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3 Basic Digital Strategy Frameworks to Guide Your Planning
- 17 Jun 2021 7 min read
The practice of digital marketing has grown a lot in the last three decades as the number of people surfing the web surged over the years. From the era of keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks, it evolved into a more sophisticated practice, using big data, personalization, and a whole host of different strategies that involve planning, audit, communications, branding, and more.
Put simply, the practice has become more complex than ever; and without a solid digital strategy framework, you’ll get left behind. With all the aspects you need to keep an eye on when engaging in digital marketing, it’s easy to miss some elements that can make or break business success. For this reason, one of the most important things you must do before delving into the nitty-gritty of strategies and campaigns is to have a clearly defined digital strategy framework.
Our very own team uses a scalable, data-driven digital marketing framework that we developed from our experiences with different client-brands through the years. If you’re still trying your hand on systematizing your marketing process, the good news is that you don’t have to start a digital strategy framework from scratch. There are basic models you can pattern yours after.
Definition of Digital Strategy Framework
First things first, what exactly is a digital marketing framework or digital strategy framework? In simple terms, it’s a document that outlines the flow of the marketing process, identifying critical requirements and key touchpoints. It ensures you miss nothing in the complex process.
There are many different types of digital strategy frameworks, tackling different aspects of the practice, from communications to planning to strategy. Some integrate all, while others target a specific aspect. When creating your own, you must know your business needs and priorities to come up with a model that suitably accommodates your objectives. Use these basic digital marketing models below to guide you through the process of creating yours.
1. RACE Planning
Created by learning platform Smart Insights, RACE is a mnemonic that stands for Reach, Act, Convert, Engage. These four steps refer to online marketing activities you must have as you engage with customers in different channels in different stages of their journey.
- Reach involves building awareness and visibility of your brand, driving traffic to your website and social media pages. Some of your key performance indicators here are website traffic, external links, online engagement, and earned media, among others.
- Act (short for Interact) involves encouraging people to make a certain action on the site or the social media page. Some of your key performance indicators here are bounce rate, time on site, and number of newsletter sign-ups, among others.
- Convert involves converting loyal fans to paying customers. Some of your key performance indicators here are number of leads, conversion rate, sales and revenue, among others.
- Engage involves building strong relationships with customers to promote retention. Some of your key performance indicators here are customer churn rate and repeat customer rate, among others.
What is it good for?
At the core, RACE Planning will help you draw up an effective digital marketing strategy as it identifies key activities for each step in the customer journey.
Photo of the RACE model courtesy of Smart Insights
How can you adopt it?
Plan your action steps for RACE:
- Reach. Improve your digital communications, including your press releases, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and influencer outreach. Place your brand in social media channels your target audience visits.
- Act. Create a content campaign plan, which involves a mix of different types of content. Dedicate a huge amount of resources on video because people will be consuming more of this content. This is one of the top digital marketing trends of 2021 that you must focus on. But whatever the type of content you’re going for, make your materials the go-to source of relevant, inspiring information for your audience.
- Convert. Set up a conversion rate optimization program. Include text-based calls to action in blog posts and high-converting pop-ups. Use A/B tests to determine the most attractive designs and content features for web visitors.
- Engage. Map all the customer touchpoints and deliver personalized messages by the web, email, and social media.
2. Marketing Funnel
This is one of the most used digital strategy frameworks, showing the journey customers take when engaging with your brand, starting with finding out your products and services to buying from you. The marketing funnel has four levels:
- Awareness. This is when a potential customer sees your social media post or banner ad or hears about your brand from an influencer or a friend.
- Interest. A potential customer is hooked on your brand, visiting other online platforms or checking reviews to learn more about you.
- Consideration. A potential customer acknowledges their problem and your brand as the solution.
- Action. The potential customer takes action, buys a product or books an appointment with you.
In an e-commerce platform, these stages are highly trackable. A potential customer visits your website (awareness), clicks on a product and reads through the description (interest), adds an item to their cart (consideration), and checks out (action).
What is it good for?
While RACE Planning identifies your key action points in the digital marketing process, the Marketing Funnel can summarize for you the customer journey, and therefore helps you identify roadblocks to conversion. This informs your digital marketing planning framework, enabling you to list down opportunities in leading people to your desired action.
For example, if you’re getting only less than half of the people who added the item to their cart, you may have to send automated messages to remind them of products in their shopping bag. This is an opportunity that may yield the results you’re looking for.
Graphic of marketing funnel as seen in Sprout Social’s article ‘How to Build a Social Media Marketing Funnel That Works‘
How can you adopt it?
With the funnel, draw up your action steps for each stage:
- Awareness. Talk about the problem you’re trying to solve with your products and services on a regular basis. Let them know that by using your brand, they can easily solve their problem. Similar to the Reach in RACE, be present in social media channels your target audience uses. More importantly, invest in SEO and PPC. Google is often the first site people go to when they want to solve their problem. You better show up at the first results when they type their query related to your brand. Use these essential website evaluation frameworks in your assessment.
- Interest. Let your customers know more about you by being the best source of information about their specific problems. Some good signs that you’ve hooked them in is when you’re ranking high on the search results for topics related to your brand and when you have a sizable amount of followers in your social media pages.
- Consideration. Give potential customers a more convincing reason to do business with you. The thing is, you’re likely not the first business to be in the field you’re in. Why would people choose you over others? If you can zoom in on your unique selling proposition, they’re more likely to consider doing business with you.
- Action. Make buying attractive and the experience easy. Offer discounts at checkout. Let them know that stocks are quickly running low. Ensure that checking out is simple with only a click of a button.
3. Flywheel Model
The Flywheel, a model created by Hubspot, puts customers at the heart of all business processes. It’s better understood in contrast with the marketing funnel. In the funnel, the customer is the end-all-be-all. In the Flywheel, it’s the driving force. It’s the very thing that “spins” or energizes the entire strategy.
With customers at the center of the digital strategy framework, they’re surrounded by sales, marketing, and support teams, each one aiming to enhance the purchase experience, which largely includes minimizing “frictions” or anything that slows down the spin of the flywheel. Similar to other models, it shows the buyer journey, summarized in three phases:
- Attract. Earning people’s attention and reducing barriers to awareness.
- Engage. Building rapport and making it easy for customers to talk with you.
- Delight. Supporting and empowering customers to reach success. When they achieve it, they’re more likely to talk about their experience with others, which expands business opportunities.
What’s it good for?
Because the Flywheel model is designed to create synergy among business teams, it minimizes gaps in handoffs. Moreover, it speeds up digital marketing because it reduces friction at every stage of the customer journey.
How can you adopt it?
These are some action steps you can take to adopt the Flywheel:
- Identify frictions in each phase of the customer journey. Some examples include misleading marketing messages, confusing pricing (or pricing that doesn’t match up with the perceived value), unavailable customer service. If you notice, these are problems in marketing, sales, and support, which is why it’s important to take the next step, which is to:
- Ask yourself how each team can support one another. Are there marketing to-dos that can make people more qualified for sales? How can you improve customer service and ensure repeat business? What are the common concerns and questions of customers after the sale (this should be addressed not only in support, but also in marketing and sales).
Our very own adoption of the Flywheel in the Propelrr digital strategy framework puts the objectives – both your business’ and customers – in the center of our approach as the force that will dictate the movement of the various levers. From there, we take a multi-pronged or multi-channel approach to achieving and communicating your objectives and brand message, and then integrating these into the strategy and execution.
These executions, once rolled out to your audiences or customers, should then provide the most optimal customer experience – guaranteeing a pleasant and seamless customer journey that will keep them deligthed with your brand and business.
The right digital strategy frameworks can help you come up with better strategies and make success consistent. As you choose or create your own, at the core these are the things you must remember:
- Know your audience. The best way you can map out an accurate customer journey is when you know your audience well. For this reason, it’s good to collect data from surveys and social media analytics to create buyer personas that represent your target audience accurately. With a profile, you’ll be able to know which social media platforms you should be on, what kinds of marketing messages you must put out, and how you can improve customer service and increase the likelihood of a sale.
- Keep in mind the audience’s needs. This informs the strategies you assign to each step in the digital strategy framework. SEO for those who are simply looking at their options (awareness), product launch emails for those who are intent on buying (consideration), etc. Measure each tactic to know if you’re effective in meeting your audience’s needs.
- Have a clearly defined framework. If you notice, all the three digital strategy frameworks featured here have a simple, logical flow. Each step outlines what a marketer must do. The framework you must have should be exactly like this, easy to follow and highly transferable so that teams working on online campaigns will be on the same page even though they’re focusing on different aspects of the strategy.