Having clear goals in place for your content marketing campaigns will help guide your efforts and make it easier for you to track your progress and determine whether you’ve been successful.
In this article, we take a look at:
The importance of SMART marketing goals for content marketing
How to set your content marketing goals
How to track your progress toward your content marketing goals and achieve results
In today’s digital world, content is as valuable as gold for marketers.
Buyers are more informed than ever before, seeking out answers to their many questions online. Because of this, it’s crucial that marketers answer these questions by publishing helpful content in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more.
By providing your target audience with the content that they are interested in reading, you’ll increase brand awareness, generate solid leads, and ultimately gain loyal customers.
It’s clear that content creation should be at the forefront of your organization’s inbound marketing efforts, and most marketers have caught onto this. According to a recent study by SEMrush, 77 percent of companies say they have a content marketing strategy in place.
However, as with any successful marketing strategy, you need to have clearly defined goals in place before you can even think about publishing any content. These goals should also be SMART goals, meaning they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
We know that establishing SMART goals for your content marketing efforts can feel overwhelming and confusing, but we’re here to help.
First, let’s run through a quick refresher about SMART marketing goals and why they’re important for content marketers.
Why should you set SMART content marketing goals?
Before you begin the goal-setting process for your content marketing strategy, you need to understand why these goals should be SMART goals.
Sure, it’s easy to simply tell your content marketing team to write a lot of blog posts and publish as many as they can as fast as they can, but it’s not the SMART choice. Not only is this goal extremely broad, but it’s also overzealous. When given a goal like this, your team will feel lost with no end goal in sight.
A better goal for your team might read like: “Increase our website traffic by 25 percent during Q3 by publishing 5 high-quality, targeted blog posts per week.”
The SMART goal above gives your team a better idea of what they should be doing, how they should do it, and how to know when it’s done.
Your team knows that they should publish 5 targeted blog posts per week during Q3 in support of a 25 percent increase in web traffic. With this in mind, they can easily plan their daily tasks surrounding this goal and plan out the necessary content in your organization’s editorial calendar.
It’s also easy for your team to measure success against their specific goal of a 25 percent increase in web traffic. There’s no question as to whether or not their efforts were successful when the benchmark has been clearly defined. SMART goals eliminate any ambiguity, keeping everyone on the same page and making it easy to track results.
SMART goals also make it easier to understand why you’re not reaching your goals. Did you publish three blog posts per week and grow your traffic by less than the 25 percent goal during Q3? Maybe you were targeting keywords with low volume. Are you certain that you pursued high-volume keywords and wrote excellent content? Maybe there’s something else holding your domain back—such as technical issues.
Download the S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Goals Template
An easy-to-use, free spreadsheet template with step-by-step instructions.
You can see some more SMART marketing goal examples here.
Next, let’s break down the SMART goal-setting process for your content marketing efforts and start setting some goals.
How to Set SMART Content Marketing Goals
1. Determine the purpose of content marketing for your organization.
To set specific goals for your content marketing efforts, you first need to understand its purpose for your organization in the context of larger business objectives.
Consider these questions:
- Why do you have a content marketing strategy in place?
- What are the overall goals of content marketing for your business?
- How do my content marketing efforts align with my organization’s high-level business objectives?
When it comes down to it, the true purpose of all marketing efforts is to increase revenue for your organization. The same holds true for content marketing. However, your content marketing efforts also tie into other key business objectives like improving website traffic, lead generation, brand awareness, and customer loyalty.
Before you set any goals, you need to consider why you’re being tasked with these efforts. Why is your manager really asking you to publish three blog posts this week? Why are you really writing an ebook?
Most likely, you’re creating content to provide answers to questions that your target audience needs help answering, ultimately turning these visitors into leads, and these leads into paying customers. This approach to content marketing is well-aligned with a strong inbound marketing strategy.
In accordance with the principles of inbound marketing, your content should remain as genuine and helpful as possible without feeling sales-like or pushy. By providing your website visitors with top tier content, you’re establishing your organization as an authority and building trust, increasing the likelihood that these website visitors will convert.
That being said, while it’s important to remember that the largest goal of your content marketing efforts is to increase revenue, this goal will only be successful if you keep your target audience’s needs in mind. By giving your audience the content they need, the revenue will quickly follow.
2. Choose the appropriate performance metrics.
After looking at the overall purpose of your content marketing efforts, you need to choose the specific performance metrics that you would like to improve. These metrics are often referred to as KPIs or Key Performance Indicators.
Some common content marketing KPIs include:
- Website Sessions: The total number of visits to your site, including new and repeat visits
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors to your site who leave shortly after viewing one page rather than continuing on to view other pages
- Links: How many times other websites have linked to your published content, sharing with their audience
- Ranking Keywords: How many keywords does your content appear on the first page (top 10) of organic search results for
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): The contacts who are deemed the most likely to convert based on their engagement levels (they might have downloaded an ebook or filled out a form)
- Conversion Rate: How many visitors took the desired action when viewing your content (ex: submitted a form, downloaded an ebook, made a purchase, etc.)
- Content Marketing ROI: The overall return on investment for your content marketing efforts
You can take a look at a more comprehensive list of marketing KPIs here.
While the metrics mentioned above are common, they might not be the best option for you. When choosing your metrics, consider your organization’s current business objectives as well as past performance.
For example, if your website sessions have skyrocketed but you’re not seeing an improvement in your conversion rates, you might want to zero in on Conversion Rate as your primary KPI to focus on in your SMART goals.
Since history tends to repeat itself if the necessary changes are not made, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to choose metrics for your goals based on past performance.
If you’re just starting out or you don’t have access to this data, focus on the metrics that you think would have the greatest impact.
After taking a closer look at the purpose of your content marketing strategy as well as the appropriate KPIs you would like to improve, you’re ready to set your SMART goals.
3. Set your SMART content marketing goals with our free SMART goal-setting template.
Now that you’ve determined the purpose of your content marketing efforts and the performance metrics that you would like to use in your goals, it’s time to set some SMART goals.
Download our free SMART Marketing Goal Template and add the required information to the spreadsheet. The template will automatically calculate your recommended SMART marketing goals based on the information you provide. With the template, you’ll also be able to identify any potential obstacles up-front and plan around them.
After filling out the template, you’ve successfully created SMART goals for your content marketing strategy! Great job!
4. Track your progress toward your content marketing goals.
By this point, you’ve set some solid SMART goals and you’re feeling great, but you’re not quite done yet.
Tracking and measuring your progress against your goals is just as important as setting them. By consistently checking your progress, you’ll know if you’re on track to be successful or if you need to adjust your strategy.
With a solid dashboard in place, you’ll be able to monitor your progress toward your SMART goals in real-time and see if you’re on the right track.
Driving Results With SMART Goals
As a content marketer, the content that you publish is tremendously valuable for your organization. Because of this, you might feel overwhelmed and under a lot of pressure to churn out as much content as possible, but SMART goals make your life a whole lot easier.
SMART goals provide structure for your daily content marketing efforts and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Just be sure to consistently monitor your progress toward your goals, and you’ll see results before you know it!
Download our free SMART Marketing Goal Template to get started.