See-Think-Do: A Digital Marketing Framework

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Digital is adding a huge amount of complexity to marketing. While there have been a number of mental models thrown together to try and help simplify this experience, by far the best one I have seen recently is the See-Think-Do framework developed by Google Evangelist Avinash Kaushik.

The purpose of this model is simple:

  1. To generate a much simpler view of your digital marketing efforts.
  2. To provide a sense check against measurement strategies.
  3. To Identify any gaps in activity that could be utilised to generate higher profits.

See-Think-Do: The Beginning

The first step in this model is mapping out what Avinash has defined as the three primary Consideration Stages of your audience (with a fourth 'final' stage which we will touch on in the end).

'See' is the broadest possible way to frame your potential customers. It is exclusionary in that it removes people who would never have a need for your product or service.

'Think' adds a slight amount of intent to this group. They want the product or service, but they don't yet know when they want it.

'Do' are the people who want your product or service now. Essentially anyone with an immediate purchase intent.

When we layer this out by the psychographics of our Audience on our model, it starts to look something like this:

See, Think, Do: Psychographics.

See-Think-Do: Marketing Focus

Our next step is to map out all of our digital marketing efforts on to the model. This involves asking a two simple questions

  1. What stage is this activity currently solving for
  2. Is your execution strategy (creative, targeting, purpose, outcome) tied to the appropriate consideration stage?

A great quote from Avinash is the following:

"Marketing clarity and focus come from understanding - really understanding - what your marketing is solving from the customers perspective".

We all want sales, but it is really bad flashing a BUY ME NOW campaign in front of a person in the See stage. Not only is it ineffective, it's rude.

Once you go down the process of thinking about and layering on what the marketing or acquisition strategy is solving for, you might end up with something looking like this (a basic starting point for a lot of businesses):

See, Think, Do: Marketing Activity.

See-Think-Do: Measurement Strategy

Why is it that a lot of businesses have a poor, scattered digital marketing strategy in the first place? On of the main reasons is often a lack of a coherent measurement strategy.

Most often measurement hinges on a conversion. But while this makes sense in the Do stage, it may be a bad metric at the See and Think stages. Not only that, you might be invariably killing campaigns due to a lack of perceived performance, without realising the huge potential available.

This isn't to say don't use conversion as a metric. What it means instead is think about what is the optimal measurement strategy for each of the other consideration stages so you can effectively judge if they are accomplishing what they are supposed to accomplish.


See Stage

  • If you are doing Social activity, use the best social media metrics - conversation and amplification. 
  • For PPC & SEO, consider using brand awareness as a metric. 
  • For things like Display, use the amount of interactions with your ads - so if you run a Roadblock or Page Takeover, judge it by how many people interacted with it. Remember these are just straight up interrupting people, so just measure the success of that.  

Think Stage

  • It's important to remember people are interested in a relationship at this stage. They just don't want a one night stand yet.
  • Start to think about click through rates on ads
  • If you drive them to a site, think about Bounce Rates and Page Depth as we want them to engage with our site
  • Think about micro-conversions like email signup, making a wishlist, or joining one of your social media sites.

Do Stage

  • While Conversion is the primary metric, also consider Loyalty, and multiple visits potentially leading to a sale

See, Think, Do: Measurement.

See-Think-Do: New Opportunities

Our next step is to view the model through the lens of looking for new opportunities. This requires us to ask a simple question;

"Is this all we can accomplish from this Activity?".

Using this model, we could ask the following:

  1. Why is PPC only being used to target people looking to buy right now? Surely there are queries going on in the Think and See stages that can be leveraged to drive to a targeted landing pages.
  2. Why is SEO only focused on brand terms and product names? Again, surely there are queries going on in the Think and See stages? And surely the landing pages for these terms could benefit from different content, calls to action and optimisation? 
  3. Why is Display only targeted at the Think stage? Are we treating it like a glorified billboard or TV commercial? Surely we can tap into remarking or behavioural targeting to target at other stages?
  4. Why are we running social ads with Do messages? We know these don't work, so why waste the budget.
  5. Why are we running Buy Now ads on YouTube? We know these don't work, and we could be doing so much better with branded content.

(Affiliate is fine where it is - it's probably just people typing into Google '[Brand Name] Coupon Code' after they see 'Enter Coupon Code' in your cart).


Let's look at Display, as it can invariably bridge all three of the stages effectively.

In the See stage, your creative should be broad, and target demographics, psychographic or geographic location. Primary purpose will be branding - so content driven. 

As you move to the Think stage, in line with the inclusion of intent you will both narrow down targeting as you start to drive engagement. So you will look at specific types of sites, using content-driven ads with particular ties to a category. You will also look for micro-conversions around email address signup, video views, or app downloads, and leverage remarking and intent signals. 

As you move to the Do stage, you will need to create much more focused creative, built around intent-specific action (such as retargeting, and full of intelligence such as prior history behavior). Message will be product or offer specific, designed to drive a sales outcome, and be judged accordingly.  

As a result of going through the process of layering on new opportunities and measurement, you will potentially end up with more of a model looking like the below. Of course, all businesses are different, so use common sense and do what works best for the organization, don't use this as a template.

See, Think, Do: Opportunities.

See-Think-Do: Platforms

As a last point, See-Think-Do also serves as a good framework for your platforms or content strategy. So with a website, ensure you have your big call to action button placed with prominence on the page, but at the same time, make sure the same site is factoring in Think and See - utilize things like email signup, social connections, widgets and utilities that may give customers a reason to come back, and foster them until they are ready for the Do stage.

This also goes for mobile. A lot of mobile apps these days are stripped down, simplified Do versions of the larger platform. With so many more options like location services and hyper personalization, there is a huge amount of Think and See ideas that could be leveraged to drive better marketing.

The Final Stage

At the beginning, I mentioned there was a fourth item in See-Think-Do. This is what Avinash calls the Coddle phase - a more emotive way of describing typical Retention activity. We define this as people who have purchased more than twice with you.

With existing customers, as always you need to ensure you have your own separate loyalty strategies set up to cater to them to ensure they move on to becoming repeat customers who love talking about the brand.      

See, Think, Do, Coddle.

How can you see the See-Think-Do strategy applying to your digital strategy or business?

Does it help simplify things for you or expose new opportunities?

Does this model make you re-think your measurement or content strategies? 

This post continues my series on Mental Models.