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What Are SMART Goals?

You might have some smart ideas for your next inbound marketing campaign. But have you set SMART goals?

The two things go hand in hand.

SMART in this case is an acronym. It means that you’ve set Specific (S) and Measurable (M) goals that are both Attainable (A), Realistic (R), and Time-bound (T).

Let’s take a closer look at how that works:


Your goal should focus on a single goal of inbound marketing, and identify ways to achieve the goal. The goal should be defined enough to answer the “4 Ws” (who, what, when, why).  What do we want to accomplish? Who do we need to make it happen? When will it happen? Why are we doing this?

Ideally, specific inbound goals should focus on three things: getting more visitors, leads and customers to your website.


It’s not enough to say “We want to bring more visitors to our website.” Your goal should have a number attached to allow you to gauge your results: “We want to increase visitors by 20 percent.” Ask yourself questions like “How much?” “How many?” and “How will we know when we hit this goal?”


Attainable goals and realistic goals might sound like the same thing, but there’s a distinction here. When we talk about setting attainable goals, we mean something that might be challenging, but is still possible.

Start with a benchmark: your current number of visitors/leads/customers. (If you don’t have that info, IQnection can help you keep track of it.) Once you know that number, you can use it to set your goals.


Realize that you won’t hit these goals in a day or a week or even a month. The goal should be within reach for your company and its circumstances and should consider any challenges you’re up against.

We should also point out that some marketing professionals swap “realistic” for “relevant,” meaning “Is it relevant to your company’s larger vision?”


Even as you’re acknowledging the challenges you face; you should set a deadline for yourself. Saying “I’d like us to increase our traffic someday” sounds wistful. “I’d like us to increase our traffic by 10 percent by the end of the quarter” sounds like a goal.

Now that you know how SMART goals work, let’s take a look at putting them into practice.

  • First up, share your SMART goals with your entire team so everyone knows what you’re working towards. This will hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set, while also making sure that the attainable and realistic goals really are attainable and realistic. Another set of eyes could tell you if you’re going too far, or not far enough.
  • In addition, communicating your goals with the whole team means that you might discover that someone is already working on a project that dovetails with what you’ve just presented.
  • Set shorter-term goals for the first few months of the project. For example: Interview existing customers to create buyer personas by the end of the first month. Identify 100 keywords based on those personas by the end of the second month. And try to publish a blog post each week over the first three months.
  • Each week, be sure to check your marketing performance against your goals using analytical software that can tell you how you’re progressing toward each goal. These numbers can tell you where you need to re-adjust your efforts.

There might be some stumbles along the way, but that’s OK. Setting SMART goals are about what’s doing what’s best for your company in the long term and having a road map to get you there.

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