SMART Goals to Boost Your Email Campaigns

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Yes, it’s corny, but it’s true! If you don’t have an actionable plan, you may as well not even set goals. 

If you’re struggling with your email marketing campaigns, then it might be time to start setting some SMART goals! Setting marketing goals might not seem like the most exciting task, but it’s incredibly important to be able to report on progress. 

Email campaigns can be tricky, you want to provide useful and relatable information to your target audience without overwhelming or confusing them. It’s a known fact that email marketing is one of the best ways to keep in touch with your audience, but how do you know if your emails are engaging them? This is where goals come in. 

Keep in mind, not just any goal will do in business. To really succeed, we recommend creating SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Let’s break each of these down:

Step 1: Understand SMART goals

Goals are great, but unless they’re realistic, what’s the point of setting them? Using SMART goals to really define the success you wish to see in your campaigns will help you get there quicker. 


Be as specific as possible when setting goals. Vague goals are not useful or easy to accomplish. 

Example of a specific goal: I want my email subscription list to increase from its current 3,237 subscribers to 4,500 in total. 


Make sure your goal is something you can track over time. Words like “more” or “less” without data associated with them isn’t a measurable goal. 

Example of a measurable goal: Our three upcoming campaigns should produce 421 new subscribers per campaign in order to reach a total of 4,500.


Challenge yourself while also knowing what you can achieve. You want to be able to report success at the end of the campaign.

Example of an attainable goal: This goal is attainable because our previous campaigns have gotten a minimum of 600 new subscribers per campaign.


Be aware that there will be hurdles and plan accordingly.

Example of a realistic goal: We will space out our campaigns by several months and perform A/B testing in order to reach these numbers.

Example of an unrealistic goal: We will reach 4,500 new subscribers by the end of this month.


Always set a deadline with your goals! This will give you a date by which the measurable piece has to be met in order to be considered a success.

Example of a timely goal: We will achieve our original goal of 4,500 subscribers 10 months from now.

When creating your email marketing campaigns, use these goals as a guideline for the message you want to share and how you will present it. 

Step 2: Determine your definition of success

Now that you have completed your goals, what does it really mean to execute a successful email campaign? Consider what benchmarks you want to be hitting. 

This varies from company to company, and likely, campaign to campaign. Are you interested in a certain percentage open rate? A certain number of clicks on a CTA? Total leads generated from the campaign? Choose what your specific success looks like and then move to step 3 to fully understand how your email campaign goals can be SMART-er.

Step 3: Set a numerical goal

Once you know what you’re measuring from determining your definition of success, decide what is attainable and realistic by setting a specific numerical goal. 

For email campaigns specifically, this is usually one of the following:

  • XX% open rate
  • XX% click-through-rate to website
  • XX% conversions to leads or leads to customers (depending on your audience)

Step 4: Commit to a deadline

Think through each step of your campaign, how long each of these takes to execute, and the waiting period for your recipients to take action. Considering all of these together will provide you with a correct timeline. Advance preparation is the key to achieving any goal. 

For a single email, reporting in 48-72 hours is usually a good rule of thumb. Count how many emails your campaign consists of and the days in between send-outs, then determine a date to report on your success from there.

Step 5: Identify any obstacles

Like with any marketing campaign, there are bound to be potential roadblocks to reaching your goals. Knowing what can possibly derail your campaign will prepare you for whatever may come. 

These might include time issues; maybe it takes your team longer to produce the content for emails than you originally planned for. Also, take into account other current projects and deadlines your team members are responsible for. Even consider potential issues with emailing your client, especially if you are new to using their software. 

With clear goals documented, not only will you be able to better report on the success and areas for improvement of your marketing and email efforts, but you’ll also cultivate a stronger understanding of what works and doesn’t work for your leads and customers.

Related blog post: There will always be competition, so use them to your advantage by Monitoring Your Competitor’s Strategy. They can help you improve your own strategy and help you stay current on the latest email marketing campaign trends.  

Step 6: Monitor your success

Now that you’ve committed to your campaign, track your progress on a timely basis.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture will help your SMART goals are actually doing well. By measuring goals using the parameters above, also factor in KPIs and conversion rates. Benchmarking progress will help you produce better email campaigns as you learn about what works for your business and what doesn’t. 

Need help with more than just emails?

Our digital marketing agency specializes in the inbound methodology, and email is our forte. We know what it takes to create successful email campaigns that convert leads and we’d like to share that knowledge with you. To learn more about generating leads, check out our Lead Gen Tips, Tricks, and Ideas we’ve created. 

This ebook is jam-packed full of helpful resources to improve not only your email campaign strategy, but your marketing efforts as a whole. For your free copy of our ebook, click the button below to get access!

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This post was originally published on February 6th, 2015. The content was refreshed on March 5th, 2020.