Every business needs a marketing plan, but not every business has one. Some organisations accommodate every request, while others only implement the best-researched marketing objectives.
When it comes to marketing, especially in a digital-first world with evolving customer demands, a ‘finger in the wind’ approach has no longevity. There's no room for guesswork, and the digital landscape needs you to have a more measured, analytical approach if you want to stay competitive and profitable.
With that in mind, we turn to the age-old SMART objectives, a key attribute that links well with HubSpot's Inbound Marketing model. As HubSpot Platinum Solutions Partners, we know a thing or two about data-led marketing goals and how a combination of analytics and creativity can combine into exceptional results.
We'll be sharing some practical insights into how you can set your very own SMART marketing objectives, but first, we'll explore exactly what SMART marketing goals actually are.
SMART Marketing Goals are a sequence of 5 characteristics of a measurable marketing plan, if you will.
SMART Marketing: Specific
In the marketing environment, specificity can mean anything, from how you measure results to the kinds of information you gather about your audience. It’s generally considered these days that those who set vague and ambiguous goals don't end up achieving them.
For example, if you are looking to increase website traffic, setting the goal of “increase traffic” is very vague. “Increase organic traffic by 10%” is very clear and specific.
You can use specificity to ensure your marketing plan is targeted and on track for success. Having focused marketing objectives will eliminate distractions and make your end goal clearly visible and attainable.
Say, for example, you’re gathering information about one of your customer personas - what kind of information do you want to acquire? How granular will you go?
Specificity is the name of the game and building your ideal customer profiles will result in you being far more informed, armed with specific details for your future campaigns.
In terms of specific goals you should be setting, it depends heavily on what stage your business is at. If it’s early on in your business’ life, focus on engagement goals and collect relevant feedback that can validate your product and service. If you’re in a later, more mature stage, you should focus on growth metrics. It is important that your goals align with your main marketing objectives.
SMART Marketing: Measurable
Every successful marketing campaign has some kind of system for measuring results.
Data is everything. Years ago, marketers operated on a hunch, blindly guesstimating without the aid of data, analytics or reporting. It’s an evolved landscape today; we can clearly see how campaigns have performed, what we’re doing well and what needs to be improved.
To effectively measure your marketing objectives, you need to familiarise yourself with the most valuable and relevant data.
How will you improve, what can you do to push yourself further and how will you realise your vision for the business? Data will inform and lead all of these decisions, and provide you with a yardstick to gauge your progress.
Determine your capabilities and benchmark them against a (practical) time frame; this is the easiest way to assess what you can realistically achieve in a set timeline.
Choose one or two core goals that will impact your bottom line and, depending on your objective, three to five supporting goals that will assist your objectives. These goals can be correlated against data, and immediately indicate whether your marketing efforts are helping or hindering your progress.
By measuring your timeline and progress against datasets, you'll have a far easier time focussing your efforts where they truly matter.
SMART Marketing: Actionable
Is your goal actionable? This is such an important question when it comes to setting your marketing objectives. If you don’t know whether you can actually achieve what you’re setting out to do, why are you setting that as a goal in the first place?
You should only be setting goals that you realistically believe you can achieve. By setting unachievable goals, you only set yourself up for failure. As you start to achieve these realistic goals, however, you'll be more motivated (and able) to achieve those lofty ambitions
To start with, set challenging but attainable milestones. You should be pushing the boundaries of how far marketing can take your business, and perhaps stepping out of your comfort zone. Essentially; take active steps towards your goal.
When setting goals, ask yourself: “Am I realistically going to achieve that?”
Next, ask: “Could I be setting a more aspirational goal?” There’s a middle ground to be found and that’s the key to setting actionable goals.
SMART Marketing: Relevant
How relevant are your marketing objectives to your strategy?
Your objectives need to be relevant to the strategies you are setting. If your marketing goals deviate from your strategy, there's little to no chance you'll achieve them; and if you do, you won't know how to replicate that success.
If one of your goals is to boost revenue, your measurable metric is to increase your conversion rates by 5% month-on-month, and your strategy only includes creating content, there is a blatant mismatch and missing relevance.
You won't achieve your goals if they're not included in and prioritised on your strategy. Instead, with the example above, you'd potentially increase your traffic and suffer an even lower conversion rate, setting you back further away from achieving your objectives.
Setting SMART marketing objectives is a crucial process for your strategy and, if you set an objective that doesn’t relate to what you want to achieve, you’ll never know how successful your marketing has been.
Keep in mind the reason you’re setting SMART marketing objectives and use that reason to determine relevant goals to judge its success.
SMART Marketing: Time-Based
As the hands of time strike ever closer to the launch of your new marketing campaign, you need to ensure you have allocated a specific time within which to judge its success.
Getting the time allocations for your objectives right is crucial to judging the success of your marketing. You need to ensure that you’ve set yourself enough time in the first place. If not, then you will judge your marketing to be a failure before you’ve given it the chance to produce reliable results.
Inversely, if you fail to set a timeline for your marketing objectives, how can you expect to correctly judge the success of your marketing - and when do you decide it’s time to call it a success or a failure? If this isn’t determined beforehand, you can run into all sorts of trouble.
You can give your marketing a set time to start showing results, say six months, in order to return to the goals you set at that time and review the strategy.
Other SMART Marketing Tips
So, hopefully, you’re now thinking about the importance of SMART Marketing objectives. Here are some other handy tips to get you on the path towards success:
Have a clear vision of what success looks like. Envision what it would look like to meet your objectives; this helps to remove ambiguity, create motivation, and will help you streamline your efforts more effectively.
Stay laser-focused, but keep an open mind. Focus keeps you on track, but an open mind unlocks potential. Avoid distractions that might waste resources.
Keep it moving. We'll all face setbacks or failures, and that's ok. It's how we learn and expand. By committing to keep moving forward, you can use the momentum of previous success alongside the lesson from failure to take decisive new steps towards your goals.
Managing your time can help you work under pressure to achieve your short-term and long-term goals. Time management makes it easier for you to understand how many objectives you need to achieve in a certain period, and will also help you delegate tasks more effectively.
Realistic objectives that are actionable and achievable will give you a sense of gratification when completed, which can help to motivate you to achieve your next goal as a result.
Acknowledging the importance of SMART marketing objectives will help you to achieve your goals sooner than you think. Hopefully, these tips can act as a constant reminder of why you should set SMART marketing objectives.
These are just a few brief pointers as to how your marketing plan can benefit from the SMART methodology. It can be applied across many disciplines and has proven time and time again that we can achieve anything with a bit of SMART thinking.
SMART marketing objectives are especially helpful for creatives, who are often so close to their own work that they can't see the proverbial wood for the trees.
If you'd like to chat with us about how we can help shape your marketing strategy and work with you to achieve your SMART marketing goals, get in touch with us here.