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How to Set Smart Goals for Your Website

Problem: Vague or Generic Goals

Many of the organizations I talk with on a daily basis say they want to “improve things.” Of course. That’s always the goal.

But how exactly do you plan to "improve things?" Do you have measurable attributes associated with your improvements? And how does the Web play into those goals? In order for goals to be meaningful, they should include what specifically needs to be done and in what amount of time.

Solution: SMART Goals

I know, I know. You’ve probably heard this term before. And for many of you this isn't going to be anything earth shattering. However, this is one of those things that everyone knows about but is rarely implemented.

What are SMART Goals?


SMART is an acronym for the five criteria that make up a goal:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based


See an example of these criteria in action in the How-To Set SMART Goals section below.

Why set SMART goals?

  • Clarify your vision
    • SMART goals force you to answer the difficult questions about where you want to be in one year, five years, or even 10 years down the road. Once you set your goal properly, it will be easier to outline a step-by-step strategy to help you reach it. Then you'll also be able to identify bottlenecks and areas of opportunity.
  • Prioritize
    • Where do you start? There’s always a never-ending list of ways you could improve. But which areas of focus will give you the greatest return? Without a specific goal, you won’t be able to prioritize.
  • Build consensus
    • SMART goals pull everyone together. By setting a specific target, your team has something to work toward. Setting smaller benchmarks to hit along the way will keep your team engaged and focused on the end result.
  • Have meaningful discussions
    • More specific goals can help you have a more meaningful discussion with your clients or internal decision makers. Instead of asking someone to invest a certain amount of their budget to make general improvements, you'll be able to predict and estimate the return on their investment for a specific improvement. You could ask them to invest X in order to get Y and the conversation takes a different shape.

How to Set SMART Goals

You’re probably wondering what a SMART goal looks like for a website.

Well, let’s pretend for a minute that you have an e-commerce website that sells sports gear. 

Find an area for improvement

Your traffic has been increasing constantly for the past year, and you recorded a year-over-year increase in sales. But, in contrast to your traffic, your conversion rate has been at the same level for some time now. After performing a thorough analysis, you've decided that your main goal should focus on improving the conversion rate.

2014 Metrics

  • Overall yearly traffic: 800,000 sessions
  • Yearly average conversion rate: 2 percent
  • Number of orders: 16,000
  • Average order value: $70
  • Revenue: $1,120,000

Write it Down

An example of a SMART goal for your sports gear e-commerce website could be,

Achieve a yearly average conversion rate of 2.7 percent by Dec. 31, 2015.

How will the results affect your bottom line?

To see how meeting this goal would affect your bottom line, let’s estimate what impact this would have on your revenue in 2015. In order to simplify things, we’re going to assume that the overall traffic and order value will stay the same as in 2014.

2015 Metrics

  • Overall yearly traffic: 800,000 sessions
  • Yearly average conversion rate: 2.7 percent
  • Number of orders: 21,600
  • Average order value: $70
  • Revenue: $1,512,000

SMART Goal Projected Results

By reaching your goal, year-over-year revenue would increase by $392,000.

But that’s not even the best part. The beautiful thing about setting SMART goals is that everyone has an end goal to strive for: designers and marketers will focus on what they need to do to increase the conversion rate, while business leaders will see the impact on the revenue numbers. 

So now that you can see the value in setting these types of goals, there's only one question left: what are your  SMART goals? 

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