User experience (UX) has emerged from the creation point of digital, namely design and product development. But to keep it there limits the potential of our digital marketing campaigns and assets. From search engine optimization, to social media, to conversion optimization to device strategy, a dedicated UX marketer role should be added to the team to drive experiential marketing in the digital world, expand our opportunities, and increase the potential for successful campaigns.
Distinct from usability and its evil twin dark patterns (think GoDaddy check out), UX is about more than ease of use. It is about the total user experience in their interaction with our product.
Often a design team role, UX has traditionally focused on core product interactions and learnings therefrom. The range of test and activity is huge, for example the methodologies detailed by Christian Rohrer, CDO at MacAfee range over some 20 methods from eye-tracking to clickstream analysis to focus groups.
We need to expand and apply this approach, and the knowledge and expertise of the UX professional, so that this is integral to digital marketing campaigns, too. That way we offer greater consistency of experience across all touchpoints at the same time as increasing our chance for success.
UX & Digital Marketing: A Perfect Match?
This doesn’t seem to be happening right now.
In the course of research I spent some time trawling LinkedIn advanced search. While there are more than 4,000 professionals with combinations of “UX” and “marketing” in their job titles these were combination roles that you often find in digital when people are expected to do everything digital. I couldn’t find a single UX marketer.
It feels like UX isn’t given the credence it deserves when applied to marketing and marketing assets or conversely that UX is misunderstood by senior management. I agree with Justin Kunkel, experience design director at Andculture, who says in this article on the adjunct between UX and digital marketing:
“Too often when UX meets digital marketing, the job is propping up a mediocre product with an efficiently designed sales funnel and some wireframes.”
Shouldn’t it be intrinsic or implied that UX is a core consideration for any digital marketer? Arguably so in terms of digital user experience but surely this requires a dedicated front-and-center expert with some level of accountability for ROI?
Experiential marketing is a huge dedicated industry in the physical world, with both in-house (in-store) and agency specialists who focus on optimizing marketing and sales productivity with in-store, pop-up, or advertising experiences (whether sanctioned or guerrilla). I’m not just talking about pressure-piling Percy Pigs on the S‑bend of the fast lane in M&S – there are wider and more subtle complexities to human behavior and decision making.
Experiential marketing in the physical world is arguably more tangible for developmental reasons.
We’re used to marketing and being marketed to physically in a huge range of subtle and not so subtle ways, from the deliberate scenting of the air in a supermarket to the free product given to us by a bloke in a cow costume in Waterloo Station. Until recently digital experiences have had a fairly limited sensory appeal in that we mainly see a digital marketing asset, or occasionally see and hear.
There’s a whole world of academic research and interesting studies on different senses and conjunctions of sense and emotion or experience in marketing. For example, product that is determined to be mildly disgusting though necessary, such as bin bags, can negatively impact the sale of other products if they touch them on the shelf, though not if they are just “close to.” The connection between smell and memory is one we’re all familiar with and may know from first-hand experience the feeling such a trigger can evoke.
These examples and many more are included in this academic paper “An Integrative Review of Sensory Marketing” by Aradhna Krishna.
Digital Sensory Experiences
Things are changing in digital sensory experiences given the increase in wearable technology. There’s wearable hardware that can tune to our biological rhythms and deliver pulse and vibration messages back to us.
3D headsets like Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens present unique and parallel images to each eye, the same as in real world sight thus providing a more involved experience. There’s even the emerging sub-culture of biohacking to integrate devices and chips below the skin allowing touch and response feedback. The Grindhouse Wetware Bottlenose v0.1 interacts with an implanted magnet (or there’s a haptic version) which vibrates in the presence of sensory information. Basically – you can feel UV or sonar.
Where A Digital UX Marketer Can Lead
While some of the above may be some way off, there’s still a near future consideration of the immersive digital user experience, beyond sound and (flat) vision. Someone in your team needs to lead on this.
So how could it work and what would a UX marketer lead on?
Arguably, a better user experience is the core motive of every search engine algorithm update. Just look at few of the bigger updates of the past five years:
- Site speed was confirmed as an evaluated search ranking factor in the Google algorithm in 2010.
- A page layout algorithm demoted sites with too many ads and not enough actual content above the fold.
- We’ve had device rumblings and warning shots this year already. In a rare move, Google has given advance warning of a mobile algorithm launching April 21.
Having a UX marketer work with your SEO and content marketing staff could help keep your digital marketing assets ahead of the curve in terms of search suitability, meaning greater opportunity to rank well and less risk of demotion by falling foul of updates that focus on UX.
Closely related to the above checking device compatibility is something we may adhere to closely in a site build process. However, this can often be overlooked when it comes to marketing assets.
Digital marketing teams are often in a desktop mindset, which can lead to campaign content that might not work well (if at all) on mobile.
From complex interactive content that doesn’t render well on a smartphone, to overly complex competition entry mechanisms, to Flash-based games, a UX marketer should be part of the ideation phase to help guide platform agnostic assets – or at least strategies for difference.
In terms of both general accessibility and how usable a creative asset is, it’s really important for us to remember as marketers that individuals experience things in different ways according to abilities, age, cultural differences, and external factors.
Having a QA stage which incorporates a usability assessment can be the difference between an expensive mistake and a successful campaign.
Image Credit: Imgur
Logically CRO (conversion rate optimization) and UX should be perfect bedfellows. A critical part of the marketing aspect of UX, CRO teams can benefit from greater communication and involvement in the creative stages of marketing strategy.
Arguably, leaving CRO responsibility to point of arrival on site is only part of the picture. The opportunity to be informed and involved in the creation stage of marketing assets that help bring people to site should be extremely valuable, particularly for those CRO professionals looking for the totality of user behavior to establish models.
Having a UX marketer informed by CRO should lead to more fruitful marketing campaigns and a greater opportunity to understand audience behavior on- an off-site.
A UX marketer role seems like a logical step in terms of integrated marketing teams and digital technology and media development. Given the improvements in campaign reach, optimization, conversion potential, accessibility, device, and audience suitability a UX marketer can bring an appointment like this should be profitable from the get-go.
Do you think it’s time to add a digital UX marketer to your team? What’s your view?