With 2014 coming to a close, it’s a good time to evaluate your marketing efforts for the year. Did you hit your desired results? If you didn’t, don’t be so hard on yourself. It might just mean that you didn’t create the right marketing goals.

Setting realistic and achievable goals are imperative in any business. They’re the backbone to every marketing function your company is working toward.

As awesome inbound marketers, we all know what SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals are, but how do you actually implement this acronym in practice?  Keep this acronym in your head, and use it when devising all of your goals. 

1) Evaluate Your Current Position

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve come from. This relates to the attainability of your goal. Take a look at what marketing activities consume most of your time, and evaluate if they’ve given you the results you’re looking for. Knowing this information is your benchmark to determining next steps.

Ask yourself:

  1. What’s our website’s current traffic from organic, referral, etc.?
  2. How many inbound leads am I attracting per month?
  3. How many sales have we closed?

2) Specific Goals

The more specific you set your goals, the better grip you have of what you’re aiming to get accomplished. You’ll have a greater probability of success. A specific goal will motivate you to achieve a particular metric, and give you a reason to celebrate when you hit them!

Not only should you get particular with what results entail success, but also in an outline of what key players will be involved. To help you make your goal specific, you need to answer the six W’s:

  • Who: Who is going to work to achieve the goal?
  • What: What are you looking to achieve?
  • Where: In what area of your business is this goal taking place?
  • When: How long do you have to finish this task?
  • Which: Which resources are you going to use to get this done?
  • Why: What will you gain from completing this goal?

3) Measurable

The more granular you make a goal, the easier it is to keep track of over time. So, monitor your goals by creating milestones for yourself. What’s the total profit you’re trying to earn? To what percent are you trying to increase traffic?

Keep your hand on the pulse of your progress in order to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. If you’re not meeting your expectations, make adjustments and fine tune your tactics.  

“What metrics are the most useful for measuring the success of my online marketing,” you ask? this comes down to trackable metrics on your website’s analytics, such as page views, time spent onsite and inbound links. Quantitative data needs to be measured and analyzed on a consistent basis, in order for you see the impact of particular marketing effort used.

4) Attainable

How do you set goals that are challenging, yet attainable? This is where self-evaluation of your company’s current metrics will come into play again. Don’t become disheartened by falling short on a goal that was unrealistic from the get-go. It’s imperative that you set expectations at a level that will push your business to the next level, but is also feasible.

For example, if your blog subscriptions have increased by 12% for the last six months, setting a goal of increasing subscriptions to 16-18% is challenging, yet attainable. Understanding your analytics prior to setting that goal is key.

5) Relevant

The goals you create must align with the mission of your business; they must be relevant. Will carrying out a goal help you achieve what your company needs? Choose an objective that matters. The relevancy of a goal also ties back to the “time-bound” aspect in a SMART goal. Is it the right time to carry out this goal? It must be pertinent your company’s current position.

If Q4 is usually show-time for your business, then making a lower sales goal wouldn’t really be relevant. Increasing your sales goal for Q4, because it’s when you normally make a sizable profit, would be setting a goal that is relevant to your business.

6) Time-Bound

Implementing a timeframe of when your marketing efforts will start and finish is critical to its success. A goal that’s time-bound pushes you to commit to it. Everyday issues arise in a company; it’s inevitable. While these have to be addressed in a timely manner, a time-bound goal forces a business not to lose focus. Find the correct timeframe by reviewing your past metrics. Again, create challenging, yet attainable goals with a chosen time span.

We know you want to achieve great success in your business endeavors, but do you know how? Use SMART goals and get your business cranking. Lack of an overall strategy is oftentimes one of the biggest setbacks a business can have. A SMART goal will force you to answer the questions you need to create a successful strategy. Determining your goals is the first step on your business’s journey to success.

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Originally published Oct 17, 2014 1:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017