Far too many digital marketers go about their work without referring to a clearly designated strategy. This lack of planning makes it difficult to measure success and will almost certainly result in a suboptimal approach at some point in the marketing process.

RACE is a system for planning out a digital marketing strategy, created by Smart Insights’ Dr. Dave Chaffey. It breaks down the marketing process into stages and helps with the identification of key measures by which marketers can determine how successful they have been.

The RACE planning framework consists of five distinct stages: Plan, Reach, Act, Convert, Engage. The acronym “RACE” is taken from the latter four of these. SuccessFlow has developed a series of five webinars that correspond to each of the stages of the RACE framework. These give an excellent overview for anyone who would like to get to grips with this powerful approach to forming a digital marketing strategy – you can sign up here.

The first stage of the framework is the Planning stage. This is divided into three steps: situational analysis, setting objectives, and strategy formulation. The first of these involves identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your company, and the external competitors and macroeconomic forces that could affect how you operate. The next two involve setting out a vision of what you want to achieve and then segmenting your audience before deciding how to target each segment.

Once the plan is set, the next step is Reach. This involves using social media, search engines, publishers and blogs to get your content to your prospective customers. If successful, this should drive traffic to your main web presences.

After Reach comes Act, which is short for “interact”. This stage involves persuading your audience to research further into the company, sign up to your mailing list, or share the content that you’ve been disseminating. Given the importance of this persuasive activity, it is given its own stage, separate from Reach.

Following on naturally from the Act stage is the Convert stage. This turns your audience members from interested browsers into paying customers. This must take into account all opportunities that prospective customers have to make a purchase, including both ecommerce and offline channels. A conversion for non-commerce channels can include filling in a form, registering for a download or requesting direct contact.

Finally, the Engage stage involves consideration of how you will build a long-term relationship with customers. This activity is crucial if you are to achieve repeat sales, something that is key to building a profitable business.

The success of all of these stages must be measured using key performance indicators. For Reach, this might include unique visitors to a web page or audience share. For Convert, it could include revenue per visitor. Many of these can be measured using Google Analytics.

For busy marketers, having a framework that you can use to guide your activity is a great way to ensure that your time is used effectively. RACE can get you to the stage of having a useful digital marketing strategy quickly. You will then be equipped to measure all the indicators that you need in order to fine-tune your approach.

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