A Digital Strategy for Growth: Why Digital Should Be More Than Just An Activation Point

When you ask most organic search marketers what their primary objective is they’ll more than likely say a traffic increase year on year. A fair measurement of success. If we’re driving more traffic, we’re driving more customers, right? In digital marketing, and in particular organic search, our focus has always been on acquisition. We want to see the traffic number climbing, and when we do that‘s it; our box is ticked, our objective is met. The rest? Well that’s up to the designer, or the customer retention team. We just need to get them there. Our job is acquisition and activation – retention, revenue and referral, that’s not really our remit.

Thinking like this will limit growth opportunities. Revenue is the key KPI for most businesses. We can try and sugar coat it and believe that we care as much about happy customers as we do the amount they spend on our sites or in our business, but realistically, we care about happy customers because that means they come back. Return visit = more revenue. Revenue is the key KPI. If we’re not driving revenue, what are we doing? Each part of marketing needs to consider revenue. But not just revenue, revenue growth. So how do we grow revenue?

How Sainsbury’s Focussed on Current Customers For Growth

You may remember the story about Sainsbury’s growth strategy. Back in 2004, customer satisfaction was low, sales were dropping and competitors were gaining market share. Sainsbury’s needed an aggressive strategy to achieve £2.5 billion in additional sales over the course of three years. For a company with a turnover of £15 billion, this was an incredibly ambitious target. Rather than trying to convince new customers to come to Sainsbury’s, they instead concluded that all they would need to do was convince existing customers to spend an additional £1.14 every time they shopped. And voila – the ‘Try Something New’ campaign was born.

What can we learn from this? Sainsbury’s achieved growth by focussing on their current customer. This way of thinking helped them achieve their growth targets in the first year. It’s about shifting our mindset to look at current customers, encouraging them to return, moulding that brand customer relationship that can help build advocates, whilst also focussing on acquiring new customers across our digital channels.

How to Focus on Return Customers for Growth

Thinking about how Sainsbury’s did it, it’s important to consider every customer’s journey and think about how we keep them engaged and encourage them to come back. It’s about completing the cycle, seeing search (paid or organic), social and PR as acquisition points in a bigger strategy. To do this, we need to think about how we can all influence the full digital journey to ensure a consistent approach across channels then monitoring and analysing those journeys for learnings to influence our acquisition strategy. That, in turn, influences growth. We can’t be blinded by a rising traffic number, instead we shift our focus to think about what those visitors want and making sure that each customer is being served the information they need to convert.

Your digital strategy should have three considerations: acquisition, activation and retention. These define the life cycle of a customer. The channels and roles at each stage differ; see the example below.


The key is looking at the journey as a whole and comparing the behaviour of each customer, from each channel, to ensure that we’re providing the right activation information and converting content that meets their needs. If we acquire a user on Facebook and drive them to the website, what information are we providing there that activates their interest? Are we helping them choose a product?Are we telling them about our brand? We must provide the right information to help them on their purchase journey. Then once activated, how are we retaining that particular customer? Do we send a thank you email, or ask them to register for our loyalty scheme? Each channel must consider the full journey to help us on our path to growth.

Knowing Your Audience and Your Brand

Acquisition channels like social and search are just the starting point, the first impression. We must ensure that our strategy considers what we do with this impression and how we use that to drive growth. This means really thinking about who we’re attracting and ensuring that each visitor is valuable and relevant. To do this we must first know the who, the what, and the why.

The who:

Our target market. Are we attracting someone that needs our product and that will care about our brand? This means finding that sweet point between creating content that engages the consumer and also has search demand. For example, a travel brand creating destination inspiration content, or a food brand offering nutritional, helpful recipes containing their products.

The what:

What sets our product apart? This is about communicating the product well,making sure we mention and call out unique selling points and that all product questions are answered and needs fulfilled.

The why:

Our brand message. The brand matters in every aspect of our digital strategy; it’s crucial to that it’s relatable andspeaks to the customer’s needs and their values. We need to tell the user why they should choose your brand over others and ensure that this is weaved through everything we do. This then helps us to acquire the most qualified trafficthat should (if the product and communication is right) keep coming back for more.

Knowing this will help you drive the most relevant customers to your website, the customers that need your product and can convert.

The Importance of Having the Right Team

To implement a strategy of this sort, it’s also important that you have the right team in place. A team of technical SEO experts or PR professionals alone is never going to deliver the growth you need. You need the people who can influence each stage of the journey working together. Product working with Marketing, Analytics working with PR and so on. It’s also important that everyone analys

es the customer journeys to focus on how they can play a role in bringing that customer back. This is where a Digital Agency can help. Pulling together the relevant teams for an all agency meeting that aligns your strategy and objectives.

The ideal team will consist of several departments:

  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Analytics
  • Product
  • Sales
  • Social
  • PR

Having these teams working together is key to success. Each one will influence different activation points and track their own KPIs in order to determine the efficacy of their role within the customer journey.

Measurement, Tracking and Using Data to Inform Growth

The key to measuring growth is ensuring you’re measuring the right things, and that these measurements are used to influence and adapt strategies rather than just to fill a report. Develop a measurement framework and think about the key metrics that will tell you about how each customer is engaging with your site and your content at the different stages of their journey.


For example, someone may see your ad on Facebook three times and click on it the fourth time. The ad drives them to your website’s homepage, but they go from there to a ‘Which product’ selection tool. The tool delivers a suggestion based on their answers, but they don’t visit the product page and drop off the site entirely. In this scenario, what are you then doing for this user? Can you retarget them with an email that shows the other products and drives them directly to the product page?

We need to understand and act on the full funnel of the customer journey, understanding the user experience from their first interaction to the closed lead and re-engagement. We need to retarget along the funnel and at various drop-off points to assist the user and then retarget once they’ve converted.

Following these steps when developing your strategy will help you think more about growing and less about your channel’s primary metrics. This will provide more visibility on how each channel is working and help you attribute growth to the channels that are driving this most efficiently. Having this visibility and knowledge will help you develop a robust strategy for growth from all channels.

Growth Strategy Checklist

Ready to get started developing your growth strategy? Follow these simple steps.

  1. Ask your Analytics team to develop a measurement framework for each stage of the customer journey and note the current performance for the last 12 months.
  2. Get the right people together to discuss your findings. Everyone who can influence the different stages of the customer journey should be in the room.
  3. Discuss the stages of the journey that you can all influence and the metrics that you want to measure at and between these stages.
  4. Develop a strategy that drives the user from one stage of the journey to the next. Path out potential journeys and consider where assistance and prompts may be required.
  5. Gather data at each stage.
  6. Review each quarter and continually adapt the strategy based on your findings.

Doing this will not only help bring your team together, but will help you fully understand how your business is performing. With this information, you can develop a strategy that genuinely works for you and your customer.

If you’re considering a Digital strategy refresh, our Digital experts here at 8 Million Stories can help. Drop us a message with your requirements and see how we can support!

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