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Credit by Dave Chaffey

RACE is often thought of as a digital marketing planning framework, but I developed it to help integrated digital marketing and traditional marketing activities.  Other marketing models such as PR Smith’s strategy process framework SOSTAC® were available, but they didn’t reference the specific digital marketing activities needed to manage key digital marketing activities like search, content, website, email or content marketing.

Why use the RACE model?

Here are the reasons we recommend RACE at Smart Insights and why I think it has become popular with Smart Insights members around the world who have adopted it.

  • RACE is practical and action-oriented – it focuses on tactics you can implement in your digital marketing communications and on your website and mobile apps.

  • RACE is customer-centred – it follows the established customer lifecycle of relationship building or marketing funnel from creating awareness; generating leads from new prospects; converting prospects to sale online or offline and encouraging loyalty, repeat sales and advocacy such as social sharing.

  • RACE integrates all modern marketing activitiesRACE covers all the many paid, owned and earned inbound marketing activities available from digital marketing. Plus, it also integrates traditional offline marketing activities.

  • RACE is multi-channel – many businesses still rely on offline touchpoints to acquire and retain customers, you will see these are built into RACE, particularly as part of ‘Convert’ where offline interaction is often needed to make a sale.

  • RACE is commercial based on a performance improvement process – it encourages a data-driven marketing approach that defines KPIs that digital marketers should include at each stage for setting targets, reviewing results using analytics and summary dashboards and continuous optimization.

How is the RACE framework structured?

RACE consists of four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

  1. Reach: Reach is aimed at building awareness and visibility of your brand, 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 pages. It involves maximising reach over time to create multiple interactions using different paid, owned, and earned media touchpoints. Smart use of inbound marketing techniques such as search, social media, content and email marketing are vital to get the cut through you need to drive Reach.

  2. Act: Act is short for Interact. Unlike simpler, Reach > Convert > Retain frameworks, I defined Act as a separate stage from conversion since encouraging interactions on websites and in social media is so challenging given today’s crowded, fragmented media landscape, the main aim of Act is to generate online leads that can then be nurtured on the ‘path-to-purchase’. It’s about persuading site visitors or prospects to take the next step, the next Action on their customer journey when they initially reach your site or social network presence. Goals can include “Viewed product”, “Added to Basket”, “Registered as member” or “Signed up for an e-newsletter”. Act is also about encouraging participation. This can be sharing of content via social media or customer reviews (strictly, part of Engage).

  3. Convert: This is conversion to sale. It involves getting your audience to take that vital next step which turns them into paying customers whether the payment is taken through online Ecommerce transactions or offline channels.

  4. Engage: This is long-term engagement that is, developing a long-term relationship with first-time buyers to build customer loyalty as repeat purchases using communications on your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value. It can be measured by repeat actions such as repeat sale and sharing content through social media. We also need to measure the percentage of active customers (or email subscribers) and customer satisfaction and recommendation using other systems.

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