Some years ago I graduated as a marketer with a big heart for market research. I was that nerdy type that loved to sit behind her desk doing all sorts of analyses in SPSS. I was going to tackle the corporate world and help sell a lot of products. I was going to detect an untapped market. Ten months in and my experience in the marketing world ended. Why? Not because I was not good at it, but because I loved the person on the receiving end too much to sell him stuff he did not need, want, could use or loved. Many times I encountered upset customers, customers who had different requests and nothing ever changed because it was not in line with the business goals, with the strategy, with the plan. But people are dynamic, why can’t companies be dynamic?
And so my quest for a better-suited job started, and I found it in a Human-Centered Design company. To my surprise, I all of a sudden shifted from marketing to UX. In my opinion, UX is the base or the roots of marketing. I strongly believe we have to combine our strengths, I see marketing as a powerful tool to help grow the company but in my opinion, the focus and the way marketing is done nowadays has to be cross-disciplinary.
Why is UX important?
Allow me to explain. Creating a great user experience is based on creating a useful and usable product (service/website/app), it has to be desirable and attract the user’s attention, it has to be findable (focus on navigation and locatable), accessible and last but not least, credible. When good user experience is put in place, it is far more easy for the marketing department to sprinkle some communication strategy and a social media campaign on top to create a lovable brand.
But there is more to it, great user experience is not limited to the product itself but to all interactions a user has with your brand, your website, your blog, your landing pages, your social media accounts and their articles, videos and whitepapers. The whole ecosystem surrounding his purchase.
A different perspective
Let me give you an alternative look at how marketing can benefit from UX. Lead generation and customer loyalty are one of your biggest goals and KPI’s in marketing, it is used to evaluate a marketing campaign, but great and consistent user experience will make the biggest difference in your conversion rates. Without a great user experience, your campaign can still be really amazing, forcing a high click-through rate, you get your hopes up, this is going great. This campaign is going to enter the archives of leading to the biggest sales! But then, disaster strikes. The user abandons his cart, or a sky-high bounce rate occurs in the analytics. Oh no, how did this happen?
Often marketing is consulted too late to fix a problem when development created a product that is mismatched with the users’ expectations, they think the magic touch of marketing will solve all their problems. However, that is not how the world should work. That is not how future companies can be sustainable. Customers nowadays have far more options and competition is skyrocketing. In order to differentiate, you better listen to your customer very closely.
Or better, involve him in the creation of a new or improved product, make him the centre of your business and gain a lot of insights into how you can eventually sell your product.
Let’s look at it from two different points of view, the first one, the marketing department launched a survey and found a big untapped market. An area in which you can excel. Before hitting the drawing board and start sketching, go outside, observe them, invite your customers to have a one on one conversation with them. See what they need, what they want to achieve, what their ambition is, what they love, who they are. And foremost, why they want the things they want. Form a disciplinary team around him with designers, developers, your team, the UX team,... Try to understand him, create together, test the idea, test the prototype, see what is important to him, the words he uses, the feelings he seeks and the values that are the basis of his existence. All this information is a precious source for your communication plan. You can start creating an outline for the different channels you will be using to communicate with him.
Another example has to do with our data-driven marketing, we know exactly what is happening in the market, what time our users wake up, how high his blood pressure is, how he goes to work, how many times he exercises, what he eats, what he does in his free time, what he googles, what he buys, what he doesn’t buy. And it is this last point I want to focus on. It’s a start to know what your user buys and what he doesn’t buy. Finding abnormalities in your analytics, a high percentage of users are abandoning carts, is painful to watch. Do you know why this is happening? Do you know why his blood pressure is high, why he goes to work, why he exercises, why he eats what he eats, why he has certain hobbies and why he doesn’t buy the things you want him to buy?
"Data tells you where to play in the field, UX research teaches you how to win the game.”
Our websites, apps, campaigns, they are all data-driven. Every step along the way, we know what is happening. But without hearing it in person from your user, you do not know why it is happening. You base everything off of assumptions and that my friend, that is a dangerous way to run a business. So talk to your user, observe him, base your insights off of his real experience.
Stop wasting time, start saving your market share
By putting your user at the centre of everything our company does, you will have a far better understanding of his latent and unmet needs, you are going to be able to give him the exact product he needs. Now I hear you think, this is going to be so costly and we have strict budgets. I get it, but you know how much your company loses when it launches a product that is mismatched with users expectations? The product has to be created by manufacturing or developers, either way, it costs a lot of money. Designers have to create a nice look and feel to it. Then comes marketing to create a campaign around it. The product has to be sold via different channels and customer service has to be put in place. Did you ever work in a call centre? Believe me, it can be hectic, frustrating and so stressful for everybody involved. It would be a pity to waste all this effort and money on a product that does not meet the users’ requirements.
So wouldn't it be better to invest a little bit more in the right type of research in the beginning, create a product together with the user and have some sort of guarantee that it will be more successful than products that you launch without research?