How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Your Content Marketing This Year

Jan 2016


How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for your Content Marketing This Year

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
– Yogi Berra (tweet this)

Now, I’m a football gal myself, but I can appreciate Yogi’s wisdom, accidental though it may have been.

There’s a reason why we keep coming back to sports as a metaphor: In content marketing as in sports, if we’re going to win, we have to know what our goals are, what it takes to get there … and if we’re not getting there, what we need to do to get back on track.

As I’ve shared before, I absolutely abhor New Year’s resolutions. Not only do they not work; they set us up for failure and make us feel even worse than before we set the danged things. But goals are another matter. A well-crafted goal can energize our teams, help us prioritize our activities, and guide us in making the adjustments we need to win. (tweet this)

Plus, they’re kinda fun.

“Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you will still be among the stars.” – Les Brown (tweet this)

What goes into a good content marketing goal? Well, there’s a reason why we keep seeing the S.M.A.R.T. acronym when it comes to goal setting: because it’s pretty darn, well, smart.

So as you set your content marketing goals for this year, make sure they meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria:


Say goodbye to wishy-washy goals like “get more exposure” or “grow our audience.” They’re so vague that we have no idea if or when we’ve achieved them.

Think about each component of your content marketing strategy and set specific goals for each. Examples:

  • “Grow our email list by …”
  • “Increase our blog traffic by …”
  • “Increase downloads of our e-book by …”


If you’ve ever run a road race, you probably appreciate those mile markers as much as I do: Mile 1, Mile 2, Mile 3, etc. They let me know precisely how far I’ve come and how far I have to go to get to the finish line.

This attribute ties in very nicely with the first: specific goals must also be measurable. We have to be able to look at that target number on any given day and realize how far we still have to go. If we get through June and realize we’re only 10 percent of the way to an annual goal, it’s time for a serious overhaul … and isn’t it better to know that in June than in December?

By the way, that measurement doesn’t have to be a count: it can also be a percentage or measurement against a benchmark. Examples:

  • “Grow our email list by 50 percent.”
  • “Increase our blog traffic by 10,000 visits per month.”
  • “Reach 5,000 downloads of our e-book.”


Every goal has to be tied to action: specific tasks to put on your to-do list and follow up to make sure they get done.

Every football team has what’s called a “two-minute drill” to be executed if they’re trailing at the two-minute warning: a set of actions designed to get in as many plays as possible while making the most of clock-stopping opportunities to pull off a touchdown — without giving the other team enough time to score. It’s an intricate strategy that orchestrates scores of specific actions, with not an ounce of effort wasted.

As content marketers, we need to be just as strategic.

This is where we address the “how” (action) behind the “what” (your goal). Examples:

  • “Create one new lead-generating content asset each month to grow our email list.”
  • “Review our SEO keyword strategy in January and revise as needed to maximize blog traffic.”
  • “Advertise our e-book on LinkedIn to a targeted audience.”


The “R” in S.M.A.R.T. is what saves us from the caveat to which too many New Year’s resolutionaries fall prey: trying to achieve the unachievable.

Yes, we all need to shoot for the stars. We all need big dreams. But this is not the time for dreaming. When it comes to goals, we need to ensure that they are within our reach — but still require a stretch. (tweet this)

Now, this is where a lot of marketers get that “deer in the headlights” look: How do we know what’s realistic? Go back and look at last year’s numbers. What’s your average monthly blog traffic? Your average growth in your email list? Once you have those measurements, gather your team and discuss how you can stretch yourselves within a realistic range.


So you’ve taken the time to create goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, and realistic … goals that you commit to achieving “one day.”

[cue game-show buzzer] Sorry, hon. Your goals need to have a deadline — a finish line from whence you can look back and see how you did.

“Without a deadline, baby, I wouldn’t do nothing.” – Duke Ellington (tweet this)

I recommend having monthly, quarterly, and annual goals in your plan; some teams go so far as to have weekly goals. The exact time frame doesn’t matter as much as committing to an end date and sticking to it, no takesy-backsies.


  • “Grow our email list by 20 percent by the end of the first quarter.”
  • “Increase our blog traffic by 10,000 visits in February.”
  • “Reach 5,000 downloads of our e-book by year end.”

OK, team, time to break the huddle and hit the playing field: Let’s all commit to setting and achieving goals that meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria so we can all win big this.

Ready? 1-2-3 SMART!

Your Turn: How do you make sure your goals meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria? 

NEW AUDIO!B2B Content Marketing: From the Blog to the Bottom Line!

Grab your copy of B2B Content Marketing: From the Blog to the Bottom Line!








About the Author

Rachel Parker, Founder & CEO of Resonance Content MarketingA self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. To learn more, download our complimentary audio 5 Things You Must Know About Content Marketing.


content_marketing_50 BizSugar KredFeatured Author on Business 2 Community

Our Clients Are Saying

  • One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

    My company had little or no time to spend on social media. Our needs were to ensure a steady stream of posts across three platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) by harvesting and re-purposing content from our own site and news streams. So I contacted Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing.

    The result was two-fold. Not only did our ranks of followers grew steadily, the steady drip, drip, drip of content helped us train our personnel and direct their own individual social media efforts.

    Rachel and her team are extremely organized and open to discussion and new ideas. They deliver a rapid response to new opportunities — and an overall feeling of being on the same team. One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

  • Added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks

    Rachel took the overwhelm and stress out of writing content for my marketing campaign! When I approached Rachel, I was really concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to focus on writing copy for a lengthy marketing campaign that included sales pages, solo emails, newsletters and social media updates. Well, let’s just say I’m glad I hired Rachel because I couldn’t have done it without her support and expertise. I loved how she used my voice and words to craft content that helped me reach and attract my ideal client. As a result of working with Rachel, I added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks, hundreds of new social media followers and exceeded my sales and list building goals! You know your marketing copy is working when you hear someone say, “I see you everywhere”. Thank you Rachel for helping me not only get seen by my ideal clients but get paid!

  • Professionalism and Sincere Desire to Help

    I just didn’t seem to be able to find the time or the right words to explain what I offer and how my company helps people accomplish their goals. Rachel was able to ask me some questions, do some research and capture my voice while writing my website copy exactly as I needed it to be written.  Now, the copy on my website is much more professional than what I would have created and having this task handled by Rachel and Resonance freed up my time to complete other tasks I am better suited to do.

    It was a joy to work with Rachel. Her professionalism and sincere desire to help was apparent from the first communication until the final delivery. I will definitely use Resonance again and highly recommend their services.

  • Social Media Ranking Better Than Ever!

    We are so happy to have hired Resonance for our social media needs. We spend most of our time serving our clients and studying our field so we can provide the highest quality possible. We no longer worry about our social media, as we have total confidence in the wonderful work Rachel and her team have accomplished.

    Our social media is active, promoted, and is ranking better than ever! People often comment about what they see on our Facebook page. Resonance has added a creative, and artistic twist to our social media that is appealing and captivating to our audience. This has allowed me more time to work with my team and clients, so I can focus on service towards the people that help our business grow.

    I know there will be wonderful content on Facebook, and that Rachel will answer to posts, comments and questions as soon as a comment arrives. I am often impressed at how quickly she responds! Thank you Resonance! I highly endorse Resonance and encourage companies who need social media strategies to work with Resonance! You won’t regret it! 

  • Event Sold Out Two Years In A Row!

    Rachel worked with me on creating a content marketing calendar and content for the Big Social Media Summit (Big SMS) three years in a row. She is very organized and knows just the right amount of posts on social, email newsletters and content to send.  Her content marketing efforts helping us sell out our event three years in a row!  I am expecting the same for October 2014.

    Rachel was hired to write content for our email newsletter and content for our social platforms. In addition, she had a budget to do advertising on social media. She participated in the event live and after the fact to assure buzz was created before, during and after the event. As a result, our event sold out.

    When I work with Rachel, I have total peace of mind.  I know that she is on target, on time, reliable and delivers over and above the results I expect.

    I trust Rachel totally with her ideas on strategy, marketing and the content used to not only promote our events, but also post on my behalf on social networks. I have been doing social media for 8 years, and I hire Resonance to post on some of my social sites as it saves me time, and keeps my social sites relevant and current. They always post great, engaging content that gets my social properties likes, comments and shares.


  • Increased our likes and interaction rates

    Working with Rachel was a delight. Not only does she communicate very well, but she provided valuable insight about our social media platforms and followers. We have much better engagement with our fans and followers, which increased our likes and interaction rates.


  • Produced ROI Result needed someone who could grasp the complexities of our product, capture the subtlety of our differentiating value propositions, and convey them in the right voice for an exacting customer audience…. Resonance delivered, by crafting a multi-faceted online content marketing strategy that drove traffic and conversion, producing the ROI result we were looking for….

  • Increased website traffic, New Lead Generation

    We were experiencing a lack of internal resources to consistently maintain the Ustream blog. So we turned to Resonance Content Marketing to write blog posts on current industry topics while maintaining a consistent tone with the brand. The result is increased website traffic, new lead generation from gated assets on blog, and better educated/qualified leads. And I now have more time to spend on marketing strategy with the confidence that the content we push out is extremely well written and engaging.

    Rachel is an amazing writer and has really managed to create engaging and relevant blog material on topics that aren’t always super interesting. On many occasions, she has been able to quickly turn around one-off requests and the results are always top-notch. She has also helped guide our content strategy based on her expertise in content marketing, which has been a huge asset to our team.

Free Tips
learn more...