Why user experience matters in digital marketing

User experience is the most critical component in your digital marketing campaign.

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When it comes to developing and executing modern digital marketing strategies, there’s one important thing that often gets forgotten: user experience (UX). This is unfortunate, since it’s a critically important component of successful marketing in a digital age that prioritizes convenience and personalization.

The value of UX in digital marketing

Ask some industry professionals about the responsibility of UX in digital marketing and they’ll roll their eyes and tell you that the term “user experience” is nothing more than an industry buzzword, used to distract businesses from focusing on what really matters: conversions. However, these are often the same marketers who are behind the curve and barely surviving. Ask the most successful marketers in the industry, and they’ll tell you that UX is actually the key to facilitating conversions in a congested and oversaturated digital world.

In other words, one group — the underperforming group — sees UX as a distraction to conversions, while another group — the successful marketers — sees UX as a driving force in facilitating conversions. Which faction are you going to trust?

When this latter group looks at UX, they aren’t basing their evaluation on opinions or biases, they’re studying the data. In fact, if you want to see what all the fuss is about in terms of UX and its role in digital marketing, just consider the following data points as curated in this infographic from Experience Dynamics.

  • If content is not properly optimized, 79 percent of users will leave the respective page and search for another site to complete the task.
  • A whopping 96 percent of smartphone users have encountered websites that weren’t designed for their mobile devices.
  • 48 percent of users say they become frustrated and annoyed when sites are poorly optimized for mobile devices, while 52 percent say a bad mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with the company in the future.
  • 71 percent of online publishers claim “well-formed mobile content” significantly boosts user engagement.
  • 63 percent of searchers use multiple devices — smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc. — to find local businesses.
  • 95 percent of customers agree with this statement: “Good user experience just makes sense.”

There are dozens of other statistics just like these, but the point is that UX matters tremendously in digital marketing. Regardless of the device, publisher or content medium, customers want to engage with brands in fast, highly interactive, visually pleasing virtual environments.

4 Things to Know About UX in Digital Marketing

Practically speaking, what are the major things a modern marketer needs to know about UX and its role in facilitating conversions? Well, according to experts in the industry, you’ll want to understand and consider the following points:

1. Question Absolutely Everything

If you aren’t questioning everything about your brand’s UX, then you probably aren’t delivering highly engaging content that satisfies your target market’s pressing pain points.

Let’s examine a real world example. Consider XMedius, a leader in modern fax technology. As you can imagine, one of their biggest challenges is getting people to try their products and technology. After all, most people are unaware that fax technology still plays a major role in the world today. With that being said, once XMedius gets customers to try their products, they can’t mess up the opportunity. The UX has to be perfect.

In order to ensure their products are fit for consumers, company leaders meticulously ask questions such as: “Does it improve productivity? Does it enhance rather than impede the workflow? From the user experience perspective, is it simple, easy and enjoyable to use? Does it make your work life easier? Is it intuitive — does it do what you want it to do in the way that you want it to?”

That last question is something that applies to every business, regardless of the industry. When thinking about UX in your products, services, content, etc., “Does it do what you want it to do in the way that you want it to?” When you start asking questions like these, you start to see UX in a totally new light.

2. UX is more than usability

There’s a common misconception that UX and usability are one and the same, when in fact, UX is a much larger concept. Usability is a critically important component of UX, but the two terms aren’t identical.

According to Don Norman, usability covers whether a system is easy to learn, efficient to use, pleasant, and so forth. UX, on the other hand, takes the big picture into account.

Usability is focused on surface level things, while UX digs deeper into whether a particular page or piece of content will satisfy the needs of a user. In Norman’s words, “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

3. Visual experiences lead the way in 2016

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the only way to develop and sustain a positive UX for your customers is to invest in visual experiences. The marketplace is infatuated with visual content and wants brands to invest in high-touch points of contact.

According to journalist Nayomi Chibana, interactive visual storytelling is one of the hottest strategies of the year. The brands that find ways to integrate this “hybrid” form of interactive content will do well.

“A seamless integration of a variety of mediums–from the written word and still images to interactive graphs, maps and animations–the interactive story is paving the way for new forms of transmedia storytelling in our convergence culture,” Chibana explains. “These highly versatile formats are singular in their ability to give the user the freedom to navigate information, choose possible narrative paths and delve as deep as they desire into a certain topic.”

It’s this idea that users can now dig deeper and enjoy some control over their experiences and interactions with brands that’s changing the face of digital marketing for the better. While you can use any number of strategies to facilitate this freedom, the “transmedia storytelling” that Chibana discusses is one of the more effective approaches.

4. UX Drives Loyalty

When you think about the top adjective you could use to describe a customer, what comes to mind? If you came up with “loyal,” you’re right on track. Loyalty is something that cannot be purchased or forced. It’s happens over time because of consistent brand-customer interactions that are positive, engaging, and rewarding.

While there’s no magic formula to driving loyalty, the truth is that great UX drives customer loyalty. The more you invest in improving UX in your digital marketing efforts, the more likely that you’ll actively develop loyal customers that keep returning for more. That should be all the motivation you need.

Give UX the Attention it Deserves

In the age of digital marketing, UX is not optional. Customers have come to expect and prioritize things like convenience and personalization. If you don’t satisfy their expectations, they’ll simply move onto the next brand or business.

In order to give UX the attention it deserves, you’ll have to invest time, money, and resources. However, the upfront cost will almost certainly pale in comparison to the benefits you reap down the road.

Keep this in mind as you shift your thinking and start prioritizing user experience.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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