The REAN Model – A flexible approach to digital strategy modelling

26 June 2017

This is a follow-up from our much-loved blog post on the REAN model by the great Rob Tarling.

sticky notes

Why use the REAN model?

We use a lot of models in the digital marketing team. And no, I’m not saying that we are models ourselves (though we are a fairly pretty bunch if I do say so myself). Models help us plan, communicate, and track our digital efforts. This is important because there is a LOT to plan, communicate and track! One of the easiest traps to fall into when working through a digital strategy is to accidentally go off-piste and find yourself completely at odds with what you originally set out to do. So yes, there are a lot of acronymic models out there (SOSTAC, REAN, RACE, DMMM, SWOT, etc.) but they really do have a purpose: to help you make the most of your efforts.

What is REAN?

The REAN model was popularised by Steve Jackson in Cult of Analytics: Driving Online Marketing Strategies using Web Analytics (2009) and originally developed by Xavier Blanc in 2006. While Blanc originally used the model to map activities, Jackson presents the framework as a way of understanding measurement of these activities, in particular, KPIs. The REAN model is wonderfully flexible in this way and, really, can be used to support a variety of marketing efforts. It can be used to map marketing activities, plan measurement frameworks, set goals, and as demonstrated in our previous blog, map digital marketing channels.

REAN stands for:

REAN model

But how you interpret these categories can yield different results. Which interpretation you use depends on which question you need answering.

How to run a REAN workshop

Download your free guide on how to run the perfect REAN workshop! No forms, no strings, just download! 🙂

Mapping Activities

If your question is “What should my digital strategy look like?”

You need to ask yourself “How am I going to reach/engage/activate/nurture my potential or current customers?”

You could view the model in the context of activities or actions needed to interact with your audience in that particular way. This will provide you with a comprehensive set of actions you’ll need to take to support your audience through the buying cycle.

Mapping Measurement

If you question is “What should I be measuring?”

You need to ask yourself “What do I track to show how well I’m reaching/engaging/activating/nurturing my potential or current customers?”

You can also use REAN to frame which metrics you’ll need to track in order to evaluate success in each category. As a one-off, this provides excellent dashboard data to highlight weaknesses in your strategy. Over time, you’ll build a picture of how well you’re achieving results at each stage of the buying cycle and highlight where your potential customers are falling off the path in their journey.

Mapping Goals

If your question is “How do I tell if my goals are comprehensive?”

You need to ask yourself “Will my goals help me reach/engage/activate/nurture my potential or current customers?”

Using the REAN model to map your goals is great sense check and quickly highlights which step of the buyer’s journey might not be getting the attention it needs. When creating goals, we like to use the SMART method and always make sure they fit within our overall company objectives.

Mapping Channels

If your question is “Am I using the right channels?”

You need to ask yourself “How are my various marketing channels helping me to reach/engage/activate/nurture my potential or current customers?”

By mapping the various marketing channels against the REAN model, you’ll quickly be able to see how your current channels are supporting your digital strategy, whether you’re underutilising any channels, and whether there are any stages of the buyer’s journey not being supported at all.

REAN in the real world

If you’re a marketer angling for a bit more budget, leveraging multiple uses of the REAN model against one another is a solid way of easily communicating where your digital strategy needs more support. For instance, say you’ve agreed on a marketing goal with the CEO to close more sales (activate potential customers), but your Channel REAN model doesn’t show any support for activation. By using both models together, you could make a pretty good case for releasing budget for remarketing or paid search activity. Win-win.

One of the easiest ways to create a killer REAN model that will actually mean something is to hold a workshop with key players from the area you’re investigating. Don’t know the first thing about running a REAN workshop? Never fear – we’ve got you covered. We’ve created a handy, no-strings-attached guide for how to do just that. Follow the link below for your quick and easy downloadable guide.

REAN Workshop Guide




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