What goals should you set to measure inbound success?

Inbound marketing objectives can seem mythical at times but with a little smart planning, you’ll be able to define them and achieve them.

What goals should you set to measure inbound success?
Written by Chloe Brown
Inbound marketing, Blogging  |   5 minute read

Inbound marketing objectives are the key goals you set and work towards through a campaign or a fiscal year. They’re essential in determining the trajectory of your company going forward. A goal can seem like some lofty, formless idea that can be hard to grasp but with our guidance, you’ll be able to create some goals in no time.

digital 22 sign and office inbound

Here are the inbound goals you should focus on and how to create them.

The SMART acronym and the 5 Ws

Setting SMART goals is a simple process and they’re also a great habit to get into - especially at the start of a new fiscal year. So let’s go into each word in the SMART acronym for a bit more context.

To provide extra help when creating SMART goals, you can also consider the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when and why) when creating inbound marketing objectives.


Well-defined, specific goals are much more likely to be accomplished than a generalised goal. Creating a goal such as ‘get more business’ doesn’t exactly provide you with a framework to, well, actually get more business. It also doesn’t include any key quotas you need to fulfil to achieve said goal.

You want to create a goal such as ‘increase organic traffic across our website by 15%’. It’s a well-defined goal and you can already envision what a framework would look like to accomplish it. 


The first thing to consider when creating a SMART goal is who you’re targeting. It fits in with this stage as a specific goal needs a specific audience that it relates to. 

What's your goal? Does it correlate with the desires of a specific buyer persona or demographic? If you have a product or service which is enjoyed by a niche audience, make sure to create your goal with them in mind. 


Referring back to the specific goals, a goal without a measurable outcome is like a recipe for a nice sourdough loaf without a recipe. When you’re baking, you’ll have no idea how much flour or yeast to add, no idea how long you should proof your dough for and may end up with an indigestible, burnt mess. And no one wants burnt food. Yuck.

Always set goals you can track and measure. This keeps you focused on the target, let’s you know your progress and gives you a roadmap for accomplishing something similar in the future.


What do you want the outcome to be? This ‘W’ is fairly self-explanatory, but a lot of people don’t look into the desired outcome and its effects. For example, if you want to increase leads, what kind of leads do you want? Not all leads were created equal.

By focusing on lead generation across the board, you could get a lot of engagement but a lot of it could be spammy or useless. What you want to do is figure out which leads are the most valuable and aim at them for your goal outcome. 

By determining the ‘What’, you’ll make it a lot easier to create the ‘How’. How will you increase valuable lead generation? It’s all about connecting the dots.

chris and sammie d22 inbound


Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is an inbound marketing campaign. Set yourself realistic, attainable goals that don’t push things too far or stress you out. 

Goals should push you to achieve them but not stretch you beyond your limits. A good idea would be to look at realistic growth within your industry so you know where to target your goal.

For example, if you’re working in marketing, why not look into popular formats for content such as video? Did you know that 82% of all IP traffic will be represented by video content by 2021? Sounds like you could create a marketing goal of attaining a certain amount of engagement from video content.

You can also set yourself a working budget during this step, an amount that should be able to help you execute what you want to achieve.


Where will your goals come from? Are you going to target a specific geographical location or a digital one? 

You could also target where the goals will come from in terms of online sales. Will they be organic or paid? Another area you could think about is whether your goals are going to come from repeat purchases or new customers.


The ‘R’ of SMART stands for ‘R your goals relevant?’ Well, it just stands for ‘relevant’, but you get what I mean. Remember to consider how relevant your goals are to gaining growth within your organisation. Ask yourself:

  • How does this goal relate to my business as a whole?
  • Does this goal accurately represent the work of the department it has been ascribed to?
  • Are the outcomes beneficial to both the department and company-wide?

These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself when setting goals. The most important question would be – Is this relevant? Or will this goal benefit the business in the long term?


The ‘Why’ pairs up well with looking into the relevance of a goal. Why do you want to create this inbound marketing objective?

digital 22 projects discussing goals

It might seem simple - ‘I’m creating this goal to increase my SQLs’ or ‘I’m developing my social media strategy to become a more recognised thought leader within my industry’. But that only poses another set of questions - why do you want to get to those points? 

The most detailed and successful SMART goal will be the one with the richest narrative, the definite starting point, the unambiguous end and the meaning for all points in between. Identifying this information will help you expand upon your long-term business goals.


Goals need time frames to be ultimately achievable. Without a time frame, you have no delivery-date to work to, meaning you might spend less and less time actively pursuing it. Setting a time frame is essential as it'll push you to commit to your goals and achieve them as soon as possible.


This is relevant to ‘Timely’. 

When will you complete this goal? As part of smart marketing, you must measure your goals so you know when you've completed them. Setting a target for completion pushes you to achieve your goal sooner rather than later.

An example of this SMART process

A good example of a well thought out SMART goal would be - ‘achieve 20 social media leads this month’. This goal meets all of the SMART points.

  • Specific: A specific number has been targeted.
  • Measurable: Goal will be achieved when they reach 20 leads.
  • Attainable: This is attainable after reviewing previous performances.
  • Relevant: Yes! Your target audience uses social media often so performing well in that section is important.
  • Timely: You've given yourself a month to achieve this goal.

Following the SMART acronym is a great way to develop your goals, but it’s not the only thing you should consider. 

What inbound goals should you set?

Here are a few great SMART goal examples you could achieve.


As we mentioned, video is becoming increasingly popular. If you want to stay relevant in the future of inbound marketing, you’ll definitely want to look into the principles of inbound video

digital 22 inbound after hours podcast room

With almost 50% of internet users looking for videos related to a product before they buy, it makes perfect sense to create a video-oriented SMART goal. Some examples might be:

  • Increase video output by 25% per month.
  • Increase video views by 40% over 12 months.

Social Ecommerce

Ecommerce is becoming more and more far-reaching and well-developed thanks to inroads in social media. On Instagram, you can now view products, information and prices directly on the images with direct links back to the seller. It’s an innovative marketing trend that’s providing easily-accessible content to both organic and targeted audiences.

If you’re an organisation who can easily market products over Instagram, you might want to consider developing SMART goals around this trend. 

Visual content

When you’re told something verbally, the chances of remembering it is only 10%. However, if that information is paired with a relevant image, there's a 65% chance you’ll retain it.

Along with video, things like infographics are a great way to make people engage with your content - especially if they’re optimised for mobile viewing for people on-the-go. 

Bounce rate

Honestly, when it comes to inbound, the bounce rate for your website is something you want to focus on every year. The whole point of inbound is to provide helpful, relevant content that people take their time to engage with, take in and remember.

Whether it's written content, video, imagery or dynamic content like minigames - you want people to stay on your site for a long time.

If you have a high bounce rate, there’s a chance that your content isn’t up to scratch or there’s an obvious issue with your site design. An example SMART goal concerning bounce rate may be:

  • Next year I want to lower my site’s bounce rate by 7% by the second quarter.

SMART goals are the perfect ways to create actionable plans for the future. They keep you focused and motivated for new growth. But what else can you do to improve upon your marketing campaigns?

Discover how to enhance your inbound marketing campaigns

To really amplify your efforts and achieve those inbound marketing objectives, download our new guide. You’ll build upon your knowledge of inbound with key info on things like inbound processes, statistics, personas, goals and much more. 

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