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Lean tools you can use for Digital Marketing

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In this generation, when people talks about marketing, they usually mean going online. It’s about using the internet to reach consumers using variety of digital channels such as social media, search, display advertising, digital partnerships, mobile apps, email etc.,

I’m not downplaying traditional marketing. Believe me, it does still work when used correctly. However, the days to boost up your business using print ads such as billboard advertising, newspaper, pamplets and TV commercials are simply outdated.

Millennials and Gen Z preferred to learn products and services through the internet. They use their computers, tablets or mobile phones to check on product reviews, discounts, promotions or finding the closest shops near their location.

This is why digital marketing is important, it is the future. This approach allows businesses to respond to their target markets using the right content in the right time.

However, just like traditional marketing, digital marketing is also heavy, messy and disoriented at times. The daily work is diverse as it requires you to engage with internal specialist or external vendors such as agencies and consultants.

six sigma in digital marketing - marketing team

So how do you keep your digital marketing processes efficient? How do you keep your procedures refined? Below are some of the lean tools you can use to create a well organized digital marketing operation.


I’m not referring to 5S of Digital Marketing. I’m talking about the 5S system – the lean manufacturing methodology. It is a defined as a system that results in a workplace that is clean, organized and safe to reduce waste and optimize productivity.

Originally in Japanese words and was first implemented in Japan by the Toyota Motor Corporation. Now, it is translated in English as “sort”, “storage”, “shine”, “standardize” and “sustain”.

This methodology is extremely useful in digital marketing for keeping all you digital assets and content clean and organized. A good application is on EDM campaigns or even maintaining your website.

5S – Sort

Sort is for reviewing your website or EDM content templates and removing unnecessary call to action or links that distracts the customer from clicking your main call to actions (CTA). Through the practice of Sort, it gives you a systematic approach of spreadsheet creation, an organize documentation of the list of all links, image content and other call to actions (CTA) within your website or EDM content to keep track and remove when necessary.

5S – Storage

Similar to shelving system that provides an ideal way of storing and organizing small parts in storage warehouses, in digital marketing, the application is to review and organize your content within specific templates. Imagine you have 10 or 20 different templates for different campaign types, how do you make sure that you keep track all the content and links in those templates? Are the embedded links related for each given template? Are the links still live and pointing to the correct web pages?

5S – Shine

In manufacturing, Shine involves performing regular maintenance on equipment and machinery.  Just like in digital marketing, it helps you to run a quick health check on your content to inspect broken links or non-responsive EDM templates, a web page or specific element on a landing page. It’s a systematic approach that allows you to look at every template for improper formatting and outdated information too.

5S – Standardize

This is setting-up best practices through “visual management”. In manufacturing, it is keeping an area clean and consistent with one another allowing management to immediately see abnormalities and irregularity in a work place. The use case for digital is during the creation of digital marketing best practices or documentation. Example., naming convention of your utm parameters and web page urls,  labeling your images,  setting-up file management rules for your contents etc.,

5S – Sustain

This is imposing discipline and training upon your employees. Example, making it a quarterly habit to review all digital assets, content, links or regularly applying user acceptance testing (UAT) prior to launching any campaigns or publishing content on a website.

Kanban Board

This is a tool to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress  and maximize efficiency or flow. You use visual signals like a Kanban card which describes the work to be done and move it between list, columns or boards whether it is in to do, in progress, test or deployment.

Imagine you are launching a loyalty campaign for your eCommerce customers. During the planning stage, you have identified the list of task to be carried out and split to your cross functional team. How will you track and monitor the work? How do you make sure it will be executed on time? This is when Kanban board is useful. See some screenshot examples I found around the web.

Digital Kanban Board

six sigma in digital marketing - kanban board trello

Workspace Kanban/Scrum board 

six sigma in digital marketing - kanban

You can use a spreadsheet, a specific space in your physical workplace or project management tools like Trello or Jira for your kanban board (useful in times like COVID-19).

Root cause analysis tools

Imagine that one day, suddenly your conversion rate drop to the floor. You have limited amount of data to analyse and you have a very young team to examine the problem. How will you solve it?

This is when lean tools for root cause analysis is useful. It allows you to deep dive and uncover reasons of the problem. These tools are also flexible as it can be used individually or use in a group level activity.

While there are wide range of methods you can use for different situations, the most common ones are Fishbone diagram, Pareto chart, 5 Whys analysis or Failure Mode and Effects analysis (FMEA).

There are default categories when applying Fishbone diagram for manufacturing or service industries however, you can always create your own affinity that is unique to your organization or business.

Example screenshot I found in the web.

six sigma in digital marketing - fish bone diagram example