We all know about SMART goals – a mnemonic representing: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. They’re a tried-and-tested method of practising self reflection, being realistic and looking forward to the future. If you’ve decided to use HubSpot, it’s likely you’ll be asked for your SMART goals pretty early on in the onboarding process. 

Chances are these goals will need some tweaking once your agency or HubSpot rep starts digging into your data, but if you can already be thinking about where you want your business to go in a measured, structured way, it’ll make the start of onboarding a much smoother and focused experience.

At ESM Inbound, before we even get started with you Kickoff Call at the beginning of onboarding, we ask that you do a few things to help us prepare, such as hand over your website login details and accesses to analytics – along with this, we’ll ask you to outline your SMART goals.

Here, we offer you some top tips on setting (or re-setting) your SMART goals – these can be used in conjunction with HubSpot onboarding, or if you’re just keen to reflect on your targets as the year draws to an end – this is a chance for you to look forward as well as look back, and it feels like the perfect time of year to do so.

Step 1: Specific goal

We ask that your goals be specific. You need to know exactly what it is you’re working towards, and tailor your behaviours to achieving your business goals. If there are grey areas, it opens up opportunities for missed chances, misunderstandings and wasted time.

An example of an unspecific goal would be:

‘To increase leads’

An example of a specific goal would be:

‘To increase leads by 5% month on month for the first 6 months of working with HubSpot.’

It’s committing more to paper, which is daunting – we get that. But without these specifics, how are we going to know if you’re achieving the things you want for your business? It doesn’t only mean the mistakes can’t be registered properly and rectified, but you might be missing successes that could be celebrated, too.

Author Ryan Blair, also known as ‘The Goals Guy’ suggests that:

"Focus creates a powerful force: goal power. The moment you focus on a goal, your goal becomes a magnet, pulling you and your resources toward it. The more focused your energies, the more power you generate."

Step 2: Measurable goals

Becoming confident with measuring your goals needs to become second nature to any marketer. Fortunately, HubSpot makes their marketing analytics dashboard so easy and straightforward to use, that checking your key performance metrics will become natural in no time.

An example of an immeasurable goal would be:

‘To improve email open rates’

An example of a measurable goal would be:

‘To improve email open rates from 5% to 20% in the next 6 months’

Wake Up Cloud recommends thinking of it in terms of charting progress:

“Making your goals measurable will help you know when you’re making progress, when you’re on the right track, and it will motivate you to take action.The important question you should be asking yourself is: How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal? How do you know when you’re making progress and how will you know when you’re heading in the right direction?”

The thing about measuring goals is that you need a starting point – otherwise you’ve got no yardstick. We recommend setting up your tracking code in your existing website as soon as possible to gather this data into HubSpot. Without a starting point, there’s no knowing what kind of progress you can expect to make once you start your HubSpot campaigns. 

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Step 3: Attainable goals

We never want to set you off with unrealistic, unreachable goals. We know you want to grow fast – and we want to help you do this – but during onboarding, we won’t encourage you to set unachievable goals, only to feel disappointed once you don’t reach them.

If you’ve never had a business blog before but want to start one, an unattainable goal would be:

‘To hit a 3% CTR (click-through rate) after the first month’

A much more attainable target would be:

‘To go from 0 views per month to 10 per post in the first 3 months, building to a CTR of 2% in 6 months’

Setting small, manageable targets as a short-term goal, building to a more ambitious long-term one is a good way of making your goals attainable – that way, you can tweak them after the first time period, according to how successfully they’ve been met.

Author, Michael Hyatt, explains finding the right balance, and not entering the “delusional zone”, is key:

“That would be me deciding I want to play in the NBA, or me trying to hit a Paula Radcliffe mile time. Those are just demoralising. On the other hand, easy goals do little for you, either. There has to be some element that you might not achieve it. Otherwise it’s not compelling.”

Step 4: Relevant goals

It’s so easy to get caught up in metrics that feel important – but sometimes we have to step back, take a moment, and question whether a particular metric is actually relevant to us. For example, you wouldn’t track the pounds in weight you were losing in an app, unless you were focusing on weight loss – you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell someone what you weigh. Therefore, why would you track business goals that aren’t going to help you get where you want to be?

If you knew your existing website was generating your target number of leads, converting them into customers at a steady rate, an irrelevant goal would be to:

‘Launch a new modernised website’

A relevant goal might be:

‘To create new opportunities for conversion by creating three new lead magnets and launching them on our site over the next 6 months.’

Don’t fix what isn’t broken, just because it might be what your competitor is doing, or because you ‘feel you ought to’. Your goals need to be relevant to your business alone, and these will be different to others: so shut out the noise, ignore tempting distractions, and focus on your own figures.

Clifford Chi at HubSpot recommends:

“Your goal needs to relate to your company’s overall goal and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your Facebook following lead to more revenue? And is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your organic reach on Facebook after their most recent algorithm change? If you’re aware of these factors, you’ll be more likely to set goals that are realistic, achievable, and beneficial to your company.”

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Step 5: Timely goals

One of the most challenging things to do – in any walk of life – is to put a date on a target. Back to the weight-loss analogy: if you tell yourself you’ve got three months to shift 20lbs, then you know you’ve actually got to start immediately and stick to it – it’s a commitment that can seem overwhelming to say out loud. But without timely goal setting, targets just become loose, untethered hopes, rather than promises.

A non-timely goal would look something like this:

‘Generate more leads for sales’

A deadline (not to mention specific numbers) would make this timely:

‘Generate 5% more leads for sales in 3 months (by 31st December)’

Having an appropriate length of time to measure a particular outcome means you can keep checking on the target to see how progress is coming along, rather than feeling like the goal has to be reached immediately. Setting yourself long enough to see the peaks and troughs, monitoring what factors lead to more ‘ups’ creates a learning activity, instead of a black and white success or failure.

Hydrate Marketing explains:

“No goal is achievable if you don’t have the time for it. All goals should be kept within a well-detailed time frame.

One way you can measure this is to compare your current goal’s time frame to that of a past goal. If you were able to achieve like tasks within a similar time frame, you can feel confident in your ability to achieve your current SMART goal.“

So a goal which shows all five parts of the SMART mantra in action might look like this:

‘We would like to increase our MQLs by 40% from 20 to 28 in the next 2 months (by 1st May)’

When you begin your onboarding journey, a great starting place is to:

  • Have the data about your visits to leads to sales, blog views, social media engagement and any other factors that you think are relevant to your business to hand.
  • Remember to focus on the channels and targets that you know you will help you drive sales – don’t choose ones just for the sake of it or because other people have them.
  • Make friends with realistic deadlines – commit to timelines to help motivate you and your team (but make them achievable).
  • Get specific and dig down in the to particulars – sweeping, broad targets don’t benefit anyone.

And there you have it! Any leeway towards your SMART goals will be a great starting point for your HubSpot specialist when you start onboarding, so even showing you’ve gathered some data or started thinking about them will be really helpful and show how willing you are to get going.