What is Kaizen and how to apply it to your email marketing strategy?

Ismael Ruiz

If you are a digital entrepreneur, you are probably always looking for methods or practices that will help you better manage your time and organize your work.

If you are interested in something new to try, there is a methodology called “Kaizen”. Kaisen is a Japanese method, created after World War II, as a solution to help to put the country back on track.

The Japanese companies that started implementing it in their daily activities are continuously improving the quality management of their products and services. To achieve this goal, they use different practices, linked to this methodology that we will see today.

And in the digital marketing industry, and more specifically in our email marketing actions, this philosophy could help a lot and even become a key piece in the overall puzzle, that is, in our digital strategy.

However, let’s start by defining it, as I believe it is very likely that you are not very familiar with this concept.

· What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese term (改善,)  It literally means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” Its application is known by the acronym MCCT (Continuous Improvement for Total Quality).

The Kaizen method sets in motion actions for the continuous improvement of strategies and techniques and involves all members of the team or organization, from managers and owners to external employees, not directly linked to the entity itself.

► How does this methodology work?

The concept of continuous improvement was applied, as I indicated previously, since the end of World War II, when the Americans entered Japan and began to apply techniques created by military specialists, responsible for the major industries of the time, with the goal of rebuilding a devastated, resource-stricken country.

They deployed a methodology that would change the country forever: “without a continuous improvement it is not possible to evolve”.To better understand this concept, Kaizen’s theory says that we should strive to improve something every day, no matter the area we want to change, it could be our professional career or personal life.

With that in mind, Kaizen means changing small aspects, with the aim of improving the quality of our results little by little, instead of making sudden large-scale changes.

This, according to the philosophy that we are going to see today, makes us break this mental barrier and stop thinking that “I can’t,” which is responsible for most of professional and personal failures.

In short, and in other words, to apply the Kaizen methodology, we need to be persistent in our work, with small doses of daily changes. Using continuous improvement tools, we can leave our comfort zone little by little, to slowly improve the quality of our work.

Large-scale changes may scare us, but with the Kaizen theory, it is easy not to fear a small challenge with which we lose little if we fail. That is, we will  incorporate minor changes and start improving step by step.

How was the Kaizen methodology created?

· How was the Kaizen methodology created?

Like many other philosophies and methodologies that have been created throughout history, the Kaizen method was created by necessity.

As I mentioned earlier, in this case, the Kaizen method began to be applied in the middle of the last century, when the American army that had occupied Japan brought specialists that implemented new techniques to solve several problems the country was facing.

These experts appointed reputable business advisors to help improve the processes of Japanese industries, and they implemented techniques based on Some training programs called TWI (Training within the industry). Its prominent promoters were William Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran.

Little by little, the Japanese people began to assimilate these practices or tools for continuous improvement. And many Eastern philosophies preach this premise: continuous improvement. Japan needed improvements of enormous magnitudes, due to the devastating and dilapidated state in which the whole country was after the war.

One of the Japanese who theorized and named the Kaizen method was an entrepreneur called Kaoru Ishikawa, who adapted it to the industrial processes.

After this introduction of the methodology, the Japanese economy started to recover little by little, and now the country has a booming industry, perhaps one of the most advanced in the world.

· The 10 Steps for Applying Kaizen in Your Business Strategy

The secret of this philosophy lies precisely in simple steps that we can take to improve our work or our daily life.

If we want to apply this methodology in the digital field, we will have to follow a series of steps or premises, if we want to achieve all our goals.

These are the key steps to implementing this philosophy in a business strategy:

► 1. Forget fixed and immutable ideas.

Previously I mentioned that to apply this method, you will have to leave your comfort zone and change the way you act.

Therefore, it will be necessary to focus on actions or strategies that promote a continual change in our way of thinking and doing things.

► 2.  Reflect on “how to” instead of concentrating on difficulties

This philosophy tries to avoid the mental blocks that often afflict us, or what in coaching is called “paralysis by analysis.”This state of mind” hangs “decision making, creating a process of stagnation. Many times, we think a lot about something, we believe that it could bring positive results, but we never take the first step as we don’t know where to start.

So be it in our email marketing strategy, that later we will see more carefully or in any other action, we should always focus on how to do things and not in the problems or inconveniences that all this will bring.

► 3. Work continuously to improve

And to help us to improve and stop focusing our energies in the barriers that can arise, Kaizen proposes that, to face any difficulty or problem in our project, we should stop worrying and start proposing actions to resolve these issues.

By immediately blocking these impediments, we don’t give time to our mind to focus on the negative aspects, putting all our attention on how to fix the problems.

► 4. Correct the errors immediately

Precisely, and according to the previous solution, Kaizen proposes that, wherever possible, we should activate corrective measures that will solve the problems immediately as soon as they are detected.

This way, we avoid putting off the solution, something that most of us are accustomed to do when dealing with unpleasant things.

Even if to find an immediate solution to the problem we have to search on Google for other people or companies that faced the same problem in the past, we must act. Our goal should be to solve this “crisis” immediately.

► 5. Find ideas when facing difficult situations

Kaizen also teaches that the difficulties that may arise in the execution of any project are an opportunity for us to learn and adapt.

So we should focus on positive things to change our way of considering problems. We need to consider each challenge as an opportunity to improve.

Don't seek perfection, but excellence.

► 6. Don’t seek perfection, but excellence.

This methodology also proposes a change in the way we think. We should stop pursuing perfection, especially after starting a new project.

As it is commonly said, nothing is perfect and, following this premise; Kaizen proposes to pursue excellence, which is composed of continuous improvements through which we gradually resolve all “imperfections” of the initial product, prioritizing the solution to problems that affect the end customer, and later those that make it more aesthetic and attractive.

► 7.  Find the real cause, respect the five “why.”

According to the basis of this method, if we start analyzing any failure that affects the proper functioning of our project, we will always find five “why” that we must identify.

If it is possible to identify them in time and, above all, to combat them effectively, we will achieve our goals and create a more efficient system, which will guarantee the success of our project.

► 8. Take into account the ideas of 10 people

Practicing active listening is another of the basic precepts of this philosophy. Asking for help is not shameful. We should ask for recommendations and tips from other people, to further refine our project.

So we should talk to 10 known people, intimately related to our professional sector, to ask them if they can recommend us a formula that is working for them, to test if it could be used in our company or project.

► 9.  Test and then validate

This philosophy has the concept of “validation” as a principle.

From there, it is easy to apply different solutions. However, we should always validate the actions taken, with the aim of identifying and solving errors or malfunctions in the system or project immediately. However, we should always validate our ideas and the actions taken, with the aim of identifying and solving errors or malfunctions in the system or project immediately.

► 10. “ The improvement should continue”

It is very likely that once all of our goals have been achieved or at least those we originally set as goals in our own business, we may ask ourselves: and now what can I do to improve?

That is where the essence of this last point lies, because you should understand that no matter how positive your results are, you always should try to improve them.

This way, you should always have in your “drawer” a list of improvements you’d like to implement and apply them when possible.

How to apply the Kaizen methodology to your email marketing strategy?

· How to apply the Kaizen methodology to your email marketing strategy?

Having seen all the points that are part of this fantastic methodology, beyond the very definition of Kaizen, I would like to share with you a very interesting strategy that you can apply to your email marketing actions.

Although it seems to you at first that both concepts (Kaizen and E-mail marketing) have no apparent relation, the best of this philosophy is that it applies to all types of professional fields.

So if you use Mailrelay as your email marketing software, because this is a fantastic system that offers unbeatable conditions and that I have been using for several years in my strategy, I recommend that you proceed as follows:

► Capture leads from day one

This is one of the mistakes that many companies and even bloggers who start their Internet business make.

Often, we think because we are starting our project, as we don’t know anyone or we have a very “green” personal brand, we will not be able to capture subscribers with our content.

However, after a while, when we open our eyes and decide to look for ways of attracting subscribers to send them our content or services working with email marketing, we will discover that we have already lost many potential subscribers, since many visitors would probably like to receive our newsletters.

► Create quality content to send a weekly newsletter

After creating a strategy to attract leads, the next step should be to start publishing new content every week to have material to send to our subscribers.

And if you couldn’t publish anything new, you should send them content from other sites that you found interesting and that you can share with them, or relevant information related to your industry.

For example, if your subscribers have online companies, you could send recommendations on marketing books that you recently read.

This way, they will get used to receiving, at least one day per week, a message from you with helpful tips about their business or their life.

► Ask them for feedback to continually improve.

Do you remember what Kaizen teaches about “continuous improvement”?

Well, to be able to improve constantly, you should take advantage of the weeks when you don’t have content to send to create different newsletters, asking your subscribers to help you and give you feedback.

What could you ask for? Very simple. Ask them to suggest interesting topics, to know what they want to find on your blog, what products they would like you to sell in your eCommerce, etc.

Talking about Kaizen again, remember that this system is comprised of all links in the chain, including the operators, who in this case would be your subscribers and you would be responsible or the person in charge of this strategy.

► Listen to them, their opinion counts.

To work with another of Kaizen’s basic assumptions thatwe should listen to the ideas of 10 people; we can talk to our subscribers and ask their opinion.

In this way, we can continue to improve gradually.

After sending an info product, for example, a free ebook, we could send them an email a week after they received the new product to find out what they thought of the ebook and what could be improved.

· Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Kaizen philosophy, more than a simple method for helping us to improve our profession and day to day tasks, is an authentic philosophy of life.

And, applied to the niche of email marketing, it could bring you many advantages to your current strategy, not from the economic point of view, but to attract new subscribers and especially to build a loyal customer database.

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