5 digital marketing models

Digital frameworks to help organise and plan your projects


Digital marketing models are indispensable for any kind of online project regardless of whether your are developing a website, overviewing an inbound strategy or managing a PPC campaign. They help you to organise and plan your work and they’re great tools to pitch projects and map customer experience.

You often risk to get the customer lost in a technical vocabulary as an online marketeer, project leader or web developer. It’s here that visual marketing models come to the rescue. They can help all parties involved to know exactly in which stage of a project they are, what the goals of any given stage is and what the next steps will be. This predictability can make your life a lot more comfortable and it will definitely eliminate a lot of frustration.

Even if you are an experienced online marketeer you often tend to overlook small things that – if forgotten – can have big implications. We will present 5 widely used digital marketing models that can help you to extract the most out of your project.

1. The STDC model

Courtesy of Avinash Kaushik, Marketing Evangelist for Google and author of several books about web analytics. STDC stands for See – Think – Do – Care. It’s particularly interesting because it operates from a consumer perspective instead of a company’s perspective. This distinguishes it from other widely used models that have been around for decades. Basically, the stages describe four different audience intent clusters.

It addresses an ever recurring thing in marketing. It’s not only about getting your message to your customers or prospets. It’s about getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. This model beautifully simplifies that problem. Avinash offers comprehensive examples how to narrow down audiences in different consideration stages. He points to the fact that a lot of marketing efforts are only addressing people who are about to convert (Do stage). This discards audiences that are reachable while they are still in the early phases of the funnel (which he identifies as See and Think). The Care stage is about loyalty building, remarketing and return business.

STDC has widely been implemented the last few years. With digital metrics becoming ever more accurate, marketeers are able to map the customer journey in detail. You can implement the model for all the typical online tools: content marketing, SEO, SEA, social, display, affiliate,… It makes you understand which tool can be most useful in a particular stage of the customer journey.

2. The ACCD model

One of the best-known inbound methodologies out there, designed by HubSpot. The ACCD model can turn strangers into customers through its four stages: Attract – Convert – Close – Delight. This framework is not unknown to SEO specialists because at the basis is not really a sales pitch, rather a demonstration of trust and expertise in your field. Hence the emphasis on inbound.

HubSpot goes deep into this model, offering a wide range of software tools to help you. Nevertheless, you can implement this framework for any blog or content strategy.

3. The RACE model

The RACE model was launched back in 2010 by Dave Chaffey from Smart Insights and then updated in 2012 and 2015. This model (Reach – Act – Convert – Engage) also consists of four stages (with an additional first ‘Plan’ stage not mentioned in the abbreviation). Apart from the four stages, the model also mentions key KPIs for every stage.

The bulk of these KPIs are metrics widely available in Google Analytics. This distinguishes it a bit from HubSpot’s ACCD where their own bespoke software is presented for the latter stages of the process. By contrast, the RACE framework can be fully implemented for large and small businesses albeit with a bit of customization. RACE also points at integration with other digital and offline media, especially in the early ‘Reach’ stage where you build awareness.

4. The Honeycomb model

Created in 2011 by three Canadian professors (Jan Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens and Ian McCarthy), the Honeycomb model is designed specifically for social media strategies. It consists of 7 components:

  • Identity
  • Presence
  • Relationships
  • Reputation
  • Groups
  • Conversations
  • Sharing

Contrary to the three digital marketing models above, the Honeycomb framework does not describe a customer journey as such. It offers a way to dive deeper in a particular aspect of social media and which role it plays in your social media strategy (which will be embedded into a larger digital strategy). It speaks for itself that Facebook and LinkedIn have different audiences and that you have to adapt your message accordingly. You can read a full explanation of the model here.

What I like about this model is that it makes you think as an online marketeer if it’s useful to be present on a particular social network. The last few years there seems to be a tendency in marketing departments to be present on any given platform without asking if it’s beneficial to the customer.

5. The 4 Cs

The 4 Cs are a digital application of Philip Kotler’s 4 Ps of the marketing mix (Price – Place – Product – Promotion). For decades this has been carved in stone. Textbook stuff for every marketing student (myself included). It’s still relevant today but it’s difficult to translate to a digital environment. In particular because this model was used by pure product-driven companies putting products on the market consumers weren’t asking for.

Already introduced back in 1990 by Bob Lauterborn, the 4 Cs (Cost – Convenience – Customer Value – Communication) can easily be used for digital projects like websites and app development. Let’s say: projects where you actually sell a product rather than a service like SEO or SEA). The implementation speaks for itself:

  • Cost: you calculate a cost for web development (man hours, purchase of stock photos, external partners,…)
  • Convenience: UX and UI designers sit together to discuss color schemes, fonts, structure, navigation and wireframes
  • Customer value: what does the website add for the customer. What functionalities have to be in place. What does it have to do? (huge differences between a corporate website, web shop, blog,…)
  • Communication: does the website stay loyal to the other online and offline branding so that the corporate communication remains consitent?

Each of these digital marketing models has it’s own assets and obviously you can combine different aspects from each model into a model of your own.

Posted on August 25, 2018 by , last modified on August 25, 2018

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