Any CEO will tell you that they want a better brand, more social media followers, and increased sales. Beyond that, they tend to depend on their marketing department to figure out the concrete steps that will help achieve these success metrics. They tend not to care which email marketing platform you use, so long as they can see targets being hit and profit being delivered. If that's where you come in, you need SMART marketing objectives. Here's why.
SMART marketing objectives are those that embody five traits: They're specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Viewing your marketing team's hard work through this lens will turn a sketchy goal into a clean six-month plan for hitting the exact number of views, followers, or lead conversions you need.
Don't take just our word for it. This guide explains exactly how SMART objectives work and why they're important, along with 21 examples of what they could look like for you.
In this guide:
SMART is an acronym. It's designed to help employees remember the five traits that an effective business objective must embody. These are:
- Specific – An objective must be clearly stated, so that it sets a straightforward expectation.
- Measurable – The objective must be explainable in quantifiable metrics.
- Achievable – The objective must fall within your team's capabilities.
- Relevant – The objective must align with the larger organization and pertain to the business.
- Time-bound – The objective must come with a time constraint.
It's a simple process to create the marketing objectives that make sense for your business. Ultimately, everyone's goals and constraints are different.
First, consider what your business is trying to accomplish, and what might be standing in the way. Next, try framing those needs and constraints using the five traits of SMART objectives. Here are the questions you'll need to ask yourself:
- What specific objective can my team accomplish in the near future?
- How will we measure our success?
- What will we need to learn or do to achieve the objective?
- Does the objective help our entire company grow in the right direction?
- What timeline helps the company while remaining within our team's ability?
As long as your objectives are SMART, your organization will know exactly where it stands. You'll know when your team has surpassed expectations and when it has fallen behind them. This is key in the marketing world, since ROIs can be a challenge to tie to expenditures: A marketer must operate across multiple channels, making the customer journey more difficult to track.
The benefits of SMART objectives are two-fold. First, you'll be able to communicate more effectively within your team. The most junior team member will still know what goal to aim for and which metrics will reveal that they have accomplished it.
The second benefit is that you'll be able to communicate more effectively with your superiors. The entire executive wing of any business needs to see a set of coherent actions before they'll buy into a marketing department's plan for how to best spend their money. SMART objectives will form the initiatives that make up the connective tissue between ideas and actions.
Everyone learns best from real-world examples, so we've compiled a series of potential SMART objectives that you might see in the real world. We've written them in simple, non-academic language, as everyone should be able to understand a SMART objective.
1. SMART Objectives for Online Marketing
From organic search traffic to social media engagement, the internet is a huge source of potential new customers. Here are four SMART marketing objectives that could make sense when boosting your brand online.
- Grow monthly organic search sessions by 15% within the next three months by increasing blog post frequency from three posts to four posts per week.
- Grow email subscriber list by 2,000 new email subscribers within the next quarter, by increasing our targeted lead generation campaign's budget by up to 50%.
- Maximize conversion rates by decreasing our website's bounce rate by 10% within the next 3 months through an overhaul of all web pages.
- Increase app downloads to reach a lifetime total of 5,000 within the next quarter by increasing app advertisements, creating a plan for addressing poor reviews, and establishing a monthly bug-fixing app update.
2. SMART Objectives for Growing Sales
Sales growth is a core metric for successful businesses, but there are an overwhelming amount of levers that a marketer could potential pull in an effort to boost sales. Here are four objectives that might clarify the best path for you:
- Achieve $10,000 in monthly e-commerce revenue within the next year, by further optimizing product pages and increasing our targeted ad budget by 200% in our most promising channels.
- Reduce our online cart abandonment rate to 40% by creating a cart recovery email campaign and accessing the checkout process for additional improvements within the next six months.
- Improve product discoverability by boosting average time spend on our site by 10% within the next quarter through a third-party audit of our site's product categorization, filters, and search functionalities.
- Increase average order value by 15% by trialing and implimenting the best upselling strategies, bundle deals, and loyalty rewards within the current quarter.
3. SMART Objectives for Brand Awareness
General brand awareness can be tough to quantify. But these SMART marketing objectives can help you break down the exact steps needed to keep your business name on the tip of everyone's tongues.
- Review the past five years' worth of internal reports on brand awareness and identify the top five opportunities for increasing growth across the next quarter.
- Increase our advertising click-through rate (CTR) from 4% to 8% by the end of the year through a three-part plan: Surveying our audience this quarter, developing a demographic report in the next quarter, and creating ads targeted towards that demographic in the third quarter.
- Reduce our influencer budget by 50% while retaining the same number of brand mentions on social media by running a research project to learn which influencers appear to be most effective, and ending all other influencer deals.
- Develop our company as a thought leader by establishing a content calendar to publish 12 industry articles across the next 12 months positioning our company as an expert voice.
4. SMART Objectives for Social Media Growth
If your customer or client demographic has a large presence on any popular social media platforms, your business should, too. Here are a few SMART objectives to get you started on growing your social platform presence.
- Increase average engagement rate on Instagram Reels videos by 25% within the next quarter through establishing a set schedule of five high-quality videos a week posted to both Instagram and Facebook.
- Adapt a vetted TikTok best-practices checklist in order to boost brand visibility by growing average video engagement by 10% by the end of the year.
- Increase average per-week follower rate across all social media posts by 25% by running weekly follower contest giveaway baskets of $50 worth of products.
- Grow engagement rates across all social platform accounts by 50% by reusing content across all channels, tripling our weekly output.
5. SMART Objectives for Customer Satisfaction
Happy customers are just as important as the number of products sold. After all, more satisfied customers are more likely to return for more sales. Here are five objectives to consider:
- Increase customer retention rate by 35% within the next two quarters by launching an improved loyalty program with a campaign that incorporates our blog, email newsletter, and website popups.
- Grow our email open rate from 40% to 50% by identifying and emailing our last-engaged audience segment with a reingagement plan.
- Reduce customer churn by 5% for each quarter of the upcoming business year by increasing our customer service team size and hours.
- Secure two strategic partnerships with complementary businesses by researching and approaching potential partners in order to expend the customer base in time for the new year.
- Decrease our mobile bounce rate by 20% within the next two weeks by fixing mobile bugs to reduce page loading time by 50%.
Next Steps: How To Monitor SMART Marketing Objectives
The next step is to set up a method for tracking all progress towards your objective. You'll most likely be able to do this by scheduling regular meetings with your team or by setting up an auto-generated report in the relevant software, whether it's the best lead management software or even some of the great free business tools for startups that are out there.
You'll be able to troubleshoot issues as they arise, clearing the path towards achieving all your marketing goals.
A SMART objective is one that fits these five traits: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.