UX in Marketing: Importance, Methodologies & Strategies
You know the feeling. You’ve been directed to a site, find the product you’re looking for (or maybe you don’t?), and head to the checkout only to find that they require an account – even though you’re intent on this being a one-time purchase. So you either leave the tab open to finish another time or abandon your cart altogether. This is a clear example of a poorly designed user experience.
User experience in digital marketing refers to the overall experience that a user has while interacting with a company’s digital products and services, such as websites, apps, and online ads. It focuses on creating products that are easy to use, intuitive, and provide a positive experience for the user.
What is UX in Marketing?
While visual marketing design leverages the psychology of color, shape, and typographic elements, using them strategically to communicate a specific message to users, user experience focuses on the why and how of interacting with these elements. It’s the other side of the user journey, providing a holistic answer to critical questions that qualitative data is limited to providing insight on. User experience adds a third dimension to an otherwise binary process of understanding not just if users are or aren’t clicking on an ad, email, website CTA, etc. – but why they are or aren’t.
As it relates to digital marketing, the goal of user experience is to create a seamless and enjoyable experience for users, which can lead to increased engagement, conversions, and customer satisfaction. It involves a variety of elements, such as the layout and structure of a website, the navigation and flow of information, the use of visual design, the quality of content, and the functionality of the website or app.
How does UX help marketing?
When we think of marketing, we think of ads, emails, and websites designed to target a viewer and convert them into a user. However, when ads and emails fail to perform, or similarly when ads do generate clicks but websites fail to convert, the traffic data can only tell you so much. If you truly want to solve this, you’ll have to understand your audience on a deeper level. Practicing empathy towards your potential and current users will help you understand the “why” behind their behaviors, specifically how they’re feeling throughout the journey you’ve created for them.
Neglecting to craft a frictionless user experience across every touchpoint of your funnel could be an easy fix to poor performance. A user experience that frustrates your customers will often result in negative effects, such as low user engagement, decreased customer loyalty, negative brand image, and lost revenue.
What is UX in digital marketing?
UX design in digital marketing involves a variety of elements, such as the layout and structure of a website, the navigation and flow of information, the use of visual design, the quality of content, and the functionality of the website or app. Designers use various tools and techniques, such as user research, user testing, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing to ensure that digital products are meeting the needs of their target audience.
In the context of digital marketing, user experience is critical to the success of a company’s online presence. A well-designed user experience can help to improve engagement, increase conversions, and build brand loyalty. Conversely, a poor user experience can lead to frustration, negative feedback, and lost business.
Create experiences, not deliverables
To properly understand your users, you’ll need to approach each touchpoint from the perspective of your user. They don’t know what you know, so it’s important not to assume they’ll understand the brand like you do. To help put yourself into the shoes of your customer, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the value proposition clear and easy to understand within a few seconds?
- Are you communicating with consistent copy and imagery throughout the user journey?
- Are you using consistent UI elements? (i.e. if you click through a rectangular button, there should be rectangular buttons at the destination)
- Is your text in a legible size and font?
Below are some of the most common touchpoints that your users will usually find you by:
Here’s where you can really let your copywriting skills shine. Users may turn to a search engine, such as Google or Bing, to find a solution for their problem. Providing a solution backed by user insights will give you a higher chance of standing out from the competition.
Think of your search result almost like a subject line, in that it’s a brief amount of copy meant to entice your audience into engaging with you one step further.
A user may interact with a brand’s social media channels, either via organic or paid. It’s important not just to consider the initial experience of interacting with the ad, but equally as important, the destination that the user will end up at if, or hopefully when, they click through.
For example, you’ll want consistency in messaging, imagery, text, and button styling. This reassures the user that the destination is a continuation of the journey that initially led them there in the first place.
Your ads or emails might direct prospects to a landing page, which is simply a web page that acts as an extension of your main site, with the express purpose of driving your users towards a specific action. Ensuring accurate messaging, value propositions, and a call to action that sits above the fold are critical components to capturing your users’ attention.
We’ve all been there. We find a product we want, add it to our cart, and for whatever reason, we decide we’ll get back to it later. For D2C brands, one of the most common roadblocks in converting prospecting customers is a checkout experience that is not frictionless. Among the most common reasons for a user abandoning their cart are no guest checkout option, lack of payment options, and hidden shipping fees.
Types of UX methodologies
Most likely you’ve taken at least one of these yourself. It’s a common “set it and forget it” style of asynchronous data collection that you can easily create and make available via email or as a site pop-up, for example. Even a survey needs to have a good user experience in order to collect the most accurate data, so for some questions, a multiple choice might be more appropriate as a way to provide common answers than to force them to fill in their answer from scratch.
What good is a website (or anything) if it’s not usable? The purpose of usability testing is to understand how your users are using a product to solve their needs and more importantly, if a product is solving their problems to begin with. Typically conducted either in person or via video meeting, you’ll be able to see in real-time as a user navigates their way around the product being tested.
You’ll want to challenge users to complete a task through indirect suggestions, where you’ll synchronously observe their actions and comments for analysis later. While usability testing is best done pre-launch, user experience research is a cyclical process and should be repeated as needed.
User personas are fictional characters created by digital marketers to represent their target audience. User personas are based on research, data, and insights gathered from real customers or potential customers, and are used to better understand their needs, preferences, behaviors, and motivations. User personas typically include a variety of demographic and psychographic information such as age, gender, education level, income, job title, hobbies, interests, goals, challenges, and pain points.
By looking at patterns in the behaviors of your user personas, you can begin to craft personalized experiences for them that better solve their problems with precision rather than with a blanket, one-size-fits-all solution. This helps you to see them as the people they are, defined specifically by their attitudes and behaviors.
Often combined with persona mapping is empathy mapping, which is another step in understanding the mindset of your users. Here you’ll want to know:
- What are they thinking and feeling?
- What are they hearing that might influence their experience?
- What are they seeing based on their natural environment and/or the visuals you’ve designed?
- What are their challenges?
- What do they define as success?
The purpose of these questions is to empathize with our users so that we can ensure we’re separating our own biases and keeping the process human-centric.
This research methodology is often used in conjunction with user interviews. Understanding where a user’s eye is drawn to will better help you design, or provide design recommendations, for websites and user interfaces.
By analyzing eye-tracking data, UX designers can identify areas of a digital product that may be confusing or difficult to use, and make adjustments to improve the user experience. Eye-tracking can also help designers optimize the placement and design of key elements such as navigation menus, calls to action, and forms to increase user engagement and conversion rates.
One of the most common methodologies is testing two variations that differ slightly by one variable, often either in messaging or imagery. By segmenting your audience, you’ll be able to understand the most effective means of communicating the value to them based on which variable drew the most attention.
Remove the guesswork
In addition to creating more positive experiences for users that generate conversions, user experience research will give you those invaluable insights that quantitative metrics are limited by. Qualitative data provides insights into the nuances that pure numbers can’t. Things like behaviors, thoughts, frustrations, attitudes, and motivations are the types of insights you can expect to find when you include this type of research in your marketing process.
Understanding your customers with qualitative methodologies will help you develop a more efficient marketing strategy and make more informed decisions.
Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.
When using marketing tactics such as websites and landing pages, it’s important to monitor user behaviors to find opportunities for CRO. See which areas of the page are neglected while others might be underutilized.
Using a heatmap tool, like Hotjar, you’ll be able to see how much of the page your users are seeing before bouncing. Understanding if critical pieces of information are being seen or not could explain certain data points.
So the next time you’re analyzing data, don’t just stop at the numbers. Consider the human behind the number and seize opportunities to listen to them.
Give proper attention to creating user experiences that are intuitive and provide a positive experience for the user and you’ll be sure to see increased engagement, conversions, and overall customer satisfaction.