Why does marketing exist? The easy answer is that marketing exists to help us sell our products or services.
We use inbound marketing to draw people (customers) to us. We use it to inform, educate, create awareness, attract, and delight people, in a way that makes them come to us first – and hopefully repeatedly – for their specific wants or needs.
But what happens when we get someone to come to us, but they are disappointed in what they find, or run into trouble? Have we failed in our marketing efforts or is it something else?
The point I’m trying to make here is that your marketing shouldn’t stop with your exterior efforts in drawing others to you. One of the most important aspects of having a successful business, is that you provide the best possible experience for new and returning customers.
This is why you need to consider User Experience (UX) design a crucial aspect of your marketing efforts to ensure the overall success of your web content, and in turn, your whole business.
UX in Marketing
What is UX in regards to marketing? UX is essentially the process of designing products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with. It takes into consideration the emotions, attitudes, and behaviors of customers – the ones they already have, and the ones you want them to have when interacting with your business and website.
Chances are your company has already painstakingly developed these ideals for your actual products or services, but now it’s crucial to consider UX for all aspects of your business, and as an important part of marketing strategy. Utilize UX for your website design and content, to drive engagement and overall customer satisfaction.
There are many elements that go into creating a website that is optimized for UX:
UX Design and Usability
One of the key components in UX is usability. This includes the overall ease of use for your content and website, and learnability. Usability can be enhanced through the content you provide, and the features and functions on your website that help users find and interact with that content.
Website architecture and on-page hierarchy
First, consider the organization of your website. There should be a natural flow in how the pages are categorized and ordered, and depending on the type of company you have, you may also need to consider how to optimize the path to purchase.
For example, an e-commerce site should utilize product pages, with easy to use shopping cart functions, followed by a payment page, or a sign-up form, and a thank you page once a transaction is complete.
The order in which these pages are set up is crucial to make sure customers who begin to travel down the sales funnel have the easiest way possible to convert. If they become lost or confused at any point in time, don’t have the options that they are looking for, or don’t have content that helps them to make decisions that lead to conversion, then the User Experience is not optimized. As a golden rule, make there be no more than 4 clicks for a user to get to what they are looking for.
Features and functions you can think about for your website include ways to make your site navigation better. This includes menus that are easy to find and easy to use, such as a drop down menu that is alway accessible to users. Or consider top line navigation buttons that highlight the areas of your website that you want people to most easily find.
Navigational options on the top and bottom of your blog posts pointing users to see next or previous posts encourages more pageviews, but also adds an element of high usability. When you think about these types of UX functions, not only are you making it easier for website visitors and potential customers to enjoy their interaction with your site, but you are making it easier for your content to be found and viewed.
Search bars can be a great enhancement to website usability. If a visitor can’t find what they’re looking for immediately, a search option can be a great alternative route. You can even take it one step further by including a function that auto completes potential search terms, or offers a drop down menu with suggested options for what they could be looking for. If a potential customer has a question or is looking for something they need and can’t find a solution, chances are they will simply leave your site, and find a competitor waiting who is ready to provide the answers that they seek.
Page load speed and loading graphics
Consider your options for making your page load times as quick as possible. This is definitely something to think about when creating your webpage, because load times that are too long can affect a user’s overall perception of the quality of your website, and also hurts your SEO.
Try using a clever load bar function. If loading does take long enough to call for a graphic, don’t use a typical loading icon or swirling circle which can lead customers to feeling anxious or frustrated. Where appropriate, use a funny loading bar, or use something that is graphically or visually interesting. This ensures that you aren’t losing the attention of your website visitor, and keeps their emotions positive.
UX Design and Visual Appeal
You may think the actual visual design of your website is all about your company’s branding, but really UX should play a major role when considering layout, color choices, text, graphics and images. Great content may get lost if not planned and laid out in a way that is conducive to users’ visual needs.
Whitespace and images
Embrace white space. Webpages that are too crowded or have too many columns or sidebars detract from the focus of the page. If you want your users to see your content for what it is – something valuable for them to use and share – then you should be careful not to take away from the quality by trying to add too many elements.
Visuals should appeal to the emotions of the viewers. They need to be relevant to your content and overall company message or branding, but they can also help users to feel emotions, and have the responses that you wish them to have.
If your goal is to make a website visitor feel that you are trustworthy, and have authority or power, then you aren’t going to want pictures of kittens to accompany your content. Try instead images that display leadership or expertise, such as an image of a person speaking in front of a large group of people.
UX design and content interaction
In terms of marketing content such as blog posts, there are several UX design configurations to consider. Typically, a blog post needs to be accompanied by social share buttons. Try using ones that scroll with the page as the user scrolls, so that the option is always within reach.
Other potential blog accompaniments are comment sections, for users to respond to, or interact with your posts. You should add a form for an email sign-up for users to subscribe to your blog, and receive updates straight to their inboxes. Display links to other related blog posts, or a menu of blog topics for users to navigate and browse.
Even the text density, size, and font play a big part in UX design. Text that is too small, or close together may be difficult for some users to read. Consider breaking up content with headlines, or using bold font to highlight important areas that you want to capture users’ attentions, such as links to your blog, or product and services pages. Finish content will next steps or “calls to action” for them to fill out a form, or navigate to a contact page, or provide them with another content offer.
UX + Inbound Marketing = Customer Success
When you begin to consider UX design as an important part of your marketing strategy, you’ll see a difference in greater overall customer satisfaction. Our jobs are not done once we’ve gotten a user to navigate to our website, or read a blog post. You need to also be focused on the experience that users are having with your site and content, and cater to their needs, expectations, and emotions. Once you have accomplished creating an experience for potential customers that makes them want to become actual customers, and share that experience with others, then your marketing efforts have come full circle.
Our jobs are not done once we’ve gotten a user to navigate to our website, or read a blog post. You need to also be focused on the experience that users are having with your site and content, and cater to their needs, expectations, and emotions.
Once you have accomplished creating an experience for potential customers that makes them want to become actual customers, and share that experience with others, then your marketing efforts have come full circle.
Click here to contact us about how we can help you with your inbound marketing and UX design.