A Guide To Using the SMART Method To Reach Your Product Goals

6 min read
Frank L.
Frank L.
Published May 25, 2021 Updated May 27, 2021

According to research by Product School, one of the top three reasons product managers quit is lack of clarity in their role. With so many tasks at hand but no clear direction on where to go, it’s not easy for product managers to find the best way to lead their team.

To build a successful product roadmap and become better leaders, managers need a better way to structure their product goals. That’s where the SMART goal-setting method comes in: It serves as a direction for product development, aligns your team, and allows you to measure your key results.

What Is the SMART Goal Method?

SMART is the acronym of a goal-setting methodology that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. The idea is that by taking these different aspects into account when setting product goals, you’ll be able to create better objectives that align with your company vision and provide clear direction on the steps to take. Here’s how to adopt the SMART strategy to improve product development:

1. Specific

For your new product goal to be SMART, it needs to be as specific as possible. If your product goal sounds vague, it will leave your team confused on how to move forward with the project.

For example, if your product goal is to just “get more subscribers,” that’s not going to cut it. A better, more specific SMART goal could be “We want to get 30% more users.” It’s much easier to find a direction to take with a clear number in mind.

Creating specific goals will require collaboration with your different members. Sit down with your team to think about precisely what you want to accomplish and which departments will be involved in making the product goal happen and identify critical numbers to reach.

2. Measurable

Next, you need to make sure that you identify a way to measure your product goals. This will help your team make sure that product development is on the right track.

Think about the different metrics or milestones you’ll be using to measure the success of your product goal. For example, these various key performance indicators can include:

  • Conversion rate
  • Signups
  • Churn rate
  • Customer lifetime value

If one of your product goals is to boost user retention, for instance, measuring your churn rate will be vital. You’ll see if your team’s actions to optimize the user experience are leading to fewer customers leaving your platform. Or, if you’re aiming to boost customer satisfaction, seeing your Trustpilot rating improve by one star is another good indicator.

3. Achievable

There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the moon and wanting the best for your SaaS company. However, you need to make sure that your product goal is realistic and actionable. Otherwise, you’re setting up yourself and your team for failure, burnout, and disappointment.

For example, let’s say that your company’s subscriber list grows an average of 5% each month. While that’s great, aiming to increase your subscriber base by 30% over the next month might not be the most achievable short-term goal for your SaaS product.

To make sure that your goals are not over the top, ask yourself the right questions. How has your company’s growth looked year over year? Does your product team have the time and tools it needs to achieve this goal? What are potential roadblocks that could arise during product development?

4. Relevant

You must always set product goals that are relevant to your company and tie into your product vision. They need to reflect your values, mission statement, and help you get your company where you truly want it to be.

As you’re setting up your SMART goals, make sure that you clearly explain your company vision to each department so they genuinely understand the motive behind each goal. Also, identify where the product goal fits in with your company’s current priorities to determine if it’s truly something you should be focusing on.

5. Timebound

An effective SMART goal needs to have a clear target date and time frame. Without a concrete deadline in mind, you’ll be less productive and will have less sense of urgency to get things done.

You don’t have all the time in the world, so think about when exactly you want to achieve this goal. Is it three months, six months, one year from now? From there, you can set up specific steps with your team to achieve your product goals on time.

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The Benefits of Setting SMART Product Goals

Establishing SMART goals can make a significant difference to your product management process. Here are the main benefits of using the SMART goal method to boost your product strategy and growth:

Provides Clarity to Product Development

The SMART method serves as a helpful direction for your roadmap and product launch. It also helps different teams within your company to clearly identify their roles within any particular project to achieve a specific product goal. Having a SMART product goal contextualizes for each team member the strategies and actions laid out in your product roadmap.

Helps Prioritize Which Features to Focus on

A common issue among product managers is identifying which features to prioritize during product development. The pressure from different stakeholders around them to include as many features as possible in their product sure doesn’t help either.

Based on your SMART goal, you’ll know exactly which features will best achieve what you want. The result is that you’ll stop getting distracted by constant feature requests and other tasks that don’t matter.

Motivates and Pushes Your Product Team

A SMART goal serves as a motivator for your product team and pushes them to do their best. It provides each department with a challenge and a clear direction to follow during product development.

It also makes it easier for your team to measure its progress. They’ll always be able to take another look at the SMART goal to see how they’re moving toward it.

Examples of SMART Product Goals

Looking for inspiration for SMART product goals to take your SaaS platform to the next level? Here are the best examples of business goals that you can set up to guide future product development:

Product Goal #1: Get New Subscribers

Building a great product is just the first step. Next, you need to find ways to promote your software, spread awareness, and drive new users to your platform. Here’s how you can set up a SMART goal to achieve this:

  • Specific: We want to drive 1,000 new subscribers by launching digital marketing campaigns via social media, targeted ads, and other channels.
  • Measurable: We’ll be measuring this goal by the number of new signups we’re generating.
  • Achievable: We have a sufficient marketing budget to promote our product and attract the attention of new users.
  • Relevant: We’re a relatively new SaaS company looking to boost awareness and drive more growth.
  • Timebound: We want to achieve this goal within one month.

Product Goal #2: Boost User Retention

While generating new subscribers is excellent, it won’t be enough for business growth. If you want to set up your product for success, you must also find ways to engage your existing customers and get them to come back for more. Here’s what a SMART goal could look like for boosting user retention:

  • Specific: We want to increase user retention by 20% by releasing three new essential features that our target audience has frequently asked for.
  • Measurable: We will measure the results based on our churn rate, retention rate, and customer lifetime value (CLV).
  • Achievable: We have enough staff on our engineering team to build out the product.
  • Relevant: The goal ties back to our company’s mission of making the lives of our target customers easier and better solving their challenges.
  • Timebound: We plan to achieve this goal within six months.

Product Goal #3: Improve Customer Satisfaction

Part of delivering an exceptional product experience is making sure that your customers are happy. The more satisfied your customers are with your product, the more likely they’ll be to spread the word about your product to others around you. Here’s how you can set up a plan to improve customer satisfaction the SMART way:

  • Specific: We want to reduce our customer complaints by 30% and create a product that better satisfies users.
  • Measurable: We plan to measure this by online ratings and the number of customer tickets we get.
  • Achievable: We have the resources to hire more customer service agents and invest in live chat technology. Our large marketing team will also be in charge of conducting customer interviews to collect their feedback.
  • Relevant: This goal ties into our mission of delivering the best product experience for our users.
  • Timebound: We want to achieve this goal within five months.

Get More Done in Less Time by Being SMART

Creating SMART product goals will benefit everyone on your team. You’ll be able to boost your company productivity and get more done faster.

As a result, you’ll be able to release new updates more quickly, continually find ways to improve the user experience, and adapt to changing trends in your industry. You’ll naturally build a product that customers love and stand out from the crowd.

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