The Four Elements of Any Action, and How to Use Them in Your Online Marketing Initiative

The four elements of any action are form, method, resource, and goal. These elements represent the fundamental building blocks of any strategy—no matter what industry you’re in. You can use these elements to create a strategic plan for your online marketing efforts, no matter if you’re aiming to grow your business internationally or locally.

Let’s examine each element in detail, along with practical examples of how to use them in your online marketing strategy.


The form of an action represents the external appearance of the activity. This includes things like the website you’ll be using, the email campaign you’ll be running, or the ads you’ll be placing. The form of your action determines the decisions customers will make about engaging with your content or offering. In other words, the form of your action will impact whether or not someone chooses to take action — and if they do, what action will they take?

You can use the analogy of a bookstore to explain the concept of form. Imagine that you’re searching for a book on Google and click on the first result, which happens to be an ad for a nearby bookstore. Now, even though you’re not necessarily an online consumer, you’re faced with the decision of whether or not to visit a physical store vs. purchasing a book online. The form of the action, in this case, the ad for the bookstore, heavily influences your decision-making process. It could even be argued that the ad for the bookstore changed the course of your day. You saw the ad, decided to click on it, and ended up in the bookstore. The form of your action drives customers and prospects to take certain actions, and away from others.


The method of an action represents the procedure or process you’ll be using to produce the outcome. In the example we just discussed, it would be the process of going into a bookstore and shopping for a book. The method of your action determines what you’ll be doing — from the first step, to the last. This is also where the execution of your plan comes in. The method of your action will require you to perform certain actions to make your plan a reality. You can’t just “set it and forget it,” because you’ll be performing these actions throughout the life cycle of your plan. This is where you measure its effectiveness. Did you send out the right emails? Did you place the right ads? Did your web form turn out the way you designed or was there some unexpected hiccups? The method of your action answers these questions.


The resource of an action represents the people or things that you’ll need to carry out the plan. Sometimes, this means simply your own employees. At other times, it could mean investing in some expensive marketing materials. In the example above, you’ll need to have a bookstore employee walk you to the section of books you’re looking for or an ad campaign to generate qualified leads. The resource of your action will dictate the logistics of getting the job done. You can’t just willy-nilly throw money at a task and expect things to happen. You’ll need to consider what you have available to get the job done. This is where you establish your budget.


The goal of an action represents the endpoint or purpose of the action. This is the goal you’re aiming for—be this a specific customer segment, greater engagement, or just increased sales generally. The goal of your action will guide your decision making throughout the life cycle of your plan. In the example above, the goal is to generate leads and increase sales. You want to keep the customer at the center of everything you do, which means you’ll be considering things like email marketing, online advertising, and the like from the perspective of converting them into paying customers. The goal of your action will help you decide what to focus on—and eventually, what not to — in order to achieve your planned outcomes.

Now that you know the elements of any action and how to use them, let’s examine how to put them into practice in your online marketing strategy.

Internal Factors That Influence Marketing Efforts

Before you begin to put your strategies into action, you’ll need to consider a host of internal factors that influence your marketing efforts. These internal factors can range from human resources to website usability and conversion, among others. When you take into account all of these variables, you can create a much more precise strategy that will stand a greater chance of being effective. The following are some examples of internal factors that can affect your marketing strategy:


One of the most fundamental internal factors that influence your marketing strategy is geography. You’ll want to consider where your ideal customer is located and make sure that the resources you have available are enough to serve them. In terms of strategy, you might want to consider serving your customer base in other countries if you’re not already doing so. There are certain advantages to having a global audience. If you serve businesses in other countries, you’ll gain access to a larger market, which will in turn, boost your sales.


Another important aspect of geography that influences marketing strategy is demographics. Your demographics are a group of people with shared characteristics, such as gender, age, income, and the like. The shared characteristics about a demographic group enable you to target the right audience for your product. For instance, if you’re an eCommerce store and aim to sell jewelry, you might want to consider women between the ages of 25 and 40. Based on these demographics, you can create key marketing messages and decide on the sorts of products that will make the most sense for your target audience. Having demographics as part of your strategy also means that you’ll know how to reach certain people — whether online through paid ads or social media, or through in-store marketing strategies — with the right messages.


Besides demographics, you’ll also want to take into account psychographics. Psychographics are similar to demographics, except that they consider the minds of your target audience rather than their physical demography. In other words, you can use psychographics to understand why someone might choose to shop at your store rather than another brand’s. Just remember that demographics and psychographics are not identical; you can have one without the other. If you’re not sure what psychographics are, it’s probably because you haven’t taken the time to find out. One of the best places to learn more is the HubSpot Blog. This is the inbound marketing and marketing automation blog of HubSpot.


Finally, we arrive at technology. This, as you’ve probably guessed, covers the digital aspect of marketing. Think of technology as the raw materials you need to make your marketing strategy a reality. This includes everything from traditional tools like email and web forms to newer platforms like Chatbots and Marketing Automation. Keep in mind that not all of your marketing efforts will revolve around technology. However, without it, you’ll be severely limiting yourself. When you’re deciding what technology to utilize for your online marketing strategy, it’s important to keep in mind the end goal.

Now that you have a clearer picture of the elements needed to create an effective marketing strategy, you’re ready to put it into practice. Remember to be methodical about this process and establish checkpoints along the way. If you find that something is not working for you, then it might be time to revisit the strategy and try something new. In an iterative process, this is something to strive for. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a permanent state of “analysis paralysis.” With that, we’ve covered the basic building blocks of your strategy. Let’s move on to the next step.