A simple digital strategy framework

A few years back, McKinsey released their purchase ‘journey’ as a replacement for the traditional purchase funnel. There are a few things wrong with it (mostly that it is simplified almost past the point of usefulness), but it actually serves as a reasonably sound starting point for thinking about how people actually go about buying things. It’s super simple: a trigger means I need to think about buying something, I start with an initial consideration set, which I research. I add and remove brands during this phase, until I buy one. This starts my post-purchase experience, which, if all goes well, can move me into a loyalty loop – repurchasing the brand again, without going back through an active consideration period. And that’s all there really is to it.

It also serves as a nice starting point for a digital strategy framework, because it can categorise pretty neatly just about everything your organisation can do with digital. My idea here was to create a simple, re-usable framework that people can start using quickly. I cannot over-emphasise the fact that real people only ever see the things that get built and released. So, strategy should be about getting somethng built and released as quickly as possible. And perhaps this can help.

So here’s my framework. It’s pretty simple. There are 5 things, each one maps to a part of the purchase journey:



  1. Push Communications. In order to be actively considered, your product needs to be known to people. And that requires advertising, or push communications. Display, paid search, sponsored content, even email could be on this list. All methods of ensuring people are aware of your product, so it can be on the active consideration list. You are pushing your content to help get your product considered.
  2. Pull Communications. People who are trying to decide what product to buy will be doing research. They’ll be searching for information about you (and your competitors). And that requires great content that they can find that helps them in their research. Or, if you like, pull communications. Content created to pull the person towards it, to help them learn more about the product. And it’s not just having the content there, but how this content is presented that is important. Brilliantly presented pull comms could short-circuit the whole consideration phase. Data visualisation, interaction, video, just beautifully written prose – there are loads of ways to create compelling pull communications.
  3. Ecommerce. Once someone’s decided what they want, they need to buy it. Ecommerce. But from a digital categorisation point of view, this isn’t just the actual sale, but everything that surrounds it – optimisation, A/B and mulitvariant testing, recommendations, form and conversion design. These are all areas of digital work relating primarily to the selling of the thing itself.
  4. Feature+. This is probably the hardest category to do well – the use of digital technology to enhance or improve a product or service by adding additional features, or moving non-digital services online (channel shift). This moves us out of the world of marketing and into the world of product development. Some clients find this easier than others, and frankly not all digital marketing folk make great product development folk. Still, there’s a lot of opportunity here to help clients differentiate their products and services through smart, simple online services.
  5. Loyalty and word of mouth. As well as being important for repurchasing your product, loyal users can play a vital role in word of mouth. Social media is an obvious example of this, but more than a particular channel, this is about creating digital work designed to activate word-of-mouth, designed to get loyal users of your product or service talking about it to others.

And that’s it. Think about what you need to do in each area, think about how you’d measure and track success, and get started.

I hope it’s helpful! Let me know what you think.