Using PEST vs PESTLE vs SLEPT for digital marketing plans

These acronyms are used as a framework for supporting marketing planning by reviewing the opportunities and threats of the broader macro-environment of a business. I’ve never been a fan of the amount of attention paid to them in student assignments or exams, since, for me, they warrant some consideration, but are much less likely to affect the future plans and strategies for a business than the micro-environment factors such as customers, competitors and intermediaries in the buying process.

PESTLE stands for:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Sociological
  • Technological
  • Legal
  • Environmental

PEST is shortened form focusing on Political, Economic, Sociological and Technological factor. I prefer the longer form which emphasises the legal issues such as privacy and distance-selling laws that are important in digital marketing. In our digital marketing book we use SLEPT since this starts with the more important factors from a digital marketing point-of-view.

  • Social forces. Cultural diversity among digital communities, that influences the use of the Internet and the services businesses provide online. The impact of social exclusion where some people in society don’t have access to digital devices or platforms.
  • Legal forces. Determine the methods by which products can be promoted and sold online. Laws and ethical guidelines that seek to safeguard individuals’ rights to privacy and businesses’ rights to free trade.
  • Economic forces. Cause variation in economic conditions and affect trading opportunities, influence consumer spending and business performance and have significant implications for digital marketing planning.
  • Political forces. National governments and transnational organisations have an important role in determining the future adoption and control of the Internet and the rules by which it is governed.
  • Technological forces. Changes in technology that influence marketing opportunities, create new product development opportunities, introduce new ways to access target markets through channel integration and create new forms of access platforms and applications.

We focus on the technological and legal forces.


Welcome to my personal site where I blog about the latest developments in digital business to help students, professionals or lecturers using my books in their studies or careers.

Visit my main Smart Insights Digital Marketing Strategy site to download planning templates, strategy guides and daily updates on the latest developments.

I also write about assistive technology to help others teaching the visually impaired as part of my volunteering work for charity AbilityNet.

My latest books

Full details on Amazon:

Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice
8th edition

Digital Marketing Excellence
6th edition

About Smart Insights

Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. We’re a publisher and learning platform that helps our 150,000 active members in over 100 countries plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing activities by applying the actionable advice in our planning templates, guides and interactive e-learning tools.

Free members can download our free templates and benchmark their digital capabilities.