User Experience is the new “cool kid” in town. The words (and accompanying field) have been around for years, but now they’re quickly becoming part of the big leagues, especially in the realm of marketing. UX jobs have popped up over night and they can’t be filled quick enough.
This may seem a positive thing for the world of user experience and its adherents, however, there’s a lot of confusion and miscommunication related to what exactly is user experience and its true role in the world. This has led to a number of people decrying the sudden growth of the field to little more than a fad, and a hesitance to invest in this new trend.
The field may be going through some issues in its growth spurt, but with the proper application it can easily transform any inbound marketing program with the right mindset. User experience is here to stay beyond its “buzzword” status in the inbound world.
What is user experience?
A lot of the problems facing the world of user experience largely come from the difficulty of definition. Look at any number of user experience job descriptions, and the issues becomes incredibly clear. Employers advertise the desire for a user experience expert when they’re really talking about someone who can do Front End Web Development, Back End Web Development, Graphic Design, User Interface Design and User Experience in one. Employers’ confusion at the word can lead to difficulty navigating for both those seeking UX jobs, and the companies seeking to employ UX more. It is necessary to clear up misconceptions about what user experience is.
User experience is the way a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and mindset affect how they interact with a product or service. Therefore the field of user experience seeks to manipulate a product or service to be compatible for use with any person and simplify their interaction with the product or service. User experience is not user interface (the design of interaction between a person and product or service), although the two are closely related and sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably. UX is not web design, although an increasing number of designers are learning the ways of UX to incorporate into their designs, and some designers are applying the user experience model throughout their design process. User experience is a methodology that can, and should, be applied to anything that will be used by a person.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that user experience is so vital to the world of inbound marketing. Here is why it’s here to stay.
Both inbound marketing and user experience are about interaction
Inbound marketing is all about bringing customers in to the marketing funnel. Content is created to draw in leads that are then drawn further in by more offers and interaction through social media, email nurture, etc. Since user experience is all about interaction, it makes us better marketers. By looking at user experience from Attract to Delight, marketers can refine ways of converting a lead. This can be anything from changing the placement of a CTA to eliminating the steps in an offer download. Whatever makes the experience simpler for the user is likely to make our marketing efforts more successful.
User Experience helps us delight
Delighting customers in inbound marketing is the foundation of continued success. Delighted customers continue to be customers and become advocates for your brand, and a strong user experience is a good way to provide this delight. How easy was the download process for the whitepaper the customer downloaded? Were the follow-up emails relevant? Did they offer good additional content? Was your website easy for the customer to navigate? Did you reach out via social media when they discussed your product or service? All of these interactions that are a natural part of the inbound marketing funnel are also a natural part of user experience, and having the correct user experience guidelines insures that no step is being missed.
User experience is about testing and results.
In inbound marketing, an unsuccessful conversion rate means back to the drawing board. This can be anything from changing a CTA button color, to changing it’s location on the page, to changing the form it uses. This is called A/B testing. It’s also a method of user experience. In this way many inbound marketers are implementing facets of user experience without recognizing that they are doing so. By changing a CTA button color, you’re changing their perception of the button. By moving a CTA on the page, you’re changing the perception of its worth. All these can create higher conversions, true, but the reason is because they change the user’s experience. If a CTA isn’t recognizable or an offer isn’t easy to download, or if navigating your page seems like too much work, your users (or customers, or leads), won’t interact with you, and you won’t see results. But by making these conscious (and sometimes unconscious) choices, a user’s experience is defined, and your marketing results reflect that.
In many ways, user experience is an integral part of inbound marketing already, unbeknownst to its practitioners. So if we’re already involved in the practices of user experience, shouldn’t we make sure that these practices are “best practices”? User experience infiltrated the world of inbound marketing ages ago. Now it’s time to make sure its utilized to its full advantage.