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Inbound Marketing 101: Setting SMART Goals for Paid Search Ads

by Tabitha Young on March 10, 2020

PPC campaigns can be tricky. You share information, pay money, and hope for the best.

What? How did the word "hope" crawl into your perfectly planned marketing campaign?

There is much more to pay-per-click ads than emptying your wallet and wishing for a good outcome. They could be eating up your precious campaign budget without producing any results. 

To ensure high conversion rates and optimize spending on paid search marketing, you need to work on setting SMART goals.

What are SMART Goals in Inbound Marketing?

What are SMART goals, anyway? By learning what they are and how to manage them, you won't just optimize your paid search engine marketing efforts, but they can help you to tweak your entire marketing campaign.

'SMART' stands for:

  • S – Specific – clear and well-defined goals that help plan your campaign. 
  • M – Measurable – goals that contain amounts, dates, and other measurable parameters to help you evaluate the success of your PPC campaign.
  • A – Achievable - goals you set must be achievable. Don't try to jump over your head or you'll be biting your elbows. (FYI: Average human beings can't reach their elbows with their teeth... Did you try???)
  • R – Relevant – goals must be relevant to the direction your marketing campaign is taking.
  • T - Timely– goals should have clear deadlines to help you stay on track. You can set milestones to make sure the campaign is working properly toward achieving the final goal.

An Example of a Smart goal

An example of a common goal that we hear from our clients is, "I just want to increase traffic to my website." As you can see, this doesn't tell us much. After all, technically, if I increase traffic by 5 people over the next year then I've done my job. But who is going to be happy with that? No one! 

After a goals and strategy session to learn more about overall business goals and pain points, we can create better SMART goals for a client's PPC campaign.

  • SMART goal: At the end of 90 days, I would like to see a 10% increase in traffic to our website by spending $1,000 per month on Google and Bing paid ads.

Let's take a look how this SMART goal breaks down:

  • Specific: We want to increase our website traffic using $1,000 of ad spend with Google and Bing.
  • Measurable: A 10% increase in traffic to the website.
  • Achievable: The website has an average traffic increase of a 2% per month. We should be able to maintain that 2% plus gain additional visits via paid ads.
  • Relevant: By increasing traffic to the website, we are able to boost brand awareness and generate more leads for the sales department.
  • Timely: 90 days

Why Do You Need to Set SMART Goals for Paid Search Marketing?

Allowing a PPC campaign to run its course without close monitoring may work, but it probably won't. If you want to save money while improving your conversion rates, setting goals is imperative. Tracking your efforts and adjusting your strategy accordingly is the best way to succeed in marketing.

Related Read: Paid vs. Organic Search: What's the Difference?

In the majority of cases, when you see that your marketing campaign is failing, you've already spent a substantial amount on it. SMART goals help you catch mistakes when it's still possible to tweak your efforts and achieve the desired results.

What Do You Need for Successful SMART Goal Setting?

To be successful with your PPC campaign goal setting, you need to identify key parameters.

  • Business goals – which business goals should you align your marketing goals with?
  • Target audience – who do you want to reach with your PPC campaign?
  • Campaign budget – how much can you spend on your PPC campaign?

More often than not, business goals can help you set general marketing goals, thus simplifying your SMART goal setting for PPC campaigns.

Setting Measurable Goals for Your PPC Campaign  

Measurable goals take the uncertainty out of the equation and give you numbers to work with.  By the way, if a goal is measurable, it doesn't mean it shouldn't also be specific, achievable, relevant, and timely.  If you take one letter out, your goal isn't SMART anymore. 

When it comes to measurable goals, they should be as specific as possible. Take advantage of numbers. For example:

  • 100 new website visit per day
  • 200 conversions per month
  • 4% conversion rate
  • 5% click-through rate

1. Increasing Website Traffic

It's easy to measure how well the PPC campaign is doing by reviewing the website traffic. You can check such metrics as the number of clicks and impressions generated by your ads. You can also set the number of impressions you want to achieve daily, weekly or monthly. 

2. Increasing Sales or Leads

You can set a goal to generate more sales or leads. To measure success, you can use PPC conversion tracking tools and evaluate the data they collect.

You can find out which keywords are generating more conversions than others. Once you figure it out, you can invest more money in ads that feature higher-efficiency keywords.  

3. Improving Brand Awareness

One of the most important PPC campaign goals is increasing brand awareness. For example, featuring the best products in ads could drive more impressions. To track the progress of brand awareness efforts, you can measure impressions, reach, and frequency.

You can also track the following on social media pages and find out if more people search for your company's name on search engines. 

To measure and improve brand awareness, set a target number of impressions you want to achieve each week. 

4. Increasing Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

If you want to tweak your marketing campaign, one of your measurable goals could be increasing the amount you earn for every dollar you spend on ads. AdWords have an excellent feature that shows how much each of the conversion costs you. By setting the right goal, you can improve the profitability of your campaign.  

Remember about relevance. While increasing sales or leads is usually suitable for the majority of campaigns, brand awareness and website traffic increase depend on what you are promoting at the time.

Setting Achievable Goals for Your PPC Campaign

Setting achievable goals can be complicated especially if you set unrealistic expectations.  For example, with a low budget, doubling website traffic is virtually impossible, especially if the average cost-per-click on your ads is high. 

So be realistic. Here are a few tips to help you.
  • Evaluate the progress of your PPC campaign over the past few months. If you are seeing a 10% increase in conversions, setting a goal to achieve a 30% increase in the next two months is an obvious mistake.
  • To start, choose one big goal and three small goals. Anything bigger could get you off the track.
  • Set small goals and see how they work out to determine how achievable bigger goals are. Frequent checking of the PPC campaign metrics can help you figure out how much you can achieve in the future.
  • Don't rush to overhaul the entire campaign if you fail to achieve one goal. Take it as a lesson and do some goal setting tweak work.
  • Don't let your short-term goals kill your long-term prospects. Set small achievable goals with the campaign's future in mind. For example, you don't want to drive thousands of users to the website only to have the bounce rate go through the roof.

Final Thoughts

Even if your paid search marketing campaign is already in full swing, it's not too late to make changes. Review what you've done about inbound marketing so far and set new goals. Focus on making them SMART.

Are you achieving goals consistently? You may not be realizing your true potential. Time to set some new goals! Schedule a free, no-obligation marketing assessment with one of our experts at 30 Degrees North, and we can help you start defining your SMART goals. 

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Paid Search

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