Are you posting on Facebook daily?
Engaging with your audience on Instagram?
Blogging once a week?
If so, you may think that your marketing is on point. But, don’t get too comfortable. Executing marketing tactics may help you earn some brownie points, but it won’t increase your real earnings—well, that is, unless you have a strategy in place. Simply going through the marketing “motions” without a strategy and clear objectives is a waste of your time and money.
You NEED a framework.
In this series of articles, we will introduce you to the RACE digital marketing planning framework. The RACE framework was introduced by Smart Insights to provide structure to digital marketing strategy in order to help marketers plan and execute better.
Each stage of this framework represents tactics that relate to a specific stage of the customer journey, or lifecycle.
In the diagram below, notice the customer journey stages on the right (Exploration, Decision-Making, Purchase, Advocacy) and how they align with the RACE framework (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage).
For more information on the customer journey (or purchase funnel), read this article.
In this article series, we will break down each stage of the RACE framework and teach you how to leverage it for your marketing so you can create a well-formed marketing strategy. This way, every tactic you implement helps you achieve a revenue-driving goal. In Part 1 below we will discuss the first stage, Reach.
IMPORTANT: You must create your marketing strategy and set your objectives and KPIs before you start reaching potential customers in this Reach stage. Let’s start there first…
Marketing Strategy and Planning (You MUST Do This before You Get Tactical)
You may be tempted to scroll down to the section of this article where we talk about marketing tactics. Resist the urge.
We know it’s easy to get addicted to the high of starting new tactics, and it isn’t cool to talk about planning and strategy. But without a strategy driving your marketing, you might as well close up shop now.
You must PLAN before you implement any of these marketing tactics. Without planning, you will have no direction for your marketing nor will you know whether you are hitting the mark with your goals.
Here are some planning steps to get you started:
Review: Analyze Your Market and Competition
Before you exit this phase, you should have a solid grasp of who you are marketing to (and against), the pain points of your audience (which will feed into your top-of-funnel content), and your internal competencies.
- Gather customer personas and purchase funnel maps; review for insights.
- Review your competencies by using a SWOT analysis.
- Review competition benchmarks.
Set Objectives and KPIs
At the end of this phase, you will have defined objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators) to track as you move forward with executing your strategy.
- Set up goals you want to achieve. You may need to define your problem first (low online reservations, not enough website inquiries, low foot traffic, etc.).
- Define SMART objectives. Be specific with this step (e.g., get 1,000 leads by the end of the 2nd quarter) so you can track KPIs throughout the process.
- Create a dashboard to report and track your KPIs.
- Consult Google Analytics to uncover data.
Later in this article, we will talk more about which metrics to use to make KPIs.
Create Your Strategy
This is where you will focus on defining the segment you are targeting, your approach, and your market positioning.
- Choose a segment of your market to target.
- Identify your targeting approach.
- Define your positioning.
- Create your value proposition.
For more detailed information on how to create your marketing strategy, check out our recent article series:
- Market orientation
- Market research
- Market positioning – Part 1
- Market positioning – Part 2
- Marketing strategy – Part 1
- Marketing strategy – Part 2
Once you successfully plan out your marketing strategy using the practices above, you’re ready to leverage this information to create tactics for the RACE framework.
REACH – Effective Tactics to Reach Potential Customers
The Reach stage of the RACE framework points to top-of-funnel (TOFU) marketing, or the first part of the customer purchase funnel (the widest part).
Your goal during the Reach stage is to reach potential customers, build brand awareness, and educate your audience. While you are promoting your brand, you’re NOT selling, pitching, or promoting your products (this is important!) but simply becoming an educational resource and building more awareness around your brand.
The key is just to drive traffic to your web properties to introduce your brand to a segment you know (from your planning) will benefit from your products.
Now while the exact tactics you use will be defined by your marketing strategy (defined in the planning stage), we can go through some common Reach stage marketing tactics so you can get an idea of what this looks like.
Paid advertising is the QUICKEST way to drive traffic to your website; however, it comes with a price tag (which can be hefty).
We also would be lying if we didn’t tell you that paid media can ravage your marketing budget (in a matter of days) if you don’t know what you’re doing. Please don’t start an advertising campaign if you have never been exposed to it. It could severely cut into ROI and choke out your profits if you don’t have any experience running ads online.
Launching and optimizing ad campaigns online takes a certain level of skill and practice. If you are not skilled in this discipline, we recommend hiring an advertising specialist or working with experts who know how to get a healthy ROI from ad campaigns.
Here are some paid media options:
- Facebook / Instagram ads
- Twitter ads
- YouTube ads
- Sponsored social content (Promote your posts on social platforms to get more visibility)
- Google Display Network
- Google Ads
- Media sponsorships
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is similar to search advertising in that it funnels traffic from the search engines to your website, but it’s not so easy to get results.
The good news? It’s FREE
The bad news? This process takes longer (a LOT longer) than paid ads to produce results.
Here’s the thing… With paid advertising, you are paying the search engine for traffic. With search engine optimization, you are optimizing your website to appear in the non-paid (organic) listings, but doing so requires time, planning, and patience. You will not get traffic quickly.
SEO is a good long-term strategy for your business, which means you should start NOW. The good news is that ranking in the search engines can bring you free targeted traffic for months and years to come.
SEO requires a mixture of on-page and off-page tactics. Here’s some more information to get you started:
- How Does SEO Work? An ON-Page SEO Tutorial for Small Businesses (Part 1)
- How Does SEO Work? OFF-Page SEO Tutorial for Small Businesses (Part 2)
Earned Media and PR
Online publishers and blogs can bring a healthy dose of exposure to your business and help you reach potential customers. Piggyback off the success of popular media outlets to get your brand information in front of the right people.
Earned media is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. It refers to the organic recognition and press mentions you receive for your content.
While a lot of earned media happens organically, you can still get your foot in the door and move the process along. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage happy customers/clients to leave positive reviews and refer your company.
- Help journalists with content for their articles. Provide your expertise, data, or anything worthy of being mentioned. TIP: On the website HARO, journalists send out queries to the network looking for source content for their pieces. Join HARO for free and get access to these daily journalist queries to get mentioned in the press.
- Journalists will also take to Twitter and Quora to query their communities for expert quotes or source content for their pieces. Find the media outlets you would like to get mentions from and stay connected to their journalists on social media sites.
- Guest post on media outlets to share your expertise and get exposure to the outlet’s audience.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is an important tactic of the RACE framework to help you reach potential customers. A solid social campaign will also help you increase brand awareness, build strong communities, and get eyeballs on your TOFU content.
Do you already have some social campaigns running? That’s good. Now is the time to optimize your campaigns and focus on how you can use your social profiles to execute on your marketing strategy goals. In other words, instead of simply posting and hoping, be more intentional about how social media plays into your marketing objectives and KPIs.
RACE Stage KPIs – What Should I Be Tracking?
As mentioned before, you need objectives and KPIs. Without them, you are entering marketing blind without a compass. Each stage of the RACE framework comes with its own set of KPIs depending on the tactic.
The following are examples of some typical KPIs to track during the Reach stage:
- Website traffic (unique visitors) coming from search engines (paid and organic), social media sites, and media outlets.
- Revenue per website visitor – This is important so you can tie the KPIs to revenue. What is the value of each website visitor? Your KPIs should show the progression over time and the value generated from each.
- Social fans / followers
According to Smart Insights, track the volume, quality, and value of your KPIs, as seen below:
Tracking unique visitors refers to volume, and the bounce rate would define the quality of each website visit, since a low bounce rate can point to a disinterested visitor (in most cases). Then, calculating the revenue per visit identifies the true value of each new visitor.
Use Google Analytics and third-party tools to track these KPIs. For revenue goals, you will need to customize your Google Analytics and set up goals. Here’s some information on how to track your revenue goals with Google Analytics.
Off to the RACEs – What You Need to Know to Reach More Customers
In this article, we defined the first stages of the RACE framework, which is Planning and Reach.
This involves reviewing and analyzing your market, setting objectives and KPIs, and planning out your strategy.
Then we talked about the Reach stage, which involves increasing brand awareness by driving traffic to your web properties and executing on tactics defined by your overall marketing strategy.
In Part 2, we will be covering the 2nd stage of the RACE Framework, Act or Interact. You will learn how to interact with your target audience to move them even closer to becoming a customer. If you need assistance creating and/or planning your marketing strategy or getting more traffic to your web properties, get in touch here. We’d be happy to help.