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May 18, 2015
Ecommerce success mapping
Author: Dave Chaffey
Published: January 2013
Plan > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage
2 © Smart Insights (Marketing Intelligence) Limited. Please go to www.smartinsights.com to feedback or access our other guides.
Ecommerce Success Mapping
About the Smart Insights Ecommerce Success Maps
With the increasingly complex range of channels companies use for communications today,
mastering best practices is helpful to make best use of each channel or digital marketing
technique and its integration with other channels.
Success maps offer a way of driving growth and improved performance of digital channels
since they give a structured way to understand, prioritise and manage best practices for
marketing activities. Success maps offer these benefits:
þþ Directed at identifying factors to drive growth, measured using their impact on KPIs
þþ Help manage processes with complex best practices of marketing activities
þþ Group related activities and show dependencies between different activities
þþ Identify and prioritise improvement activities when managers are discussing with
specialists or agencies. Give a visual hierarchy for activities on a single sheet
They are also handy for reviewing knowledge as part of learning, for example revision
or planning an exam question. They can be used in a simple way as a specialist form of
The origin of success maps
We use the label Success Maps since it shows the purpose of using the technique in a user-
friendly way. Technically they are also known as
þþ Cause and effect diagrams
þþ Herringbone diagrams
þþ Ishikawa diagrams
Ishikawa diagrams originate1
in the process manufacturing industry where they are used to
identify defects in operations. We first heard about them around ten years ago when there
was a movement to adopt Six Sigma principles in marketing. Dell was one of the earliest
adopters of the technique in marketing and I was influenced by Sam Decker, then an
Ecommerce manager at Dell as he described their benefits and how Dell had used them.
NB. Typically, Ishikawa diagrams are used to resolve problems by identifying defects in a
process and potential solutions. This success mapping technique is different since it defines
different marketing activities to improve performance of a marketing process rather than
solving a particular problem.
How to create and use Marketing Success Maps
We will provide example success maps that cover a typical range of best practices, but we
hope you will also want to develop your own for other processes you are working on. To
create a success map:
þþ 1. Start on the right of the diagram, define your goal(s) for the activity or marketing
process you want to improve.
þþ 2. Define specific goals and KPIs to show what you are looking to improve
þþ 3. Identify the 3-8 main groups of work activities or tasks that will drive performance. It can
help to use a conventional mindmap which is similar in many ways, but not so process
þþ 4. Draw 3-8 arrows of primary and secondary performance drivers which are the activities
1 Wikipedia: Ishikawa diagrams
3 © Smart Insights (Marketing Intelligence) Limited. Please go to www.smartinsights.com to feedback or access our other guides.
Ecommerce Success Mapping
driving performance angled towards the right onto the main axis which will drive activity.
Where there is a clear sequence of activities, e.g. start on the left if auditing is part of the
activity on the left.
þþ 5. Add individual tasks and sub-tasks or activities onto each major grouping of activities.
We hope you find them useful, do let us know how you get or any questions you may have.
About the Ecommerce Success Map
The first success map we have created, featured in this template, is a top-level success
map featuring the success factors most relevant for improving revenue from a transactional
online business. We have created this using generic success factors so that it can be applied
to analyse any type of business with a transactional website involving sale of services or
products including online retailers, travel and financial services businesses.
We think it will also be useful for non-transactional businesses such as business-to-bus-
ness companies using digital technologies to generate enquiries or leads since many of
the decision points are similar. Dave Chaffey has also written a post giving a little more
background on the technique2
What does the Ecommerce success map show?
The benefits of using a top level success map like this to review Ecommerce strategy are that
þþ Focus on commercial growth. Managers of Ecommerce or digital marketing or agencies
making recommendations for clients are responsible for identifying opportunities for
growth. The Ishikawa diagram approach is directed at identifying inefficiencies and op-
portunities for growth.
þþ Simplicity. Our members have told us that they find our in-depth best practice guides
useful, but they would like more succinct ways to summarise the key factors.
þþ Comprehensive coverage of key online marketing activities. We have structured this
Ecommerce success map around the areas of the Smart Insights PRACE framework to
ensure it covers all relevant activities.
þþ Strategic success levers defined. These are the factors in marketing identified under
Plan that make online communications more effective such as targeting approaches and
creating new propositions.
þþ Tactical success factors identified. These are techniques to increase efficiency of
websites, apps, email and social media activities.
þþ A tool to plan future improvements. The diagram can be used as an analysis technique
to quickly scan the strategic and tactical success factors you need to prioritise. You can
then create a roadmap to test and improve these marketing activities
Recommended resource? Digital marketing toolkit
Use the Digital marketing toolkit templates to prepare a customised plan for your business
or your clients. The toolkit contains unbranded Word, Excel and Powerpoint templates to
help form a plan for your business.
In 2013, we will add to this success map with other more detailed success maps for specific
communications approaches like SEO, Paid search, Social media and Email marketing. We
will do this as part of our rolling programme of updating all our resources through the year.
2 Smart Insights: Success mapping