By Amol Kadam, Co-Founder of RBBi
If you are reading this, chances are most likely you are connected to Marketing field in one way or another. So, let me start by posing a question to you. In today’s Experience Economy, how connected is your marketing strategy to your users? And how effective is your marketing?
I remember an old quote I learned during my pre-computer era design school.
“Marketing is a question of persuading, seducing and attempting to manipulate people into buying products and services.”
Fast forward to the pre-recession days (2007-2008), creative in the digital marketing world was about banner ads, micro-sites, page take-overs, overlays, paid search ad copy, and creating the most innovative banner ads. It was very straight-forward. Most of our time used to be so focused on catching user’s attention at the very moment to persuade and seduce him in the click.
That it was just about CTR (I may lose you by now if you don’t know what CTR means). It was always carpet bombing with focus on ‘creativity’. Marketers barely knew that there was ‘LIFE BEYOND THE CLICK’. Campaigns were measured purely based on CTR, CPM, impressions, visitors and page views.
Over the last 10 years, the digital has shifted; user behaviour today is nothing like it was back in the mid to late-2000s. Now we have video, social platforms, rich media experiences, and lately virtual and augmented reality have created another shift in behaviour that requires brands and the agencies that represent them to evolve.
Consumers’ Expectations Have Changed
They desire a more personalized experience online and one that touches them emotionally, captivates their attention and understands their needs, motivations, and desires.
Your success through digital marketing is no longer just about the channel you focus on (SEM, social, display and so on). It’s also about the other channels and practices that support these, and most importantly users are on.
Having some deep understanding of our users and not-yet users have been incredibly valuable for bridging the communication gaps in everything related to users.
This is where I see the convergence happening. The irony is it’s nothing new. I remember my colleagues at Media Agencies back in pre-recession era going through archetypes, audience profiling even then for their ‘offline’ media mix.
But it wasn’t seriously looked at for ‘online’ mix. Today, user experience, or UX, is on rising curve of growth.
UX brings USERS right in the middle of everything that is done. UX done right drives personalization, and with this right access to data/insights and the know-how to leverage it appropriately, it can match the consumer of today, meet tomorrow’s expectations, drive growth and in return brand loyalty more than ever before.
All this using a fascinating blend of art and science.
Marketing is Selling
That quote seemed unflattering then, but we can’t deny that marketing is the art of persuasion. Marketing serves the company by getting people to buy or do something.
It doesn’t build better products or experiences, and it’s not a service philosophy. It is a strategy for positioning and advancing products and/or services in the world of consumers.
User Experience Is Serving
If the goal of marketing is to create value for the business by bringing in the ‘almost users’, then the goal of user experience is to create value for those users. The functional word in the UX discipline is empathy, and there are many techniques used to achieve it.
UX practitioners do things like create user personas and journey maps, constantly test digital creations with users to discover their needs and help them accomplish tasks in the most convenient and effective way possible.
The ability to serve customers requires a deep understanding of their needs and goals at the point of engagement, and that insight is gained through research.
Today more and more brands are realizing that there is LIFE BEYOND CLICK. They are looking for true marketing efforts that perform rather than just attract.
Marketing is going back to its true definition ‘focused on selling to the customer’, while UX focuses on serving the customer’s needs; these are potentially opposed, but both are required for success. One is incomplete without the other.
Increasingly, the purchase of a product and the experience of searching for and purchasing a product are becoming one and the same thing.
We can clearly see where UX is headed as it relates to performance marketing (and the success/growth of brands in general) focuses on a core concept of UX design: empathy (and empathic design).
Here ‘Design’ is not just about the destination, but it’s about the entire journey/experience that user goes through. It relates not only to channel-specific marketing assets (the design of ads, landing pages and sites) but to the design of cross-channel/cross-device, customer-centric conversion flows and marketing programs.
UX Makes you Data Driven
Data-driven marketing happens when strategies are built on insights pulled from the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data collected through consumer interactions and engagements, to form predictions about future behaviours.
This involves understanding the data you already have, the data you can get, and how to organize, analyze, and apply that data to better marketing efforts.
Although there are many reasons why companies use data-driven marketing, more often than not, the goal is to enhance and personalize the customer experience.
The more sophisticated we get in our approaches to understanding user behaviour across all marketing channels and devices, the better we get at empathy, and the more we can build that empathy into our targeted and personalized marketing messages/designs.
To me, all this sounds like UX, and that is where I believe UX and performance marketing (or any marketing that performs) are two sides of the same coin.
When and where UX design (empathic design) is being directly impacted by data (availability of data and growing ability to use it to improve the quality our marketing capabilities) marketing will start performing better.
UX and Performance Marketing Use Same Principles
UX believes in user testing, thus bringing testing into design is a must. Design should be a living element that is always being challenged. The data we have at our fingerprints is undeniable and can have a dramatic impact not just on growth but on consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
The emergence of technology has allowed creatives to bring real intelligence into design that can drive personalization and iterative changes that lead to better overall experiences.
Bring qualitative studies into your design and even in the marketing efforts. Do research around the motivations, outcomes, barriers, and challenges for the consumer.
You can then easily leverage this information and testing to humanize the experience and optimize along the entire customer journey. It is about applying design thinking to any business or marketing solution.
The convergence is happening, and marketers/agencies are realizing that in order to have successful performance marketing, you MUST observe/collect data on and address customer needs – including emotional needs – and you MUST design experiences and marketing programs that fulfil that promise.
But it’s not easy. Turning user research into actionable data requires evangelism and cross-functional teams.
But the time has arrived where agencies and marketers own and take responsibility for the overall performance of the marketing strategies including what happens on the destination and not just before the click.
The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Gulf Marketing Review.