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The concept of the user experience (UX) dominates the world of product design, but its reach has expanded much further. UX has an important role in industrial marketing. If you’re not familiar with UX and how it applies to your marketing efforts, this article will introduce you to the main ideas and how to incorporate UX in marketing.

What is UX?

There are many ways to define UX. Most definitions agree that UX is the process of designing products (digital or physical) that are useful, easy to use, and satisfying to the user. Because UX affects the user’s overall feelings or reactions to your company, a good UX can help to increase the value and desirability of your products, strengthen your brand, and build customer loyalty.

Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” That’s the essence of UX.

What is the relationship between UX and marketing?

There is a tight and natural bond between UX and marketing. Consider that product design often entails market research, focus groups, customer surveys, analytics, competitive research and other tasks that enable us to better understand user needs and desires.

Those same functions apply to marketing. We perform market research, conduct surveys, create customer personas, analyze data—all in the name of creating effective and targeted marketing that improves our audience’s experience with our message and content, and helps move them more smoothly along the path to conversion.

For example, a good UX that leads up to a clear call to action can result in greater conversion, while a bad UX may mean that the user never finds the call to action at all or drops off somewhere along the conversion path.

Why use UX concepts in marketing?

The goals of UX and the goals of marketing are very much the same: delight the customer to the point that they will purchase, and even advocate for, your products.

When applying UX concepts to marketing, these three goals stand out as the most important to pursue:

Get discovered—the user experience begins when a prospect discovers you. No discovery means no chance of a relationship. Marketers must pay attention to how engineers and technical professionals prefer to search for products, services and suppliers.

Engineers do most of their research up front and on their own, before contacting a supplier, using favorite channels such as search engines, websites, online directories, email and social media. Marketers must allocate their budgets to the appropriate channels in order to be discovered and initiate the user experience.

Offer a superb and intuitive visual experience—when users find you, do you make it easy for them to access the information they want? An intuitive visual experience can easily guide them. This can encompass everything from a clear and properly placed headline, to obvious places to click, to web pages and other content that can be quickly scanned, to conversion forms that are painless to fill out, and more.

Drive brand loyalty— UX affects a user’s overall attitude and response to your company and your products. A user who has a positive experience with your marketing and content is much more likely to convert, become a customer, and remain loyal. Your goal in tending to UX concepts is to always make it easy for them to like you.

Where should I apply UX principles in marketing?

The short answer is that UX should inform all your marketing decisions. But here are a few areas to pay special attention to and that should bring you the most benefit:

  • Targeting—The right message at the right place at the right time goes a long way toward creating an exceptional UX. Use your market research, customer personas and media partners to help choose appropriate channels to connect with your target audience. The first step of UX is finding the user.
  • Words—UX is not only visual; it touches other senses as well. Write copy for your customers, not for your company. Focus on what your audience needs and wants to know, provide all essential information, and use as few words as possible to get your points across. Explain any concepts that might not be familiar to them.
  • Layout—Display ads, spec sheets, web pages, forms, emails—everything you create and put in front of your audience must have a pleasing and functional layout that captures a user’s attention, directs them to what you want them to see, and persuades them to take action, whether that action is simply to click to download or to place an order. How we layout our pages and utilize on-page elements is central to our marketing efforts (and our success). A frustrated user who can’t find what they are looking for is unlikely to convert.
  • Accuracy—mistakes and errors can ruin the UX. If your content doesn’t project quality and attention to detail, a user will have a negative impression of your company and products, and will be unlikely to do business with you.

These are just a few of the factors that contribute to UX. If your company has UX product designers, you should consider forming a cross-functional team that shares insight into users and contributes to the produced product (think of marketing campaigns as products). You can improve the user experience through your marketing; it’s imperative that you do so.

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