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, 2020

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 2020 (when you are a B2B company)
  • SMART: I want to double my LinkedIn business page followers by October 2020 (when you are a B2B company)


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?

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.