Big brands such as Amazon and gov.uk are nailing user experience (UX). How can brands without comparable budgets match the heightened expectation of the customer of today?
Most businesses have access to a huge amount of data, gathered over a period of time. But what do most do with that information? Well, in most cases nothing. It sits in a virtual bottom drawer waiting for that perfect marketing opportunity.
There is over 2.7 zettabytes of data in today’s digital universe, but statistically 77% of UK companies are failing to deliver tailored marketing collateral to their customers, both existing and potential, each month, according to a recent report by Econsultancy.
We see many examples of disconnected UX, often the telling sign of design getting under way too early on in the process, and missed opportunities resulting in a less than satisfactory customer experience.
So how do we use this data to improve our approach and design thinking?
We really need to get underneath the numbers. Data is certainly not tactile but it really can go towards shaping the way we think. Good data can provide valuable knowledge about the audience, sector and location and when put into the correct order can lead to more effective design.
Continuing to gather up-to-date data from existing and potential customers should form part of an ever-evolving business strategy. It’s vital to have accurate data. Quality over quantity has never been more relevant than it is today.
Customers are becoming more comfortable about sharing their data. Just look how many ‘sign in using Facebook’ logins are available on new and upcoming online experiences – some sites and platforms even block their content until you ‘simply login’. Once the customer does login, we can, of course, gain all that data from them, and tailor that experience even further, sometimes without them even noticing.
It’s not just online. We find offline mailings are still extremely effective when using segmented data. The content in the mailer can be personalised too: nothing new there, but when unique links and codes are included, for the recipient to continue their journey online, things really do start to connect, giving the ultimate customer experience. Using data, the website can now prioritise the content for that specific customer, making their visit quick, easy and far more rewarding.
Now that we have our data and UX flowing seamlessly, we can analyse the statistics and reporting. This is another area that is often overlooked. Many senior managers will spend month after month looking for high and growing numbers of visits, which can prove to be very shortsighted.
Data should be measured not counted. Data is only valuable in context: numbers could be down, but if those visits, conversions or goals are from quality leads, the results will likely provide a greater reward. Again – quality, not quantity – it’s our responsibility as marketing professionals to encourage businesses and teams to think differently.
It’s essential to understand the data; to ensure that it’s genuine and that internal IP addresses are excluded and goals set. Numbers may decrease. Often the most loyal visitors to a website are internal traffic, but there is no point pushing up numbers when they are not relevant to the marketing strategy.
Stepping into our customers’ shoes at this stage is essential. A little testing with the target audience is easily achieved. It doesn’t need to be complex. Focus groups don’t always mean big budgets with research companies. Small groups in a live environment over a coffee provide qualitative data, and allow us to react quickly to their needs by implementing updates, whether it be the page design or content.
So what next? Now that we have our measured data, we can refine, improve and start that same process over and over again, gathering, cleaning, connecting and analysing on a monthly basis. Data has always been a powerful resource and every business, big and small, has an equal opportunity to maximise its potential across multiple channels.
Five ways to start connecting your design and marketing
• Measure and clean data: It may seem like the least important one, but getting this right will ensure all efforts at the creative stages are not wasted. Don’t be tempted to just find the highest number for that marketing meeting. Be brave and break the data down; only then will you know where to focus your efforts.
• Brand consistency: It starts internally of course but choosing an agency or partner to absorb your data, culture, business and company values will allow them to analyse the data in a way that complements your brand values and audience. Only then can you establish how the data should be used. Ensuring your creative execution is consistent across on and offline will be even more critical when connecting your UX.
• Annual trends: Not all data is the same. Look out for patterns and trends in your website analytics. This should be reviewed on a monthly basis and once you have over a year’s worth of data, make sure you compare like-for-like data and filter down
into the detail, for example location loyalty, time of day and campaign goals.
• Audience groups: This is another important area to get right. Segmented data will allow you to target your audience and then give them a unique user journey. This insight will also enable you to choose which social networks will complement your audience, allowing you to focus and connect through these first. Getting this right will naturally encourage your existing audience to endorse your brand through their own networks.
• Social: Lastly, but by no means least, with so many online channels now available, you need to be selective. Establish your priority networks and work within a few channels. Don’t spread your social communication too thin. Be selective and focus your efforts in just a few market-relevant channels to build your online community.
Strategy is no longer a fixed path. It’s about how things are connected and how you adapt to your ever-changing data. Design is all about how it works, not always how it looks and techniques like these will help define a better and more targeted brief, resulting in a more effective and integrated marketing strategy for your business.