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Words of Wisdom for New Business Entrants

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Objectives vs Goals: Do We Need Both of Them Starting the Business Online?

By Maija Daujate

Goals and Objectives can cause confusion because online and offline these terms often have been used differently. Dave Chaffey, the author of several academic e-business and e-marketing books and co-founder of the digital marketing theory provides clarity in this case.

Where are  Objectives?

Where are Objectives?

Goals vs Objectives: Online and Offline

If you are starting your business – any – clicks, or clicks and bricks — have a glimpse into any business or marketing management book. Let’s look into the academic textbook Corporate Strategy for Irish Companies (Gallagher, 2011). It suggests that you have several criteria to decide at the beginning, such as your mission statement, vision, goals and objectives. It clarifies that goals represent your strategies at the corporate level, but your objectives represent the desired outcomes to be achieved and therefore should be SMART – an acronym for being Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-related. This is a basic system which helps to keep your business in track in any environment, online or offline.

However, searching for marketing topics online you will find that more often there are smart goals instead of smart objectives and sometimes there are no objectives, just goals. The situation online seems to be turned upside down and if you aren’t a specialist on this field yet you may get embarrassed. Therefore the question is: Objectives and Goals – how do they work online?

Let’s Ask the Expert!

It was quite easy to reach Dave Chaffey online. He always participates in conversations on his SmartInsights pages and if you are registered on this site you can start to speak to him. He answered almost instantly. This made me excited, because a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have even dreamed that I could reach such a renowned expert that easily.

My question was straightforward:

Me: “Hi Dave, as I know there are broad goals and specific objectives in business. At the beginning we set a goal showing our intention and then we set specific measurable objectives specifying things we want to achieve. Am I right? Why is it vice versa for the digital marketing?”

Dave: “Hi Maija, that’s right broad goals and specific SMART objectives – some say different. Perhaps it’s not helped that confusingly, in Google Analytics, goals are specific quantifiable metrics which are often used as KPIs and link to specific objectives. Even Avinash Kaushik of Google acknowledges this can be confusing in his post where he defines goals and objectives.

But that’s the way it should be:”

Goals and Objectives

The image from (Chaffey, 2013)

Dave Chaffey’s goals and objectives hierarchy, as his diagram shows, match with what is in the classic business management theory which states that goal is an intention behind the decision, but objective – anticipated end result of activity there.

Does It Really Matter If we Change Objectives for Goals?

For people who specialize just on the digital marketing, maybe not. They don’t really have responsibility for all processes of the whole business. They act on the digital layer – the top part of the iceberg called Business and Marketing – and focus on KPIs (key digital process indicators). All their game is played on Google Analytics and similar analytics instruments.

But if you are starting your own business and you wish to integrate digital marketing into your marketing plan, you take every word seriously, wherever it is said – online or offline, and you need clarity and consistency for all terms used. Otherwise, there could be a feeling that digitalists play their own game and there is no consistency in what they say all along with marketers.

By the way, the Oxford dictionary primarily associates goal with sports. ‘Goal’ sounds informal and energetic. It may explain why this term is chosen by Google and why it is more popular amongst digital specialists as a market segment.

Anyway, see the video:

In the Future: Goals vs Objectives?

WARC, a major site which provides trends, ideas and evidence for marketing people suggests that there is a “shift away from digital as a separate discipline, and a renewed emphasis on core brand-building programmes” (Tiltman, 2014). Thus, we can expect further more intensive integration of digital into conventional marketing and the goals and objectives of both may be married.


Chaffey D. (2013). Why and how you should define goals vs objectives carefully; 8th of; Available at: [Acessed:10th of March].
Chaffey D., Ellis-Chadwick F., Mayer R., Johnston K. (2009). Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. Harlow. Pearson education Limited.
Gallagher G. (2011). Corporate Strategies for Irish Companies: Text and Cases, 2nd edition. Dublin. Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.
Tiltman D. (2014). Warc Trends: Toolkit 2014 – How to keep your brand ahead of the competiton. WARC com ; Available at:; [Accessed: 1st of March 2014].

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Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Business – Begin With a Plan!

Ready to create a Digital Marketing Strategy for your Small Business?  

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG, /

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG, /

Having recognised the need for ‘digital’, what should you prioritise? Who is going to work on developing your Digital Marketing presence and how do you begin? This article will outline key considerations to assist in your business planning.

The introduction of the internet changed the manner in which people and organisations communicate with mass audiences.  With sophisticated marketing and communication tools available through social networks, digital marketing has had to change dramatically.  Digital Marketing (DM) is defined as the management and execution of marketing using electronic media (such as the web and email) and digital data about customers’ characteristics and behaviour (Chaffey et. al 2009).  It is complementary to traditional marketing methods and a successful DM strategy is one which is integrated into business activities.

Begin with a Plan!

Before you plan, you need to really understand your business from both an inside and outside perspective.  I find a framework helps focus the mind in this regard.  I suggest you look at an excellent 6 step framework developed by Chaffey and Smith (2009:p211) – the SOSTAC planning framework applied to digital internet marketing strategy development.

 1. Situation Analysis  Where are we now?
 2. Objectives  Where do we want to be?
 3. Strategy  How do we get there?
 4. Tactics  How exactly do we get there (details)?
 5. Actions  Who does what and when i.e. details of tactics?
 6. Control  How do we measure performance?

More  can be found here or visit where you can access a number of useful guides on the subject.

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Like any plan, the first step is to conduct a situation analysis.  Where are you now as a business?  What is your online marketplace?  What are your business capabilities?  Complete a SWOT analysis on your internet and digital presence.  Consider your micro environment and also factors in your macro environment that impact customer analysis and competitor benchmarking:

MicroE Your customer Your Market Your Competitor Your Potential Partners
MacroE Social Legal Environment Political Technology

How will social media channels ‘plug into’ your tactics?

When developing a business plan, Carvill and Taylor (2013: p14) recommend you consider how social media channels will be ‘plugged into’ your tactics.  They suggest you ask and answer the following questions to guide you as to which channel and what content strategy to adopt:

  • What is your business goal?
  • Who is your audience – what do they look like, what is their frame of mind, who are they influenced by?
  • Where is your audience – which social channels are they using, where are they based geographically, what time do they read posts?
  • How do you connect with your targets in a compelling way – what is going to engage your audience, compel them to ‘share’ and get others engaged?
  • How do you keep your conversation continuous – move beyond ‘like’ to a longer term engagement?
  • How do you get your audience to recommend you to others – word of mouth on social media has potential to go ‘viral’!

Insert - Commonly used social media platforms

Test, Review, Evaluate, Test …

Having a plan of action and knowing what your want to achieve are critical starting blocks for any business goal and it is no different for your DM strategy.  Digital Marketing is aimed at your customer – so you should be thinking what are your customer needs and what do you know about them.  Timelines for digital channels are much shorter than traditional marketing so you should have a vision for the year ahead but be flexible and focus on the next 90 days.  Remember to state your assumptions when setting specific objectives (this will help you evaluate how matters develop).  This is your plan, so use language that you and your team can understand and relate to.  This is a critical living document for your business so review it regularly and update as changes are required.

What do you need to know and where do you find it?

There are many information sources available to you.  Use your networks to talk to fellow entrepreneurs – who did their website, which channels did they adopt; what training courses or grants are available?  Sourcing student academic books will give a good background and provide reference sources (always something useful to have in the office); and of course, the World Wide Web which has too much information and will consume your time if you are not disciplined in what you read!!

Having said that, I attach some references if you would like to read more!  Do remember to share this post if you enjoyed the article.

Onward and Upward – SashaT♣