User experience (UX) and marketing are powerful tools for engaging – and converting – customers. Each can be thought of, and executed, independently from the other. At BFO, we don’t recommend this. Rather, we suggest thinking of them more like the Yin-Yang symbol – they coexist and need each other.
Sure, there’s user experience marketing, a subdivision of UX and marketing. While it’s a valid approach to integrating UX into marketing, we find the approach itself isn’t what joins the two together. This approach is a means of dealing with the real unifier of the two seemingly different tools.
What is that unifier? It’s content.
Content: The Heart of UX and Marketing
UX and marketing both present ways of formatting content. Both require compelling content to keep a user engaged. Each must recommend some course of action at the end of the path.
The way, or format, by which content engages users may be unique to each, but this element should only be a consideration of creation and design, not a factor that separates the two. Brand voice should remain consistent, whether communicated in words or through visuals. The visuals themselves should be consistent with the look and feel of the brand too. Copy or graphics, all of this is content.
With this view, we can see that UX and marketing are really the same; they have different timelines and end goals. We find tying the effort behind them together through content leads to an incredible user experience that advances your brand message, creates happier customers, and accelerates your success toward your marketing and business goals.
To enjoy these benefits, you need a process that helps to unite UX and marketing, directing your team’s approach and execution.
Apply Design Thinking to Create an Awesome UX
UX is focused on a single path or task the user engages with while interacting with a specific piece of digital media. This can easily present the challenge of keeping the primary marketing strategy in mind when optimizing a single user experience.
For example, let’s say your UX task is to get users to sign up for your blog. So, you optimize the path from when they enter your site, get to your blog, and then get the prompt to enter their email address.
But, is your larger marketing strategy to get people to receive your emails? Or is it that you want to ultimately close sales and generate revenue?
In the larger marketing sense, you probably want to close business. The marketing funnel looks more like users hear about your brand for the first time, visit your website and then speak with a sales representative. The email sign-up task is only a small part of that second step, what we might view as a top (or maybe high-middle) of the funnel action.
Design Thinking addresses this. It’s all about starting with the problem. How do we close more sales? (Convert more leads, produce more revenue, call it what you want.)
The Design Thinking Process
Rather than seeking to meet industry standards for any given point of the UX, Design Thinking looks at the challenges facing your customers and seeks to solve their pain points. The process looks something like this:
- Identify the UX task you want to optimize.
- Review the purpose of the task and its role in the customer journey. What is it your user wants at this point? I.e., does your user want to sign up for email or perhaps get an immediate download, or even move to purchase?
- Look at what the data says. Is this a drop-off point? Are customers not moving the direction you’d intended them to move? Doing your homework is key. Use data to do a solid quantitative analysis. You also need to understand your user in the context of the experience, so gathering qualitative data like what you might get from a customer survey is also valuable.
- Make the changes as you build the solution (a better UX pathway) for your customer.
- Continually iterate the solution – build, test, re-test, optimize.
In our practice, we use Google Analytics to build a picture of the user experience through data. For additional context and qualitative analysis, we’ve done surveys to ask lost prospects why they fell-off. The data might paint a pretty clear picture of what’s going on, but user feedback fills in the rest. It gives us a granular understanding of the psychology behind your users and what’s really going on so we can build a solid UX in the mindset of the customer at that stage of the journey.
Marketing: Guiding the User Journey
Marketing gives Design Thinking the context for UX optimization and keeps it aligned with larger marketing and business goals. It helps to ensure brand image and voice are infused into the UX experience and continue to advance the brand story through every user interaction.
Thinking about marketing throughout the process is especially important when you consider that a lot of UX involves visuals. An amazing UX for any given interface may be beautiful to behold, but if it’s not conveying the brand message, it won’t produce results that will make your stakeholders happy. I mean, sure, they could be thrilled you increased email signup by 1,000%, but if revenue remains flat, they may not see the value, right?
Successful UX, Like Marketing, Relies on Consistent Brand Messaging
Content, in the form of engaging copy and beautiful visuals, drives UX just like it drives marketing. For marketers, the best and biggest results happen when you unite the content of each, so the user gets your compelling brand story all along the journey, whether it’s a straight path through the funnel or includes many on- and off-ramps.
A process like Design Thinking helps to unite marketing and the many disciplines within the world of UX – interaction, visual, content. As marketing continues to become more and more digital and UX plays a bigger and bigger role, marketers who unite UX and marketing with content will create more engaging and enjoyable experiences for their users as they accelerate their business success.