From SMART to SMARTER marketing objectives: Discover how to define marketing objectives, measure your digital marketing channels and campaigns, and use data to inform strategy
When identifying specific marketing objectives to support your long-term goals, it is common practice to apply the widely used SMART mnemonic. You will know that SMART is used to assess the suitability of objectives set to drive different strategies or the improvement of the full range of business processes.
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We've got marketing tools and techniques to support you in defining and measuring your marketing objectives, such as our step-by-step module, defining Google Analytics goals, part of the Google Analytics Learning Path. Find out more about our Google Analytics training and other marketing essentials to help you create a winning strategy.
How can SMART objectives help set realistic targets?
When setting future digital marketing objectives, such as in a digital marketing plan, it’s useful to look hard at each measure and ask “is it essential?”. The SMART mnemonic helps as a test or filter which you can use to assess the quality of measures. The Smart Insights definition of SMART is:
- Specific – Can the detail in the information sufficient to pinpoint problems or opportunities? Is the objective sufficiently detailed to measure real-world problems and opportunities?
- Measurable – Can a quantitative or qualitative attribute be applied to create a metric?
- Actionable – Can the information be used to improve performance? If the objective doesn’t change behavior in staff to help them improve performance, there is little point in it!
- Relevant – Can the information be applied to the specific problem faced by the marketer?
- Time-bound – Can objectives be set for different periods as targets to review against?
Keep your strategic objectives SMART, link your objectives to strategies and KPIs, and make sure all of your team know exactly what the target is. Smart Insights have marketing tools and techniques to keep your team on track. Managers can utilize our advanced module forecast results and ROI for digital marketing activities, for Business Members, to set goals. Our dedicated strategic and channel-specialist training supports each member of your marketing team to drive results. Find out more.
Defining marketing objectives
Of course, different people interpret objectives differently. You can refer to the Wikipedia definition of SMART marketing objectives. Our handy graphic summarizes the five different SMART components we recommend for your marketing objectives.
Apply the RACE Framework to streamline your marketing objectives
We recommend integrating your marketing objectives across the RACE Framework. By structuring your objectives by customer lifecycle stage, you can track granular KPIs and customer-centric data to inform your marketing strategy throughout reach, act, convert and engage. After all, your objectives are different for prospecting and retargeting, right? If you don't apply RACE to your objectives, you're missing a trick. We've got marketing solutions to support you to create a winning marketing strategy, find out more.
Marketing objective examples
Here are some typical examples of SMART objectives, including those to support objective setting in customer acquisition, conversion, and retention categories for digital marketing:
- Digital channel contribution objective. Achieve 10% online revenue contribution within two years.
- Acquisition objective. Acquire 50,000 new online customers this financial year at an average cost per acquisition (CPA) of £30 with an average profitability of £5.
- Conversion objective. Increase the average order value of online sales to £42 per customer.
- Engagement objective. Increase active customers purchasing at least once a quarter to 300,000 in a market (a hurdle rate metric)
It’s worth guarding against the mistake I sometimes see with student assignments where, rather than listing objective examples like those above, the student will create separate objectives under a heading of each of SMART - this doesn’t work… Better is to group objectives logically, sometimes separating overall business and marketing objectives and digital marketing objectives.
The Ten Measures Design Tests
You can add to your tests of choosing the right marketing objectives using these 10 measure design tests developed by performance management specialist Professor Andy Neely. For SMARTER metrics, ask these questions for your KPIs as you develop them.
- 1. The truth test. Are we measuring what we set out to measure?
- 2. The focus test. Are we only measuring what we set out to measure?
- 3. The relevancy test. Is it the right measure of the performance measure we want to track?
- 4. The consistency test. Will the data always be collected in the same way whoever measures it?
- 5. The access test. Is it easy to locate and capture the data needed to make the measurement?
- 6. The clarity test. Is any ambiguity possible in interpreting the results?
- 7. The so-what test. Can and will the data be acted upon, i.e. is it actionable?
- 8. The timeliness test. Can the data be accessed rapidly and frequently enough for action?
- 9. The cost test. Is the measure worth the cost of measurement?
- 10. The gaming test. Is the measure likely to encourage undesirable or inappropriate behaviors?
These tests show there are additional filters on top of SMART that are useful to choose the best measure. I particularly like the "So-what test, another way of explaining relevance and Gaming - a common issue with target setting that isn’t considered by SMART!
Alternative SMART objectives definitions
Finally, some have developed the SMARTER objectives definition that shows the need to re-examine the relevance of SMART objectives through time:
||Significant, Stretching, Simple, Sustainable
||Motivational, Manageable, Meaningful
||Appropriate, Achievable, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Adjustable, Ambitious.
||Results-Based, Results-Oriented, Resourced, Realistic, Reasonable.
||Timed, Time-Framed, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Time-limited, Trackable, Tangible.
||Ethical, Enjoyable, Engaging, Evidenced
||Reviewed, Rewarded, Revisit, Recordable, Rewarding, Reaching.
This definition certainly shows the many alternative digital marketing objectives definitions - you may want to compare against these!
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