User experience refers to any interaction potential or existing customers have with a brand. Although user experience is a relatively new concept to many people today, the concept has proven to be very important in online business. In the recent past, user experience was confined to web design. Today, the concept spans to on-page website experiences, the functionality and usefulness of correspondence such as emails, the significance/impact of ads displayed around the web, the presentation of brands on social media channels etc.
These user experience components among many others have been proven to have a significant impact on how people interact with brands online. Marketers can’t therefore afford to adhere to old marketing practices if they are keen on maintaining competitive advantage. In case you are interested in knowing why marketers should care about user experience, you are in the right place. Below is an in-depth discussion highlighting the main reasons.
1. User experience drives customer loyalty
Driving customer loyalty is one of the most important tasks of any marketer. In online business, there is no better way to drive customer loyalty other than making sure customers have a good user experience with your brand online. Since every single brand is visible in many places online i.e. on the official website, social media, ads etc., users experiences in all these places plays a very important role in driving customer loyalty.
For instance consistent messaging is a very effective way of creating customer loyalty. Brands with consistent messages (as opposed to multiple messages across the web) tend to drive loyalty better. The trick lies in providing your customers with a direct message they can stand by regardless of where they are interacting with your brand online.
Customer loyalty can also be achieved through responsive design. The importance of responsive design can’t be overlooked today since many internet users access the internet via many platforms and devices. Websites must therefore be designed in such a way that they offer ultimate user experience regardless of the platforms or devices users are using to interact with brands. If marketers focus on one channel, a large segment of their target market won’t be able feel the connection a brand is supposed to put into their experience.
2. Creates strong advocates
Marketers must also care about user experience because it creates strong advocates. Loyal customers are usually the best advocates for brands. Again, there is no better way to acquire strong advocates online other than ensuring you offer your users the best online experience possible. User experience drives advocacy in very many ways. Below are some of the most important ways.
a. Social engagement: When users have positive interactions with brands, they have no problem sharing such experiences with the world i.e. by sharing content, purchasing goods/services and engaging with your brand. It is important to note that many marketers lose out on user experiences via social channels in instances like; publishing content that contradicts with the brand message, initiating sporadic or infrequent communication/engagement. For brands to create strong advocates, social engagement must be exemplary across all channels.
b. Referrals: This is another benefit enjoyed by brands which manage to create strong advocates. When your customers can’t wait to recommend your brand to their friends, family, colleagues etc., the endorsement is accompanied by a ''seal of approval'' that eliminates most hurdles faced by online marketers. A great online experience with brands usually results in referrals which are very hard to get in online business. It’s simple psychology. No one wants to share anything that may diminish their credibility. Supporting confusing user experiences achieves that. Providing your customers with a shareable user experience is the best way to offer them something worth advocating for.
3. Drives sales
The goal of any marketer is to make sales. In online business, user experience counts more than many other forms of marketing since it makes it extremely easy for your existing and potential customers to buy what they like or want. Strong user experiences drive sales by eliminating friction and accelerating customer engagement.
In regards to eliminating friction, there is no better way to increase online sales other than smoothing out the entire checkout process. According to numerous research studies on online sales, approximately 60% of all potential customers online abandon their shopping carts due to problems in checkout processes. The importance of having a smooth checkout process can’t therefore be ignored.
Marketers must analyse web analytics highlighting why their customers abandon potential purchases. They must also look at the current checkout process. Doing this will help to identify potential problems which can be addressed to increase the number of complete transactions. Websites like Amazon utilise checkout systems featuring one-click ordering. Such systems maximize the number of complete transactions which in turn drives sales.
In regards to accelerating customer engagement, it is important to note that people tend to be attracted to rewarding and intuitive experiences. Making your customers’ experiences easier and more intuitive increases customer engagement with your brand which in turn drives sales. Company’s like Apple have perfected this concept i.e. purchase driven user experience by maintaining their design, colour flow and product messaging.
Apple may not be the best tech brand in the world however, they stand out from every other tech brand when it comes to user experience. This explains why people have no problem spending more on Apple products.
4. Increases discovery
User experience also increases discovery; something which is extremely hard to trigger online using any other channels/methods. The internet can be a very cruel place for online businesses which aren't able to keep up with their competitors. Online businesses are finding it extremely hard to maintain competitive advantage using search engine optimization tactics only. Gone are the days where marketers focused on search ranking only. It is important to note that having a lot of traffic to your site doesn't necessarily translate to sales if your user experience is below par. Metrics like bounce rates are more important now than ever. Luckily, user experience solves this problem perfectly increasing discovery chances.
A good user experience is beneficial to users and search engines which crawl your content. Presenting your brand online via on-site content, site maps, and blog posts among other forms of ''crawlable'' data/content helps search engines discover your brand and the appropriate ranking criteria. Also, a good user experience will direct your site visitors throughout your site with ease encouraging discovery.
In summary, user experience goes way beyond design today. The effectiveness of the concept also goes way beyond conventional marketing methods. Marketers must therefore strive to familiarize themselves with this dynamic concept to maintain competitive advantage online. The future of online marketing obviously lies in the ability to perfectly blend user experience together with all forms of effective marketing.