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How UX and marketing can boost business

Are you user experienced? Getting there can help your business and your customer

While we may be living in uncertain times, it's certain that the Covid-19 crisis hasn't changed trends, it has accelerated them. Brands that aren't actively looking to improve their customer experience – particularly their online user experience – are going to be left behind.

There will be no going back from the 'new normal'. How we are living, working, shopping and consuming right now is here to stay. Upward trends in ecommerce and online experiences were firmly  established before the pandemic, and the necessity driven from people bunkered down at home has sped things up.

Online deliveries have increased the same amount in an eight week period at the start of lockdown as they had over the whole preceding decade: teledoc and telemedicine sessions have grown ten-fold over the course of a 10-day period earlier this year; online grocery spend in Ireland rose by 37 per cent in April and online retail saw an overall increase of 19 per cent in the same period. 

While Irish people might be eager for a decent pint or a meal they haven't cooked themselves, the ability to work, shop and live online is firmly bedded in, after only six months. None of this would be possible without efforts from quickly spinning marketing cycles coupled with agile and focused user experience (UX) approaches.

The businesses that are actively engaging in experience-led initiatives will be the ones left standing.


What is UX,for the uninitiated? User Experience isa part of the broader Customer Experience (CX) offering from brands.

CX takes into account how customers perceive all their interactions with your organisation at different brand touch-points – in store,onsocial platforms, through marketing and online – while UX is focused more on online, web or app interactions. From a marketing perspective UX is a key complimentary discipline and activity.

Where marketing helps attract and capture buyers' attention, UX is focused on helping convert and retain customers through the web or app experience. It can work with a business' CRO activities to help clarify where improvements can be made, and produce solutions for these improvements, always aiming to strike a balance between what the user needs and what the business wants.

In this week's Inside Marketing podcast Meabh Connellan, Group Strategy Director Dentsu Aegis and Marcus Swan, Head of Design at Isobar discuss why investment in UX is crucial for any business. Listen now: 



One of the challenges that we face as an agency is the different speeds that Marketing and UX can operate in. Marketing/CRO is focused on the initial "buyer experience", such as getting people into the funnel. 

That marketing cycle can spin quickly and brands can shift strategies in a reactive way – "Our audience is on TikTok, we need to be on TikTok!" to "Our web copy needs to be updated with this new tone of voice". 

This is counter to a slower UX or product cycle where you have to onboard and support customers to get them to commit to a longer-term experience so they don't exit your product or service and get marketed to bya competitor and go over to them.

You can think of marketing and UX in terms of relationships – marketing is that first exciting swipe right, flirting back and forth, leading to a date. UX is the slow and steady building of a relationship, understanding each other's needs while keeping things (relatively) exciting.

UX takes into account a lot of different factors and works across multiple layers of a product offering

The main focus of a UX practitioner is to be the champion for the user, bringing their perspective of the experience through human-led initiatives and plain old empathy.

As an agency, a lot of the UX work we do is mediated through marketing teams and being successful means understanding the needs of that marketing team, and how we can align goals and targets. We might get a CMO who wants a new site to convert all the spend on bought media, but doesn't want to spend time on researching or analysing current user needs. 

It's baffling that marketing spend on a campaign might be in the high six- or even seven- figures but there's little or no budget or time allocated for improvements to the online experience, where sales are converted. One key stat to look out for in your marketing spend is how much is going on remarketing – if it's higher than you would like,my advice is to put some of it back into UX initiatives and capture users first time around.

Right mix

Often businesses are focused on that quick spinning buyer cycle but having a CXO (Chief Experience Officer) leading an internal digital team or partnering with a UX-focused agency can help get the mix right. The figures speak for themselves – better online experience delivers up to a 16 per cent price premium on products andservices, plus increased loyalty, according to a PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey.

UX takes into account a lot of different factors and works across multiple layers of a product offering, with everything from existing development approaches (is this design going to create a lot of technical debt for the dev team?), through to content and site structure (will a well-defined content structure boost SEO?), and even brand tone of voice in micro-copy (should our buttons say "Continue" versus "Let's go"?).

There is also the need to keep a lot of technical feasibility requirements in mind, for example what looks like a simple change on a shopping cart may have massive ramifications for the underlying data structure or how the payment merchant's API works with that bit of legacy code.

Businesses that seize this opportunity in the new normal will be the ones that are able to weather future storms

Like marketing,UX is a complicated and collaborative effort, but if done correctly and consistently it can deliver impactful results for your brand or business. Ultimately, good UX helps fulfil the efforts of marketing and the promise of your brand.

A lot of businesses right now though are struggling with fulfilling their brand promise to online customers, for a number of reasons:

They may not be set up for online conversion or they have technological blockers such as old, outdated software that the IT team just won't get a replacement for; maybe the brand doesn't have the strategy in place to attack the online market successfully; or perhaps they don't see the value in an online experience when judged against the cost of creating and running ecommerce infrastructure (ask Primark, which has resisted the move to online shopping even when its bricks and mortar store closures were costing £100 million a month during lockdown). 

If your brand or business is struggling, what can you do to get moving? Speed of your site is one thing to tackle – a 1 per cent increase in site speed can translate to a 7 per cent uptick in conversions. Good UX can help optimise that part of the experience,it doesn't always have to be a green-field approach.

Partnering with a UX-focused agency such as Isobar can help give you that boost, along with auditing your current site UX,compared to your direct competitive set or category best-in-class. Moving at speed is the key.

Businesses that can seize this opportunity in the new normal and make their offering more human and experience-led will be the ones that are able to weather future storms. If your business is holding out hope that customer behaviour will revert to how it was before, you're fighting against the digital tide.

Marcus Swan is head of design for Isobar Ireland. He has a deep knowledge and experience in designing and managing digital projects for clients from multi-national corporations to Irish institutions.

Inside Marketing is a series brought to you by Dentsu Aegis Network and Irish Times Media Solutions, exploring the issues and opportunities facing the world of media and marketing.
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