Tag Archive: brand identity


Why should I care about UX as a Marketer?

I wanted to share a few thoughts on UX and marketing since some of my recent work has focused on that.

Since my last post, I have been focusing heavily on projects that require a new tight UI and UX design. For those that need a refresher, check out this link for a detailed breakdown of the differences between UI and UX. http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2012/06/ui-vs-ux-whats-the-difference/. Essentially, UX design deals with the overall experience associated with the use of a product or service, while UI design deals with the specific user interface(s) of a product or service. Effective UI must include UX design elements. I am going to answer the question today of why you should care about UX as a marketer, because you should!

There are a ton of different resources that give opinions on the principles of UX. Here are my simple 3 “big rules”:

1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes                                                                                                                                                    You should always be thinking as a customer to contextualize their experiences with you.  Think of the journey from the customer’s perspective.  Customer mapping at different points depicts the journey over time and channels, and shows what the customer is thinking, doing and feeling throughout the whole experience.

2. Clearly define the Rules of Engagement
Engagement Principles are guidelines for the interaction of the service.  These need to be defined up front before development begins. Much of a UI deals with how the service looks and feels and the voice/tone, but where many products are lacking is in customer experience. Think of the process flow. Your brand is on top as the centerpiece. All branches, PDM cycles etc., must support brand tenets. The Brand feeds a style guide, which defines how a product looks and feels. It also feeds a product’s voice and tone  and experience principles or how you interact with the product.

3. Measured Delivery
Figure out how to ship products to customers correctly the first time.  Don’t release a poorly executed product no matter how great the planning and roadmap says it is. Adaptive Path’s CEO Brandon Schauer has a great analogy using cake as a product. Don’t ship the bare cake as v1 and then the filling as v2 and then the icing as v3. Customers don’t think like that. Ship a product that has a little cake, a little filling and a little icing and then your next release can be a larger cake. And of course we need to be concerned with the experience of the first run, since that is the first impression a user has with our product.

I’ve talked about the VOC (voice of the customer) in previous posts as a necessity in the product development process. It is just as important for marketers. If you ask any User Experience Professional what the principles of their profession are, one of the first principles you’ll hear is “Know Your Users”. Makes sense, right?

 If you want to create great experiences for users then you must know something about them.  Plus if you don’t know the customers, how do you know what they want? Figuring out what they want and targeting the offer to that is the special sauce.  The marketing industry existed long before UX came along, and good marketers are as focused on their users as any UX professional is. Wikipedia defines marketing as: “Marketing is used to identify the customer, to keep the customer and to satisfy the customer.

Too often marketers focus on macro demos (age, gender, income marital status, other metadata) to determine users and target offers. I’ve even espoused this as a pillar of good marketing tactics. However, these factors only provide the most basic insight into the life of a user. It does not tell the whole story.

Additionally, good marketing often goes unnoticed. When a marketer does their job and presents a timely and valuable product or service we don’t even notice we are being sold. Similarly, a good UX pro can go unnoticed: great design is invisible to users because they’re too busy enjoying the product or service to even think about it. However, when a marketer focuses on the wrong product attributes or misses the market need, it distracts us and we  notice it.  

As job responsibilities often dictate, UX professionals are more focused on design than marketers are. Usually, people start considering UX as part of the product design or development process that ignored or assumed too much about its users. UX Pros try to right this wrong: they have seen how hurtful a poor understanding of users really is. That’s why the phrase “Know Your Users” is so central to UX. UX pros push to have all of this considered during the ideation phase of the PDM cycle.

In essence, UX is really just good marketing. It’s all about knowing who your market is, knowing what is important to them (walking in their shoes), knowing why it is important to them, designing accordingly (rules of engagement) and measuring the delivery. Once released it’s the job of PLM folks to consistently listen and adjust to the marketplace; improving the experience of those in your market.  If you think about it, good marketers actually do a lot of UX work,  and vice-versa. The next time you are ready to start the PDM process, consider UX and marketing as legs to the product stool. They are inexorably connected. 

Where to Spend Marketing Dollars: Acquisition vs. Retention

In past posts, I have spoken about a disciplined NPD (New Product Development) and closely managed Go-To-Market process as necessities for effective market release. I have also spoken about target messaging and product individuality. These are all table stakes to making sure customers are cared for and products hit the right audiences. Today, I want to focus more on the age old marketing strategy question of where to put your marketing dollars, customer acquisition vs. retention.

It have long been a debate for companies who argue over whether it is more important to retain old customers because it is less expensive than acquiring new ones, or spend more to acquire because it is one of the most effective ways to get the new customers that will produce new revenue and become more valuable. Practically, a balance is ideal.

Retention Vs. Acquisition

There is a long standing axiom that companies putting money into customer retention over acquistion net the best return. Retention focused messaging is a good place to start, positions your company well and allows you to focus on the messaging that draws customers to your product. It should increase margin accretion, engagement and loyalty within the customer base. Always a good thing!

How to spend additional dollars and the split of the budget becomes the next important hurdle to striking a practical balance. The decision should be based on traditional product metrics (margins, internal costs, competitive issues, etc.). However, most companies proportionally spend more of the marketing budget on acquisition over retention. Why not? Acquisition is sexy and brings in new dollars. Albeit usually at a discounted rate and lower margin. Heavy acquisition spend should not be at the risk of retention or you will see increased churn and lower customer loyalty. Spend more on retention and those costly acquisition programs are not necessary because fewer customers are leaving. Take care of retention and you can hone your acquisition messaging and grab a larger share.

CRM is all about building relationships

Effective companies learn about their customer’s needs and values, and create programs to match that learning. Loyalty programs work great here. They give the customer value, provide product and industry education to the customer while affording you with an amazing opportunity to interact with the customer and learn what they need and want. These programs should define decisions on training and additional customer services. It opens a communication line with the customer through which you can build a more intimate relationship. Administration of the program is personal preference, but should be easy to understand and follow for the customer with social media as a lynchpin. Customers will return and “buy-up” with you if you are engaged with them and providing perceived value. You can even use a loyalty program as part of an integrated acquisition platform if you have strategic partners that provide value. Mining your partner’s customer records may be possible if there is a tie in. 

Onboarding – Done Right  = Stickiness

O.K. you are going to need to spend some money on acquisition, but make it a meaningful spend. Many companies fail to maximize a new customer’s relationship because of poor understanding
and investment in managing the relationship during on-boarding. Too often a company over “sells” a newly acquired customer without educating them on the brand promise, how the loyalty program works, or the many ways to interact or purchase with the company. If companies invest some time and effort immediately post point of sale in customer education, they can increase customer loyalty and add-on sales. Companies need to make customers feel special with a thank you e-mails, survey on purchase processes, or invitations to private events. You can even ask for customers to create an online profile with social media hooks in the survey process. Essentially, you are building better, longer lasting relationships with customers who are truly engaged. Don’t let your hard earned acquisition efforts go to waste by not properly onboarding your customer. On-boarding correctly will yield repeat customers, loyalty and stickiness.

In Summary

Generally companies with fully baked value add loyalty programs, spend 30% of their marketing dollars on retention. You should be spending 60% of your dollars on customer growth. If you have a good customer, you should be able to grow them. You should make sure you are getting as close to 100% share of wallet before abandoning spend on a customer. This resultant margin accretion is found money. You should ensure that person is growing by the level of involvement with you. Were they after the lucrative offer, or have you done a great job on-boarding them and making them an advocate for you?

Interestingly, in light of today’s economic challenges, companies who already have a loyalty program in place, have identified retention as a key goal for the loyalty strategy, and who understand that they are spending money to keep customers are much better off than those spending 90% of their budgets on acquisition. A clear message that can be delivered to existing customers is “we recognize that times have been hard. Here’s what we can do for you Mrs. Customer.” There is a level of trust in the relationship investment that makes it an easier message. So instead of spending $100 on that customer trying to acquiring them and discounting your product base you could spend just $3 talking to them, maintaining their business and making sure they don’t go to a competitor and being able to say “we’re here for you when you’re ready to spend again.” That $3 is a lot cheaper than $100. You create and enduring relationship that customers value and help thwart consistent “promo hopping”. So, spend on retention first and then spend on acquisition with a better focus on how to retain