A Digital Marketing Guide: Setting your Situation Analysis

1.0 Situation Analysis

Using PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning Model, stage 1 of implementing this digital marketing planning framework is setting out the situation analysis. The situation should provide an overview of your organisation – who you are, what you do and how you interact and trade online by addressing internal and external factors impacting the business.

This section should be painting a picture of your organisation and to do this, consider using some of the following methods to bring this section to life:

  1. Who your digital customers currently are (how do they interact with the brand, the platform/s used, demographic breakdown.
  2. SWOT analysis – what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the whole organisation
  3. Competitor analysis – who are your competitors? How do they compete? e.g. price, product, customer service, reputation, what are their key differentiators?
  4. Digital channels landscape i.e. list out all the various digital channels used and success of each for your organisation – what’s performing well or not?   

Below I’ve gone into a bit more detail for a few of these areas:

1.1       Digital Customers

An analysis of who your digital audience is should be defined in a section within 1.0 – this is essential to ensure you’re providing a clear picture of existing customers and who you are looking to also target. If you’re operating in a competitive environment, consider including what your online value proposition (OVP) is should you have one? For example, how do you envision your organisation to differentiate itself from the competition? To help define your organisations OVP, David Chaffey recommends the 6Cs of customer motivation framework.

1.2       Customers Personas

Creating customer personas helps brings to life who your existing customers are and what their motivations are. Persona creation also helps to get buy-in across your organisation in helping to paint a picture and bring to life your customer profiles. To create a series of personas, a majority of this work can be completed by extracting existing data through your CRM system and analytics and then build on this to create a profile picture of your existing customers.

For an e-commerce retailer, information you could consider extracting from your CRM could include:

  • Male/Female Split – What is the percentage split?
  • Age profiling – Average age as well as being able to develop categories of age groupings
  • Location/Address details – Percentage of customers who reside in the UK as well as overseas
  • Purchase history – Build up a clearer picture on historical purchases, average order value, trends in brand loyalty, products ordered by size
  • Method of purchase (e.g. credit card, debit card, cheque)
  • Route to purchase – Were purchases made through  a search engine, email newsletter, affiliate website, direct from site or through the call centre, i.e. Mixed-mode
  • Frequency/Recency – Frequency of purchase?

Based on this data, the next stage is to turn this data into more of a personality that your organisation can relate to. For example, I’ve created 2 x personas based for an online sports retailer:

Persona A:

Steve is a 28 yr old professional, renting in London, single and with a high disposable income. He has a keen interest in football and supports a premiership football team. He likes to display his support for his football club by every year, buying the clubs latest replica shirt online.

Steve is comfortable in ordering online and engaging with social media to keep up to date with the latest football news and football product launches. As the World Cup provides the chance to showcase international replica shirts, this provides Company X with the chance to engage with Steve to make an additional purchase of an international replica shirt as well as purchasing his favourite club shirt.


Steve has been reading the latest new stories regarding the World Cup through his favourite football blog site, www.football-shirts.co.uk. Steve notices www.football-shirts.co.uk has an exclusive promotion to order any World Cup football shirt of your choice from Company X and save 10% by clicking on a link to www.companyx.co.uk/worldcup. Steve clicks on the link and arrives at Company X which brings up a list of World Cup shirts available to order displaying the exclusive 10% discount promotion. Steve chooses the shirt of his choice in his preferred shirt size and completes a transaction using his credit card.

Persona B:

Clare is a 33 yr old professional who is in a relationship. She likes to keep up with the latest fashion trends and is comfortable in ordering at her favourite online shops e.g. www.asos.com. Her boyfriend is a keen football fan who likes to keep up with football fashion by purchasing the latest football replica shirts of his favourite team. Clare may engage with the hype of the World Cup 2014 and this could provide an opportunity to for her to make and purchase at Company X for her boyfriend and the International team they choose to support during the tournament.


Clare has received an email from one of her preferred online retailers, www.asos.com . The email includes a cross marketing promotion to Company X, where you can order your World cup shirt by quoting a promotional code. Clare thinks this would make a great gift for her partner and decides to click through to www.companyx.co.uk – She is unsure of the team and shirt to order so decides to phone the order helpline and take advantage of mixed-mode buying. Clare explains her situation over the phone to the sales consultant and duly places her order over the phone for the football shirt.

1.3 SWOT analysis

It’s worth considering creating a SWOT analysis of your organisation, thinking laterally by embracing all depts rather than just focusing on the digital marketing dept. Not only will it provide a better picture in the organisation as a whole but also provides you with the opportunity to interview and build relationships across the organisation.

Strengths: Weaknesses:
Opportunities:  Threats

You have now created the situation of your organisation and built a picture of Strengths and Weaknesses as well as who and what your product or service appeals to. In the next section, Objectives, we will look into where we want to go by introducing some objectives that feeds into your SOSTAC® digital marketing plan

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