Digital Marketing Essentials: Ishikawa, Growth Drivers, And The Latest Platform Changes

Dr Dave Chaffey, a Digital Marketing Strategist, explains how Ishikawa diagrams can be a smart marketing investment, while social networks strive for more relevance in their feeds.

Digital Marketing Essentials: Ishikawa, Growth Drivers, And The Latest Platform Changes

Techniques to drive digital marketing processes and platform updates that add relevance to social feeds are among the most important changes for senior marketers this month.

Ishikawa: Cause-And-Effect Mindmapping

Future marketers will be faced with even more choice of where to spend their time and invest their budget as the proliferation of channels and media continues. So it’s important to develop critical thinking skills and deploy techniques we can use to prioritise smart marketing investments—that’s the essence of strategy after all.

Ishikawa diagrams are one technique that resonates well with post-graduate students of digital marketing in the training workshops I’m involved in. Also known as fishbone diagrams, herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, or even Fishikawa, Ishikawa diagrams were created in 1968 by Kaoru Ishikawa to highlight the causes of a specific event. They were originally developed for operational use in factories, as a way to improve product design and prevent quality defects by identifying potential factors causing an overall effect as below.

The diagrams are also a great “mind tool”. Once you build them up, they’re essentially a different form of mindmapping, but with a focus on cause and effect for key activities.

I first became aware of the Ishikawa technique from managing software development teams and using them to identify the potential cause of problems. I then heard Sam Decker, who was responsible for Dell’s consumer website, explain how the company used this as part of its Six Sigma thinking to improve operations, content, design, analytics, as well as P&L management.

This technique seems a perfect fit for many aspects of modern marketing. Since processes for systems development, integration, and workflow are now so important in digital marketing, it seems particularly suitable for creating digital experiences and customer service. You can read more here about how the technique can be applied to Ecommerce Success Mapping.

Marketing-Related Growth Drivers

Ishikawa diagrams are essentially about identifying the right levers to pull to get the results you’re looking for, a question that marketing leaders are constantly reappraising and one that was addressed in highly relevant recent research on growth drivers for CMOs from KPMG.

The study “To Stand Still Is To Fall Behind” asked 539 senior executives across manufacturing, retail, and distribution businesses for their opinions on the key growth drivers. The diverse answers make for some interesting reading in how they relate to marketing.

Business leaders were asked to rate how important a number of key areas would be to their companies’ success over the next one or two years. Unsurprisingly, “expansion and growth” was the most common focus, but many supporting activities relate to marketing, including consumer trust, data analytics, and omni-channel strategy and technology. I recommend taking a look at the more detailed analysis in the research on how these can prompt loyalty.

Privacy: Further Developments For Compliance

Consumer trust and privacy are clearly major concerns for many leaders, and in last month’s summary I mentioned how there will now be a requirement for businesses trading in Europe to follow the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Although not directly related, the follow-up to this in early February was an unexpected announcement about the future of Safe Harbour, when the E.U. Commission and U.S. announced an agreement on a new framework for transatlantic data flows, known as the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield.

So, if you’re ultimately responsible for customer data, this is a new approach to be reviewed for compliance.

Platform Developments

The ongoing battle to deliver more relevance in feeds was behind the two main changes of note among social networks in February, both balanced against the need to monetise and grow ad revenue.

  1. Facebook to change criteria for displaying articles in a newsfeed. The most relevant stories featured in the newsfeed will now be based on qualitative feedback as well as post engagement, in a move which seems aimed at clamping down on clickbait.
  2. Twitter’s new algorithm-based time line. This is currently an opt-in option. If selected, Twitter will display the updates it deems more relevant, rather than an unfiltered stream. The change should be good news for brands. If they have a loyal following, their users will see brand posts more, and it means organic content from brands has a better chance of being seen by more people as they log into Twitter.

Facebook also announced that it would be opening up Instant Articles to all publishers. Many large publishers are already monetising Facebook using this option, but since “every business should be a publisher today”, this has prompted brand marketers to question whether they should get involved. It seems logical that the model of driving audiences from the brand Facebook page to a destination site, where there is more opportunity to engage and sell, will remain the model for most. There is also the cost of switching to follow Facebook’s style and technical guidance that won’t be natively supported by most content management systems. However, it’s the one to watch. The new, open Instant Article programme will open to all on April 12, 2016.