Many businesses are in the process of planning their growth strategies for the upcoming year. Using SMART goals is a great way to keep your small business growth strategies on track. In the case of inbound marketing, SMART goals are essential because you're able to measure every element of the process, from website traffic to lead generation to actual customers. If you're not using smart goals to grow your business, you should be.
What are SMART goals? They are goals that are:
SPECIFIC - There is no doubt as to whether the goal has been achieved. A goal to increase sales as much as possible is not specific; a goal to increase sales by 10% or by $150,000 is.
MEASURABLE - Sales and marketing goals can and should be measurable, particularly in the case of internet marketing. Your growth goals should always include numbers - either a percentage, a dollar figure or a sales unit count.
ATTAINABLE - Your growth goals should be challenging, but they should be attainable. Setting a goal for 20% growth is a stretch, but in many cases attainable. If you set your goal to double sales growth, you most likely will fail. You should set growth goals that will challenge your team, but will allow them to own the goals because they believe they're doable.
RELEVANT- SMART goals should be relevant and realistic. They should integrate with your overall business goals - individual SMART goals should flow into business SMART goals. They should take into account marketplace conditions, competition and all of the business challenges you face.
TIMELY - The final element of SMART goals is that there is a timeframe in which they take place. Increasing sales by 10% isn't a SMART goal; increasing sales by 10% within six months is.
SMART goals in an inbound marketing environment
Let's take a look at SMART goals in an integrated sales/marketing process that is introducing inbound marketing. A joint Babson/MIT study analyzed over 200 businesses that introduced HubSpot marketing automation software to measure the results to be expected from the implementation of an inbound marketing program. We can use this data to help us develop SMART goals for a theoretical business implementing inbound marketing.
Our business has come up with the following SMART growth goal: to produce $100,000 in new monthly revenue for sales within 12 months, of which 25% of new monthly revenue will come from the inbound marketing program.
In order to achieve this goal, the inbound marketing program will have to hit each of the following goals within 12 months:
- with an average sale of $25,000 per customer, sales will have to produce one new customer per month within 12 months from inbound leads.
- with a customer-to-lead ratio of 2%, marketing will need to produce 50 qualified leads per month from the inbound marketing program for the sales team within 12 months.
- with a web visitor-to-lead ratio of 2%, marketing will need to generate 2,500 website visitors per month within 12 months to produce the leads required for sales.
Note that these three goals are all interdependent and involve both sales and marketing. In practice, these goals would become more granular as they are distributed to individual sales professionals and marketers.
The goals as stated are specific, measurable, relevant and timely. In order to make sure that they are SMART goals, our company needs to make sure they are attainable. The first question we need to ask is are our web traffic goals attainable? Our fictional company is starting with 1,000 website visitors per month, most of whom already know the company. According to the HubSpot ROI study, business with 500-1,999 visitors at implementation can expect 3.8 times more traffic within 12 months. Accordingly the website traffic goal of 2,500 is attainable. The 2% goal for visitor-to-lead conversion and lead-to-conversion are also attainable, so all of our growth goals are SMART goals.
All of the tactics necessary to reach the SMART goals identified can now be planned out, including:
- content marketing tactics (blogging and premium content to spur web traffic and leads)
- social media tactics to promote content and engage with visitors and leads
- lead intelligence tactics to help sales focus on the prospects most likely to produce revenue
Once tactics are identified, progress can be measured at the appropriate intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to ensure progress towards the goals is on track. If progress is not on track, the company can adjust tactics to get back on track.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. They serve as the guideposts that make sure your business is on track to produce the growth you need to prosper. In an inbound marketing environment, SMART goals are particularly useful because every element of the program can be measured.
Inbound marketing is an integrated series of processes designed to produce business from your website and social media channels. In order to be successful with inbound marketing, you need to make sure all of the processes are optimized and integrated. An inbound marketing agency can help you successfully introduce an inbound lead generation channel that produces results.