I recently wrote an article for Massnegocios a magazine in Argentina which outlined steps to defining a social media strategy which led from an article for Econsultancy on defining digital marketing strategies. What I thought was useful in both instances and what I wanted to expand on here, was how to define your goals and tailor your strategy to the customer journey or buying cycle.

If you are looking to cover multiple channels when promoting your business, it is useful to look at the customer journey or buying cycle when defining the channels, platforms and metrics that you will use to manage your campaigns.

In order to measure the success within any of these areas it is imperative that you set relevant and impactful goals. In order to do this you need to understand each of the channel’s benefits, strengths and weaknesses.

When you carry out any digital marketing, at a high level you are either looking to increase traffic to your site, the reach of your brand or customer retention, which effectively means increasing revenue, brand awareness or nurturing existing relationships.

Below I have outlined what I believe to be the customer journey or buying cycle:

Customer Journey / Buying Cycle

  1. Awareness
  2. Engagement
  3. Persuasion
  4. Conversion
  5. Retention
  6. Persuasion
  7. Conversion

Different channels are more suited to different stages of the buying cycles and with that, different metrics are associated with measuring performance increases.

  1. Targeted Awareness

Targeted traffic being driven to the site which results in clicks/sessions on the homepage and increased brand awareness.

Metrics: Clicks, Page Views, New Visits.

  1. Engagement

Users who are interested in your content start to engage with the site, staying on the site for over a minute viewing two or more pages.

Metrics: Time on Site, Pages per View.

  1. Persuasion

Users download a PDF, view a video, or visit your “money” page i.e. get a quote page, product page, or contact us page.

Metrics: Downloads, Plays, Visits, Goals.

  1. Conversion

Users convert by purchasing a product, submitting their details online for a quote or calling for an offline sale.

Metrics: Conversions, Form Submission, Phone Calls.

  1. Retention

Users have used the product/service. They have a positive, neutral or negative experience. You proactively communicate via a channel, or they communicate either their satisfaction or dissatisfaction online. You then have the opportunity to resolve any issues, thank them for the positive feedback or engage with them developing them into a community for future communication.

Metrics: Reviews, Comments, Tweets.

Taking into account the buying cycle and reverse engineering your way back from your overall goal of x, you can then select the channels more closely suited to your needs. This depends on a number of factors, for example if you require immediate response with a reasonable budget then PPC is highly measurable and responsive, so perfect for short lead times. However, depending on how competitive the market is, you may be priced out of the market or at risk of low performance / or budget being spent in no time.

I’ve outlined below some of the strengths, opportunities, threats and weaknesses of SEO & content, PPC, social and email marketing to give you an idea of which channel might suit your specific scenario.


  • SEO / Content- inbound query, lower CPA, high ROI – builds authority, brand awareness and engagement through content and generates other channel leads
  • PPC – highly responsive, manageable and measurable. Short lead time.
  • Social – Viral opportunity, build brand perception, product awareness, relationship building. Direct contact with audience, fast route into organic positions.
  • Email – can be highly targeted, cross sell, achieve targeted awareness and is cost effective. Great for customer retention.


  • SEO / Content – If PPC is too competitive and expensive SEO may provide opportunities. Greater trust and relevance, does not switch off when you turn off your campaign.
  • PPC – test new markets, highly targeted, build brand awareness. Cost effective route to market.
  • Social – provides unprecedented access to clients and prospective clients regardless of location.
  • Email – Real time messages – activate upon purchase, during sales, special events or 1 year later for renewals etc. Test marketing messages


  • SEO / Content time consuming, expensive in the short term, can drop off with an update in the algorithm.
  • PPC – Can overspend with an untrained manager. Can get poor results and ROI without considered management.
  • Social – Negative feedback is public.  Hackers or disgruntled clients can cost the business time and money.
  • Email – You are only as good as your data and your segmentation / personalisation. Does not drive new business from potential customers unaware of your brand like PPC.


  • SEO / Content – long term strategy, reliant on search engine indexation and algorithm.
  • PPC – dependant on the sector and niche, users may ignore sponsored ads. In a highly competitive environment PPC can be too expensive to participate.
  • Social – requires fresh content, original and creative thought. Engagement is sometimes limited to 140 characters!
  • Email – Many people receive a high amount of spam and have learnt to discount emails which have not been requested or highly interesting.

Overall you can see that dependant on your goal, using a variety of channels may help you to achieve a rounded strategy that can work together to increase profitability as each channel is unique in its own proposition and tailored to different stages of the buying cycle. Understanding these key differences will enable you to define highly targeted campaigns where you can measure success or highlight failure to adapt your strategy accordingly.

Helene Celine Hall

Helene Celine Hall


Helene is a Digital Marketing Director at Gravytrain.