The RACE Digital Marketing Improvement Framework
RACE is a mnemonic we’ve developed to help digital marketers plan their activities better. In this post, I’ll show how you can simplify your measurement and reporting through RACE.
You can find more details about applying RACE for Internet Marketing Planning in our free Internet marketing template download and it is used by our Expert members create plans using our Digital Strategy Toolkit.
What does RACE stand for?
The RACE mnemonic is Reach-Act-Convert-Engage, it helps plan and manage the main activities businesses need to work on to improve their online marketing.
We believe improvements should be based on careful measurement using digital analytics of which marketing activities are effective. The diagram we used to introduce RACE in 2010 gives examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) at each stage.
Through 15 years of advising marketers through my books and training I’ve found that, after time has passed, all that often remains from the course as a takeaway is a framework on which to hang future actions. C’est la vie! But busy people seem to like frameworks and mnemonics to structure their actions. To help digital marketers structure their thoughts, over the years I’ve created or been involved with:
- The 5Ss of online marketing (PR Smiths suggestions on goals from our Emarketing Excellence book)
- SOSTAC® – a method for structuring digital marketing planning (again developed by Paul Smith)
- CRITICAL – a practical way of improving Email Marketing
- The 6 key digital media channels for traffic building options
And of course it’s why we’re called SMART Insights.
So in line with our aim to simplify managing digital marketing we’ve developed RACE. This is the first article introducing it; later posts will go into more detail on how to apply it to get better results.
We created RACE to help give a simple framework to help small and large businesses alike take advantage of the opportunities available from digital marketing. There are so many tools and tactics available that it’s difficult to know where to start. We hope RACE gives a structure to help you review and prioritise when there are so many options, but some options work better than others.
RACE is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing. Ultimately it’s about using best practice web analytics techniques to get more commercial value from investments in digital marketing. We hope it will help simplify your approach to reviewing the performance of your online marketing and taking actions to improve its effectiveness.
What is RACE?
RACE consists of four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Step 1 Reach. Reach means building awareness of a brand, its products and services on other websites and in offline media in order to build traffic by driving visits to different web presences like your main site, microsites or social media sites.
- Step 2 Act. Act is about persuading site visitors or prospects take the next step on their journey when they initially reach your site or social network presence. It may mean finding out more about a company or it’s products, searching to find a product or reading a blog post. It’s about engaging the audience through relevant, compelling content and clear navigation pathways so that they don’t hit the back button. The bounce rates on many sites is greater than 50%, so getting the audience to act or participate is a major challenge which is why we have identified it separately.
- Step 3 Convert. Conversion is where the visitor commits to form a relationship which will generate commercial value for the business. It’s where marketing goals such as leads or sales on web presences and offline.
- Step 4 Engage. This is long-term engagement, building customer relationships over time through multiple interactions using different paid, owned and earned media touchpoints like your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value.
Activities within RACE
All of our guidance on Smart Insights from our blog posts to detailed guides and templates are structured according to RACE. This is a summary of some of the main activities – we have created an interactive version of this planning framework where you can click through to relevant sections on this diagram.
Of course, there are many more online marketing activities which are covered in our full sitemap of hub pages.
Google Analytics has over 60 reports displaying many more metrics and that’s before you start segmenting your audience… Other web analytics tools have more… This makes it difficult to know what to report; you have to identify your “critical few Key Performance Indicators” which you report on regularly to review performance and identify problems. Here we have suggested just 3 KPIs for each area which apply for a retail site. We’ll have more on these and related performance drive measures in later posts.
RACE is Social! Digital marketing is not just about your website
Digital marketing today is not just about your website, and in fact it never has been, partnering with other sites and “swimming with the fishes” has always been important.
But today, the popularity of participation in social media with web users means that how to reach, interact, convert and maintain ongoing engagement of customers through social networks is vital to the success of a brand. At each step in RACE you need to think how social media can help achieve your goals and how you can measure the effectiveness of social media.
RACE is integrated
Digital channels always work best when they’re integrated with other channels, so remember that where appropriate, digital channels should be combined with the traditional offline media and channels. The most important aspects of integration are first using traditional media to raise awareness of the value of the online presences and drive visitors to the website(s) at the Reach and Engage stages. Second, at the Convert and Engage steps stage customers may prefer to interact with customer representatives as part of the buying or customer service process.
So that’s an introduction to the Smart Insight RACE framework. We hope you find it useful!
We devised RACE since we wanted to develop our own approach for improving digital marketing and we feel Step 2 is more about initial interactions with a brand and in step 4, customer engagement is a longer-term process.