There was a time when having a website was the new thing in marketing. In 2010, there were just 255 million websites worldwide. That number nearly quadrupled to 966 million in just six years.
As a marketing professional, this trend tells me two things: websites are a major factor in strategic planning, and websites have to deliver more in order to rise above the crowd.
At first glance, you might say that I have only to worry about the first and leave the second to website designers. However, website designers tend to focus more on how a website looks than how it works, and that can be problematic for marketers when the website design has a negative impact on the user experience or UX. As Steve Jobs said, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks.”
But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. That is exactly what it means to have a website with good UX.
A Marketing Approach to Your Site’s UX
The UX was not always a big issue, which is why there is a divide between marketing and website design. People back in the day were more patient and willing to overlook a cumbersome website if they could get otherwise inaccessible information.
That is no longer the case today. Current users now have higher expectations when it comes to website performance, and since they have a wider option of obtaining what they want from other sources, they are more likely to leave a site if they have a negative UX.
The factors that influence website UX include accessibility (loading speed, working links), usability (navigation), findability (SEO), value (content relevance and credibility), and desirability (design and layout).
When a website lacks one or more features, it results in a negative UX. How does this impact marketing?
Well, consider that the average user in 2017 will wait only a few seconds for a page to load, and about 80% of users are less likely to use a website with poor UX. This means fewer conversions, and that’s not good from a marketing perspective.
Marketing and UX Pairing
The question then is how marketing can improve the UX. The answer is simple: the two sides have to work as a team.
Sales and marketing professionals routinely deal with people, unlike website designers. As such, they have an in-depth knowledge of what people want and need when they visit a particular site.
For example, if you sell clothes online, the people that go to your site need to buy clothes. How can you provide them with a solution to their problem? Make it easy for them to find what they want. Marketing professionals can provide valuable insight into buying behavior and psychology, which may not make much sense to web designers.
On the other hand, marketers have no idea of the principles behind website design, so they may know how to sell, but not how to present it to the user effectively. In other words, marketing and UX design have to forge a working relationship. Below are some brilliant ways marketing and UX design can boost your site’s conversion rate together.
Coordinate Marketing Efforts
One of the biggest challenges for many companies today is coordinating different marketing campaigns to benefit the company as a whole.
Collaboration with the UX design team can break down these silos and improve communications because it establishes a common ground with which to work. Working with the UX design team makes any breakdown in communications among marketing glaringly apparent, so it necessitates agreement among them on major goals of the strategy.
When there are a cohesive message and approach, the UX design team can produce a better website. It’s a win-win situation.
Carry Out User Testing
Marketers may know people, but ultimately the proof of the pudding is in the eating. UX design teams have access to information that reveals how users actually interact with the website through user testing tools.
These provide valuable insights to marketers about what the users want so they can refine their marketing campaigns and maximize conversion.
This, in turn, will guide marketers on what they need the UX design team to fix on the website to improve and create the ideal UX. This entails a certain measure of trial and error, but it is a very effective method of designing the perfect website in the long term.
Unify Campaigns Across Different Channels
Websites often serve as the anchor for campaigns, and the average company uses about eight different channels for their marketing efforts.
While marketing strategies for each channel optimize user response, they don’t necessarily dovetail neatly into your conversion funnel. You need to make sure your email campaign is in line with your mobile app so that they end up generating leads or sales for your company.
The best way to do this is to design your website to be the pivot or hub for different channels so most of your leads can conveniently navigate across channels.
Now that you know how marketing and UX can work and complement each other, your next step is to take action.
Do Initial Research
Designing a site for a kickass UX all begins with gathering information about your user. You need to find out who they are, what they care about, where they come from, and how they spend their time before you can even think about your site design.
Learning about your target audience is essential for success in developing your website UX. After all, it is the user experience.
Your initial user research will give you a good idea of how to design your website, but until you take it out for a test drive, it is just an idea. Once your site goes up, you should monitor how users are actually interacting with your site and use tools to monitor and analyze their behavior.
Before you do that, take note of your own expectations on user behavior to serve as a benchmark for future observations. This will prevent you from “hindsight bias” and help you figure out gaps in your user research.
Do a Survey
After you have observed your users and identified certain behavior you want to understand, do a survey to get the answers from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Send specific questions to your users about why they bought this item, or why they clicked on a, then b. Your intention is not to be nosy, but to increase your understanding of how your users think so you can improve the website UX as well as your marketing campaigns.
A marketing approach to website UX is simply about integrating two important elements of your conversion funnel. If you can manage to do this successfully, it will maximize your marketing efforts to an incredible degree.