User Experience design is at the contemporary crux of the software and technology industry (or Consumer Experience, if we want to get the most contemporary). The tech arms race is a neck-and-neck, multi-billion dollar battle between thousands of front runners united under a common goal set: make it simple, make it streamlined, and make it sell (whatever “it” is). Unfortunately when we really look closely, it seems that customer interactions start with sales teams and User Experience best practices are only applied during product development.
Many software companies face an interesting dilemma with marketing. Products are increasingly designed to adapt to the needs of a variety of potential users, and UX drives decisions about design and architecture. For example, an enterprise staffing software might aim to design accurate, reliable systems and interfaces that make corporate recruiting as effective and painless as possible. Ideally, the UX/UI is adaptable and extendable, so that the platform itself does not need to be rebuilt at each deployment. While the product itself might recognize the two or three or more consumer channels that it is connecting, marketing efforts probably look like a predictable mix of media buying, PPC, social posting on major platforms and half-hearted attempts at blogging.
When a company creates a user-oriented product but then launches a generic marketing effort, they cause two important problems: 1) limited discoverability of the quality of their solution and 2) reduction in the ability to draw increasingly meaningful feedback from a growing audience of users.
If we market generically to everybody, we end up impressing hardly anybody. What we do end up with is elementary website style, one-size-fits-all email campaigning, and bland CTAs that rely on scripts of biz and tech jargon as lukewarm attempts to convert leads into sales. No matter how excellent and user-optimized our platforms are, if we’re not reaching those users in marketing we’re going to see dwindling click-through rates, little organic exposure, and the inability to differentiate in a market of consumers inundated with the same thing from every competitor. What can be done? We’re learning that in this day and age, every experience is User Experience. The companies getting it right aren’t treating the user as one of the millions. They are recognizing the user as one in a million.
Consumers don’t just buy your product, they buy your brand experience.
This is a difficult concept for many technology companies to harness and execute on because often times, the core of the brand experience is the product. They offer a product like a top-of-the-line staffing software and improve it as stack and competition advances. Technology companies spend a great deal of resources on optimizing and iterating product and marketing efforts tend to fall short.
Author and marketing visionary Simon Sinek said it best: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” We call this the service-behind-the-software. In order to differentiate from competition, we have to develop incredible sensitivity to the story and character of our users.. For a staffing company, this might come in the form of killer client support, on tap 24/7. Rather than flaunt the quality of their product over a weekly newsletter, a staffing software company would do best to promote their readily available, compassionate customer service. What is important to their users is the service and solution, not just code and pixels.The company can then market their team and their identity as a provider of solutions, not just a manufacturer of product. The User Experience is extended to the brand experience.
An understanding of native content is a necessity, not a luxury.
If user experience is the backbone of modern marketing, then each vertebrae is a different content platform. Ten years ago, any company could blast out a generalized email ad and expect to gain new business. Today, information is absorbed through an ever increasing number of content platforms, each with a different style, appeal, and audience.
While Facebook might be a good outlet to run a paid ad campaign, presenting the same campaign on Instagram probably won’t yield comparable engagement metrics.
Similar to the stack and classes in Object Oriented Analysis and Design, each platform should be viewed as a different means to tell a company, service, or product’s story. The ability to create adaptive, responsive content is key if we are committed to creating superior User Experience that extends from discovery to product use. Landing pages, CTAs, and all published content should directly reflect the nature and structure of the platform through which a company is operating. Native content allows an audience to retain its mass appeal, but allows specific communities of users to feel like individuals. Is the staffing software’s grade-A client support available through Twitter? Can clients live tweet their concerns and expect up-to-the-minute, informative assistance? Brand identity is nothing without proper knowledge of who might care about it, where it lives, and how it can grow.
Never sacrifice quality for quantity. Ever.
By now, this one should be pretty obvious. A slew of unactionable leads is useless no matter how many thousands of them exist in the cobweb-ridden depths of an Excel archive. Quality leads are the ones worth investing native campaigning and brand image toward because ultimately, they are the ones that become devout to a company.
Companies should develop different buyer personas that reflect different pain points and user stories to offer differentiated solutions for different people. Staffing software companies might be able to hit the ground running with an awesome product, but it will easily fall short when misappropriating resources effort toward an unsegmented audience. Taking time to identify the distinctions in an audience and building feedback channels to continually improve that understanding are crucial steps in guaranteeing your ability to effectively market to them.
User Experience is the primary focus of the inbound methodology. By building a content-based, consumer-focused approach to brand development, software and technology companies can begin to wield better the double-edged sword of their generalized audiences and create engagements based on individual appeal. Instead of casting as wide a net as possible and crossing their fingers for a bite, inbound marketing practices draw ideal consumers to them.
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