Cooking With RICECooking With RICE

Cooking With RICE

Master marketing prioritization with the RICE method, a strategy designed to gauge reach, impact, confidence and effort.

Marketing is a voracious beast, devouring time and money with its insatiable appetite. No matter how much you feed it, it can always eat more.

Businesses vary in the mount of money we can throw at the beast, but we all have the same 24 hours in every day. We have to prioritize.

People go about prioritization in different ways. There’s scatter graphs, unweighted scoring, weighted scoring, etc. But I am a big fan of the RICE method developed by messaging software developer Intercom — and not just because I love a good acronym.

I love the RICE method because it addresses several prioritization factors that apply to marketing, almost uniquely so. Here’s what goes into it …

1. Reach

The first factor to consider is the reach of a potential marketing effort. How many people will your message reach through a given marketing channel, given the same budget?

$1,000 of Facebook ads. $1,000 of SEO work. $1,000 spent producing a YouTube video. $1,000 in commissions to affiliate partners. How many people could each of these potentially reach?

The answer to this question varies depending on the company. Cewrtain keywords and audiences are more expensive to target them others, while certain niches have a bigger audience on YouTube, Instagram, etc.

If you’re confused about where to start, reach out to us and we can help you estimate the reach potential of different marketing channels.

Assigning The Variable. You can assign reach a variable based on the number of people you expect to reach based on your budget (10,000 people, 100,000 people, etc.), or you can simplify the question and give them a number. If you have five options, the lowest potential reach would be “1,” the highest potential reach would be “5,” etc.

2. Impact

Reach is just the first variable you need to consider. Next comes impact. Certain channels may reach more people, but have a lesser impact. That doesn’t mean they’re worthless, but it may affect your priorities.

The vice-versa is true too. Some channels may have limited reach … but if the impact of that reach is outsized, you need to consider that.

Compare a Google ad with a YouTube video. Yes, Google ads can reach a lot of people … but they’re just two lines of text, smashed up against several competitors. Meanwhile, a YouTube video can have text, audio, video … an entire experience. Will it have more impact, even if it has a lower reach? Possibly.

Assigning The Variable. Line up the channels you are considering and give them an “impact” score — “1” being the least impact. If you have five options, make “5” the greatest impact score.

3. Confidence

Confidence is crucial in prioritization of marketing tasks and channels. Yes, you have an estimate of reach and impact … but how confident are you in that channel to succeed? How confident are you that you are right?

Discovering an untapped niche or a gap in the market can contribute to confidence. So can evidence that competitors are in the space. If all your competitors are using Facebook ads, you can intuit that they are working … but it will also be more competitive, which can have an effect on the “Reach” and “Impact” variables.

Assigning The Variable. Line up the channels you are considering and give them a “confidence” score — “1” being the least confidence. If you have five options, make “5” the greatest confidence score.

4. Effort

Don’t underestimate the importance of the effort it will take to execute the strategies you are considering. You could have all the confidence in the world in the reach and impact of a particular task or channel … but if you don’t have the time, personnel, or resources to execute it, it’s moot.

For example, creating a Google Ad is relatively quick and simple. Producing a great YouTube video, on the other hand, can be intensive.

One of the benefits of outsourcing marketing tasks to a company like Ogline Digital is that the effort variable drops considerably for your internal team. Because of the extra cost, the reach decreases a little, but because of our expertise and track record of success, the impact and confidence variables increase dramatically.

Crunching RICE

We have our four variables … how do they all go together now?

The RICE equation looks like this:

(Reach x Impact x Confidence) ÷ Effort

Let’s do a demonstration of how this might work.

Suppose you have five marketing channels you are considering. Two of them are Google and a YouTube. You assign the variables as follows, 1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest.


Google Ads 4 2 4 1

YouTube Video 3 5 3 5

Here’s the RICE equation for each channel …

Google Ad:  (4 x 2 x 4) ÷ 1 = 32

YouTube Video: (3 x 5 x 3) ÷ 5 = 9

This is just an example of course but the complexity of making a YouTube video really killed it in the denominator of the equation. The Google Ad came out with a much higher priority score, despite the higher score in the numerator.

Use this tool can help you focus the most precious resource you have… time.

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