Are You Using SMART Digital Marketing Goals?

Avatar for Amanda Stephens

Amanda Stephens
VP of Operations

Graphic of a computer monitor and on the monitor are graphs and charts with the title SMART goals
Graphic of a computer monitor and on the monitor are graphs and charts with the title SMART goals

SMART goals are a popular way to define and manage objectives. They can be used in any area of life, from budgeting and weight loss to business and marketing.
Today, we are going to explore how SMART goals can help you better measure digital marketing success and zero in on areas for improvement. The below letters are not representative of every version of SMART goals (some use assignable instead of achievable), for instance, but they can help paint the picture about what quality goal setting looks like.

SMART goals have the following criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound


Specific goals keep you focused and motivated. Compare these sets of goals. Which one offers more clarity? 

  • Not SMART: I want more business
  • SMART: I want to increase my average order value to $50 by December 31, 2023

To help make your goals more specific, ensure you’re addressing at least one of the 5 Ws: who, what, why, where, when, plus how. 


Goals must be quantifiable if you are to measure your progress toward the objective. 

  • Not SMART: I want more sales
  • SMART: I want to increase sales in my Shopify store by 20% year-over-year.

If you have a measurable goal, the metric needs to be readily accessible. For digital marketing, we have many tools such as Google Analytics that make this easier than ever, but it still doesn’t cover everything. Beware of goals that sound measurable (“I want to increase client happiness by 10%”) if you don’t have a system to record this metric. 


Goals should be challenging and push you to the limits of your abilities, but they should still be within the realm of possibility. 

  • Not SMART: I want to be #1 on Google by tomorrow. 
  • SMART: I want to rank on page 1 for 50% of my targeted high-intent keywords within 6 months, with the long-term goal of ranking within the top 3 positions for 90% of my keywords. 


It’s so easy to get sidelined by goals that are ultimately not related to your chief business objective. With digital marketing especially, goals can be especially deceptive just because they involve digital properties, but they won’t help advance your key priorities.

  • Not SMART: I want to double my Pinterest followers by October 2023 (when you are a B2B company)
  • SMART: I want to double my LinkedIn business page followers by October 2023 (when you are a B2B company)

Time bound

While some goals are evergreen, you should still have a target date. The closer the target date, the more this goal should be represented in your day-to-day actions (though don’t fall prey to a far-off target date being used as an excuse to procrastinate). 

  • Not SMART: I want to improve Google Ads return-on-investment (ROI) by 20%
  • SMART: I want to improve Google Ads return-on-investment (ROI) by 20% by January 2020

Bonus: SMARTER goals

People have started to tack on two additional letters to further add value to SMART goal setting. 


Setting goals is only the first step; next, you must evaluate whether you are on-track or off-track to achieve the goal by the target date. This evaluation should be accompanied by actions weaved into your daily, weekly, or monthly game plan (or delegated to the appropriate party) to ensure you stay on course or help move the needle to become on-track. 


Priorities change all the time, and goals should change with them. Otherwise, Amazon might only be concerned about being the #1 online bookseller and not taking over the world. Evaluate your goals on a regular basis. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this still relevant to my chief business objective? 
  • Is the target still attainable? Should I move the target up or down accordingly?
  • Is the target date still appropriate? 

What are mistakes to avoid when setting SMART goals?

Now that you know the foundation of setting SMART goals, you can avoid making common rookie mistakes like the following:

  • Not being SMART: It sounds redundant, but if you make your goals vague, non-measurable, too ambitious, irrelevant, or with no timeframe, you are missing part of the recipe for success.
  • Ignoring resources: Consider the resources available to you, such as time, money, and support, and make sure that your goals are realistic in light of these constraints.
  • Neglecting to set priorities: With limited time and resources, it is important to prioritize your goals and focus on the most important ones first.
  • Not monitoring progress: Regularly monitoring your progress and adjusting your goals as needed is key to staying on track and making progress.
  • Not involving others: Sharing your goals with friends, family, or coworkers can help keep you accountable and provide valuable support and motivation.
  • Not celebrating successes: Celebrating your successes, no matter how small, is important for maintaining motivation and a positive outlook

What are surprising benefits of SMART goals?

  • Flexibility: While the SMART framework provides structure, it also allows for flexibility. As your marketing strategies and tactics evolve, you can adjust your goals accordingly to stay on track.
  • Increased creativity: By focusing on specific and measurable goals, you may find that your marketing efforts become more creative and innovative. The structure of SMART goals can help you think outside the box and come up with new and exciting ideas.
  • Better alignment with business objectives: When marketing goals are aligned with overall business objectives, you can increase the impact of your marketing efforts and contribute to the success of the entire organization.
  • Improved collaboration: When multiple teams are working towards SMART goals, collaboration and communication become more streamlined, leading to better results.
  • Increased accountability: SMART goals make it easier to track progress and hold team members accountable for their responsibilities. This can lead to increased accountability, improved performance, and more successful outcomes.

How can SMART goals help drive SEO performance?

  • Clarity and focus: By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, you can clearly define what you want to achieve and prioritize your efforts. This can help improve the focus and effectiveness of your SEO efforts.
  • Data-driven decision making: SMART goals allow you to track your progress and measure the impact of your SEO efforts. This data can help inform future decisions and optimize your strategies for better results.
  • Better targeting: By setting specific and relevant goals, you can better understand your target audience and tailor your SEO efforts to reach and engage them.
  • Increased team collaboration: When multiple team members are working towards common SMART goals, collaboration and communication become more streamlined, leading to better results.

How can SMART goals help drive paid ads performance?

  • Increased ROI: When your goals are aligned with your paid ad strategy, you can optimize your campaigns for better results and increased return on investment (ROI). You will be less likely to waste budget on things that don’t move the needle, and more hyper-targeted on platforms, campaigns, and strategies that drive return.
  • Improved data analysis: SMART goals help identify the specific metrics that should be tracked and monitored to measure the success of your paid ad campaigns. This allows for data-driven decisions to be made to optimize performance.

Digital marketing can be a sea of numbers, intimidating dashboards, and a word salad of acronyms. In setting SMART(ER) goals, you will have a better understanding of which marketing initiatives are working, and you will better be able to plan, strategize, and execute to achieve your goals.

Need a hand getting started? Reach out and a Digital Marketing Specialist will provide 3 free tips on how to set SMART digital marketing goals for your organization. 

Avatar for Amanda Stephens

Amanda Stephens

Amanda Stephens is the Vice President of Operations at seoplus+. She leads the production team across a number of departments including SEO, web design/development, and paid ads. Amanda is responsible for team culture, process, and training to ensure optimal results for world class clients.

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