At Indiespring we’re great believers in data driven digital marketing. Being a collection of number-loving geeks there’s nothing better than using cold, hard data to drive decisions and measure our successes. The challenge is deciding what we want to impact (such as online sales), what data we should collect and how we should interpret it. We try and frame these questions by producing a digital strategy for ourselves and our clients at the start of each year. The objectives of the strategy are to:

1)    Understand where we are now.

2)    Understand where the business needs to be in 1 year.

3)    Understand how digital can feed into these business objectives.

4)    Selecting what tools/channels we can use and the metrics that will measure success.


We believe that having a strategy…

is the first step to success, not only in online sales but in all endeavours, whether work or not.

Having attended a Digital Marketing Masters at Manchester Metropolitan University I was introduced to a framework which succinctly captures the above.  SOSTAC. Developed in the 1990s by PR Smith and introduced to me by Smith and Chaffey in their 2004 book “Digital Marketing Strategy”.


What follows is our interpretation of their great framework as we have adapted it into a system which continues to work for us and our clients.

SOSTAC breaks down as:


Situation – Where are we? Where are our competitors? What are our opportunities and threats?

Two great tools for analysing your situation are SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental). These mnemonics give you plenty of different angles to work on a solution from.

Objectives – Where does the business need to be in 1 year? What does that mean for digital marketing? Remember to set SMART objectives- the definition of SMART is debatable depending on the source, but one example is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

Strategy – At a high level what channels, tools and partnerships are we going to employ in the coming year? These should be directly tied to the objectives listed previously, ensuring each strategic choice has a clear input into one or more of our objectives.

Tactics – With our tools and channels selected, how are we actually going to implement them? Are there any cross channel themes we could exploit? Tactically what does “Using PPC to drive online sales” actually mean?

Action – The action of the plan is the often present this in a monthly/quarterly breakdown of actual actions focussed entirely on inputs – that is, actions we can take as an organisation, not outputs we expect from them. How many ads will be written and by whom, how many tweets sent each day, email newsletters sent, to which groups etc.

Control – Following commencement of the plan we need to understand if it is working. We treat the “control” aspect of the plan as recording our intended outputs. That is if we did send 15 tweets a day, did we actually get 2 retweets, 10 new followers, 100 more visits from social that month and therefore one more sale? It may be that that despite our intended inputs the expected outputs have not which may mean adjustment to the plan.

SOSTAC plays a huge part in our strategy

The above is our interpretation/adaptation of the original framework. 

Notably the split of inputs and outputs allows us to split a failed implementation of the plan from a failed expected outcome. I would encourage everyone to read the original work to understand the framework.

If you loved this blog and think it ended too soon…

Over the coming weeks we will be expanding on the other tools that can be used to improve your online sales. Next week will be the platform that you choose to actually sell your goods or services on.


For more information on our Strategy or how to improve yours, contact us here. To get exclusive content from this series, sign up to our newsletter below.