The methodology behind the SMART goals of marketing

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7 MIN
October 22, 2020

The methodology behind the SMART goals of marketing

Short Answer: SMART methodology helps specify your goals, makes them easy to measure and to achieve. It helps business growth by setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals.

SMART goals graphic for Ability SEO blog

How do you set goals that you know you can make? Most of us are great at setting goals for ourselves, but the outcome can be unpredictable. Sometimes we hit our target dead on, other times we are off by a lot. 

Goals help us to map where we want to land. If we aren’t clear or ambitious in setting goals, we're likely to miss the mark - the business can either go the wrong way or stagnate. The secret sauce of success lies in a simple but effective equation, the SMART goals methodology.

Definition Of SMART Goals: These are tangible objectives to aim over a defined time period. In the ideal working world, a manager meets with his or her employee(s) and the two (or more) agree upon SMART goals setting themselves up for success.

SMART is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-bound. Each letter describes a specific characteristic in the goal setting process. (https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/smart-goal-examples)

The Importance Of SMART Goals:

“According to research by CoSchedule “Only 57% of marketers say their efforts are successful. An amazing 376% of Marketers who set goals are successful. 74% of marketers set overall goals, and 92% of those marketers are successful.” 

(Ref:https://coschedule.com/marketing-strategy/marketing-goals/ from CoSchedule’s Chapter 1 of “How to Set Smart Goals?”)

 

When your goals follow the SMART formula and are specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant, this increases the chances of your success. If your goals are missing any one of these 5 key fundamentals, you'll be missing a key stepping stone and run the risk of falling short. 

Specific

When you start setting a goal for yourself, it needs to be tangible and specific. Ask yourself, “what is it that you precisely want to achieve?”

Ambiguity can't exist in goal setting, because you won’t have a clear idea of your destination. I could set a goal, let’s say to write a book by next year. 

Sounds okay, but I think I could do better. It’ll be easier and more effective if I were to set the goal: I want to write 4 pages a day.

In 6 months if I stick to my goal, I’ll have a 300 page book. That way I'm putting a pin in the map that marks a definite destination. I can measure incremental progress by how many pages I write in a day, and if I fall short I'll know where and why.

Adding metrics to goals that you set yourself helps you measure your progress. For example, on day one, I managed to write four pages. On day two however, I managed only three pages. I now know I’m behind on my goal by one page. Without attaching numbers to your goal, you won’t know if you are on target or lagging behind.

When you start plotting your goals on paper, it’s useful to answer the following ‘W’ questions:

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

(Ref: from the article SMART Goals  How to Make your Goals Achieveable by the Mindtools Team https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm

 

Measurable

SMART goals need to be able to track and measure your progress. Let’s say you have a goal to get more blog traffic from social media. This doesn’t fit the SMART methodology by itself, because you won’t be able to measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself, “How much traffic should I aim for from social media?”

To measure your team’s progress, you need to determine your goals like attaining an X-percentage increase in your visitors, leads or customers from social media. 

To make our goal ‘to increase blog traffic from social media’ into a SMART goal, we might say “Jon and Dan will boost blog traffic from social media by 20% more sessions per month." This will let us know what we are increasing, and by how much.

To make your goals measurable the typical questions you’ll ask are:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when I have achieved my goal?

(Ref: from the article SMART Goals  How to Make your Goals Achieveable by the Mindtools Team https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm

Attainable

Many of us tend to set ourselves unrealistic goals. Sure, we all want to grow, but we want to set goals which are within our reach. You may need a team to achieve them.

It wouldn't be feasible to create a book without an editor or publisher. When goals aren’t attainable, you can quickly lose motivation and get frustrated, which isn't a recipe for successful goal setting.

For a goal to be attainable, you need to consider your own capacity and abilities. If your X-percent increase in blog traffic from social isn’t based on your capacity for achieving it, you'll likely miss hitting your target. If your team achieved a 5% increase in blog traffic in August, and you want to use the same initiatives they used for that, an increase of 8-10% makes more sense than something like 20%.

It's important to base your SMART goals on your current analytics. If you base them on industry benchmarks, you may risk overstretching yourself. To help John and Dan to achieve their goal of boosting blog traffic from social media, make it more attainable for them. For example, Jon and Dan will boost blog traffic from social media by 7-9% (rather than 20%) more sessions per month.

For attainable questions you’ll want to ask yourself questions like these:

  • How can I achieve my goal?
  • How realistic is my goal, based on limitations like budget or or not enough team members to achieve my goal?

(Ref: from the article SMART Goals  How to Make your Goals Achieveable by the Mindtools Team https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm

Realistic/Relevant

Realistic or relevant goals should be tied to your company’s general business goals or long-term plans. They need to be consistent with the latest trends in your niche or industry. 

Take our goal of increasing social media traffic to our blog page, how does that relate to our company’s goal - revenue growth? Can we realistically expect it to generate more traffic based on our current social media marketing performance?

If you take these factors into account, you'll have the chance to set goals that will add value to your company that are less about you or your team and more about your business. 

Let’s say your company has a track record of getting the majority of its leads and revenue from organic traffic. Jon and Dan’s goal could be to increase organic traffic by 7-9% per month

To test if your goals are relevant or realistic, you need to ask yourself:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Does this specific goal meet our company’s other needs?
  • Is this the right time to achieve this goal?
  • Am I the right person to achieve this goal?
  • Is it realistic to meet this goal in “the current socio-economic climate?”

(Ref: from the article SMART Goals  How to Make your Goals Achieveable by the Mindtools Team https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm

Time-bound

One of the most important parts of the SMART methodology is that there is an end goal or deadline. If you didn’t have time bound goals to reach, you won’t ever achieve anything. Deadlines may mean a little healthy pressure, but they’re necessary. 

Healthy stress, also known as eustress, can be personally satisfying and beneficial while pushing you to do things and stretch yourself a little more.

Ensuring your goals have a beginning and end enables you to assess what you’ve achieved, and see what worked and what didn’t. If you didn’t manage to achieve a goal this time, you’ll be able to look back on your performance and see where you went wrong. 

Let’s say you had a goal of boosting blog traffic from social media, but you didn’t add a deadline. Without a deadline, you won’t feel any healthy pressure and could lose your focus or motivation.

For your time bound goals, you need to ask yourself the following?

  • What can I achieve today?
  • When is my deadline?
  • What can I achieve in six months time?
  • What can I accomplish in a month from now?

Our Bottom-line: The SMART Goal Methodology ensures you are setting specific and achievable goals, making it easier to measure your progress and having a destination or end point in sight.