Strategic planning is a very important skill to master for anyone who wants to be distinctive in business and on the market.

In order for someone to become a successful digital marketer, he or she would need to master planning out campaigns in a way that predicts as many things as possible.

Every detail that is planned in advance helps make running the campaign easier.

The common problem with strategic planning is that you don’t know where exactly to start from.

To help with this there are many models available, but picking the one that works for you also takes work because there are is a vast array of models available out there.

There is a model that sticks out of the crowd with its simplicity and is surely one option that shouldn’t be overlooked without giving it a try – the RACE model.

This framework is very practical since it provides tactical development and objective setting.

It’s created by Smart Insights with the idea to guide you by putting your focus on key performance indicators (KPI’s) that are crucial for the campaign’s success.


Competition is very fierce online, especially in digital marketing. To stay ahead of the curve, marketers need not only to be great at strategic planning but excel in agility as well.

Optimizing digital channels against SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) KPI’s is what the RACE framework made for.

The name RACE is made up of activities that are the key in online marketing and which need to be managed and measured.

It covers the entire customer life cycle or marketing funnel, so it covers all the stages the customer goes through, from beginning to the end.

Starting from building awareness, to converting leads to customers and then post-purchase engagement, the latter being a very interesting field for marketers to play in and use to drive revenue.

The framework has 4 stages:

  1. Reach
  2. Act
  3. Convert
  4. Engage

An added stage is also available for those who fancy more depth – Plan is the “zero stage” which exists for better planning of the digital strategy and objective setting.

In this case, the framework can also be called PRACE, but the name RACE is much more used because of its simplicity and the better ring it has to the ear.

What is your value proposition? Do you know the answer to this question in the middle of the night? Is your value proposition still relevant?

This is absolutely necessary to know and have positive answers before going on through with the framework.

RACE helps with defining new segmentation, but also with targeting and placing your value proposition digitally online.

It gives a systematic review of progress and a defined process to measure how successful the planned activities are going so far and how to move forward towards the goal.

The Plan stage helps with finding out about potential blind spots or strengths that could be capitalized further.

The first phase – Reach

The first official phase, Reach is all about promoting your brand or product externally, building awareness in areas outside of your control but not outside of your influence.

Activities that fall into this phase are for example launching online courses, paid advertising or posting guest blogs on different sites to raise awareness.

As a digital marketer answering these questions will help you reach your target audience in the most effective way possible:

  • Where does my audience spend time?
  • What do they like to see?
  • What value can I bring to them?
  • What search terms are they using and how can I align my product or brand with their searches?
  • How big is my budget for promoting?

Search engines, blogs and social networks are the channels of communication every marketer uses for communication, so finding the best way to get people to these channels and keeping them there is where the Reach phase comes in handy.

The potential customer is in the first phase of the marketing funnel here and is exploring for the best available option for him.

Getting customers to come back is even more important, but more on that in the last phase.

KPI’s which need to be observed in the first phase are:

  • Number of unique visitors
  • Value of each visitor
  • Number of followers

Media used to reach the audience can vary from paid, owned to earned.

If you have your own portal, of course, you’ll post there, you can pay for your posts to be posted on other portals and with enough work, the media will start asking you for content.

Once you reach a point where media ask you for content because their followers demand it, you can say that you did a fine job!

The second phase – Act

Once you have successfully driven traffic towards your website or another online channel it’s time for the next phase, which presents how these future customers engage with your product or brand.

As creators of the RACE framework, Smart Insights suggests that Act is short for Interact.

As the name itself says the point is that the consumer interacts with you and takes action when they reach your website or on social media.

The action visitors take could be leaving details and requesting more information (this is common for business-to-business), but it can also be as simple as signing up for a newsletter.

The important thing here is that you have their contact that you can use in the future to promote your products, demos, e-books, courses and so on.

The higher the conversion from a visit to leaving contact information and asking for more, the better you are at your job as a digital marketer.

Interactive tools are a nice-to-have here because they keep your visitor’s attention. Keep in mind that they are in the decision-making part of the marketing funnel, thus you need to have a clear picture of what the customer journey looks like.

Consider the answers to these questions: Could I provide a preview of my content? Could I somehow reward them for leaving me their contact information? How am I calculating my ROI?

KPI’s that are key for measurement in the Act phase are:

  • Conversion to leads
  • Time spent on the website
  • Number of shares, comments and likes

The third phase – Convert

In the third phase, we achieve conversion for our marketing goals such as generating sales from leads both online and offline.

In this phase, the final step for purchase happens and your visitors become paying customers.

As mentioned, the payment can be done online, through e-commerce transactions but it can also be done through other offline channels.

In the marketing funnel, the conversion from a visitor who interacts to the one who purchases is the key and measures not only your marketing skills but also your sales skills.

Although marketing differs from sales because it’s not so focused on bringing in revenue but also on building brand, in order for you to be a great digital marketer you’re going to have to pay attention to your sales skills.

Once you have people eyeballing your product it is time to close the sale.

You will capitalize on your marketing investment in this stage, so this is finally where you will get to see whether your investment was worth and how much was it worth.

Put yourself in the shoes of your lead – what’s stopping them from making that final step to purchase? How can you convince them that they need your product?

Key measures in this phase to observe are:

  • Number of online and offline sales
  • Revenue and profit generated
  • Average value of an order/purchase

The final phase – Engage

In this phase, the focus is to build long-lasting relationships with your first-time customers in order to build loyalty among you.

Once you have loyal customers your long-term profit is guaranteed.

The point of the Engage phase is to be the ultimate driver for repeat purchases and brand advocacy.

Often it is overlooked how valuable engaged customers are and companies focus on one-hit sales instead of customers that will keep coming back for more.

When customers share their stories of your product, they’re confirming your credibility.

This is why loyalty programs are so valuable.

Be sure that the product or service you’re selling actually solves the customers’ needs.

Let’s keep in mind that happy customers are the key for great social media pages, referrals and repeated sales.

Happy customers are real-life proof of your products or brands value, so put your main focus on exceeding their needs rather than selling as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Which content will promote initial interest and return visits? Let’s all have in mind that user-generated content is a great way to save time and money for content creators since you leave the users to create for themselves.

This content can be a review, a comment or a rating.

All the best companies see themselves as publishers but use their audience as publishers too.

Customer lifetime value is a prediction of the entire net profit from a relationship with a single customer.

Different channels of communication are used to boost customer lifetime value, including social media pages, e-mail or any other direct offline or online channels.

The focus is put on engagement parameters such as likes and shares, which will give you a proper idea on how your customers are responding to your content.

Your customers are supposed to have repeat actions such as repeated sales or regular sharing on social media channels (this is how their support is seen by the company).

Customer satisfaction tells us how much our product or service is meeting or exceeding the customers’ expectation, so knowing this information is crucial.

How much is your product recommended by your users? How many sales are you generating through word-of-mouth? How can you get more positive testimonials for your product or service?

These are the questions that need to be answered when we’re talking about the final phase.

The whole point is to have satisfied, long-term, engaged customers who trust your product and brand. If they trust your brand then they won’t have a problem with buying your future products or services.

The buyer is in the stage of advocacy in the marketing funnel and this part is most prone to automation.

More work is now available for automation to help you save time on manual day-to-day operations.

Key measurements of your customer engagement are the following:

  • Number of repeat purchases
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer advocacy (referrals or testimonials)


“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” – Peter Drucker

To manage successfully is to measure successfully. Your data tells you which activities are effective and which are not, as well as which activities are high effort and low impact or low effort and high impact.

Ideally, your focus should only be on activities which don’t need a lot of effort but they have a big impact.

Your business will grow through digital marketing if you focus on optimizing processes, and the way to do that is by evaluating your activities by their measurements.

Here are the key measurements for each phase of the RACE framework and all of them are SMART!

  1. Reach – How many unique visitors are you getting? In what amount of time? How much of your content are they sharing? How much is every visit valuable/ how much revenue is each visit generating?
  2. Act – What is the bounce rate? How big is your product page conversion? How many pages are visited per one visit?
  3. Convert – How much revenue are the customers generating for you? How many successful sales are made? What is the value of the average order? How big is the conversion from visitor to a buyer?
  4. Engage – How many repeated visitors are you getting? How much content are they sharing? How much revenue are they generating you? How many times do they mention your brand?

All of these performance indicators are general and need to be aligned with the product.

You can’t and you shouldn’t measure with every KPI available with the same precision, focus and energy.

Define which measures are keys for keeping up with the success of the campaign.


Analysis of the marketplace is crucial for good implementation of the RACE framework.

We need to know how we are using our current digital media and then can see where there is room for improvement.

We will analyze our audience and customer to know how exactly does our user persona look like and which exact problem are we solving for him/her.

Benchmarking has proven as a quite useful practice because we can directly see how we measure up to our competitors.

For understanding our position on the market and what we’re good at and what we’re bad at, of course, the best tool to do so is the SWOT matrix.

This matrix up to this day is not matched by any other when it comes to simplicity and how much valuable information it provides in a very structured manner.

Successful objective setting is always done by aligning what we measure with what we wish to achieve.

Simply put, the metrics are always aligned with the goal, and the goal is always a vision with a measurement.

Google analytics is one of the most resourceful tools for everything you need to keep track of so be sure to check it regularly and use the data collected there for your advantage.

It has more than 60 reports and before you even segment your audience so don’t waste time looking at the unnecessary ones.

The question is – which activities should you optimize? The answer to this is different for different phases.

Search engine optimization (SEO) logically falls into the first phase, because it directly helps people to reach your page.

Other activities that should be monitored and optimized in the first phase include pay-per-click (PPC), public relations and social media marketing.

To get people to Act and to Convert them you will pay attention to the following:

  • Conversion rate optimization – How can we get to the conversion rate of nearly 100%? This goal might seem too ambitious but remember, if you reach for the stars and don’t make it, at least you’ll fall on the clouds.
  • Home page optimization – Your homepage is the front page of your site and the first thing a visitor sees. This is why it needs to be attention grabbing so put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and ask what would be interesting enough for you to see in the beginning? What would spark the need to see more?
  • Landing page optimization – A page that is specialized to capture leads and convert to sales and improving its conversion can lead to excellent business results. Landing pages are usually the main destination of paid online marketing campaigns.


RACE has a social element to it and is more than a digital marketing strategy.

It’s about forming connections with your consumers and partnering up with companies with similar values.

Running a website is not all digital marketing.

Likewise, RACE Is not only about strategy but also about building and maintaining relationships.

Social media nowadays plays a huge role in a company’s profit. Viewers create an opinion about your product or brand at every step of the funnel.

Knowing this, it’s very easy to lose potential customers because a certain part wasn’t developed as well as it could be. On the other hand, this can be great for differentiating those who are willing to put in the work.

RACE connects all online and offline channels to give a consistent customer experience, no matter through which channel the user is communicating with you.

It’s common knowledge that online channels work best when they are integrated with offline channels and media.

Traditional media is best used to attract a bigger audience and raise awareness.

The next step the audience should make once they are aware of you is to visit you online – the website or social media.

Then they’re basically at the Act stage and are ready to be influenced on what to do next.

Omni-channel marketing represents a marketing idea where the user has a seamless experience, no matter the channel which he’s using.

Users should be able to communicate with a brand in a physical store as well as the website or any other online media.

RACE is created so that it makes the most out of all resources – to help digital marketers use every opportunity there is to grow. It is convenient for both small businesses and large corporations.

For many companies creating a digital marketing strategy poses a big challenge. This is how RACE came to be.

It’s supposed to give a structure for planning and prioritizing when there are so many options available. Ultimately, it’s about using the best analytics to get the best results.

Use it to get the best commercial value for your investment in digital marketing.

It hopes to simplify your overview of the digital marketing strategy and to point a finger to actions that will improve its effectiveness.


The RACE framework can be used within the entire digital marketing plan. It helps in defining objectives, strategy, and tactics and in defining suitable KPI’s that need to be tracked. The general advice is to keep it simple and flexible.

Set realistic goals and your plans up to date, a perfect plan doesn’t exist. Remember, a plan is nothing, but planning is everything.

Hopefully, this model gave you some food for thought on how to scale your business to new heights using digital marketing.

Start with the consumer, his needs and his customer journey and completely align your product or service with it.

That itself is a sure recipe for being a successful digital marketer!

Introducing RACE: A Practical Framework to Improve Your Digital Marketing

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