Each individual that works in marketing should place some effort into creating marketing goals to help them stay on track and make positive changes in their role. SMART goals are commonly used within the marketing field, but what are they, and do they work?
Often, within the marketing field, companies quickly try and implement tried and tested marketing tools such as keywords, social media posts, paid and sponsored posts, and content writing, before creating clear and concise projects that allow them to reach their goals successfully and track their progress. While these tools can have great results, it is important to formulate a concise, realistic plan before undertaking such tasks. Let’s take a further look at what SMART goals are, how they can be created and how they can be used successfully.
What are SMART Goals?
Smart goals are goals or targets that are made up using very specific criteria that are aimed at ensuring that you reach your desired outcome. The name is an acronym for the five criteria that you have to follow – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When you are creating a SMART goal, these five components need to be considered, as this will help the goal be more realistic. Using SMART goals means that the targets are well-planned and more likely to succeed. They eliminate a lot of the guesswork in other targets, set a clear timeline for your goals, and make it easy to evaluate progress.
How To Write SMART Goals
Take a look at this in-depth guide of how to start creating your SMART goals. Go through each of the criteria one by one to ensure that your goal is realistic and achievable. When planning your SMART goals, create notes under each of the headings to document your ideas and share them with others.
S for Specific
For a target to be effective, you need to understand exactly what you are planning to do. This is not just a basic and vague answer but instead should address a number of different questions. Firstly, consider what the goal that needs to be completed is. Think about who is responsible for achieving this goal – it could just be you or a group of people that will require further collaboration. Finally, think about the steps or processes that you will undertake to achieve this goal. These steps will allow you to discover whether the goal is realistic or whether it needs to be refined.
M for Measurable
Next, it is important to add numbers to your planning. Ensuring that your goals can be quantified and measured allows you to better evaluate your progress and allows you to know when you have been successful. For example, if you are looking to increase your social media following, set precise numbers on how many followers you would like to add. These targets may be different depending on the platforms that you are active on. Adding multiple targets or benchmarks allows you to effectively track your progress in reaching the final goal.
A for Achievable
SMART goals should be achievable and realistic rather than unobtainable and too ambitious. If you feel like your goal is too big, it may be an idea to think about what smaller goals this can be broken down into. When coming up with your target, discuss with your team whether it is something that can realistically be achieved, and identify any reasons why it may be difficult, evaluating whether you can avoid these.
The number of people working on these goals should also be taken into consideration. A smaller team may have more control of the project, but they are limited in the number of tasks that they can complete. Larger groups, on the other hand, can complete more tasks but will take more management. For example, if your SMART target is focused on social media marketing, your will need to think about how many posts per platform are realistic for the number of staff in your team. If your expectations are too high, it may be advisable to reduce this number in order to achieve your SMART target.
R for Relevant
The R within SMART targets stands for relevant, and this part is all about making sure that your goals have a real benefit to them. Once you have an idea of your goal, it is important to evaluate it with your team and discuss it with your clients to make sure that it is important to everyone involved. What are the benefits of the steps you are trying to take? For example, if you want to increase your posts on a social media platform, it is important to identify that this can help build a customer base for the client, increasing sales and, in turn, increasing profits. This can help the business reach its long-term financial goals.
T for Time-bound
One of the most important aspects of setting good goals is that they need a realistic time frame to be completed in. They cannot last forever and should instead be finished in a timely manner. When evaluating your progress, it is important to keep the desired time frame in mind to see if you are on track.
When deciding on a time frame, think about the impact of the steps – increasing social media following by 10,000 people would be highly effective over the space of a few months, for example, but not over a period of 5 years. Therefore, it is important to ensure that these time-related parameters are set to create effective SMART goals.
Who Invented SMART Goals?
SMART Goals were first introduced in the 1981 article entitled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives. The authors of this article were management and corporate experts George Doran. Arthur Miller and James Cunningham. They have since been used.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A SMART Goal?
SMART goals are a framework that enables you to focus on your targets, providing clarity on how you are planning to reach your targets. As SMART goals include the five key considerations, they minimize the likelihood that you overlook any major details, meaning that you are more likely to succeed. They help prepare you for your learning or development journey, allowing you to achieve your goals.
How Can You Track SMART Goals?
Regardless of your SMART goal, it is important to track your progress in order to stay informed and on target. There are many different ways to track your SMART targets, a few of which we have listed below.
One great project management tool is the milestone planner. This is an excellent project management tool that can be used by individuals or groups, allowing them to manage their goals and track their progress. Milestone lets you assign different tasks to other members of your team and create reports on your progress.
Goalscape is a great visual management platform that organizes your goals in different wheels, sized relative to the importance of the task. The app can be used on a variety of platforms, including Windows or Mac, and can also be accessed through your web browser. It is possible to gain a fourteen-day trial of the product to test it out before you purchase.
Another goal-oriented software is the Goals on Track platform, which talks you through how to create the SMART goals in the first place in a detailed and structured way. It easily breaks down your targets into manageable steps and allows you to track time ad habits, document progress, and create reports. There is no free trial version of this software, however, it does have a number of great reviews to back it up.
Finally, one other way to track your SMART goals progress is through a to-do list yep app such as Any.do, which is used to track personal or business goals. It allows you to keep track of group projects and team meetings, and activities. Any.do also gives users the option of attached necessary content such as attachments and voice notes to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The app is simply laid out and easy to use, making it a quick process to document your progress and work together as a team.
3 Common SMART Goal Mistakes
When creating SMART goals, there are some common mistakes to try and avoid. Firstly, some often leave their goals too open-ended, making them too vague and not setting quantitative targets. Instead of saying increasing social media followers, for example, consider including the percentage increase that you want to target.
Secondly, some make their goals too unrealistic, meaning that they are difficult to reach and often take much longer than originally anticipated. Instead of thinking that sales may increase by 1000%, consider setting a more realistic target such as doubling the number of sales from the last year.
Additionally, many do not understand the importance of the final timing criteria and choose not to include a timeframe, or if they do, make the time frame far too long. This makes it hard to complete tasks promptly to ensure their maximum effectiveness. Not having a timescale can diminish the importance of your target, as it may often be swept to the side.
Is There An Alternative to SMART Goals?
One of the most commonly used goal structures besides SMART goals is PACT goals. The difference between these two types of target setting is the focus. SMART goals focus on the end product or the outcome. PACT goals instead focus on the output – the process and the growth rather than the single achievement at the end.
PACT is also an acronym, which stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable. Firstly, purposeful means that the goal you are looking at should have a long-term purpose in life, rather than just be relevant at the current moment. This is to ensure that it means something to you and that you are motivated to work towards it.
Actionable means that you can easily do something about the issues that you are looking to target, making it more controllable. This reminds us to focus on the issues that are within our control rather than a large and distant issue that requires too much action and preparation.
The next stage, continuous, is there to make sure that the steps that are taking can be easily repeated in order to reach your goals. This process should be flexible to ensure that you can constantly improve your approach to get the best possible outcome.
And finally, trackable means that you can keep an eye on your progress. This is different from the measurable aspect of SMART targets is it does not need to be quantified with data. Instead, it can be a simple yes or no answer, such as “have you published your daily social media posts”. These types of questions allow you to stay on track and hold yourself accountable.
SMART goals are a great way to ensure realistic and effective targets are met, that are effective and beneficial to the company that you are working for. When creating SMART targets, it is important to consider the five different criteria and evaluate your progress as you continue to ensure that you are staying on track. SMART targets are a great tool used by many in the marketing field as it creates actionable steps to boost the following and profits of a business. Why not try out SMART targets today and see how they can improve your marketing strategies.