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Why UX is critical to digital marketing

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In the world of digital marketing, there are many “Jacks-of-all-trades.” Part of the reason for this is that this industry is only approximately 25 years old — and in the beginning people in the industry had to cover all bases by themselves.

Over the last 10 years, as the industry evolved alongside the evolution of the internet, the web, and digital apps, there has been a growing and positive trend to do a way with the “Jacks-of-all-trades”(and masters of none) and engage specialists instead. One of the key skills that the digital marketing industry is sadly ignoring, howver, is that of the User Experience (UX) expert.

The absence of UX experts on digital marketing teams shows that those in charge of these teams still believe that everyone can be all things. Just as digital marketing teams tend to rely on the digital analytics team to help evaluate the success or failure of their marketing campaigns, or to help optimize the campaigns after they are launched, they should be engaging with a UX expert before the launch to ensure there is nothing in the experiential aspects of the campaign that will hold it back from its potential.

To delve into the signs that you need to engage an UX expert as part of the digital marketing process, we asked one of the world’s leading UX experts, Jared Spool from UX design school Center Centre – UIE to answer a few questions on UX and digital marketing.

What percentage of digital campaigns do you feel involve any level of UX thought and or testing?

I would have no idea. I would hope all of them do, but I’m sure they don’t. So, it’s definitely a number below 100%. Since I know some do, it’s above 0%. So, I’d say the likely range is between 1% and 99%. Beyond that, it would be hard to narrow it down.

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What would be a sure sign in analytics reports that a digital campaign has failed from a UX perspective?

Unfortunately, you can’t tell from analytics whether a campaign has succeeded or failed from a UX perspective. To understand the UX, you need to really understand the experience of the users. (That sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t really know what their users’ experiences are.)

Let’s say you have a simple campaign that drives people to a landing page, with the intent of getting them to sign up for whatever the landing page is intended to sell. Now, a lot of folks will tell you that you could look at the conversions to see if there was a failure. Unfortunately, conversions only tell you half of a story.

Conversions tell you whether someone converts (signs up) or doesn’t. The analytics could tell you how many people visited the landing page and how many converted. Dividing the latter into the former would be your “conversion rate.”

However, this assumes that every visitor should convert. What about the people who legitimately shouldn’t? Maybe they didn’t understand what was offered by the campaign, yet when they landed on the page, they suddenly realize this isn’t the offer for them. Should they convert?

If they do, you might have a disgruntled customer on your hands. Or you’ve overinflated your number of people who signed up. This means there’s four possible combinations of people who come to your landing page through your campaign:

1) Those that should sign up and do. (Yay!)

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2) Those that shouldn’t sign up and don’t. (Also, this should be a ‘yay!’)

3) Those that should sign up, but don’t (Hmmm.)

4) Those that shouldn’t sign up, yet do. (Uh-oh.)

If your efforts try to optimize for #1 (this is standard “conversion rate optimization”), you’ll end up ignoring the intentions of #2 and #3. When you optimize for conversion rate, success isn’t measured in terms of what makes your customers happy, but what’s good for your wallet. 

Unfortunately, there’s no analytics in the universe that can tell you about #3 or #4. The only way to learn about these is to do hard-core user research (which is a fancy technical term for “talking to your customers”).

What is the most common aspect of UX that digital marketers forget?

Simple: talking directly to their customers and prospects. Having conversations. Learning what they need and what they don’t.

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People try to use digital marketing campaigns to replace having salespeople. And there’s lots of good reasons to do that. Yet the one advantage a salesperson has is they usually have to talk directly to customers and prospects. Those conversations are research into what the customer and prospect really need. And the salespeople are always learning.

Once you eliminate the salespeople from the equation, digital marketers often don’t replace that research with anything. The absence of research has a technical term for it: guessing. If you’re guessing what your customers and prospects want, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Have you seen any digital campaigns recently where you felt the designers did a good job from a UX perspective?

Sure. But you can’t isolate things to a campaign. When we’re talking about user experience, we’re talking about their total experience. 

Let me give you an example: Insurance companies try to get people to switch to their product from someone else’s. (This is because, in many places, people must have insurance. The market isn’t growing. The only way to grow your business is to steal someone else’s customer.)

If the marketers see their business as a commodity business, they see the biggest differentiator is price. Yet the biggest reason people switch insurers isn’t price. It’s the quality of the service they get during a claim. Someone has a bad claim experience (the company makes it really hard to get the claim settled satisfactorily), then they’ll switch instead of renewing. Where do they go? Someplace they believe offers better service.

Therefore, the UX of the insurance purchase has virtually nothing to do with the campaign that gets them to switch. It has to do with the quality of service. By the way, do you know what the No. 1 way people learn about better quality service? Not from ads, because every ad claims their company’s service is great.

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It’s from their friends. Word-of-mouth advertising is the No. 1 influence on who people choose for their next insurer. What drives word-of-mouth? Not clever campaigns. No. It’s great service. So, the best thing UX people can do to help digital campaigns is to make sure the overall service is the best quality service.

If you could make digital marketers and designers implement a single aspect of UX into their campaigns, what would it be? How could they measure it to be sure they did it correctly?

It would be to deliver high quality service at every touchpoint. How would you measure that? By talking to customers and prospects to make sure you’ve delivered high-quality service everywhere.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share on UX and digital marketing?

My thought is that UX is digital marketing. A great user experience is the number one driver of every marketing metric. Investing in better UX is the best way to improve digital marketing. Not just of the marketing campaign experience, but of every aspect of the product or service.

When you invest in better UX, you improve the experiences people have. You improve the way they talk about you and your services. You make everything in your marketing efforts easier. 

It’s far easier to market a product or service everyone thinks is great than a product or service that nobody thinks is great. So much of the heavy lifting in marketing is because the company hasn’t made the investment in UX that they need to.

The main takeaways

To sum up the points and perspective Jarred Spool shared, UX should be and needs to be part of every digital marketing strategy. Failure to incorporate UX efforts into digital campaigns, typically results in poorer performing campaigns which could have been much better performers.

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Unfortunately, there are no KPIs or simple analytics measurements to inform you that your campaigns would be helped from UX nor that integrating UX into your campaign development process will help your campaign performance. At best you could compare a current campaign with UX versus an earlier campaign without it.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

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Alan K’necht an independent SEO, social and analytics consultant, a public speaker, award-winning author and a corporate trainer (SEO, social media marketing and digital analytics).

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

As we march closer to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, CMOs and marketing leaders need to prepare for a significant shift in the digital advertising landscape. Election years have always posed unique challenges for advertisers, but the growing dominance of digital media has made the impact more profound than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors that will shape the advertising environment in the coming months and provide actionable insights to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

The Digital Battleground

The rise of cord-cutting and the shift towards digital media consumption have fundamentally altered the advertising landscape in recent years. As traditional TV viewership declines, political campaigns have had to adapt their strategies to reach voters where they are spending their time: on digital platforms.

1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

According to a recent report by eMarketer, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. is expected to reach 65.1 million by the end of 2023, representing a 6.9% increase from 2022. This trend is projected to continue, with the number of cord-cutters reaching 72.2 million by 2025.

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2023 found that 62% of U.S. adults do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 61% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. This data further underscores the accelerating shift away from traditional TV and towards streaming and digital media platforms.

As these trends continue, political advertisers will have no choice but to follow their audiences to digital channels. In the 2022 midterm elections, digital ad spending by political campaigns reached $1.2 billion, a 50% increase from the 2018 midterms. With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, as campaigns compete for the attention of an increasingly digital-first electorate.

For brands and advertisers, this means that the competition for digital ad space will be fiercer than ever before. As political ad spending continues to migrate to platforms like Meta, YouTube, and connected TV, the cost of advertising will likely surge, making it more challenging for non-political advertisers to reach their target audiences.

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To navigate this complex and constantly evolving landscape, CMOs and their teams will need to be proactive, data-driven, and willing to experiment with new strategies and channels. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing media consumption habits of their audiences, brands can position themselves for success in the face of the electoral advertising onslaught.

Rising Costs and Limited Inventory

As political advertisers flood the digital market, the cost of advertising is expected to skyrocket. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will likely experience a steady climb throughout the year, with significant spikes anticipated in May, as college students come home from school and become more engaged in political conversations, and around major campaign events like presidential debates.

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For media buyers and their teams, this means that the tried-and-true strategies of years past may no longer be sufficient. Brands will need to be nimble, adaptable, and willing to explore new tactics to stay ahead of the game.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Perfect Storm

The challenges of election year advertising will be particularly acute during the critical holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have historically been goldmines for advertisers, will be more expensive and competitive than ever in 2024, as they coincide with the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

To avoid being drowned out by the political noise, brands will need to start planning their holiday campaigns earlier than usual. Building up audiences and crafting compelling creative assets well in advance will be essential to success, as will a willingness to explore alternative channels and tactics. Relying on cold audiences come Q4 will lead to exceptionally high costs that may be detrimental to many businesses.

Navigating the Chaos

While the challenges of election year advertising can seem daunting, there are steps that media buyers and their teams can take to mitigate the impact and even thrive in this environment. Here are a few key strategies to keep in mind:

Start early and plan for contingencies: Begin planning your Q3 and Q4 campaigns as early as possible, with a focus on building up your target audiences and developing a robust library of creative assets.

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Be sure to build in contingency budgets to account for potential cost increases, and be prepared to pivot your strategy as the landscape evolves.

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Embrace alternative channels: Consider diversifying your media mix to include channels that may be less impacted by political ad spending, such as influencer marketing, podcast advertising, or sponsored content. Investing in owned media channels, like email marketing and mobile apps, can also provide a direct line to your customers without the need to compete for ad space.

Owned channels will be more important than ever. Use cheaper months leading up to the election to build your email lists and existing customer base so that your BF/CM can leverage your owned channels and warm audiences.

Craft compelling, shareable content: In a crowded and noisy advertising environment, creating content that resonates with your target audience will be more important than ever. Focus on developing authentic, engaging content that aligns with your brand values and speaks directly to your customers’ needs and desires.

By tapping into the power of emotional triggers and social proof, you can create content that not only cuts through the clutter but also inspires organic sharing and amplification.

Reflections

The 2024 election year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and complexities to the world of digital advertising. But by staying informed, adaptable, and strategic in your approach, you can navigate this landscape successfully and even find new opportunities for growth and engagement.

As a media buyer or agnecy, your role in steering your brand through these uncharted waters will be critical. By starting your planning early, embracing alternative channels and tactics, and focusing on creating authentic, resonant content, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of election year disruptions.

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So while the road ahead may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the brands that approach this challenge with creativity, agility, and a steadfast commitment to their customers will be the ones that emerge stronger on the other side.


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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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By Tinuiti Team

Rapid Media Mix Modeling and Proprietary Tech Transform Brand Performance

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Tinuiti, the largest independent full-funnel performance marketing agency, has been included in a recent Forrester Research report titled, “The Marketing Analytics Landscape, Q2 2024.” This report comprehensively overviews marketing analytics markets, use cases, and capabilities. B2C marketing leaders can use this research by Principal Analyst Tina Moffett to understand the intersection of marketing analytics capabilities and use cases to determine the vendor or service provider best positioned for their analytics and insights needs. Moffett describes the top marketing analytics markets as advertising agencies, marketing dashboards and business intelligence tools, marketing measurement and optimization platforms and service providers, and media analytics tools.

As an advertising agency, we believe Tinuiti is uniquely positioned to manage advertising campaigns for brands including buying, targeting, and measurement. Our proprietary measurement technology, Bliss Point by Tinuiti, allows us to measure the optimal level of investment to maximize impact and efficiency. According to the Forrester report, “only 30% of B2C marketing decision-makers say their organization uses marketing or media mix modeling (MMM),” so having a partner that knows, embraces, and utilizes MMM is important. As Tina astutely explains, data-driven agencies have amplified their marketing analytics competencies with data science expertise; and proprietary tools; and tailored their marketing analytics techniques based on industry, business, and data challenges. 

Our Rapid Media Mix Modeling sets a new standard in the market with its exceptional speed, precision, and transparency. Our patented tech includes Rapid Media Mix Modeling, Always-on Incrementality, Brand Equity, Creative Insights, and Forecasting – it will get you to your Marketing Bliss Point in each channel, across your entire media mix, and your overall brand performance. 

As a marketing leader you may ask yourself: 

  • How much of our marketing budget should we allocate to driving store traffic versus e-commerce traffic?
  • How should we allocate our budget by channel to generate the most traffic and revenue possible?
  • How many customers did we acquire in a specific region with our media spend?
  • What is the impact of seasonality on our media mix?
  • How should we adjust our budget accordingly?
  • What is the optimal marketing channel mix to maximize brand awareness? 

These are just a few of the questions that Bliss Point by Tinuiti can help you answer.

Learn more about our customer-obsessed, product-enabled, and fully integrated approach and how we’ve helped fuel full-funnel outcomes for the world’s most digital-forward brands like Poppi & Toms.

The Landscape report is available online to Forrester customers or for purchase here

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Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

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Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

Understanding convergence 

B2B and B2C ecommerce are two distinct models of online selling. B2B ecommerce is between businesses, such as wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers. B2C ecommerce refers to transactions between businesses like retailers and consumer brands, directly to individual shoppers. 

However, in recent years, the boundaries between these two models have started to fade. This is known as the convergence between B2B and B2C ecommerce and how they are becoming more similar and integrated. 

Source: White Paper: The evolution of the B2B Consumer Buyer (ClientPoint, Jan 2024)

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What’s driving this change? 

Ever increasing customer expectations  

Customers today expect the same level of convenience, speed, and personalization in their B2B transactions as they do in their B2C interactions. B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by their B2C experiences. They want research, compare, and purchase products online, seamlessly transitioning between devices and channels.  They also prefer to research and purchase online, using multiple devices and channels.

Forrester, 68% of buyers prefer to research on their own, online . Customers today expect the same level of convenience, speed, and personalization in their B2B transactions as they do in their B2C interactions. B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by their B2C experiences. They want research, compare, and purchase products online, seamlessly transitioning between devices and channels.  They also prefer to research and purchase online, using multiple devices and channels

Technology and omnichannel strategies

Technology enables B2B and B2C ecommerce platforms to offer more features and functionalities, such as mobile optimization, chatbots, AI, and augmented reality. Omnichannel strategies allow B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across different touchpoints, such as websites, social media, email, and physical stores. 

However, with every great leap forward comes its own set of challenges. The convergence of B2B and B2C markets means increased competition.  Businesses now not only have to compete with their traditional rivals, but also with new entrants and disruptors from different sectors. For example, Amazon Business, a B2B ecommerce platform, has become a major threat to many B2B ecommerce businesses, as it offers a wide range of products, low prices, and fast delivery

“Amazon Business has proven that B2B ecommerce can leverage popular B2C-like functionality” argues Joe Albrecht, CEO / Managing Partner, Xngage. . With features like Subscribe-and-Save (auto-replenishment), one-click buying, and curated assortments by job role or work location, they make it easy for B2B buyers to go to their website and never leave. Plus, with exceptional customer service and promotional incentives like Amazon Business Prime Days, they have created a reinforcing loyalty loop.

And yet, according to Barron’s, Amazon Business is only expected to capture 1.5% of the $5.7 Trillion addressable business market by 2025. If other B2B companies can truly become digital-first organizations, they can compete and win in this fragmented space, too.” 

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If other B2B companies can truly become digital-first organizations, they can also compete and win in this fragmented space

Joe Albrecht
CEO/Managing Partner, XNGAGE

Increasing complexity 

Another challenge is the increased complexity and cost of managing a converging ecommerce business. Businesses have to deal with different customer segments, requirements, and expectations, which may require different strategies, processes, and systems. For instance, B2B ecommerce businesses may have to handle more complex transactions, such as bulk orders, contract negotiations, and invoicing, while B2C ecommerce businesses may have to handle more customer service, returns, and loyalty programs. Moreover, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses must invest in technology and infrastructure to support their convergence efforts, which may increase their operational and maintenance costs. 

How to win

Here are a few ways companies can get ahead of the game:

Adopt B2C-like features in B2B platforms

User-friendly design, easy navigation, product reviews, personalization, recommendations, and ratings can help B2B ecommerce businesses to attract and retain more customers, as well as to increase their conversion and retention rates.  

According to McKinsey, ecommerce businesses that offer B2C-like features like personalization can increase their revenues by 15% and reduce their costs by 20%. You can do this through personalization of your website with tools like Product Recommendations that help suggest related products to increase sales. 

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Focus on personalization and customer experience

B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses need to understand their customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors, and tailor their offerings and interactions accordingly. Personalization and customer experience can help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as well as to improve their brand reputation and competitive advantage. According to a Salesforce report, 88% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

Related: Redefining personalization for B2B commerce

Market based on customer insights

Data and analytics can help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to gain insights into their customers, markets, competitors, and performance, and to optimize their strategies and operations accordingly. Data and analytics can also help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to identify new opportunities, trends, and innovations, and to anticipate and respond to customer needs and expectations. According to McKinsey, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable. 

What’s next? 

The convergence of B2B and B2C ecommerce is not a temporary phenomenon, but a long-term trend that will continue to shape the future of ecommerce. According to Statista, the global B2B ecommerce market is expected to reach $20.9 trillion by 2027, surpassing the B2C ecommerce market, which is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2027. Moreover, the report predicts that the convergence of B2B and B2C ecommerce will create new business models, such as B2B2C, B2A (business to anyone), and C2B (consumer to business). 

Therefore, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses need to prepare for the converging ecommerce landscape and take advantage of the opportunities and challenges it presents. Here are some recommendations for B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to navigate the converging landscape: 

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of your customers, competitors, and market, and identify the gaps and opportunities for convergence. 
  • Develop a clear vision and strategy for convergence, and align your goals, objectives, and metrics with it. 
  • Invest in technology and infrastructure that can support your convergence efforts, such as cloud, mobile, AI, and omnichannel platforms. 
  • Implement B2C-like features in your B2B platforms, and vice versa, to enhance your customer experience and satisfaction.
  • Personalize your offerings and interactions with your customers, and provide them with relevant and valuable content and solutions.
  • Leverage data and analytics to optimize your performance and decision making, and to innovate and differentiate your business.
  • Collaborate and partner with other B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses, as well as with other stakeholders, such as suppliers, distributors, and customers, to create value and synergy.
  • Monitor and evaluate your convergence efforts, and adapt and improve them as needed. 

By following these recommendations, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses can bridge the gap between their models and create a more integrated and seamless ecommerce experience for their customers and themselves. 

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