your goal setting:


Your goals should be specific enough to check off a to-do list. A general goal can get you started in determining where you want to focus your efforts, but it would be a challenge to check "I want more visitors to my website" off a to-do list. Does one new visitor count? How about two? Set a goal with real numbers that are specific enough to track. 


Make sure your goal is measurable. Numbers are your friend, here. Consider any statistics you're already tracking in your marketing efforts and use them as a baseline for measuring your goals. Do you have 200 visitors to your site each month? A measurable goal could be a 10% increase in visitor site traffic.

Stay away from ambiguous terms like “brand engagement” and “social influence” as you craft your goals. While they can be facets of your marketing plan, using hard-to-measure metrics in your goal-setting will make it much more difficult to set and accomplish your goals. 


Your goals should be challenging but realistic. While you likely have long-term, big goals for your business, your SMART goals should be short-term steps that will help you reach those larger goals. Consider your baseline statistics as you make sure your goals are attainable. If you've seen a 3% increase in sales each month, setting a goal for a 20% jump in a short time span might be unattainable. However, setting a 5-10% increase might be more realistic. 

Attainable goals also help you experience success quicker which give you stamina to stay the course for those larger goals. And if you are in a lager organization this also helps you share successes with your leadership team. 


Be honest with yourself about your long-term business plans. Your SMART goals should directly support your long-term marketing. It can be easy to get carried away with goal setting and brainstorming the ways your marketing team can contribute to your company's success, but rein in your enthusiasm to ensure that your goals are actively contributing to your organization's current focus. 


Give yourself a deadline for your goal. Setting a time limit to accomplish your goal adds some accountability, which will help make sure your goal gets met. A timeline also allows you to monitor your progress and adjust your goal accordingly. If you're halfway to your deadline and have already almost met your goal, you can set a stretch goal to see if you can accomplish even more. 

Setting SMART goals will not only ensure that you’re striving for something doable for your particular business, it will also allow you to better be able to measure your success and determine whether you are reaching them or not.

EXPERT TIP: People who write down their goals are 50% more likely to reach them. So, if you really want to focus on tracking your goals and determining success, write it down somewhere you will see it every day. Even better, share your SMART goals with other teams or stakeholders in your organization. You may inspire them to set their own SMART goals!

Another EXPERT TIP: Tying your SMART goals to back to your personas will ensure you stay focused on your voice of customer in your inbound and strategies and goals! 

Using inbound methodology as you develop your SMART marketing goals can help you set and meet goals that organically build your business. If you're new to Inbound Marketing, dive in with our free Inbound Marketing 101 ebook.

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