Danielle Arad is Director of Marketing and User Experience Specialist of WalkMe.com, the world’s first interactive website guidance system. She is also chief writer and editor of UX Motel, a blog for user experience experts. Follow her @uxmotel.
When undertaking any User Experience (UX) Project, there are certain key components that are universal to all stakeholders; irrespective of the professional field or area they emanate from. Getting a full understanding of these stakeholder requirements and needs is usually the difference between having a UX project that gets a buy in from relevant stakeholders or one that is trashed and never sees the light of day. Some of the key issues that interest stakeholders the most, include but are not limited to:
Usefulness of the UX Project
Stakeholders want to know what they stand to gain by either being part of the project or accepting the project findings and implementing the recommendations. The advantages should be laid bare in simple and easy to understand language; the use of technical jargon to explain away the prospective gains will not wash with most stakeholders. This usually involves fully understanding what people’s expectations are and making a concerted effort to meet the said expectations. Correctly identifying the target audience for both the study itself and the findings is also a critical factor that stakeholders show a lot of concern about.
Usability of the Design
It is crucial that the methodology adopted for the project be workable; not for systems or machines but for people. UX is acutely targeted towards the experience of human users; this point should never be lost to researchers. All stakeholders want to get a positive feel from the concerned parties that the current product/system or the newly implemented system/product is usable. In the event that there are some questions or qualms about the product or service, there should be plans underway to improve either the design or adopt new methodologies of ensuring user experience is enhanced and improved.
Identifying the Inherent Errors
Appreciating that errors and mistakes are bound to happen; most stakeholders want to know the kind of errors that are bound to occur when using the product or service and the frequency of occurrence. They are also interested in knowing what measures have been put in place for error recovery purposes. How fast a user can get out of a fix, and continue using the product or service is critical.
Time to learn using the product or service
Research has shown that long learning curves don’t offer very good UX to most clients. Simplicity is the key. The faster users can get the groove of using a service or product, the higher its chances of success with the end users. Being cognizant of the fact that some products are generally more complex and thus will inadvertently have longer learning curves it is important then to have up to date, accessible and easy to understand tutorials for use by potential users.
Facts and Figures on ROI
Business is all about profit generation. After all the colorful presentations and meetings; it generally boils down to how the UX project affects the financial bottom-line. It is imperative that stakeholders are provided with the requisite data regarding the Return on investment so as to ensure a buy in from them. Quantifying the figures in dollar form will grab the attention of most stakeholders.
An easy to understand plan
Due to time constraints and the highly competitive market place, stakeholders do appreciate brevity and accuracy. It is advisable to come up with a brief and to the point plan that states the work plan of the UX project team. It should be not more than a page in length and should contain the following; Background information, Goals of the project, project questions, methodology to be used, participants involved and the schedule.
It’s not easy, this “marketing” thing. It’s an effort that calls for passion, determination, subsistence, an attitude to kill for, relentlessness, unbelievable amount of hard work, and guts. It calls for a flair for marketing, of course.
Operations kick in when client orders fill in. Invoicing and accounting happens after work is delivered (or sometimes before work starts). Hiring happens when you have to scale. Marketing, however, is a continuous string of tasks that you need to do everyday, and that makes it much more difficult.
So, we lose steam. We lose our winning streak. We falter, fumble, and give up. It’s unfortunate but marketing is a direct result of our own personality. If you aren’t social, gregarious, outgoing, action-oriented, and organized, marketing – as a function – just goes out of the window. If marketing goes out, you might as well leave the building.
Here’s how to retain the winning streak in marketing:
Understand. Act. Reap rewards
Send out proposals to 10 new prospects a day; one prospect is likely to convert into a customer. But what happens really?
Three out of those 10 would ask you to “go take a hike” and two would go for your competition. You lost five prospects already, and it’s not about you. Four more prospects might not be ready for you yet. That leaves you with one buying customer for that day (which might not necessarily translate to an actual buying transaction on the same day, but we’ll assume it does).
If your ticket size for a total sale is $500, for instance. You are booking $500 worth of booking in a day – a total of $10,000 in a month assuming you work only Monday to Friday.
Think about what happens when you scale. What happens when you talk to 30 new prospects a day? What happens when you can improve conversion from 1 prospect out of 10 to 3 out of 10? What happens when your average ticket size increases from $500 to $750?
Work the numbers. Live the magic.
Mashable talks about how some startups get a second chance because they fail fast. Go ahead and fail, of course. Don’t’ forget that the spate of incoming lessons also happen fast. You got to stand there and take it all as it comes. Failing fast, however, won’t happen if you lounge on the couch and wonder why your business isn’t growing as fast as it should or why your sales numbers this month (and the previous months) have been dismal.
Fail fast means this: act fast. Send out proposals like your life depends on it. Network like each of those people you connect with is worth a million dollars each. Deploy marketing campaigns knowing that investment begets returns. Do it with an unabashed abandon. Go out, full steam ahead. Then, fail if you have to. The more you fail, you faster you get to where you want to be.
F*&^ distractions. You aren’t so meek, are you?
We are humans, after all. We have things like self-doubt, depressing sales numbers; diminishing bank account balances, piling responsibilities, and a thankless world to deal with. We also have families to take care of, employees to feed, contractors to manage, and thousands of things to think about. I didn’t mention that we have Internet, email, instant messages, mobile-based chatting, friends, and strangers pounding at your door for attention.
Let it all go. Make time for it, if you want to and make it clear. Read how different people eat your time away and what you should do about it.
You are strong, committed, responsible, sophisticated, intelligent, and ambitious. Don’t tell me that a phone call, a link to a random website, an unwelcome chat request, a mushrooming “meetup”, and a pesky stranger can beat you to your game.
Tell me something else, if you can.
Reach out to multiple channels
Never trust one single channel, ever. If you use social media for branding, engagement, and nurturing relationships, head to Quora and repeat what you do with social media in general. If you have channel partners for your eCommerce business, get more channel partners. Assuming you get business from incoming web-traffic from your landing pages, head out and do email campaigns. When everything else seems to be working the way it should, strive to figure out more strategic partnerships and sources for your business.
This shit never ends. Just so you know. How do you strive to keep up your marketing streak? What do you do to stay in the game?
It’s a sad situation, if you think about it: Traditional media is dead. Online media is now popular. Yet, businesses are clueless about it. Some brands do get it right. Most businesses “try” to get online. A few will rise and shine. Most others will bite the dust.
It’s not like there’s dearth of ideas. It’s not because there isn’t enough creativity or writing smarts out there. It’s not even because small businesses cannot afford continuous content production.
It’s because businesses don’t find a compelling reason to produce content. They just don’t have that fire burning in the belly.
Passion is dead, for most businesses. Here’s why marketers get content marketing wrong, always:
We aren’t as smart as you think
It’s funny that you and I aren’t as smart as we should be, given that there’s information about everything, everywhere. It first stuck me about how dumb some people are when I had this client who had to get that one single blog post right. So, he wastes about 6 weeks on revisions. Can you imagine the sheer waste of opportunity here?
As marketers, we are extortionists – we tend to make use of opportunities to milk people off their money so that we can sell our wares. Capitalism teaches us that, so it’s all right.
While I don’t have a problem with capitalism, I do have a problem with dumb marketers, super egoists who become entrepreneurs, one-time authors who think they’ve attained nirvana, and average bloggers who think they can beat the Huffington Post or the NYTimes.
Worse still: I hate marketers and business owners who think they are smart enough to fool customers. You have no idea how smart customers are today. Go figure.
Customers don’t care about you
Seth Godin, in his book Purple Cow swears by the reality of the situation today. Over the years dominated by the TV-Industrial complex, customers did learn to ignore marketing messages. Billions of dollars are wasted on trying to get a customer’s attention and hoping that she’d walk to the store and buy.
The truth is that customers buy when they want to. They don’t buy because you opened shop. For marketers then:
- There ought to be a way to keep customers engaged until they are ready to buy.
- The method of engagement has to be cost-effective and not expensive like mass media is, for instance.
Thankfully, content marketing comes to the rescue. ChiefMarketer.com maintains that more than 90% of customers skip marketing pitches altogether and prefer conducting online research before they buy. Over 50% of customers read user reviews before finalizing their buy. Martin Zwilling – a contributor for Forbes — points to a book titled Roadmap To Revenue by Kristin Zhivago where she points out some of those crucial steps marketers must do even if they have no control on customers’ buying decision. Some of her ideas include:
- Find out what customers want using real customer interviews when you are actually selling them your products.
- Adjust your offerings and match them with what your customers say they want.
- If necessary, work on your entire business model and/or processes to get in line with customer expectations.
Use content to give customers what they want, to communicate your offerings, to gain their trust, and to influence them.
Learn from the best
Red Bull – the popular energy drink — is a good example. James O’Brien — a contributor to The Content Strategist by Contently – says it best while alluding to Red Bull’s Content Marketing Strategy on his post at Mashable.com.
“Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage”
Moz is a company that makes SEO software but it’s known for its popular blog that’s now the ultimate source for information on Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing. Every customer who buys subscription access tools and information for SEO does so because they “trust” SEOmoz – thanks to the incredibly well written blog.
Wistia is an Online Video Hosting Provider but is currently an authority on making videos for business, using videos for business promotions, and on hosting video for marketing. Their videos are great examples of “videos” are produced. Each piece of content on their blog works to build trust and hence their own sales.
HubSpot sells a CMS and a marketing system for businesses but it’s well known for its Content Carpet Bombing and is one of the leading resources for online marketing.
There are also a few companies such as Wix, Instagram, EventBrite, and KISSmetrics that get their content marketing strategy right, according to Sivan Cohen, head of content marketing at Conduit.
If you need more inspiration, The Content Marketing Institute has the Ultimate Ebook on 100 real content marketing examples that you can draw your inspiration from.
Content marketing is the ‘big thing’ currently. Considering Google’s latest regulations that forced business owners to produce high quality content, this is somewhat understandable. Data offered by the Content Marketing Institute (a company that offers information about content marketing) reveals that 99% of software marketers are currently concentrating on content marketing as an integral part of their overall Internet marketing plans.
So the data reveals that majority of businesses are now focusing on content marketing. However, only few are doing it correctly. Learning about the content marketing strategies implemented by these companies can be a valuable way of increasing your knowledge and refining your marketing strategies.
HubSpot is a renowned marketing firm that specializes in inbound marketing. The company is aware of the importance of valuable content and produces content in different forms. These range from general articles, e books to case studies and webinars and videos. They are always innovating new things and this distinguishes them from their competitors.
Develop content that establishes your credibility and expertise. Research extensively and develop strong views about any matter. This encourages customers in viewing you as a leader.
Offer your audience variety. Publish different types of content. It helps if they are loaded with useful information.
Content marketing should not revolve around your business only. Understand requirements of your customers and offer them information they are looking for.
When Mint was introduced 7 years ago, no one expected that it would establish itself as a leader in the personal finance industry. It still did, thanks to its aggressive strategy of high quality content creation. Unlike other companies that had a half-hearted approach towards their blogs, Mint maintained focus on its blog “Mintlife” since its launch. For maintaining the quality of its content, it employed several freelancers and even an editorial staff. It worked hard on sharing its content on Digg and Reddit and results started showing within some months.
Similar to HubSpot, Mint produced diverse content that ranged from videos, news, informative blog posts to slideshows and infographics. The company was strict about the quality of content it produced and within years, it established itself as a valuable resource that’s easy to read and understand.
- Do not compromise with quality of the content. Invest maximum resources for ensuring its quality.
- Share content on popular social networking channels
- Patience is the key to building up an audience that trusts you.
This website is extremely popular among women who are interested in learning about the art of makeup (Surprisingly, not many are aware that the make up giant company L’Oreal is behind it). The website contains valuable information about styling, latest news, celebrity information, and make up in general. It even has a video section, where one can learn about the art of makeup.
Its main content marketing strategy is to provide users with plenty of resources. Accordingly, every page of the website contains link that redirect users to related content. There are trending stories and suggestions for further reading as well.
- Know your target audience. Find out what they want. Publish content that meets their requirements.
- Simplify the process of exploring your site. Make things easier for the audience by providing them with valuable resources.
- Keep things interesting. Makeup.com does so by adding fun sections, such as, ‘Beauty Trends’ and ‘Product Junkie’.
It is true that content marketing differs from one company to the other. Still, you can notice some common traits such as, emphasis on quality content, time/effort spent, and keeping things interesting.
Give these timeless lessons a unique twist and start promoting your company.