The Seven Wastes of Digital Marketing

7wastesFor a digital marketer, having too many tools can be equally as damning as having too few. The reason is fairly simple: that glut of platforms has the potential to make your job less efficient.

That’s a good enough reason, I think, but if we follow that just a little bit further, less efficiency also means you’re likely to start creating experiences that are less satisfying for your customer. And we all know that dissatisfied customers are not good for the brand or bottom line.

One way to solve this problem is to reduce waste by reducing the number of tools at your disposal (or in your technology stack).

Multichannel marketing platforms eliminate the abundance of niche solutions you use on a daily basis and replace them with a single platform that features everything you need to get your job done.

Taking a look at multichannel marketing platforms through a quality lens, I am reminded of the seven wastes of manufacturing. Waste reducing was a point of interest for Taiichi Ohno, who developed the 7 wastes concept during his time at Toyota in the mid 20th Century. The 7 wastes are a key component of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and specifically address the reduction of waste in the forms of Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Over Processing and Defects.

Though the 7 wastes were developed largely from a manufacturing point of view, they can be applied to digital marketing through the use of an multichannel marketing platform. Here’s how:

Transportation. Movement of product that does not add value.

With a multichannel marketing platform’s ability to predict a customer’s product or content needs through personalization algorithms, you can ensure the right product or information is put in front of a customer when he or she visits your website. Otherwise, showing product that does not meet the customer’s needs as soon as he or she visits your website does not add value.

Inventory. More materials, parts, or products on hand than the customer needs right now.

If we look at the predictive nature of multichannel marketing platforms, one aspect of the platform’s predictability should be focused on inventory control. Having too much inventory on hand leads to situations where the digital marketer needs to spend time working on sale initiatives, selling merchandise at a lower margin, rather than spending value-added time on creating better customer experiences.

Motion. Movement of people that does not add value.

In this regard, we are not physically moving people, but we do measure how people flow through a conversion funnel. One of the key value propositions of an multichannel marketing platform should be its ability to create a website experience that moves as many customers through the entire conversion funnel in the least amount of time.

Another way to look at motion as a form of waste is moving from one software application to another. Multichannel marketing platforms should eliminate the number of tools that a digital marketer would need to switch between. If the multichannel marketing platform also had project management features to keep all of the needed information in one place, where the work is being done (the gemba), that’s even better.

Waiting. Idle time created when material, information, people, or equipment is not ready.

Multichannel marketing platforms should be able to make the customer’s experience seamless and react in real-time. Real-time marketing through a multi-channel platform can eliminate the time it takes a digital marketer to analyze data and react.

A multichannel marketing platform should also have the ability to give a creative designer a place in the user interface to develop the needed assets that will be used in creating the personalized experience. This should eliminate work-in-progress (WIP), which is another form of waiting and promote single-piece-flow.

Overproduction. Producing more than the customer needs right now.

Related to Transportation, showing a customer more products or content than they need when they visit your website can be overwhelming; customers could fall into the Paradox of Choice dilemma. A multichannel marketing platform can help digital marketers make more relevant recommendations, create the right customer experience, in the right amount, at the right time, for a customer based on aggregated marketing data points.

Over Processing. Effort that adds no value from the customer’s viewpoint.

This one is huge, and can be a major contributor to exceptional customer experience and satisfaction. A multichannel marketing platform should be able to analyze data from across marketing channels in order to understand exactly what adds value from the customer’s perspective. Otherwise, if the product or content being served to the customer is not relevant or personal in nature, you run the risk of a lost conversion or a dissatisfied customer. As John Guspari wrote 30+ years ago, “…if the the product or service did not do what the customer expected it to do, you have a quality problem”.

Defects. Work that contains errors, rework, mistakes or lacks something necessary.

In marketing, a defect can be something as trivial as sending an email with a broken link or something more common, like failing to convert the customer.

Take a look at your conversion funnel; all of those customers that did not reach your confirmation page are potential defects. A multichannel marketing platform can help reduce the number of failed conversions by aggregating data from across marketing channels into a central location. This will help you plan and execute a strategy that increases the customer’s experience while positively affecting the bottom line.

Tying this all together, addressing any or all of the 7 wastes is really about increasing efficiencies and reducing time to value for the digital marketer and ultimately, the customer.

Upstream, a multichannel marketing platform helps save digital marketers time by having all of their personalization tools and marketing channel data in one place. Downstream, the experience a customer receives from the digital marketer’s use of a multichannel marketing platform will save the customer time, help drive satisfaction and increase revenue.

This post was originally featured on the Monetate Marketing Blog.

Posted in Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Lean, Quality, Website Personalization Tagged with: , , , ,