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Getting started with content marketing is a challenge in itself. While you know exactly what your business would like to say, you have a tough time understanding what your ideal customers are looking for, what they would convert on and what kind of goal based on their behaviour, should you set up for the campaign.

As marketers ourselves, we know how setting a goal for every content piece is probably one of the hardest decisions we make in a day. It’s like wanting a sale, but not really targeting at a direct sale and keeping our fingers crossed for a conversion to happen.

This is where setting up S.M.A.R.T marketing goals before getting started comes in play.

Understanding S.M.A.R.T marketing goals

S.M.A.R.T is a mnemonic acronym used in the digital industry to create a guide that helps marketers set specific objectives for their campaigns. It takes into account every aspect of the marketing strategy from ideation, market needs, goals and measurables that truly define the campaign’s success.

SMART Content marketing smartketing

Here’s understanding each element of this tactic:

S – Specific

SMART Content marketing specific

Gone are the times when you associate content marketing with a tactic to only boost your brand awareness, grow your digital audience or get more exposure. These goals were always vague and not measurable. Marketers never really understood what their business would gain out of them and ended up investing efforts in the wrong direction.

So get specific about what you want from each segment of your content marketing strategy. Associate each move with one goal that adds to the end target of your business. For instance, here are some of the targets we commonly associate with our content pieces:

  • Increase blog traffic by X%
  • Grow email list by X%
  • Increase content upgrade downloads or lead generation by X%

The more specific you get about what you want, the better you’re able to strategize for it. Each goal needs different efforts and you don’t want to overwhelm a visitor by trying to achieve them all at once, and driving them in different directions.

M – Measurable

SMART Content marketing measurable

Continuing on the point above, don’t hide behind goals like brand awareness and social influence to avoid measuring your marketing efforts. Make sure that you are tracking your goals right from the start to the end – every little aspect of it.

In marketing too, you need to know exactly how far you have come through in the target market. This will help you understand what needs to change in a campaign to get better results, what hasn’t been working for your business and how far you are from reaching your end goal.

For example, substitute the ‘x’ above with defined numbers:

  • Increase blog traffic by 10,000 monthly visits
  • Grow email list by 30%
  • Reach 5,000 content upgrade downloads

Putting yourself on set numbers makes measuring the content marketing efforts much more efficient. You know exactly what to look for and where you are possibly lagging behind.

A – Actionable

SMART Content marketing actionable

Each goal that you set for yourself, needs to be tied to the execution of a few tasks. So you need to make sure that you have a to-do list for every goal you set for the content marketing strategy segment. Be it ideation, creation or following up, ensure that you leave no stone unturned when it comes to making your content work for you.

Address the what, why and how behind each goal that you’re setting – what is the goal you’re targeting at, how does it add up to your business goal and how are you going to achieve it.

For instance, if your strategy includes creating ebooks on a popular industry topics, you need to define how many you can publish in a month, what goal are you achieving out of it – lead generation or social shares, and how are you going to promote the ebook to achieve the set goal.

This is where you need to make sure you’re taking into account the marketing resources available to you. If you’re going to advertise to promote a content piece to your target audience on a social channel, set a budget and define the period you’re going to run the campaign for.

R – Realistic

SMART Content marketing realistic

Yes, you’re going to have people breathing under your neck to increase the blog traffic to 1 lakh view in a month. But let’s understand one thing unless you have a huge marketing budget to promote your content pieces, this goal is absolutely unrealistic.

Content marketing is about building your audience on the right channel gradually by sharing informative industry pieces. The idea is to first make them aware of what’s available to them, why they need it and then move them towards how you could help – it is an entire process, that needs to run completely.

So be absolutely realistic about the goals you are aiming at with content marketing. For this, take a look at what your business has been doing so far, what the results look like from the previous year, gauge an average that your business has been able to achieve consistently and then look at what you plan on doing this year.

While it might look like too much math for content marketing, it is an important step. Make sure you sit your team down, discuss the performance of all the marketing efforts so far and accordingly create a realistic goal with the new additions to the strategy.

You don’t really want to end up claiming to achieve a bigger goal and then being rogered for not getting results.

T – Timely

SMART Content marketing timely

So you know the goals you want to achieve, how they add up to your business’s end goals and how you’re going to be measuring them. Now comes the time to decide when you will be measuring all your efforts and for what duration you will be running all the campaigns.

Set defined deadlines for each of your goals so you know when to look back and measure your effort’s effectiveness.

Since content marketing takes some time to show results, we highly recommend you have monthly, quarterly or annual goals set for your business. You should know when to stop pumping in more effort or resources in executing one thing and optimizing it for better results.

Here’s how we would set the above goals for timely optimization:

  • Increase blog traffic by 10,000 monthly visits in the first quarter
  • Grow email list by 30% in 6 months
  • Reach 5,000 content upgrade downloads in 2 weeks

Although here to we would like to remind you that setting a realistic goal is the smartest move your marketer can make.


Like every other marketing and growth effort that your business makes, it is important that you measure the effectiveness of your inbound strategy as well. The more you are able to define what you want to achieve from it, the better you will be able to target it at the right audience and get results that help your business reach its end goal.

Wondering where to get started?

Well, we got you covered!

smart content marketing


Written by Vanhishikha Bhargava

Vanhishikha is a Content Marketer at Saleschakra. With her experience in the digital industry, she creates insightful copies for sales and marketing campaigns of small businesses as well as startups. Listed as one of the top 5 marketers to follow on Medium, you can reach out to her on Twitter for a quick chat around this post!