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User Experience Design in Marketing

Oct 18, 2019

Author: Stirling Grodner,

Social Media Coordinator @KPItarget

No matter how innovative your marketing campaign, potential customers will be thrown off before you make a sale if your online experience (be it a website or an app) is poorly designed. This is why it’s vital for marketing and web designers to work together, since neither can achieve their ultimate goal without collaboration and support from one another. A user experience mindset can also help to improve marketing decisions. Keeping the consumer’s experience of your ads, social media, and landing pages top of mind helps you to develop campaigns that resonate with the target audience.

Great design is often invisible: when design is well done, it may not even be noticed by the user. 

  • Most consumers decide whether or not they’re happy using a website or app without a conscious thought to the layout of the menu or architecture of pages. 
  • However, if information is difficult to find and make use of, the issue is quickly revealed in bounce rates, low engagement rates and ultimately sales. 
  • User experience combines psychology with design, using data to intuit how the user wants to move through a virtual world, gently leading them or opening the pathways toward the ultimate goal, whether that be a sale, a subscription, a newsletter signup or a download. 
  • All online experiences should be easy to use and understand and targeted toward the preferences of your target audience. The entire experience should come together to guide the user toward the goal in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Innovation in design and user experience develops rapidly, causing even recently designed websites to quickly feel old. A short visit to a local government website or internal enterprise app can make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Not only is boxy black text on square gray boxes aesthetically unappealing, outdated design literally makes a website more difficult to navigate, causing potential customers to turn away before you can make a sale. Even if you’re not a UX/UI designer, understanding user experience principles can help to improve the quality of marketing campaigns and the overall customer experience.  

User Research

This is a place where marketing and UX design naturally overlap, and a ripe opportunity for collaboration. UX designers base their understanding of customer personas, user psychology, and user flow on research and user data, much of which is gathered via survey taking and first party data. 

  • Another source designers should be leveraging for insight is the marketing department— it can be argued that no one knows the customer better than marketers, and this input is invaluable to the development team. 
  • Conversely, the survey and data gathering activities of the UX team should be shared with marketing for better insight, and the methodology that designers use to gather data can be adopted by and maybe even improved upon with input from marketing professionals. 
  • How is data being gathered? Is this an opportunity for integrated marketing activities, whether that be offering incentives for survey completion or developing lead magnets supporting newsletter sign ups or app downloads? 
  • What data is being gathered? Is there anything marketing would like to know from this data set, or ways that marketers suggest designers improve on the language or tactics to better resonate with the target audience? 
  • What data gathering activities could be adopted or adjusted by marketers to inform campaigns?

Iteration

User experience design can only be improved with input from the users. Designers put out products in phases, using feedback, data, and surveys from users to improve the product before releasing it to the entire market. 

  • Often these iterations will include a phase for loyal customers, ensuring that the target audience is the focus of design decisions. This in particular is an activity that can be leveraged by marketing to reward customers with a sneak peek of a new product, encouraging customer retention and brand evangelism. 
  • Once released, the process continues, with ongoing new improvements and updates, as consumers continue to use the product. 
  • The iterative nature of design in general is something we are familiar with in marketing and can always improve upon. 
  • Keeping analytics regularly, and, even more importantly, doing the investigative work to glean meaningful insights from them allows marketers to continually refine communication with consumers. 

Usability

As many as ⅔ of users switch to another site if there are too many steps in the path to purchase or to find the information they’re looking for. 

  • How easy is it to get to the goal you hope to move the user toward? How easy is it to answer common questions and access commonly needed information? 
  • Accessibility is also important within this principle. Not every user will have the same abilities and experience. 
  • For example, high contrast in colors is important for visibility for those with limited sight or color blindness. While writing alt text behind photos improves SEO listing allowing web crawlers to find relevant information on your site, it also improves a site’s accessibility for vision impaired users who use web readers to read websites out loud. 
  • When designing the usability of online experiences, knowing the target audience is paramount. What’s usable and easy to understand for a baby boomer will be very different than what a well-designed site looks like to a Generation Z user. 

Not only should a website or app be highly accessible, but all digital assets that a consumer may encounter, an ad or a social media page, a graphic or blog post, are improved by keeping usability top of mind. 

Hierarchy

Imagining a map that content and design quietly leads the user through, marketers should know where a user is likely to look first and put high priority information there. 

  • Large text headings, bright colors, and splashy images draw the eye first, while smaller body text and neutral colors will be secondary. 
  • That’s why call-to-action buttons are buttons rather than simple hyperlinked text and are often a different and eye-catching color than the surrounding area. 
  • Also remember that not all users will stay to read every detail you’ve lovingly developed, so the highest priority information should catch the eye first.
  • Even a social media graphic has a hierarchy of information. 
  • In more robust multi-page websites and apps, there are even more potential maps and paths a user can take, and it’s important to know all of them. 
  • What are the most important things for your user to know? If they’re not on the homepage, how easy are they to find? 
  • Are different paths that a user might follow all easy to navigate? Each key customer persona will look for and want different paths within your online experience; it’s vital to ensure that each route not only makes sense, but fits the needs of that customer persona specifically. 
  • Of course, much of this is developed by web developers, but that’s why collaboration between departments is necessary. Marketers want customers that they bring to a website or app to have an optimal experience, and can bring insight to web developers about the customers needs, wants, interests, and challenges.
  • These principles apply equally to a brand’s social media presence. The bio and company avi are at the top of the social media information hierarchy, and should not only be clear and concise, but fit the brand voice and resonate with target consumers. 
  • Other portals for about information on various platforms come next and should be completely filled out with all relevant information for the company. All the posts, captions and media shared to social media platforms make up the user’s experience of the account and should be designed accordingly. 

As much time as users and marketers spend on social media, brands miss a huge opportunity when they don’t consider the user experience design of social media accounts.

Delight

Brands are competing for attention in an ever increasingly crowded digital space. A company’s unique value proposition and benefits are no longer enough. Not only must the product delight the consumer and solve their problem effectively, but the digital experience and marketing campaigns must be enjoyable as well. Some of the most innovative marketing ideas are also the most fun ones, and consumers return to brands that make them feel good. Bringing a focus on delight into all marketing activities, even for B2B companies, helps to humanize brands, giving consumers something to truly connect to, supporting customer retention and brand evangelism. 

If you’d like to chat more about UX Design in marketing, please contact me: stirling@kpitarget.com.