Written By
Kayley Blanchard
Having clear goals in place for your email marketing campaigns will help guide your efforts and make it easier for you to track your progress and determine whether you’ve been successful. 
In this article, we take a look at:
  • The importance of SMART marketing goals for email marketing
  • How to set your email marketing goals
  • How to track your progress toward your email marketing goals

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you’ve gotten there?

This is where SMART goals come into play. By setting SMART goals, you’ll be able to map out your destination, determine how you’ll get there, and have an estimate of when you’ll arrive. 

Goal-setting is valuable for all industries, but it is especially helpful for marketing departments.

By having clear SMART goals in place, you can easily plan your daily marketing tasks in support of these goals and establish a benchmark for success. If you hit your goals, then you know you have been doing something right, which may be worth repeating; if you aren’t hitting your goals, then you know that some part of the equation needs to change.

As an inbound marketer, it’s likely that you have an email marketing strategy in place for your organization. Email is an excellent way to reach your target audience and generate qualified leads. It also has one of the highest ROIs in the industry, averaging a return of $44 for every $1 spent.

Of course, your email marketing strategy is not complete until you decide what it is that you want to achieve and establish clear goals. 

Let’s take a look at how to set (and achieve) your SMART email marketing goals.

Why Should You Set SMART Email Marketing Goals?

Before we get into how, we need to look at why

Any email marketing goals that you set for yourself or your department should be SMART goals, meaning they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

It’s not enough to simply say that you want to improve your email click-through rate. This is extremely vague and leaves a lot to the imagination. 

When you tell your team that their overall objective is to improve your organization’s email CTR, they don’t know how they should do it or where their focus should be. It’s also impossible to gauge success when there are no numbers or dates in place. 

By using the SMART framework, we can transform a broad, lackluster goal into a more actionable and measurable one. A better way to phrase the above goal might be: “By the end of Q3, we’re going to improve our email CTR by 1%, by optimizing the placement and design of CTAs.”

Download the S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Goals Template

An easy-to-use, free spreadsheet template with step-by-step instructions.


Your team now knows that they should be optimizing the placement and design of email CTAs in order to improve CTR by 1% by the end of the quarter. If CTR improves by at least 1%, the goal was met and their efforts were successful. On the other hand, if the click-through rate does not improve by 1% by the end of the quarter, your team knows that they need to reassess their strategy and take a different approach.

You can see some more SMART marketing goal examples here

SMART marketing goals remove any ambiguity surrounding where your marketing team’s focus should be and make it foolproof to measure success.

How to Set Your Email Marketing Goals

1. Identify your purpose and audience.

Before setting SMART goals for your email marketing campaign it’s imperative that you consider both the purpose of your efforts as well as your audience. 

When determining the purpose of your email campaign you may want to ask yourself questions like: 

  • What is it that you want to achieve for your organization with email marketing? 
  • What is the overall goal of the campaign?
  • How does this campaign align with my organization’s high-level business objectives?

As a marketer, all of your efforts will typically tie back to your organization’s most obvious goal: to generate revenue. Working backward from this broad, high-level goal you can pinpoint what needs to happen as a result of your campaign to get there. 

Next, you should consider: 

  • What metrics are you trying to improve upon? 
  • How much do these metrics need to improve in order to meet your organization’s business objectives?
  • When does this need to happen?

It’s also important to identify your target audience before setting your email marketing goals. Your specific goals and metrics that you’ll track will differ depending on the segment of your subscribers that you are targeting. Certain metrics are easier to improve upon with email segmentation since your content will be more relevant to the recipient.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who are your email subscribers? 
  • Which segment of your subscribers are you targeting with this campaign?
  • Where are your subscribers reading your emails? Desktop or Mobile?

Now that you’ve determined the purpose of your email campaign, as well as your audience, you’re ready to identify the specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that you would like to improve upon.

2. Choose your performance metrics.

After identifying the purpose of your email marketing campaign and your intended audience, you’ll want to choose the metrics that you would like to improve upon in order to fulfill the general purpose of the campaign.

A few common email marketing metrics include:

  • Open Rate: How many subscribers opened your email
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): How many subscribers clicked on a link or offer within the email
  • Conversion Rate: How many subscribers clicked on a link within your email and completed the desired action (ex: made a purchase)
  • List Growth Rate: The rate at which your email subscriber with is growing
  • Email ROI: The overall return on investment for your email campaign

The metrics that you choose to improve depend on your campaign’s overall purpose and past performance of previous campaigns. 

Perhaps your last email campaign finished with a killer open rate, but your click-through rate fell short. This might tell you that your subscribers are interested in learning more about your brand, but your email offers are not catching their attention. In this scenario, you might choose to improve your CTR with your next email campaign.

Be sure to consider past performance when setting goals for the future.

Once you’ve identified your email campaign’s purpose, audience, and the appropriate metrics you wish to improve, you’re ready to set your SMART goals.

3. Put it all together

Once you’ve determined the desired outcome of your email campaign, who your audience is, and the appropriate performance metrics, it’s time to put this all together using the SMART framework. 

We’ll run through an example together.

Let’s say that you’ve already considered the purpose of your campaign and determined your target audience. You’ve also decided that the performance metric you would like to improve upon with this campaign is your email conversion rate. 

Using the SMART framework, your goal might read like:

“We will improve our email conversion rate by 1% from August 1st to September 30th by segmenting our email list and sending targeted content that matches the recipient’s stage in the funnel.” 

The above goal is:

  • Specific: You know exactly what should be done and how to do it.
  • Measurable: You’re able to use your analytics software to measure the 1% change in your conversion rate.
  • Attainable: You trust that you can improve upon this metric by 1% within the given time frame.
  • Relevant: If you were to show this goal to upper management, you would be able to explain its significance to overall business objectives.
  • Time-bound: You know that this goal has a start date of August 1st and end date of September 30th.

4. Track your progress toward your goals

Congratulations, you’ve officially set your SMART email marketing goals! But you’re not quite done yet. 

To achieve your goals, you need to continually measure your progress against your benchmark. That way, you’ll know when you’ve been successful in meeting your goals, or when you need to realign your efforts to get back on track. 

We have two recommendations for tracking your progress:

  1. Use email marketing software like HubSpot Marketing so you can analyze the performance of your emails.
  2. Integrate your HubSpot account with a tool like Databox to automatically track your email campaign performance and customize a dashboard.

Databox Email Dashboard

Now, you’ll be able to quickly reference performance data and determine your progress toward your email marketing goals.

Turning Your Goals Into Results

As a marketer, it can be hard to know where to begin with your email marketing campaign. Setting SMART goals for yourself and your team should always be the first item on your to-do list.

By having clear goals in place and continually monitoring your progress toward them, you dramatically increase the likelihood that your email marketing campaign will be a success.

Download our free SMART Marketing Goal Template to get started.

Download SMART Marketing Goals Template

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