The role of a marketer has grown dramatically over the last few years. As the KPIs we’re responsible for expand, there’s been a shift in the skills today’s marketers not only need to familiarize themselves with, but master. Marketing through user experience is one of these disciplines.
Traditionally, user experience has been confined to website design. However, we at BigDoor see it as any touch point allowing a customer to interact with your brand – even before they’ve made their first purchase and are still in the consideration phase. User experience includes the on-page experience of your website, the functionality of the emails you send out, the ads you display around the web, the way you present yourself through social channels, and even those t-shirts you sent out to your power users last week.
“User experience” can be defined as: any interaction a customer or potential customer has with your brand. As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure these experiences work together.
In this post, we’ll focus on why marketers should care about online user experience (i.e. how your customers and fans interact with your brand around the web). Maybe someday in the future we’ll write about tangible user experience, which tends to look more like this:
This cat is having a bad tangible user experience.
Ready? Here we go!
Great UX: Drives customer loyalty
As a marketer, driving loyalty through each section of your customer funnel is a hugely important task. Providing customers with a good user experience can help you reach this goal by driving loyalty organically wherever your brand appears on the web. A few points to focus on when evaluating current UX include:
Consistent messaging. What does your brand’s messaging look like? When users are targeted with multiple messages across web from your brand, it often leads to confusion, not loyalty. Be consistent with the singular message you want users to connect with your brand, rather than using multiple channels for a variety of messages.
Lean on your company’s goals to create a bite-size message that can be laced in with any online experience, including through social channels, paid advertising, content creation, and on your site. If you provide your users with a direct message to stand behind no matter where they are interacting with your brand on the web, users are more likely to feel “at home,” which helps drive loyalty through the roof.
MailChimp is a great example of consistent messaging. No matter where they are on the web, you’ll get a sense of who they are, what their product does, and the type of community they foster.
Responsive design. By now, we’ve all heard how important offering a responsive design across multiple interfaces is. But I’m going to reiterate, just one last time: responsive design is key to offering a successful, consistent user experience. Users are engaging with your brand across their many devices, and the more familiarity your brand offers through mobile, desktop, and tablet engagements, the easier and more delightful your user experience will become. If you shut channel(s) out by focusing only on one or two platforms, a large segment of your users won’t feel the love your brand is putting into their experience.
Loyalty is driven through responsive design by allowing users to complete familiar actions on any device they choose. The easier you can make interacting with your brand from desktop to mobile to tablet, the more loyal you users’ interactions will be.
Great UX: Creates strong advocates
Advocates are the best type of customers to have; are you cultivating them through your online experience? UX can drive advocacy in many forms, but here are a few big ones:
Social engagement. When a user has a positive interaction with your brand, are they able to share it with the world? If not, your user experience is causing you to lose advocates. Provide a way for users to share the interactions they’ve had on your site, like sharing content, making purchases, and engaging with your brand.
Another piece of the social engagement puzzle is user experience on your social channels. Although you can’t alter the design and functionality of your Twitter or Facebook page, you can definitely control the feel of it through the content you publish, language you use, and your frequency of interaction. A few examples of poor user experience through social channels include:
- Publishing content that doesn’t line up with your brand message. You know that blog post you read and loved about the latest workout trend? Unless your company focuses on fitness, forgo sharing it on your company’s social networks. Keep the content you share consistent with your brand messaging so followers and fans have a sense of what to expect from that channel’s user experience.
- Using language that doesn’t fit your brand. Your brand is a story, and the way you deliver that story is through content. Be sure that the language you use stays consistent with the formality (or informality, if you’re into that sort of thing) with your brand. Keep your voice throughout any social interaction you have to ensure users experience UX consistency.
- Sporadic or infrequent engagement. Every brand has the one (or two, maybe three) social channel that has turned into a deserted wasteland. Once in awhile, it might be tempting to publish a few pieces of content to that channel, and then it goes dark again for another few weeks. This offers a terrible user experience for any customers trying to interact with your brand on that channel as social media is merely a medium for connecting brands and users 1:1. If you decide to create a social channel for your brand, stick to your decision and be sure you have the resources to upkeep the page.
Referrals. When a customer refers a friend to a brand, there is a certain “seal of approval” that goes along with the endorsement; referrers have taken a significant stand on how they feel about your brand and the experience that goes along with it.
Offering a good user experience directly ties to whether or not people are going to share your brand with their inner circles. People want to refer others to beautiful, engaging brands. If you offer a user experience that looks like this:
…you can expect your referral bucket to look something like this:
It’s simple psychology. People typically don’t want to share things that might diminish their credibility, and supporting a confusing user experience does just that. Give your customers something to advocate by providing them with a streamlined, sharable user experience.
Great UX: Drives purchases
Many of our marketing goals tie back to the overarching reason our businesses exist in the first place: to make money. A strong user experience helps pave the way to increasing your number of purchases. Here’s how:
Less friction. Smoothing out steps in your checkout process is imperative to increasing online sales. With as many as 59.8% of potential customers abandoning their shopping carts, alleviating the friction points in a checkout process through better user experience is an action marketers just can’t afford to miss.
Take a look at your current checkout process and analyze data on where customers are abandoning their potential purchases. Once you locate the pain points, they can be redesigned and tested to see which actions increase completed transactions. Supporting a fluid UX during checkout is easy money that you might already be missing out on.
Amazon’s one-click ordering is a fantastic example of shortening up the checkout process through user experience. It allows customer’s to purchase items with only one click of a button to complete their order, without making them enter any extra information each time they purchase. What’s easier than that?
Accelerated customer engagement. People – online and offline – tend to flock to experiences that are intuitive and rewarding. The easier and more intuitive your customer experience is, the more customers you can expect to engage with your brand online, and to ultimately buy your products/services.
The king of simple, purchase-driving user experience is Apple. They’ve kept their design, product messaging, and even color flow consistent throughout every part of their brand, which spurred a revolution. Think through your friends and pinpoint the one (or multiple) that own every Apple product on the market. Do these people just tend to gravitate towards Apple products? Not likely. The Apple user experience is so fluid that it drives purchases beyond what a normal customer would spend on similar products. Apple may not be perfect, but when it comes to user experience, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.
Great UX: Increases discovery
The Internet is a tough place to be if your user experience isn’t keeping up with the competition. The push to be found through search is getting harder, directing users around your site once they find it is tricky, and lowering your bounce rate is more important than ever. Luckily, user experience is here to help you increase your chance of discovery in a few areas:
Across the web. It’s easy to get lost in the SERPs, especially if your user experience is operating at a sub-par level. Not only does a solid user experience benefit users, but it also benefits search engines that crawl your content. Clearly presenting your brand through on-site content, blog posts, site maps, and other pieces of crawlable data can help the search engines figure out who your company is and what you should be ranking for. We won’t go into any SEO tips, but this article offers an awesome high-level overview at just how intertwined UX and SEO are.
In your on-site content. A good user experience directs visitors around your page by easily navigating them through desired actions. The more intuitive a page is, the better the chance of the user has at following the expected actions on the page. Although you can’t always count on users following your planned actions 100% of the time, you can nudge them towards what you want them to discover on your site through an intuitive, simple user experience.
Strong on-page UX can also help increase inbound leads for your sales team. The easier you make your content forms to find and fill out, the more inbound buzz you’ll find coming your way. Win-win!
User experience is so much more than design, and it’s time for marketers to familiarize themselves with the expanded world of UX when applying it to their campaigns. The more user experience and marketing mesh together, the more beautiful and seamless your customers’ overall experience with your brand will be.
Do you have any other tips for leveraging the power of UX in your marketing strategies? Let me know in the comments!