4 things every marketer needs to know about UX

By now we’re all familiar with the breakneck pace of change online, and the accompanying mad rush to somehow try to keep up with it all. Every business is looking high and low for some magic bullet that will allow them to interact more clearly, more often and in a more meaningful way with customers. And the means and methods — all delivered via user interfaces — impact how those customers view the business, their products, their services and their brand as a whole. Messages are being sent, both implicit and explicit, with every click, every action and every view.

The role of Marketing Executive just got a hell of a lot harder.

Increasing the likelihood of success is everybody’s business, right? Of course, we say. But for the most part, when site traffic stalls or sales are lagging, the finger most often gets pointed at Marketing. A customer’s experience with any company typically starts with responding to an ad or article or comment from a friend that encourages the initial investigation. And that experience continues all the way through product purchase and use. And in the majority of organizations I’ve worked with, the vast majority of customer touchpoints along the way belong to Marketing. So although I often find myself thinking it’s a bit unfair that one department suddenly becomes responsible for the actions of so many others, that’s the way the game is played.

And that realization leads me to think that UX probably needs to be as closely aligned with marketing efforts as it currently is with the realm of IT. Maybe even more so.

Dear Marketers: YOU own UX.

In that spirit, I offer the following advice to Marketing folks everywhere as a way to take back competitive advantage, as a means to increase customer satisfaction and retention. User experience can do more for you than you may realize.

So from the VP of Marketing all the way down to you Account Reps, here are four core principles that you must embrace in order to succeed in such a violently competitive market:

  1. User experience is your primary means of building relationships with customers online. UX encourages, supports and allows commerce transactions that amplify profitability.
  2. Success is measured by retention, which is critically dependent on a positive user experience with the research, purchase and support process — as well as with the product itself.
  3. Opportunity cost scales in terms of user experience – as does competitive advantage. If your UX is poor, it takes a lot longer to convince customers you’re credible, and even longer to get them to buy.
  4. Marketing departments are responsible for revenue — and as such you need to see yourselves as owning the user experience. If it sucks, it falls on you. probably not fair, but still quite accurate.

Armed with that information, you’ll begin to see that the majority of the things that ensure delivery matches expectation are small. Visual cues, button sizes, menu styles, word choices, message consistency. A million tiny items that someone else in the organization is making decisions on without your input.

You already know most of this stuff.

You guys already know all about brand voice and why it has to be authentic and consistent across all customer interactions. You know the importance of presentation, persuasion and emotion. And most of all, you know what customers complain about most and what needs to be fixed first — because you’re hearing it direct from the source, day in and day out. What you must realize is that what truly drives these issues is something usually left to developers or an IT department. And that something is the user experience of your online properties. Sites, apps, portals, systems, everything. All of it.

Every single aspect of behavior and function of your online anything is — and should be — a marketing issue. Research it. Understand it. Own it. Because whether you choose to own it or not, you’ll still be the one listening to and dealing with the fallout.