What is PDCA and how this method can help you manage your digital marketing strategy

Micheli , Invited guest @ Mailrelay

Digital marketing can be a challenge, even for those of us who have been crossing this path for several years. For example, it may be difficult to understand certain concepts, or perhaps you don’t know
what different acronyms mean, where correctly the best strategies can be applied and what is the best way to
improve your various projects.

The important thing is not to be afraid! Over time, you will realize that there are many strategies, and they are always being updated. After all, the digital world is ever-evolving.

If you work with digital marketing, you should look for tools and techniques to detect problems in your strategy and processes.

The PDCA cycle emerged as an alternative to that. Through it, you will be able to better visualize each stage of the process and, with this information, it will be easier to detect problems and find the
best solutions.

Do you want to understand a little more about how this process works?

What is PDCA?

The PDCA cycle is also known as the Shewhart cycle or Deming cycle. This refers to both Walter Andrew Shewhart, known as the creator of the method, and William Edwards Deming, who spread this technique.

In any case, the PDCA cycle is a method that seeks continuous improvements in management, as well as in processes, always looking for solutions to specific problems.

The acronym comes from the words Plan, Do Check, Action. In other words, the PDCA cycle is a continuous cycle, used to control all the stages
of a process. Also, it was designed to be a dynamic process, which can be used repeatedly, until the process works correctly.

This all goes back to 1930 when Shewhart introduced statistical principles in quality management in
factories. However, the one who made the PDCA cycle popular was Deming, in 1950, who transformed the
cycle into an instrument that can be used in different corporate settings, not just in
factories. And that’s why Deming was considered the creator of modern quality control.

It is thanks to them that we can now apply the PDCA cycle in our digital marketing strategies. With this technique, we can better understand how our processes work and, mainly, how to improve them.

When should I use this method?

Whenever your company or business has a problem that you don’t know how to solve, or when it is necessary to improve the results of a strategy, you can use the PDCA cycle.

Also, as we mentioned earlier, this method can be used in a company in any segment. Although it has been created to analyze the quality management of factories, today, it is possible to reproduce it in
different businesses and even in companies in the digital environment.

Also, it is important to understand that the cycle is a continuous process and, to make it work, your company and managers must also always be looking for improvements,
because you will have to apply this strategy several times, always trying to
improve things.

How to implement the PDCA cycle in your business?

Now that we have explained the concept and better understand its importance, it is time to discover how to implement this method in your company or business.

Basically, as we have already seen, it is divided into four different stages, each of which has an essential role throughout the cycle.

All are necessary to achieve your goal and the results you want to achieve.

Let’s see a little more about each of them:


The first thing to do when starting a new project is to plan our actions. It is necessary to establish the goals and objectives of the cycle.

Similarly, it’s crucial to think about questions like “what problem do I need to fix now?” As well as “is there a problem, I can solve before this?”.

In this way, it is possible to guarantee that this will be the best project for the moment in which your business is
now, as well as to evaluate the probabilities of finding an effective solution.

Therefore, this is the time to start a marketing plan, which you would have to develop based on
realistic projections and data analysis.

In addition to that, it is vital to make a good diagnosis of the current moment of the company. That way, you will be able to understand where your business is before thinking about where you want to

To plan the steps you will take, you will have to work with real projections.

At this point, it is also essential to define the key performance indicators (KPI), because without this information you will not be able to know if you have managed to achieve your objectives.

KPI’s are a clear way to assess the progress of each stage of the project, as well as the overall result of the strategy.

It is also at this point that you will have to decide the methodology that you will use to put what you have planned into practice, as well as what procedures must be followed at that time.


This is the time to put your initial marketing plan into practice, to transform what has been written into concrete actions.

To do that, all employees must have access to all planning so that everyone knows the importance of exercising their functions, as well as the impact of each activity related to the project.

In the same way, everyone must be aligned, have some independence to do their job, but also know how to act integrated with the other team members, so that everyone works together.

Furthermore, all actions must follow what you have planned without any changes. If it is not possible to continue, you will have to go back to the previous step and do all the planning
from the beginning, to evaluate the failures and problems in the project, as well as to identify aspects that could be improved in the next attempt.

We are only in the second phase of the process, but if the planning is not followed to the letter, it will not be possible to measure the results of the actions, and this technique will not be effective.In a PDCA cycle, depending on the objectives that have been established as a priority, it is possible to develop some specific actions, such as:

  • A/B testing: You can create tests for improving the conversion of leads, analyzing two different landing pages, as well as in email marketing campaigns, to see which option will work best.
  • Content: here, it is important to define what type of content you want to create, be it text, video, or audio, and find qualified people to carry out these actions.
  • Design: don’t forget that the digital world is always in constant evolution, it is necessary always to be optimizing your website, as well as invest in quality designs and images, to attract the attention of your audience. If your content is relevant, but your design isn’t eye-catching, you’ll have problems with engagement.


Planning a strategy and doing everything you have decided to try is important, but without measuring the results of the actions, you will not know if your strategy has worked successfully.

This is the time to use reliable metrics. That is, you will have to analyze the data that you already had before the start of the cycle and see how your project is now.

Here are some points you can check:

1. Has the conversion rate increased?
2. Have the actions had better results?
3. Has the interaction with your customers improved?

Don’t forget that everything will depend on the objectives and goals that you have established in the planning phase.

At this point, it is essential to evaluate the deviations made in the application of the marketing plan, compare what is expected with what has been done, as well as verify if it is appropriate for your objective and if it will be possible to proceed to the next step in the cycle.

Also, it is essential to analyze the application of the work methodology used, to verify that the staff is on the right track, as well as whether it is necessary to make changes to the process, to make it more successful.

In other words, the manager needs to continually monitor and evaluate each step of the strategy, to make sure everything works as planned and whether changes will need to be made or you’ll have to return to the initial step.


The first thing you have to do in this step is to observe the entire process of the cycle, analyze the data obtained, and ask yourself: did it work? If the answer is positive and you have reached all  the expected objectives, you must standardize this whole process.

However, if the answer is negative and something didn’t go exactly as you planned, you should take corrective action. In this way, it is possible to convert your planning into more positive results, continually improving processes.

At this point, it is essential to do a good data analysis, so that adjustments and new implementations are made, seeking to understand where the main flaws are and what are the best ways to solve the problems detected.

After that, it’s time to turn the wheel again and start the cycle once more.

If your initial marketing plan has not achieved the expected results, it is time to discover what has failed, as well as what were the main successes, to start a new PDCA Cycle again, with everything you learned and analyzed in the previous cycle.

How to guarantee the continuity of the process?

Since the objective of the PDCA method is to guarantee continuous improvement of the processes, it is crucial to understand that the wheel will always keep turning; that is, it is essential to start a new cycle.

Just because things worked well in the previous cycle, it doesn’t mean you can stop working and rest, right? We live in a time of great competition and many changes, especially in the digital environment.

Because of this, it is necessary always to be ready to continue learning and updating your strategies.

After applying this strategy several times, you will see that the process will become increasingly complex, but you will also have increasingly detailed information for the next attempt.

At this point, it is also important to invest in continuous improvements in the education and training of your team, ensuring that they are prepared for any problem that may arise.

It’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t stick to details that may not be as important to the execution of all planning. To do this, you have to establish a minimum quality standard, and every time you reach it, you can go to the next step.

Still, you can’t ignore those little details. You can take note of the small problems, to review them in the future.

Finally, it is important to analyze the adaptability of this method. Although it is possible to apply the cycle in most situations, the whole team must understand its operation.

And, above all, that everyone knows how to execute it, so that the PDCA can be transformed from a tool to a corporate culture that seeks constant improvement, with a focus on results.

Why is the PDCA cycle so important?

After understanding the concept of the PDCA cycle, learning how it works, how to apply it, and what steps you will need to take, you have probably realized its importance within any digital marketing  strategy.

For example, if you have created an email marketing strategy and are not satisfied with the results, you could use the PDCA cycle to plan your next campaigns. You could also use this method to attract leads, increase conversions or close more sales.

Therefore, it is clear that the objective of the PDCA cycle is to guarantee continuous improvements in your business processes to always achieve increasingly positive results.

Maybe you have not been able to detect all the problems after applying this strategy once, but you can’t be discouraged, you have to keep trying until you reach your goals and improve your processes.

Translated by Micheli.

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