Goal setting is probably one of the hardest things marketers have to do. You've got to choose a goal that's lofty, but not too lofty. And it's possible you have no idea what "lofty" is anyway -- for marketers implementing brand new activities, picking the right goals (and then tackling them) can feel like a guessing game.
To help you eliminate the guesswork and set the right goals for your marketing team, HubSpot's put together a free goal-setting template. This marketing goal-setting template will help you set yearly, quarterly, monthly, and even daily goals that are realistic, measurable, and help you figure out how to actually hit those goals with ... you know ... a plan.
Then learn how to use it effectively by following along in this post. We'll walk you through every part of the template and teach you how to use it to set yourself up for stellar marketing growth.
First, a Brief Message on Setting SMART Goals
Goals are great -- they help us prove how effective we are, keep us focused, and push us to be better. The thing is, though, goals are totally useless if they're not grounded in reality. That's why it's critical to set SMART goals. (You're about to find out that SMART is an acronym, but your goals should still, indeed, be "smart.") Here's what we mean by setting a SMART goal:
- Specific -- Do set real numbers with real deadlines. Don't say, "I want more visitors."
- Measurable -- Do make sure that you can track your goal. Don't hide behind buzzwords like "brand engagement" or "social influence."
- Attainable -- Do work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don't try to take over the world in one night.
- Realistic -- Do be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don't forget any hurdles you may have to overcome.
- Time-bound -- Do give yourself a deadline. Don't keep pushing towards a goal you might hit "some day."
Alright, now that we've got that little best practice out of the way, on to the template!
Step 1: Summarize Your Goal
The first step is to write down a summary of what your goal is. Goals are not always clear for marketers, so this may be harder than it seems -- but forcing yourself to write it down here lends clarity that you'll find immensely helpful. In the orange box, set a numbers-driven goal (keeping the SMART acronym in mind).
If you can't come up with one now, leave it blank momentarily and come back to it once you've completed the worksheet -- you might find you have an easier time of it, as the template helps you figure these things out.
(Note: This example has our company name and logo -- you, of course, would swap this out for your company's.)
Step 2: Categorize Your Goal
We've found that most marketers need to do one of three things: get more visitors to their site, get more visitors to convert into leads, or get more leads to convert into customers. When you click on the right of the white box in your template, this drop-down will appear:
Use the drop-down menu to select which best describes your current situation.
Step 3: Set a Specific Numerical Goal
Now that you've narrowed down your goal, it's time to set a value to work toward -- this can be the hardest step of all, but this template should make it easy! If you're new to inbound marketing or are not sure what you should be aiming for when setting your goal then use ONE of the THREE calculators in this step. It will help give you an idea of what you should be working towards.
As an example, let's say I am new to marketing but I know that I need to focus converting more of my traffic into leads. I'd use the second calculator you see here, outlined in orange, like so:
I just insert my average monthly site visits -- let's just say 10,000 visits -- and my current visit-to-lead conversion rate. Once I add in those two numbers, the rest is completed for me and I now know exactly how many leads I should strive to generate.
Step 4: Select a Completion Date
A goal is just a dream until you add a deadline. Select the length of time you think it will take to reach your goal. This will help you figure out how aggressive you need to be with your marketing efforts.
Step 5: Commit the Time
Now that you got all aggressive (it's okay, we kind of encouraged you there), it's time for a reality check. Of course, we would all love to see huge growth in short periods of time, but are you able to commit to putting in the hours it takes to achieve your goal?
By selecting how many hours a week you can work -- and we mean really work -- on inbound marketing, you're setting another smaller goal that helps your marketing dreams become reality. This personal goal is something to be mindful of and work toward reaching every week.
Step 6: Be Aware of Potential Obstacles
There are always going to be things that may stop us from reaching our goals. State those now so you're aware of them, you can start planning ways of getting around them, and you can prevent them from turning into excuses for not reaching your goal. Preparing for the hurdles now will make it that much easier to reach your marketing goals.
With a clear goal and a timeline, you can start to put together a strategy to make your best year yet. Just don't forget the most important part of any goal strategy: planning the celebration when you reach your goal! And then, of course, remember to use this worksheet to help you set another goal, and then another, and, well, you get the idea.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated for accuracy.