How to set SMART inbound marketing goals

7 minutes read
Alice - 21.04.2020
setting SMART inbound marketing goals


What are SMART Inbound Marketing Goals?

Setting goals for your inbound marketing is one of the first things you'll do. But you have to make sure they're realistic, and achievable.

As a guide you can use the SMART acronym that all marketers and sales people know (even if they don't love it).

Make your inbound marketing goals:

- Specific

- Measurable

- Attainable

- Relevant

- Time-specific


Before you go any further. We've recently updated our complete inbound marketing strategy guide, which includes all the information you'll get in this blog plus a tonne of other useful info. If you'd rather have a copy to hand when you need it, download the guide by clicking here.



How to set goals for your inbound marketing

Before you set off on your inbound marketing adventure, bright-eyed and dreaming of how packed that sales funnel is going to be in the next few months, you might want to just take a breathe and figure out what position your business is in right now.

As American poet Maya Angelou once said: "You can't really know where you are going until you know where you have been."

While this was originally no-doubt referring to something more profound than marketing or sales goals, you can see how it relates.

If you don't know what position you're in now, how are you going to figure out how to improve it, or how to get there?

Take some time to think about a few things:

  • What marketing activities are you already doing?
  • What activity does your sales team do other than cold calling people?
  • What do you spend most of your time doing?
  • How do you report on what you're doing?
  • What results are you already getting?

You should definitely be thinking about your website. Or, if you don't have one, figuring out how to get one quickly.

For your website, think about:

  • What kind of traffic are you getting?
  • What kind of content is on there?
  • How many leads are you getting through the site?
  • How many of those leads are you converting into customers?

These are all things you should have a handle on before you start to think about moving forward with your inbound marketing.

Armed with this information you can better understand what resources your new inbound marketing efforts are going to need. What do you need to bring in to change what you do? What do you want to achieve from inbound marketing and what success look like? Where do you hope to take your company in the future?

As we've said, you can do yourself a favour and make the process easier on yourself if you give the SMART framework a go. Here's a few examples.


Specific Inbound Marketing Goals

The more narrow and specific you can get with your Inbound Marketing goals the better. There are lots of things you can do with Inbound Marketing, but with so many moving parts it can be tough to balance everything and stay on track.

Being completely clear on what you want to achieve will give you a better chance of hitting and surpassing your goals.

It will also help guide you on building a strategy, and understanding which tactics you can use to achieve your goals.


Measurable Inbound Marketing Goals

Measurement should be at the centre of your inbound marketing goals. From setting your initial benchmark scores, to figuring out what your goals are, measuring them is the only way you'll know whether you're on track.

Are you aiming to see an increase in overall web traffic? Are you looking for an increase in conversations of the people you're already getting to your site? These are the things you should think about and focus your measurement on.

Also, when we say measurement, we mean consistent, on-going measurement. This isn't something you start and then six months later come back to. You need to be constantly measuring your performance. Identifying what is going well so you can replicate it or seeing what isn't working so you can either fix it, or stop wasting time and resources on a bum tactic.


Attainable Inbound Marketing Goals

If you like a challenge, then inbound marketing is for you, because it takes time and effort to achieve anything. But you need to be realistic about what you can actually achieve (and you can achieve a lot with it, believe us).

When thinking about an attainable goal, this is when understanding your current situation will prove invaluable.

For instance, if your current situation shows you've been increasing your overall web traffic consistently for 10% over the past month, aiming to get to 15% in three months would be tough but doable. But is it really realistic to think that you could increase that to 50%?

Probably not. If you set a realistic goal and achieve it quicker than you thought then you can always return to it and set it higher. But failing to meet a goal you were never realistically going to hit is a bit embarrassing and massively demotivating.


Relevant Inbound Marketing goals

Again, understanding your company's current position (seeing the theme yet?) and direction will help you set your goals for inbound marketing to make sure you're all moving in the same direction - and save you some potentially awkward conversations down the line.

For example, if your company has a goal to increase revenue by 7% by the end of Q4, setting a goal for inbound marketing to increase blog viewers isn't the primary goal.

Yes, it might help with the goal by getting prospects on your site, but your overall goal should be creating leads for your sales team to close. What type of content are you going to need for that?


Time limited Inbound Marketing goals

Always, always, always put time frames on when you want to achieve your goals. Always.

Putting a timeframe around your inbound marketing goals not only gives you a start and end time for your activity, but with a deadline in mind you are more likely to commit to, and remain focused on any activity you decide to do.

Keep that realistic element in mind though. Creating 200 SQLs in a week might be achievable for a very limited number of massive companies, but if you're a smaller company normally generating a handful of SQLs, 200 is probably way out of reach.

Put some realistic timeframes in place, and if you hit the goal early increase the numbers you're going for, or next time maybe consider lessening the time.


Why Inbound Marketing goals are important

Failing to set goals for your marketing and sales activity is a sure way to create plans that fail to get buy-in and allow teams to lose focus if they know they aren't pushing towards a specific goal, by a certain time.

There's more about how to keep inbound marketing campaigns on track in this blog.

By understanding where you are now, and where you want to get to you can focus your inbound marketing activity, make sure you have the resources in place, and make sure the business as a whole is moving as one towards the same goal.

If you don't, you'll end up with teams heading off on different paths and wind up having some pretty tough, awkward, potentially costly conversations down the line when you look back and realise you're not improving anything.

And no team or business wants to get in that situation.


If you need more info getting your inbound marketing or sales off the ground, download our free "Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategy".

It includes details on setting goals, but also gives you a better foundation for creating an inbound marketing strategy that helps you achieve the goals you'll be able to set from this point.


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