Digital Marketing

Setting Goals With SMART Digital Marketing

Since the dawn of the e-commerce revolution, digital marketing has been key in connecting businesses to prospective buyers. If you want to stay ahead of the game in 2021, we recommend checking out the SMART Goals digital marketing system.

This is an easy-to-follow system because the components are spelled out for you. SMART is a mnemonic that refers to the key factors you need to focus on for digital marketing goals. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This system can be successfully applied to most digital marketing strategies.

This goal-setting marketing system helps you create attainable goals along with a solid digital marketing strategy that’s suited to your needs and marketing budget.

There are a variety of avenues to explore when competing in the digital marketplace, but using the SMART Goals marketing system is a good way to gauge whether or not you’re heading in the right direction. Oftentimes, businesses struggle due to a lack of clear direction and misunderstandings centered around common goals. 

The SMART Digital Marketing System

Now we will break down the individual components of the goal-setting system so you can see how you can apply it to your own digital marketing strategy.

1. Goals Must Be Specific

Being as specific as possible with your marketing goals is the first step to a successful digital marketing campaign. For example, having a goal of increasing profit is vague and non-specific. Instead, consider setting a more specific goal of generating X leads to increase pipeline  by 5% over the next quarter.

Next, add specific sub-goals for more detail. For example, you can increase lead quantities by increasing web traffic by improving domain authority and ranking keywords.

Keeping SMART goals as specific as possible helps you build a framework for how to execute your digital marketing strategy. This framework also helps with delegating responsibilities and explaining objectives to your digital marketing team.

When deciding on the specifics of your SMART goals and objectives, you can use some “wh” questions (who, what, when, where, why) to fine-tune your goals. For example, ask yourself:

  • Why is this goal important? 
  • How does this goal align with / contribute to broader business goals?
  • How can I achieve this goal?
  • What kind of resources will I need to employ?
  • When can I realistically achieve this goal?

Digital Marketing System

2. Goals Must Be Measurable

Having a solid way to measure your success is of the utmost importance when determining your goals. In the unfortunate event that your digital marketing strategy flops, you may not feel the impact until it’s too late to make adjustments. It’s always a good idea to objectively measure your progress along the way.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re seeing leads increasing but don’t realize this until the quarterly reviews come out, you may have missed a prime opportunity to employ that same digital marketing approach to other products in your portfolio or other target markets.

Monitoring and tracking the performance of your digital marketing campaign will give you the tools and insight you need to make good business decisions and apply those decisions elsewhere. The only way to know if you’re succeeding is if you have clear metrics to check results.

Luckily, being in the age of digital technologies and machine learning, keeping track of things is a whole lot easier than it was in the past. With the rapid advancement in marketing technologies, there are many options that can help your team design, execute, measure and report on digital campaign performance to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. 

Marketing performance management platforms like Hive 9 can help with marketing budgeting, planning and reporting, marketing automation platforms like Hubspot and 6Sense can help you with campaign design, execution and Google Analytics for monitoring web traffic.  

For more information about marketing technology stack design, check out this incredible book about how to use software to hack marketing and accelerate growth: “  

Having measurable goals and enabling technologies will give you some baseline data to start with when setting initial goals and objectives. Then it’s up to you to track your progress and make necessary changes as things evolve. 

3. Goals Must Be Achievable

As much as I’d love to tell you that you can exponentially increase performance and earn life-changing promotions and unlimited marketing budgets, that’s not reality. Make sure your digital strategy goals are attainable over both the long and short term. 

Set yourself up for success by setting goals that will ramp up your business and create learning opportunities for you and your staff. 

It often helps to break goals into milestones or smaller objectives. For instance, if you set a goal to increase lead generation by 20% in the next year, a 5% increase in the next quarter could be an attainable objective. Breaking broader goals into smaller parts can be helpful for planning and executing your strategy. 

Setting achievable goals can be tricky for some because you don’t want to underestimate your digital marketing capabilities by setting the bar too low. A good way to set achievable goals is by evaluating your company’s past performance and going from there. If you have no benchmark data, here are a couple sources of industry benchmarks: 

If you have an objective to increase pipeline value, for instance, conduct a pipeline gap analysis, then check to see how much pipeline was required to achieve revenue goals through the years, then set your goal accordingly. If you want 20% growth but you’ve only been growing at 5%, a 10% growth rate would be more achievable.

4. Goals Must Be Relevant

Making sure your objectives are relevant is also a consideration when dealing with broader goals like increasing brand awareness. For instance, if your goal is to attract more visitors to your website, then promoting your brand or company through online advertising is a relevant objective to pursue.

On the other hand, if you have the same goal of generating leads to fuel the pipeline in the next quarter, and your objective is to send press releases and secure media coverage, you may want to check your goals and the relevance of the steps you’re taking to achieve it.  

When considering relevance in relation to your goals, it’s a good idea to apply the same attention to the relevance of your objectives within that goal. Asking yourself these questions can fine-tune your digital marketing strategy and increase positive results.

Analyzing the relevance of goal-related projects can also result in an understanding of how much time is being spent on the broader and smaller goals. 

5. Goals Must Be Time-Bound

Marketing goals should always be set in a given time frame. Just wanting to increase your email subscriptions without giving a time frame in which you’d like it achieved isn’t motivating enough when you’ve had your business over 20 years. Growing your subscription base by 20% over the next quarter is a more definitive goal.

Placing a time limit on marketing goals will also allow you to revisit the goal and objective at a given time to see if progress is being made or if the objectives need to be tweaked. If you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for in the allotted time, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your goals.

Putting a time limit on objectives helps you narrow down your projects into a workable timeframe. By doing this, you may find that the allotted time for a particular objective was too long or too short. Use this valuable information when setting future goals. 

6. Other Considerations

There are other considerations to take into account when using the SMART goal approach. Here are a few tips from experts who’ve successfully used the system. 

  • Do your homework and know your target audience and their communication preferences
  • Stay focused on results and impact
  • Handle small problems immediately before they become a crisis
  • Be flexible as you may need to adjust your goals or timeframe as you progress
  • Communicate goals with your marketing team so everyone is on the same page
  • Use marketing technologies to accelerate your desired outcome
  • Always keep the big picture in mind, don’t get bogged down by the details
  • Review and revise your strategy when you’re not getting the results you want

Why Use the SMART Digital Marketing System?

The most obvious reason to use the SMART system is that it’s a proven, easy-to-use method for setting digital marketing goals. Once you understand the components of the mnemonic aid, you can apply it to any variety of goals you wish to achieve.

Understanding the formula and using SMART objectives to compose attainable milestones can create a solid framework for both marketing and business objectives.

There are many digital technologies and platforms that will track and develop SMART Goals for you, so if time is an issue for you and your team, you can have it done for you. Following the SMART system doesn’t require any digital marketing skills, it just requires some focus and commitment to results.

There are also tutorials and workshops available that will guide you step-by-step through the process. 

SMART digital marketing is a good way to consistently track your progress and revisit your marketing objectives to fine-tune your broader goals as things progress for you and your company. Many times business owners have specific goals in mind for the future of their company, and the SMART digital marketing system is a great way to get from point A to point B.


We hope you’re now able to understand the SMART digital marketing goal-setting system and can apply it to your business. If you’re interested in more great content about marketing, check out some of the other articles on our site.

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