User centric marketing
The course provides a variety of techniques and methods to better understand customers, and the benefits of doing so. The basic premise being we often forget about customers and just focus on building products. If so, companies are missing a lot of potentials and strengths of the digital age, which provides a large amount of data and advantages to better serve customers.
I found this course fascinating. If the instructor could also provide an walkthrough of how they do these types of research, rather than just talking about it, it’ll be much more helpful. Since I can have a basic grasp of the concept, but I’m still confused on how it’s actually run in practice.
How digital has changed marketing
- Whatever the size of your company,whatever the size of your marketing spend,you can compete with the bigger players.
- You can have new players come into those sectors and do things differently and disrupt the sector, even though they’re not well established, even though they don’t have brand recognition, even though they don’t have a huge marketing budget. They can achieve incredible things.
- Word of mouth is another great example of this, right.There’s always been word of mouth recommendation,it’s the holy grail, isn’t it, of marketing.The actually you don’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing because people recommend your products from one person to another.Now, in the digital age,word of mouth has been amplified.
- Digital provides us with an unprecedented amount of data. And that needs to fundamentally change how we approach things. Imagine for a moment if that printed brochure that you got done, you knew every time somebody opened it. You knew how long they were looking at it. You knew which pages of the brochure they looked at and for how long
In traditional marketing we don’t know if it works or not:
- Traditional marketing doesn’t factor in these unique characteristics of digital. Traditional marketing still is about broadcasting a message.But digital allows us as well to listen and respond to users and questions.We can adapt based on what we see them doing.
- Traditional marketing is very campaign orientated and as a result that has some fundamental flaws to it, right. If you think about a traditional campaign cycle, it begins with a premise for the campaign,what’s that campaign about? But is that premise validated in any way? Not normally, we might do a little bit of market research but that’s basically it. It’s somebody’s idea about what might work.We don’t know whether it will work or not.
So what’s user-centric marketing?
- We use a centric marketing draws on user research and user experience design. It draws on these fields and the things that we’ve learned in these fields to bring marketing into the 21st century or at least, let’s be more honest, bring marketing project management and the way we approach campaigns into the 21st century. It seeks to use digital tools to better understand users and their journey so that we design our marketing strategy around them. It also looks at ways to validate our approach to a campaign at every step of the way. It aims to adapt our campaigns once they’re launched to maximize their effectiveness.
How to better understand your audience without spending a cent
Ways to find user’s data:
- Existing research: what we’re going to do, is we’re going to start by finding any existing research that already exists within your organization.Now, when you do find it,you’ll discover that maybe not all of it is up to date,and that’s okay, and we’ll deal with that.And, it might be that not all of that research you’ve got actually is that relevant, and that’s okay too,but we need to know what we’ve got before we start getting anything new
- Sales team: Our sales team have contact with the customer every single day,they’re always out there talking to customers.So they will know in their heads a huge amount about their customers.They’ll know about where they work,they’ll know about questions that they’ve got,and most significantly, what objections they have,what reasons do they give for not buying?Because those are the kinds of things that we can be addressing in our marketing and sales strategies.So our sales people will give you amazing insights,they’ll also have things like testimonials from customers,and all kinds of insights into who they are,and what they’re trying to achieve.What are their goals?What are their pain points?
- SEO tools: you can find often that people are using slightly different terminology than maybe the terminology used on your website,and so you won’t be able to see from your search terms that those are relevant questions,but using a good search engine optimization tool,that will reveal to you other questions,other related terms to the ones that you’re already using.The other thing you can learn from analytics is where people are giving their most of their attention when they visit your website
- Social media update: We push out social media updates in the world,and only give superficial attention to things like shares and likes.But the kind of things that people share and like are also good indication of what they care about.The final analytic source that you need to be looking at is things like session recorders and heatmap tools.
How do we start to adopt a user-centric approach
Try to understand what they are trying to achieve: It’s impossible to convince somebody to do something unless you know them, right?Think about any time you tried to persuade a person personally to do anything.The better you know them, the easier it is to convince them.So unsurprisingly, we need to really know our users if we want them to take action.The better we know them,the easier it is to persuade them to do something.And that means we really need to get to know our audience,not just what their tastes are,not that they have 2.3 children and drive an Audi, but we need to understand what they’re trying to achieve,what their goals are, all of those kinds of things.
It’s different from traditional marketing: traditional marketing is about grabbing attention and about emotionally connecting with people,so we focus on things like their demographics,their tastes and their influences.Now we still have to grab their attention in some situations like via email or social.But so we still need to know about things like what influences them but that’s not really the whole story.
Use empathy mapping to figure out what their pain points are: empathy mapping. In some ways, it’s very similar to personas,but it has got some unique properties that are worth just spending a few minutes looking at. So this is a typical empathy map, something that’s used all the time in user research and user experience design. Now notice that although it looks very much like a traditional persona, the information that it’s asking for it’s actually quite different. So instead of focusing on who the person is and their tastes, it’s asking things like what questions do they have,what tasks are they wanting to complete, what is influencing them,and what their goals and pain points are. It even looks at how they’re feeling during this process. And you’ll actually find that these are much more useful for designing a marketing campaign than knowing about somebody’s personal tastes
Once we know what channels they are using, we can start tailor the right messages at the right time in their journey: Understand what channels our users are using and when they’re using them. Once we understand that, then we can start to tailor our message appropriately for where they are in the journey. By understanding their journey, we know what channels to support and what to say on each of these channels.
Building a picture of your audience using surveys
We can ask many questions, but it’s not recommended: they want to know more about their user and so they just ask this plethora of different questions,and then somebody else in the company goes,ooh, you’re running a survey,can I drop this question in as well?Before you know it, you end up with these big,bloated surveys, and really, that is not the way to go,partly because aren’t going to complete a survey that long,but also partly, you just end up with a lot of data you don’t know what to do with.
Focus on the audience: Beyond getting people to identify some very basic segmentation about themselves, don’t focus, really, on who your audience is.Instead, focus on what they want to do. Okay, so in particular, what tasks do they want to complete? What questions do they want to answer? What’s their goals? What’s their pain points? Are there any objections that stop them from acting?
The best you can ask is about their exit intent: the best point to put a survey in front of people is on exit intent. It’s at that moment when they’re about to leave the website, or alternatively, after they’ve completed some other action, like make a purchase. It all depends on the content of the survey, but you certainly shouldn’t jump on them the minute they arrive. The second thing you could do to encourage people to complete a survey is, keep it short. Seriously, one question is often enough.
Ask them one simple question first, then go up on complexity: If you can get them to answer one question because it’s blatantly obvious and really simple,the chance of them answering the rest of the questions go up significantly.
Send them a gift at the end: By offering them a gift at the end to thank them for completing the survey,you trigger a psychological thing in us called reciprocation, okay,because that’s an unconditional gift that we’ve just been given, right?We weren’t expecting it.We didn’t factor it in to our decision to complete the survey.It was a surprise, it was a delightful surprise,and in those kinds of situations,we feel the need to give back.
Discover the power of top task analysis
Convincing people to take action mostly comes down to answering their questions, and addressing their objections, but some questions or objections are going to be more relevant, and pressing to people than others.
Use top task analysis to understand what’s most important to users: We can use it to understand what questions and concerns a user has,and what questions they need addressing before they’re willing to take action.It also helps us to understand which of those questions and concerns matter to the most.
How to do it?
- Brainstorming every question, every objection that a user might have about your product and service. You can use the user research we talked about earlier as the basis of that. You will end up with hundreds of questions about your product and service.
- What you then do is you start taking those questions,and combining any ones that are very similar to one another, and also removing anything that’s just really ridiculously specific, and then you’ll end up with a list of about 60 to 100 elements at the end of that.
- Now, you simplify those questions down into just a very simple statement. For example, anything to do with pricing,you group together, and just rename pricing. Anything to do with the product’s features, you just call features. So, you end up with this long list of different categories like that.
- Then, you run a questionnaire on the website,a survey on your website, or social media, or email, wherever you want to push it out, and you ask people to rank that list of items by one to five. So, you give five points to the most important thing on that list to you,four to the next, three to the next, two the next,and then one to the final one of your top five. They just leave all the rest blank.
- You might think this is just utter madness to run a survey that’s got 60 to 100 options in it,but what that does is it forces people to think about what they want, and then look for it on the list, rather than just scan down the list,and go,
So, what you will find when you run a top task analysis is that actually, only a handful, of 60 to 100 items are actually top tasks,things that really matter to people. The rest are really more of a distraction than anything. What you do then is you focus in on those top questions,those top objections, or top tasks as Gerry calls them,and use those to inform our advertising,our website, they’re the things that we’re going to focus on.
We can use it to shape everything from our Facebook ads, to our email campaigns, to our website. It can even be used to shape the information architecture,and the visual hierarchy of things like our landing pages,and it can be used to help us decide on what calls to action we should be prioritizing on our websites.What can we expect people to be doing at any particular time? So, top task analysis is absolutely invaluable for better understanding what it is people really care about.
**Pick the five elements that are most important to you.**Then, in the second question, you then ask them to rank those one to five, okay? So, there are normally ways around doing this in pretty much any survey tool that you want. For example, I’ve used Typeform before to do this, but there are many other survey tools, and there’s no reason why you have to get one that’s different from the one you’re already using. That said, in a perfect world, you would have a survey tool that would enable somebody to start typing whatever it was that they were looking for.
Customer journey mapping: What is it and why it can help?
The biggest problem, as we talked about earlier,with personas,is that they’re static.
Customer journey map consists of two components. First, the steps in the journey, and, then, secondly, the information about the user that you want to gather at each step along the way. All right? So, think of it like this grid, that you can see on the screen now, okay? It consists of columns, which are your steps on the journey, and rows, which are the information you want to collect on each of those steps. Now, the steps in the journey will be very much dependent on what your customer’s journey is.
But, when you’re doing a particular project, say, maybe running an email campaign, you can look at the customer journey map and say to yourself “Well, where does this email campaign fit in the customer journey? “And, then you can see, A - what questions and objections and tasks and feelings somebody has at that particular point. But, you can also put that campaign,that project, in it’s context of what’s happening before and what will happen afterwards.
customer journey mapping is a great tool for visualizing what we know about our audience,and how they interact with your organization.It also helps to frame your campaigns,enabling you to see how they fit into the broader picture,and support the journey.
Why and how you should be meeting your audience in person
And I went away knowing these people.Not just data about them, but really understanding them
Trouble is with being a manager, isn’t it,the higher you go in an organization, typically,the less time you actually spend with the end customer: And so you become more and more divorced, and you find it harder and harder to judge whether things are relevant or not. So I still haven’t answered the question of how much time you should spend with users. I fudged it, haven’t I? I said, “Spend as much time as you can.“Well, Steve Krug, in his book “Rocket Surgery Made Easy,“which is an excellent book, by the way,that I highly recommend you check out, suggests that you meet with just three people once a month.
You spend a little bit of time just meeting with three people, that’s all. And after that, you all sit down as a group and you discuss what you learned, you know, what came out of that meeting. And if you can just do that, you’ll find it makes an enormous difference into how much you understand about your users. How should we approach user meetings? So you’re going to meet with your users once a month. Well, what are you going to do? What are those sessions going to be about? Well, I think you need to go in with something specific that you want to learn each time. So it might be that you’re currently working on a new campaign, and you want to know how people are going to respond to that campaign.It might be that you’ve just designed a new landing page and you want to know whether people are going to spot the primary call to action on that page. So every time you run a session like that, have some specific things in mind that you want to learn, not just questions that you’re going to ask, but what you want to take away, what question or problem or issue do you want to solve from those sessions? I’d also encourage you to do something with participants, rather than just talk.
How to get the most from your user research
Most campaigns are born out of nothing more than management’s great idea: They come up with an idea, and then everybody else has to run around and implement it. Yes, I know I sound cynical,but that’s, in my experience,how most marketing campaigns work. They’re convinced that it’s a great idea, but is it really? So what happens then is a project is conceived,it’s planned, it’s built, and it’s rolled outwith no real idea of whether it’s going to succeed or not.
How to make the company user-centric: every time they have a meeting,they have an empty chair, and that empty chair is supposed to represent the customer.It’s a way of reminding everybody in the room that the customer’s opinion matters,what they think matters.
We need to include the user in testing the campaign before it goes out, and we can monitor the user as well once a campaign has gone live, to improve it and to iterate upon it.
Story card technique: basically specifies projects with a collection of cards, and each card has a statement on it. You can see an example on the screen now. And those statements are basic, “I am, I want to, so I can.” So I am a certain type of user,I want to do a certain type of thing, so I can achieve an ultimate goal. So I’m somebody buying a new camera, for example, I want to understand how long the video will run for before the battery drains, so I can do videography.
Involve the user in your campaign design
Why would you want to involve the user in the design process? There is a new thing called participatory design, or co design. It’s about getting the users perspective, understand what the user’s expectations are and what their perspective is on you company. Also if you involve other stakeholders as well as users it can help you get buy in just as when we were discussing customer journey mapping.
These are exercises that are focused on extracting key words that the designer and the copywriter can use to inform their approach.
Waiting room exercise: You ask people to describe a waiting area that you could put people in if they were visiting the particular company that you were trying to represent, okay.So what should a waiting room at Apple look like,or what should a waiting room at your company look like, okay? And let them explain what that room looks like.And you can ask a load of questions,which are in the sheet that we provide, all right.They’re questions like, you know,what appears on the wall?What music is playing? What’s the furniture like? You know, how big’s the room?Those kinds of things.And what you’ll find out is again as people answer those questions they will use words like cozy, or minimalistic, or grand, or whatever, right.And again, these are words that you can use to inform the tone of voice that you adopt when you’re creating your campaigns.What exercises can we do to understand our key selling points? We want to understand what it is about our products or services that most resonate with customers.
Book cover exercises: they have to decide what goes on the cover of the book, what goes on the spine,what goes on the back, and what goes on the inside flap.Now, with when you design a book cover you have different levels of detail.So what goes on the spine is that attention grabbing thing from when it’s placed on the bookshelf.What goes on the front is you’re kind of key selling points.What goes on the back is a little bit more detail, and what goes on the inside flap is even more detail isn’t it.So what, as they design this book cover to represent your product, your laptop, whatever it’ll be you’ll begin to understand what they consider the key selling points.
You’re going to want really people that haven’t yet signed up for your product or service, ideally: Recruitment is by far the hardest part of any kind of user research. And actually the exercises things like that are very straightforward,getting the right people in the room is very difficult.Who to recruit is kind of dependent on the type of exercise you’re doing any particular time, all right.
When you’re testing things like tone of voice it’s going to be really important that your audience is the real users that you’re actually trying to reach: When you’re testing, you’re doing exercises that are more focused on your key selling points,and hierarchy, and stuff like that you can use existing customers for that,especially people that have just become customers.
How to test your campaign’s design with users
We can mock up multiple versions of a design or an email or indeed any other marketing collateral and do a simple preference test to see which works the best. A tool like UsabilityHub or Hilo make it easy to run these kinds of preference tests.
Once you produce that design or copy, you can test whether or not the design reflects those key words by running a word cloud survey. And a word cloud survey is basically, you have the design, and then underneath you have a collection of words. Now those words will include the key phrases that we’d want people to think of, and their opposites, and then any other random key words that somebody within the organization might feel the design is conveying.
Semantic differential survey, which again shows the user the design, and then gives them a sliding scale from one extreme to another. So in other words from conservative to liberal,or from happy to sad,or from minimalistic to busy. And they can decide on those different scales where they feel the design falls.
First Click Test basically shows the user your mock-up, your web design mock-up,and you ask them, “What would you click on first?” And then they can click wherever they want on the design and it records that for you so you know.
You make note of the order of which they remember things. Now, the reason this works well is because it enables you to see whether or not the users are seeing the key messages of the page,and also whether they’re getting distracted by secondary messaging.So are they listing your key selling points first,or are they only coming to them as an afterthought?Okay, so the five-second test is a really simple way of understanding whether or not you’ve got that visual hierarchy on a design correct.
You can do preference tests, word cloud surveys, first click tests, and five-second click tests, that will give you the confidence in your design direction. Not only does it lead to campaigns that are better targeted to the audience you are trying to reach,but this kind of testing can also save you time, which may feel slightly counter-intuitive, but that is because designing a campaign often leads to a lot of debate and discussion about what the right approach is. Testing is a way of cutting through all of those endless meetings and getting definitive evidence that tells you you’re heading in the right direction.
How to run a customer journey mapping workshop
Mapping with others is very much worthwhile. For a start, it reduces your chances of making some bad assumptions, ‘cause believe it or not,you’re not perfect. Neither am I, none of us are. Also, getting colleagues thinking about the user is always a good thing,so involving other people is a good idea from that point of view, as well.It also increases the chance that those people will make use of the final map,because if they’re involved in creating the map with you, then they’re going to feel a sense of ownership over it. If they feel a sense of ownership over it,then they’re going to think it’s worthwhile and they’re going to use it. And, of course, it’s also going to increase the chance that they’ll tell other people about the map within your organization, and it will become more generally adopted.
Ideally, you really want to have some users in the room with you to create your customer journey map, but I understand that that’s not always particularly easy. So, if you can’t do that, I would encourage you to validate your map afterwards with users by showing them the map and asking them for any feedback they have.But let’s imagine you can at least get some users in the room. The other people that you want in the room is you want people who work with users everyday. Now that’s especially important if you can’t actually get end users working on the map with you. The next best thing is to get people that are working with users on a daily basis.
You could map a part of the journey in more detail. So, for example, you could take just the check out process, just the actual buying process on an e-commerce, or just the research process and break that down into five or six steps that you then explore.
Once you’ve done everything at the end, you might want to look, kind of, holistically at the journey at whole, and identify any points of weakness where you feel you’re currently letting the customer down and take a note of that. Then, what you want to do is you want to photograph everything that’s on the wall before all the sticky notes fall off. And you can use that as the basis to create your final customer journey map after the meeting.
You can make it reflect your brand, it can emphasize different parts of the journey, if that’s appropriate,there is no one size fits all solution here. But the key is to tell that story and to keep it simple. Creating a customer journey map isn’t rocket science and it’s something anyone can do if they’re capable of running a meeting. The biggest thing is to ensure that you come well-armed with as much knowledge about the user as possible and that you include either the user or people that interact with the user everyday. Remember to keep the journey simple,you’re telling a story and not to go into too much of the nuances of the journey, and to only go with about five or six steps and only focus on the most important elements in the final visual. You won’t be able to include everything.
Reflect your customer’s mindset with Card Sorting
Card sorting is an exercise that you can run with users to better understand their mental model of the world. It enables us to begin to understand the user’s mental model and to organize information around a structure that makes sense to them. It involves basically arranging individual cards into piles that make sense to the user. Each card would direct present a page or multiple pages on your site depending on how big your site is.
There’s open card sorting and closed card sorting.
With open card sorting the user is being asked to organize the information, those cards,into any buckets that make sense to them. So they can organize those cards in any way that they want.
In closed card sorting people organize those cards into predefined buckets, into predefined categories. So you’ve decided up from what those containers are and people just put the cards in the associated containers you probably only want about 30 cards because if you give people too many cards they get overwhelmed and they find the exercise too difficult and you don’t learn anything.
There’s a tool called Optimal Sort that has been designed specifically for this job. And another one called [inaudible]that works very well for the job as well. So you can actually test with large numbers of people using these online tools. And they don’t even need to be accompanied especially with the closed card sorting because they can just organize things into the boxes without any outside influence.
Everybody thinks creating information architecture on a website is about organizing content logically. That is not true because everybody has a different interpretation of what logical is. Instead you’ve got to reflect the way users are thinking. So you’re looking for trends. You’re looking for similar words.You’re noticing that absence of certain words that maybe you would use.
Ensure website success with a prototype you can test
A designer will need to work on it later, but it’s enough for you to do that initial experimentation at a minimal cost. With a basic prototype, you can start to run usability ability testing, and usability testing will transform the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. So usability testing focuses on three things,do they get it, does the user understand the basic concept,can they find stuff, and can they do stuff. Right, so it’s a very simple mechanism for understanding whether or not your tool is going to work, your app, your website, whatever it is, you can even run usability testing on an email campaign.
Testing your websites at scale with unfacilitated usability testing
Traditional in-person usability testing comes with its challenges. For a start, it can be really hard to find the right users,especially if you sell all around the world. You’ve got people everywhere from every culture imaginable. How are you supposed to test with all of those people when they’re spread out everywhere? Then, of course, the fact that some organizations that are trying to target people who are very time-sensitive. You know, if your audience is really busy and stressed,getting their time to come in and do usability testing is going to be pretty difficult. And so something like unfacilitated remote testing can be done over a distance and takes lots less of people’s time. So, it’s a much more flexible approach, and that works well as well for doing those multiple rounds of testing and ensuring that you do testing not just in the prototype stage but also as you start building the site. It’s much more straightforward. And so with unfacilitated testing, you can test users all over the world across multiple time zones. None of that is a problem. You can also test larger numbers of users because you aren’t constrained by time. So in other words, you’re not having to sit down with each person you’re testing.
Remote unfacilitated testing is great if you want to test with a lot of users,if they’re geographically dispersed,and if getting time from those users is particularly hard. How do you run unfacilitated remote testing? Typically, you’d use a specialist piece of software for this kind of testing. However, to be honest, you could do it with pretty much anything that allows a remote connection such as video conferencing software.
Unfacilitated remote testing is an excellent way of testing with hard-to-reach audiences, and it’s also good for testing large numbers of participants. However, it shouldn’t entirely replace that in-person usability testing.You still want to occasionally do that. Ultimately nothing beats speaking directly to users for the insights you get into the shortcomings of your site or your campaign. That said, unfacilitated remote testing is a lot easier to run and is an excellent option when time is tight and deadlines are pressing.
How to refine your campaigns post launch
Analytics are most useful really for identifying drop-off points, that’s the main piece of information you want to extract from analytics. Sure, there is loads more that you could talk about with analytics but there are other courses for that.When it comes to what our needs are,it’s about drop-off points.Where on the site are users leaving? Where are they abandoning? Because that narrows down where we’ve got a problem, okay? And that’s when the second tool comes in which is screen recorders. These are useful for identifying why people are dropping off at that particular point, okay? So screen recorders capture a user’s behaviors, they move around the website and give you essentially a video of them moving around the website, clicking on things, doing stuff. I’m sure you’re aware of these kinds of tools, so Hotjar is one of the most well-known ones. With Hotjar, you can see things like heat maps of how people are interacting on the website, how they’re scrolling, where they’re clicking on,that kind of stuff.
The trouble is a lot of people have heard of A/B testing but not as many people are actually doing it regularly. And there are all kinds of reasons for that,one of which is about traffic levels which we’ll come on to it in a minute.But another problem is people are slightly intimidated by the tools but actually it’s not that difficult to set up. You can give it a try, just try it using a tool like Google Optimize and a reason I suggest Google Optimize is ‘cause it’s free,it’s not going to cost you anything to play around with it. Now, if you find it’s useful and if you like it,there are other tools like Visual Website Optimizer which is more powerful and to be honest even easier to use but you’re going to have to pay for that one.
Test close to the point of conversion. Well, what do I mean by that? Let’s say your conversion, the point of conversion you want people to do is sign up for a newsletter, okay? There is not point of you testing which blog post title is most likely to lead to someone converting and signing up for your newsletter because those two things are too far apart, okay? There’s too much distance, there’s too many opportunities between someone seeing a blog post title and seeing the newsletter sign up for them to drop off and go elsewhere. So your conversion rate is going to be very low.
And you need to be watching some of those session recorded videos and everything else, so I think some marketing teams become utterly obsessed with A/B testing but the problem with that is you never get to see the consequences. So for example, A/B testing, if I did A/B testing of one of those annoying pop-up overlays, right? And I compared doing an annoying pop-up overlay to an in-page call-to-action. The annoying pop-up overlay would win every time, right? So from an A/B testing point of view,it would look great, it would look successful and wonderful. But what you don’t see is how many people are annoyed and irritated and swear that they’re never going to shop with you again.
Launching a campaign should really be seen as the midpoint of your project, not the end. Once a campaign is live,you will begin to gain valuable insights into how users behave in the real world: Use analytics to identify drop-off points in the conversion funnel and tools like heat maps and visitor recordings to understand where the problem is, what the problem is on the page and finally, make use of A/B testing to test different solutions to see which approach improves conversion the most. And really, that’s all I want to cover on this particular course.I hope you have found it useful,we’ve covered a huge range of different subjects relating to a more user-centric approach to marketing. And I’m convinced, the more you think about the user rather than the product, the more you include the user in the process rather than fixating on your internal perspective, the more effective your campaigns will be and the bigger an improvement it will make to your conversion rate.