The REAN model: A flexible approach to digital strategy modelling

By Michelle Sullivan

26 June 2017

Mapping how your marketing strategy can reach, engage, activate and nurture can be hugely valuable. Learn how to apply the model to different strategies.

What is REAN?

REAN stands for reach, engage, activate and nurture. It 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 map digital marketing channels.

How you interpret the four categories can yield different results. Which interpretation you use depends on which question you need answering.

Why use the REAN model?

Models help plan, communicate, and track 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.

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.

How to run a REAN workshop

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 and 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 and 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 and 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.

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 and 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.

2023 update

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