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SMART Criteria

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Achieving business goals

You should establish digital objectives to help you achieve your overall business goals. Digital objectives need to be SMART:

  • Specific: Should be clear to people with a basic knowledge of the issue, program or initiative and clearly articulated, well defined, and focused.
  • Measurable: Should be able to determine the degree to which there is completion or attainment. Using the same (ideally quantifiable) methodology and information, findings should be able to be replicated.
  • Achievable: Should be realistic, practical, and attainable within operational constraints dependent upon availability of resources, knowledge, and timeframe.
  • Relevant: Should be closely tied to the organization and the customer in order to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Timely: Should have clear timelines or deadlines expressed.

An example of a SMART objective is: “I will improve my retention rate by 1% over a period of six months.”  So if your retention rate now is, say, 70%, you can aim to increase that by 1%. You have to be quite clear about where you stand now - your baseline, before you define your objective and set SMART criteria for it.

Gaining organizational support

Be aware of the need to communicate and share information, messages, and the objectives of your plan to all relevant parties across the organization and secure support. This can be achieved if you follow these steps:

  • Lay out the vision: Clearly state what is changing and why. Show employees where you are today and where you intend to be tomorrow. Make sure you show them why this matters to the organization, how it will positively impact their careers, and how you plan to measure success.
  • Personalize tasks: Make sure the tasks you assign to each person play to their strengths. When people are set up for success, they are more motivated to achieve. Like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, nothing will get done if you have a big-picture person working on detail-rich tasks. Be clear with each person about how their work is vital to the outcome. Then set measurable goals and let them know how they will be held accountable. If appropriate, let the individuals take part in defining the work they will be undertaking.
  • Follow up: Stay connected to ensure that everyone is clear about the mission that they are working toward. Keep an open-door policy as much as possible. If that's not feasible, consider making yourself available via email or during certain hours of the day. It's important that employees let you know when challenges arise. That's not to say you should listen to every gripe and complaint, but you can let everyone know you are empathetic to their concerns and are willing to work with them to find solutions. Further, encourage employees to bring a solution with them when making you aware of a problem.
  • Nip resistance in the bud: Be aggressive in addressing instances where you see resistance. This is important for two reasons. First, small problems have a nasty habit of ballooning into bigger ones. Second, you don't want unhappy employees poisoning the minds of other employees who have already bought in.
  • Be prepared to change the change: Just as employees resist change, sometimes we fail to realize that our own changes aren't working the way we want them to. Assuming you have the right workers on the right task, solicit their feedback. You have to be prepared to take the advice they give and adjust your own game plan. Sometimes that means midcourse corrections. Other times, it means scrapping the plan and starting from scratch. That's not defeat - it's the ultimate sign that you value the buy-in your employees have for your ideas.

Specific objectives

Ask the following questions to ensure objectives are specific and aligned to a goal:

  • Who am I targeting?
  • Where am I operating?
  • When am I active?
  • What am I offering?
  • Why am I doing all of the above?

Measurable objectives

You need to ensure that your objectives are measurable. So include numeric or descriptive measures within them that define quantity, quality, and cost. This will allow you to establish whether or not the objective has been met clearly, whilst also providing more of a focus to the goal.

  • Quantity: How many or how much of something should be achieved
  • Quality: The standard of the output that is desired
  • Cost: How much it costs to achieve the goal

Achievable and realistic objectives

Ensure that objectives are achievable by reviewing:

  • Available resources: What resources do you have to help you to achieve the objective?
  • Original timeline: Can you meet the goal within the time constraints that have been set?
  • Team skills: Does the team have the skills to be able to meet the goals?

Compare the objective to how it will support the current business proposition in order to assess how realistic it is. Does the goal align with the broader goals of the company or department?

Timely objectives

In order to ensure the objective is timely, businesses should assign a definite target date for completion and for frequencies of steps which are important to achieve the objective.

It is important to integrate milestones and dates from other projects which may affect your objectives, to ensure they are timely.

A goal should have a timeframe – a deadline or date for completion. Setting a deadline reinforces the seriousness of the goal in your mind. It motivates you to take action. When you don’t set a timeline, there is no internal pressure to accomplish the goal, so it gets put on the back burner.

Within your established timeframe, ask yourself:

  • What can I do today to reach my goal?
  • What can I do 3 weeks from now to reach my goal?
  • What can I do 3 months from now to reach my goal?
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Satarupa Banerjee

Satarupa Banerjee holds an MBA from Cranfield University and an MSc from University College of Science and Technology. She has extensive experience across numerous industries including insurance, retail, healthcare and banking. Currently, she heads Direct Marketing Products in Direct Line Group where she has delivered several CRM campaigns. In the past she has also held roles as Customer Value Strategies Manager, Change Manager, and Sales Performance Manager.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    Strategy Formulation and Plan
    Satarupa Banerjee
    Skills Expert

    This module focuses on using strategic planning to drive marketing activities that will enable a business to win a competitive advantage. It covers assessing internal capabilities and addressing skills gaps, benchmarking, information gathering, SWOT analysis, evaluating digital channel tactics, and strategy implementation. It also covers documenting a digital strategy using SMART criteria and knowing how to evaluate the effectiveness of a digital strategy using KPIs, targets, and marketing analytics.