Setting Goals for Your Marketing Plan

Created by Camille Winer

goal_settingLet's get right to it: Setting goals is one of the most important steps to take when creating an effective  marketing plan.

Without goals, all of your marketing efforts are essentially floating around, with no way to gauge how they are performing or how they are helping your organization.

Even though most executive directors and marketing directors already know the importance of goals, many could use more information on how to set meaningful and realistic goals. The key to that? Be SMART. 

SMART goals—what are those?

SMART is an acronym for this goal-setting strategy. It stands for "specific," "measurable," "attainable," "relevant," and "time-bound." Incorporating these characteristics allows goals to become concrete targets with measurable results.

  • Specific - there's a hard and fast metric to reach.
  • Measurable - the goal's progress can be tracked and quantified. 
  • Attainable - ensures that the goal is rooted in reality.
  • Relevant - related to the organization's overall goals and accounts for current trends in your industry.
  • Time-bound - keeps you on schedule.

SMART goals make it easier to set goals, attract buy-in, and establish alignment and a clear direction for your marketing or development efforts.

How do we get started with goals?

A Harvard study showed that the 3% of graduates who wrote down their goals were (on average) earning ten times as much as the other 97%.

Establishing goals and tying them to measurable results is worth the time it takes. Start with the desired end result, and work backwards.

For example, a specific goal would be “to increase site traffic by 10% in the next six months” or “to increase overall revenue by 5%.” Starting with specific goals like these, you can then map out the activities and the frequency of activities you think you need to get there.

Goals should be well documented and communicated with your team. Goal alignment gets everyone excited and involved. When everyone has ownership of the same goals, all eyes are on the same prize! 

How do we measure the results toward our goals?

“Measurable” is an important part of the SMART acronym. In order to track progress toward the goals, you'll need to know where you are currently. Start with the current benchmark of metrics. You'll have a much better understanding of the return on marketing investment by having this information. Key tools for collecting the data are:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads
  • Google Search Console
  • Marketing software with analytics included (e.g., HubSpot)
  • Social media analytics
  • Hotjar

Benchmarking key metrics

The first question most people have during this time is "what should I measure?" While key metrics are relative to the specific industry or organization that you are in, here are some of the most common to start with:

  • Number of visitors to your website
  • Individual page performance
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • Leads to customers
  • Total amount of sales generated
  • Social media engagement: followers, likes
  • Website bounce rate
  • Topic cluster performance
  • Domain authority


What's an example of a SMART goal for marketing?

Here's an example of one SMART marketing goal:

Traffic Increase Goal

Specific: Boost blog traffic by increasing weekly publishing frequency from 5 to 8 times per week.

Measurable: Goal of 7% increase in blog traffic.

Attainable: Blog traffic increased by 3% last quarter when weekly publishing frequency increased from 3 to 5 times a week.

Relevant: By increasing blog traffic, lead generation will grow, giving sales more opportunities to close.

Time-bound: Goal to be reached by the end of the next quarter.

SMART Goal: At the end of this month, we will achieve a 7% increase in traffic by increasing weekly publishing frequency from 5 posts per week to 8 posts per week.

Have fun with your SMART goals, and keep in mind that you won't see results overnight. It takes time for patterns to emerge and for results to build.

Stay with it, and know that it will be a work in progress. Consistency is key! 

To learn more about setting SMART goals and creating a killer nonprofit marketing plan, download our free guide below!