5 Dos and Don’ts When Making a SMART Goal [+Examples]


Every yr I create vague Recent Yr’s resolutions, but this yr I made a decision to try something different.

Using the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), I reworded my 2023 goal from “read more books” to “read two books per 30 days to hit my goal of reading 24 before the tip of the yr.”

The SMART framework is an efficient strategy for creating more specific and attainable goals. Plus, it provides benchmarks against which you’ll be able to measure your progress — if you’ve gotten a bigger, more daunting goal, smaller steps can provide help to remain motivated.

Here, let’s explore what SMART goals are, why they’re vital, and how one can make your personal.

SMART Goals Template from HubSpotDownload this Template for Free

Within the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The explanation why successful marketing teams all the time hit their numbers is that additionally they set SMART goals. Use the template above to follow along and create your personal SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are concrete targets that you simply aim to hit over a certain period. These goals ought to be rigorously drafted by a manager and their direct report back to set them up for achievement. “SMART” is an acronym that describes an important characteristics of every goal.

“SMART” stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” Each SMART goal must have these five characteristics to make sure the goal will be reached and advantages the worker. Discover what each characteristic means below, and how one can write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

SMART Goal Acronym

Most trace the SMART acronym back to a 1981 paper by George Doran, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.” His colleagues Arthur Miller and James Cunningham are also credited for his or her work on this paper.

The “Objectives” section of this paper asks “How do you write meaningful objectives?” Then goes on to define the SMART acronym as the next:

  • Specific — goal a selected area for improvement.
  • Measurable — quantify or a minimum of suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable — specify who will do it.
  • Realistic — state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related — specify when the result(s) will be achieved.

The meaning of every letter on this acronym can shift based on the user and the way they wish to apply this framework to their business. You’ll be able to see the preferred terms and their best-known alternatives below:

SMART goals acronym

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The paper also says that not every goal will need to fulfill all five criteria. As an alternative, the goal was to make use of this acronym to create a benchmark for management excellence.

But today, the SMART acronym normally looks like this:

Measurable goals: Smart goals

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

This framework continues to be useful because it is simple to recollect and might help streamline the goal-setting process.

Let’s talk more about each a part of the SMART acronym and the way you’ll be able to apply this as you create measurable goals for yourself and your team.

S — Specific

Specific goals are clear and include precise details. Specificity makes your goal easy to grasp and perform.

To envision in case your goal is particular, ask multiple person to review your goal and rephrase what you are attempting to do. In case your proofreaders provide you with multiple idea of your final goal, it’s not specific enough.

M — Measurable

Measurable goals are targets which you could calculate and track over time. Goals that include a set measurement or metric are more concrete than anecdotal goals or plans based on someone’s opinion.

Measurable goals provide you with and your team a likelihood to trace progress toward a goal and make changes over time. It also gives you a transparent and specific picture of success.

To determine how one can make your goal measurable, look closely at your ultimate goal. Ask yourself:

  • How can we control this goal?
  • Is that this goal clear and actionable?
  • Is there anything subjective about this goal?

Then, select the metrics that almost all directly connect with your final goal. If you happen to’re unsure which metrics to decide on, this guide to KPIs can provide help to start.

A — Attainable

Attainable goals are difficult but achievable. This aspect of goal-setting should consider the unique qualities of your team well as the issues and blockers you’re employed on together.

To set ambitious but attainable goals, start by considering big. Create an inventory where you imagine the most effective possible outcomes. Take a break for a day or two, then come back and edit your list with every query, challenge, and critique you’ll be able to consider.

Goals which might be too easy to fulfill won’t motivate your team or result in growth. But goals which might be unrealistic can demoralize your team and strain resources. It is vital to seek out the best balance.

R — Relevant

Relevant goals support the mission, vision, and priorities of what you are promoting.

To make certain your SMART goals connect with what you are promoting goals, start the goal and objective-setting process with a fast review.

Read through your organization’s mission and vision statements, or print and post them on the wall in a shared space. Then review quarterly business reports, recent memos, or any recent communication about business goals. It will mean you begin the method with what’s relevant at the highest of your mind.

After you draft your SMART goals, do one other quick scan of those documents and review your goals for relevance.

It is simple to get enthusiastic about a latest idea, even when it doesn’t align with company priorities. But the most effective ideas will support your most essential business goals.

T — Time-Sure

Time-bound goals have a selected deadline or timeframe. Adding a time constraint to your goal creates a way of urgency.

Urgency combines importance with a necessity for motion. This is typically because there is a fear of consequences. Other times employees feel it because they’re wanting to prepare for the longer term or meet an exciting goal.

Time constraints are vital to your goal-setting process. It is because tasks which might be time-sensitive often feel more vital than tasks and not using a timeframe attached. Which means that, irrespective of how essential a project is, it is going to drop in priority and not using a deadline.

Luckily, it is simple to create a sense of urgency. Just add a practical timeframe to your goal. Time-bound goals also set clear expectations for stakeholders, which improves communication.

Why are SMART goals vital?

SMART goals are vital to set as they:

  • Enable you work with clear intentions, not broad or vague goals
  • Provide a way to gauge your success by setting benchmarks to fulfill
  • Give sensible objectives which might be realistic and achievable
  • Cut out unnecessary or irrelevant work that would take away from what’s vital
  • Set a transparent starting and end to stick to in reaching your goals

Whenever you make goals which might be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, you are increasing your odds for achievement by verifying that the goal is achievable, identifying the metrics that outline success, and making a roadmap to achieve those metrics.

In case your goals are abstract, if you happen to do not know what it is going to take to realize success, or if you happen to don’t give yourself a deadline to finish steps, you could lose focus and fall in need of what you would like to accomplish.

Do SMART goals actually work?

In brief — yes, if done accurately.

As an example, one study found 76% of participants who wrote down their goals, made an inventory of goal-driven actions, and provided weekly progress reports to a friend achieved their goals — which is 33% higher than those with unwritten goals.

Moreover, I polled roughly 300 participants within the U.S. and located 52% imagine SMART goals help them achieve their goals more often than in the event that they didn’t use a SMART framework.

SMART goals statistic showing people believe SMART goals work

Setting unrealistic goals and attempting to measure them without consideration of previous performance, overly short time frames, or including too many variables will lead you off beam.

Nevertheless, these goals work provided that formulated properly and in the event that they take note of the motive and cadence of those working on them. Moreover, your SMART goals can only succeed when the staff working towards them have the means to realize them.

Advantages of SMART Goals

Offer Focus and Clarity

The means of goal completion is usually more complicated than it seems. Distractions, side tasks, and other projects can all steer you away from completing your projects.

But SMART goals improve focus because they simplify your to-do list of tasks. At the identical time, they provide a direct reminder of why those specific tasks are vital.

Boost Motivation

It’s common to experience stress or overwhelm within the workplace. One contributor is usually a scarcity of clear goals. And that combination could make a serious impact in your motivation.

But a SMART goal can boost energy, improve direction, and motivate you and your team because:

  • It gets everyone more involved in the method
  • It helps employees understand why their work is significant
  • It offers a latest challenge and direction for people who find themselves feeling stuck

Improve Accountability

Fear of failure often stops people from doing their best work. To avoid this stressor, you may avoid making a commitment within the workplace.

But accountability is an important for high-growth teams. It helps you and your team engage, take ownership of their work, and take responsibility for progress.

SMART goals improve accountability because they offer teams and managers an easy strategy to track progress toward shared objectives. This makes it easier for teams to grasp the educational, coaching, and feedback they should optimize performance.

SMART goals also help teams manage and plan their time more effectively. They make it easier to prioritize tasks too.

Strengthen Communication

Based on 2023 data from Project.co, 68% of businesspeople have wasted time as a result of communication issues. And only 7% of companies rate their communication as “excellent.” Clearly, effective communication is each difficult and essential to any business.

SMART goals help with effective communication. It is because they’re goals that multiple coworkers, teams, and departments can quickly understand. This improves knowledge-sharing, collaborative efforts, and communication.

Help Manage Resources

Proper resource management can reduce costs, make processes more efficient, and increase productivity. But managing resources is hard.

Put simply, a business is a bunch of individuals, each with distinct knowledge and experience, working toward individual goals. These individual goals eventually come together to fulfill common goals, but in the method, things can get a little bit wonky.

But SMART goals are great for resource management. It is because they provide a structure that makes it easier for teams to see where a process is creating blocks or challenges. This helps teams understand when priorities and resources are out of sync. It also creates a shared purpose that may encourage people to make crucial but difficult changes.

Increase Innovation

Innovation is a process that mixes creativity and problem-solving skills to get original ideas. You will have heard the common belief says that creativity requires a scarcity of boundaries. And a few critiques of SMART goals say that they will have negative impacts if goal-setting is simply too rigid or narrowly defined.

But there’s extensive data, including this research from Harvard Business Review, that claims constraints often positively impact innovation. SMART goals boost innovation because they create motivational challenges. The motivation is available in part from the constraints teams have to work inside.

Enhance Performance

For managers, SMART goals offer a useful framework for improving worker performance. They make progress toward project goals clear. This goal-setting framework may apply to long-term personal goals for every member of your team.

For people, SMART goals could make it easier to balance and track work projects. They’ll boost performance because they provide help to:

  • Measure progress
  • Discover strengths and weaknesses
  • Construct positive momentum

Setting and dealing toward SMART goals may provide help to develop latest behaviors that may improve performance.

Let’s take a have a look at some realistic examples of SMART goals to color a clearer picture of what they’re.

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific: I need to spice up our blog’s traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five to eight times every week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing two posts every week to 3 posts every week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing one post every week to 2 posts every week.
  • Measurable: Our goal is an 8% increase in traffic.
  • Attainable: Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month after we increased our weekly publishing frequency from three to 5 times every week.
  • Relevant: By increasing blog traffic, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to shut.
  • Time-Sure: End of this month.
  • SMART Goal: At the tip of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five posts per week to eight posts per week.

smart goal example on blog traffic

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I need to spice up our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five hottest topics.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 25% increase in views.
  • Attainable: After we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our eight hottest topics, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we’ll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Sure: In six months.
  • SMART Goal: In six months, we’ll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five hottest topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I need to spice up the variety of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook promoting budget on blog posts that historically acquire probably the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 50% increase in subscribers.
  • Attainable: Since we began using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the variety of email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more results in our sales team.
  • Time-Sure: In three months.
  • SMART Goal: In three months, we’ll see a 50% increase within the variety of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook promoting budget on posts that historically acquire probably the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-Up Goal

  • Specific: I need to extend the variety of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 15% increase in sign-ups.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook Messenger webinar saw a ten% increase in sign-ups after we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales have more opportunities to shut.
  • Time-Sure: By June 1, the day of the webinar.
  • SMART Goal: By June 1, the day of our webinar, we’ll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.

smart goal example on webinar sign-ups

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I need our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one-column form to a two-column form.
  • Measurable: My goal is a 30% increase in lead generation.
  • Attainable: After we A/B tested our traditional one-column form versus a two-column form on our highest-traffic landing pages, we discovered that two-column forms convert 27% higher than our traditional one-column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Sure: One yr from now.
  • SMART Goal: One yr from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one column to 2 columns.

6. Link-Constructing Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I need to extend our website’s organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our rating in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: Our goal is 40 backlinks to our company homepage.
  • Attainable: Based on our website positioning evaluation tool, there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the web. Given the variety of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 latest inbound links per 30 days with none outreach on our part, an extra 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a major but feasible goal.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of recent leads, and backlinks are certainly one of the largest rating aspects on search engines like google and yahoo like Google. If we construct links from high-quality publications, our organic rating increases, boosting our traffic and leads because of this.
  • Time-Sure: 4 months from now.
  • SMART Goal: Over the following 4 months, I’ll construct 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To accomplish that, I’ll collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to attach with publishers and develop an efficient outreach strategy.

7. Reducing Churn Rate Goal

  • Specific: I need to cut back customer churn by 5% for my company because every customer loss is a mirrored image of our service’s quality and perception.
  • Measurable: Contact 30 at-risk customers per week and supply customer support day by day for five latest customers during their onboarding process.
  • Attainable: Our product offering has just improved and we have now the means to take a position more into our customer support team, and will potentially have five at-risk customers to upscale monthly.
  • Relevant: We will arrange a customer knowledge base to trace customers’ progression in the customer’s journey and stop churn by contacting them before they lose interest.
  • Time-Sure: In 24 weeks.
  • SMART Goal: In 24 weeks, I’ll reduce the churn rate by 5% for my company. To accomplish that, we’ll contact 30 at-risk customers per week and supply/spend money on customer support to help five latest customers during onboarding day by day and track their progress through a customer knowledge base.

8. Brand Affinity Goal

  • Specific: I need to extend our podcast listener count as we try to determine ourselves as thought leaders in our market.
  • Measurable: A 40% increase in listeners is our goal.
  • Attainable: We will increase our current budget and level our podcaster’s cadence, to have the means to carry insightful conversations for our listeners to tune into.
  • Relevant: We created a podcast and have dedicated a team to source interesting guests, sound mixing, and attention-grabbing thumbnails to get it began.
  • Time-Sure: In 4 months.
  • SMART Goal: In 4 months, we’ll see a 40% increase in average listener count in Apple Podcasts by providing our team the budget and cadence to make insightful podcasts with quality sound mixing and attention-grabbing thumbnails.

9. Podcast Listener Count Goal

  • Specific: I need to spice up our podcast’s listener count by promoting our podcast across social channels. We are going to post 4 quotes related to latest podcast episodes throughout the month on our Twitter account, and we’ll post six short videos of our podcast conversations with guests on our Instagram account throughout the month.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 20% increase in podcast listeners.
  • Attainable: Our podcast listener count increased by 5% last month after we published two short videos of our podcast conversation on Instagram.
  • Relevant: By increasing podcast listener count, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to shut.
  • Time-Sure: End of this month.
  • SMART Goal: At the tip of this month, our podcast will see a 20% increase in listeners by increasing our social media promotions from two Instagram posts to 4 Twitter posts and 6 Instagram posts.

10. In-Person Event Attendee Goal

  • Specific: I need to spice up attendance at our upcoming in-person event by 50% by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists each week before the event.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 50% increase in attendees.
  • Attainable: Our attendee number increased by 20% last yr after we sent out one email reminder to our subscriber lists.
  • Relevant: By increasing attendee count, we’ll increase brand loyalty by providing value to our existing customers, and generate more leads.
  • Time-Sure: August 30.
  • SMART Goal: By the point of our event on August thirtieth, our attendee number will increase by 50% from where it’s at now (250 attendees), by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists.

Now that you simply’ve seen examples of SMART goals, let’s dive into how one can make your personal.

How to make a SMART goal: Do’s and Don’ts

1. Use specific wording.

When writing SMART goals, remember that they’re “specific” in that there is a hard and fast destination the worker is trying to achieve. “Recuperate at my job,” is not a SMART goal because it’s not specific. As an alternative, ask yourself: What are you improving at? How a lot better do you would like to get?

If you happen to’re a marketing skilled, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators or KPIs. Subsequently, you may select a selected KPI or metric that you would like to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You need to also discover the team members working toward this goal, the resources they’ve, and their plan of motion.

In practice, a selected SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email …” You understand exactly who’s involved and what you are attempting to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you could have to keep some goals more open-ended, it is best to avoid vagueness that would confuse your team afterward. For instance, as a substitute of claiming, “Clifford will boost email marketing experiences,” say “Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%.”

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals ought to be “measurable” in which you could track and quantify the goal’s progress. “Increase the blog’s traffic from email,” by itself, is not a SMART goal because you’ll be able to’t measure the rise. As an alternative, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic do you have to strive for?

If you would like to gauge your team’s progress, it’s essential quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let’s construct on the SMART goal we began above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 25% more sessions per 30 days … ” You understand what you are increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

That is in the identical light of avoiding vagueness. While you may need qualitative or open-ended evidence to prove your success, it is best to still provide you with a quantifiable KPI. For instance, as a substitute of claiming, “Customer support will improve customer happiness,” say, “We would like the typical call satisfaction rating from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher.”

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An “attainable” SMART goal considers the worker’s ability to realize it. Be certain that that X-percentage increase is rooted in point of fact. In case your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, try to extend it by 8-10% this month, relatively than a lofty 25%.

It’s crucial to base your goals on your personal analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you may bite off greater than you’ll be able to chew. So, let’s add some “attainability” to the SMART goal we created earlier on this blog post: “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per 30 days … ” This fashion, you are not setting yourself as much as fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You need to all the time aim to enhance. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off beam and make it harder to trace progress. Reasonably than saying, “We intend to make 10,000% of what we made in 2022,” consider something more attainable, like, “We would like to extend sales by 150% this yr,” or “We now have a quarterly goal to achieve a 20% year-over-year sales increase.”

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to what you are promoting.

SMART goals which might be “relevant” relate to your organization’s overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. As an example, will growing your traffic from email result in more revenue? And, is it actually possible so that you can significantly boost your blog’s email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you happen to’re aware of those aspects, you’re more prone to set goals that profit your organization — not only you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It would encourage you to regulate the metric you are using to trace the goal’s progress. For instance, perhaps what you are promoting has historically relied on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you’ll be able to generate more qualified leads this fashion.

Our SMART goal might as a substitute say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per 30 days.” This fashion, your traffic increase is aligned with the business’s revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Losing Sight of the Company

When your organization is doing well, it will possibly be easy to say you would like to pivot or grow in one other direction. While firms can successfully do that, you don’t need your team to lose sight of how the core of what you are promoting works.

Reasonably than saying, “We would like to start out a latest B2B business on top of our B2C business,” say something like, “We would like to proceed increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the following yr.”

5. Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

A “time-bound” SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure in your team to perform them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long run.

For instance, which might you favor: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, resulting in a 30-35% increase in half a yr? Or attempting to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the identical timeframe? If you happen to picked the previous, you are right.

So, what does our SMART goal seem like once we sure it to a timeframe? “Over the following three months, Clifford and Braden will work to extend the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a complete of fifty,000 organic sessions by the tip of August.”

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or a extremely broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the trouble to get reprioritized or make it hard so that you can see in case your team is on course. Reasonably than saying. “This yr, we wish to launch a serious campaign,” say, “In quarter one, we’ll deal with campaign production in an effort to launch the campaign in quarter two.”

Make Your SMART Goals SMART-er

Now that you understand what a SMART goal is, why it is vital, and the framework to create one, it is time to put that information into practice. Whether you are setting goals for a private achievement or as a part of hitting vital marketing milestones, it’s good to start out with what you would like to achieve after which reverse-engineer it right into a concrete SMART goal.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


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