Is user experience becoming a marketing strategy?

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld show we are joined by Seth Price to discuss the impact of user experience on marketing.

Skip to the discussion or this week’s links.

This episode of the Boagworld show is sponsored by Media Temple and Headscape. Please support the show by checking them out.

Paul: Hello and welcome to Boagworld.com the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag, joining me as always is long-term friend and colleague, Marcus Lillington. Hello!

Marcus: Are you in a funny mood today?

Paul: Do you know, I’ve had back-to-back calls all day.

Marcus: So that will teach you to have a holiday, won’t it?

Paul: I know, you’re not allowed to have holidays these days.

Marcus: I’m not, so you can’t.

Paul: I sat around for a week-and-a-half—this was my holiday Marcus, you’ll be ashamed of me— I played Fallout 4 for a week-and-a-half.

Marcus: I don’t even know what that is.

Paul: You’re just so old. I bet our guest does. Seth? We’ve got Seth Price on the line. Hello Seth.

Seth: Hello Paul, how are you? Hello Marcus.

Paul: I’m very well. You’ll quickly learn that Marcus is just rude to me the whole time. That is the format of our show. So Seth, do you know about Fallout 4?

Seth: No I don’t, I’m not aware of it.

Paul: Ahh.

Marcus: See that just underlines it, that your just a child at heart.

Paul: Yes you are both grown-ups aren’t you?

Seth: A child at heart.

Marcus: In the loosest sense.

Paul: I waste far too much of my life playing computer games. See Gary Vaynerchuk would tell me off, badly, the amounts of time I waste either watching television or playing computer games. But Seth I bet you one of these super productive people, aren’t you, judging by all the different things you seem to be doing? You must be just work the whole time.

Seth: My wife would say I would be Type A, I’m not sure.

Paul: Ahh, see. I thought so.

Seth: The one thing I can say is though, we don’t have TVs in the house. I’ve never had a TV and I’ve missed more popular shows in my lifetime than most people watching a week. So that helps the productivity.

Paul: It certainly does. Not having a television… just don’t get me started.

Marcus: I’m full of admiration though for people with no TVs. Because I’m always moaning about it, wasting my time watching this and that and I need to stop doing it. But I never do. But it’s just that’s never been part of your life, so?

Seth: I had a hippie father who probably couldn’t afford TV but didn’t have a TV when I was growing up. And then I never had a TV, I just went from there and I had roommates and at one point there was a TV but I found it so overwhelming to be talked at, that I couldn’t watch it. I mean I watch movies, and of course I like going to the theatre sometimes and I have my shoes that I might download on iTunes or whatever streaming service.

Paul: Oh okay, because I have to say I’m always vaguely suspicious of people that don’t have a TV. It’s a bit dodgy.

Seth: But the reality is, if I count the hours, maybe in the last two weeks I’ve watched an hour of something. That’s a lot of hours to get of a lot of other stuff done.

Paul: It is. You’re entirely right, but I’m glad to know that you do still go to the movies and you do occasionally download stuff. Because otherwise I wouldn’t consider you a real human being.

Seth: I’d be lying actually if I told you otherwise.

Paul: Well that too.

Marcus: Maybe we should introduce Seth?

Paul: Well we ought to. Marcus is the professional one, I am just here for random entertainment. So Seth Price, you come highly recommended—as I said to you just before we started recording—highly recommended by random people on Twitter. We’ve never actually met before have we?

Seth: That’s correct.

Paul: He says, distancing himself from my waffle. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I said I want to do a show on digital marketing and talk a little bit about user experience and how the two interact with one another. And I said who should I speak to? And time and time again, your name came up.

Seth: Well I’m honoured.

Paul: We spoke briefly via email and so I know very little about you and what you do, so let us know. Gives a bit of background. You do a pod cast for a start, I’ve seen that on your website.

Seth: I think of an essence, I am someone who is an entrepreneur who has a very sales and marketing bent. The only coding I can do, is that I can do some HTML and CSS and I can break Java pretty easily. But I say that the thing that I’ve always had to do was to get the first sale and the sale after that, when there was very little budget and then get attention for a company with a very little budget. So I tend to focus on say that I’m a marketer and I believe that in the day and age that we live in, it’s not much different than a couple of decades ago where you have to earn the right to participate with people. And so I just where both of those hats in the company. Right now for the past five years I’ve been with the company that been growing exceptionally fast in the real estate space, providing websites and marketing tools for real estate professionals. It’s called Placester, and I’ve run both the sales and the marketing team and right now I am VP of industry relations and so I have fewer direct reports which allows me a lot more autonomy and the ability to interact with our largest customers and largest potential customers.

Paul: So I got the impression that you were an independent consultant, but you do that alongside, all the podcasting, the writing, the speaking is alongside this role?

Seth: Yes. We could go into this in the interview, but it’s really my belief that you have to walk the talk. So if you’re going to speak about marketing, but you’re not actually marketing, I don’t trust those people. I tell you how to do stuff but then you go on their Facebook or you look at the content, it’s like hiring an agency for content marketing and they don’t actually create anything. I’m always suspect, and so my writing and podcasting is really about self-education and walking the talk.

Paul: It’s the self-education bit, is how I started off. When I first started blogging, it was almost to clarify things in my own mind as much as it was expecting anyone else would read it. And I actually think that’s a really good way to start blogging, because then you don’t become too obsessed with ‘oh there’s nobody reading it, and I might as well give up and do something else’.

Seth: Yes I like that people read it and listen and comment, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m doing it selfishly, I’m doing it for me, even though I have the reader in mind. I think there’s always some of the best stuff that you can find. So that’s what I do.

Paul: Your pod cast is The Craft of Marketing. So tell us a bit about that show. You’ve had some really good people on it, some excellent guests. Is it interview format?

Seth: Yes it interview format and it really came about out of private conversations I would have at conferences, speaking to other CMO’s or VP’s of marketing or VP’s of sales where you’re in the back either before you go on or over cocktails, asking them about ‘hey you made some amazing traction on Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook, or your team has grown. How the hell did you do that? And so I decided there was some real value for my team, to be able to hear those conversations. And so there was real value for me to be up to really ask the questions that we talk about in private, but do it in public. So that’s the format of the show, I’m really trying to figure out what they are doing that’s working that I might be able to apply.

Paul: Yes is really good for that, isn’t it podcasts? Is like an excuse to interview all these people and learn all that they are up to, and all their tricks and stuff like that.

Marcus: It gives me the chance not to have to read anything. I can just watch TV.

Seth: Or you could listen to your podcasts while you are on your spinning machine or whatever it is.

Marcus: Maybe that’s not me, but yes.

Paul: Your idea of Marcus on a spinning machine… But yes we don’t even listen back to our own show. It’s terrible. Do you listen to other podcasts?

Seth: Oh yes.

Paul: See I don’t, I’m terrible. I used to listen to loads of podcasts, but I don’t any more. It’s not a good plan really is it? But some of the guests you’ve had on look absolutely great, and you speak so much as well. You seem to be all over the place, speaking, so that looks like a lot of fun as well.

Seth: I think that is for me, trying to figure out the best way to share ideas, but also to learn a craft. Speaking and holding a 4000 person audience, holding their attention and getting them excited is really tough. We all go to conferences and go, well there were two standout speakers and the rest were snoozers. So personally I’m trying to become someone who really moves people’s lives and it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Paul: Yes it is.

Marcus: Paul is pretty aware that, I tend to avoid any chance of speaking. It’s something that doesn’t come very naturally to me. In these kind of situations it does but in front of a big audience, no.

Seth: It’s tough, you know? Some people are naturals.

Paul: What’s really bizarre, what you don’t know Seth about Marcus is that in an area life he was a popstar.

Seth: That’s awesome!

Paul: I’m not joking. He was in a band called Breathe back in the 90s was it?

Marcus: 80s.

Seth: You are playing an instrument I assume?

Marcus: Yes and I still happily stand on a stage and play an instrument, but that’s a completely different thing.

Seth: I get that. I like cooking. But if I had to cook on stage that would be easy, it’s like having people in my kitchen and I could do that every night.

Marcus: Yes I think I could do that as well, but speaking – that’s different.

Seth: Speaking is different, it’s like theatre, but just you.

Paul: So with your pod cast is that just you interviewing somebody else? Or have you got an equivalent of a Marcus?

Seth: No, it’s just me, so I can fit it in during my travel schedule. I’m on the road probably every other week for work, speaking or something. It’s pretty difficult to coordinate with someone else to do a recording if that’s the case.

Paul: Yes that’s true.

Marcus: We just about manage it don’t we?

Paul: Well yes, we’ve become quite slick at it over the years, but it can be tricky. Especially when I’m off speaking. So we do seasons which helps.

But anyway we really need to get onto the discussion of why were actually here but we do like to introduce our guests a little bit and get to know them, especially when I don’t. I haven’t met you before so it’s really cool. But before we get into the discussion, let me quickly mention our first sponsor of the day.

They’ve just been so supportive of the show, and have supported this entire season, of which we’ve only got one more episode. This is the penultimate one. So a huge thanks to Media Temple for their support. There was so much that I have spoken about Media Temple over this season. I’ve talked about their amazing support, their great infrastructure, and all those kinds of things. But I do just want to mention the site builder that they have, for those of you that are less tech minded who just need a website, you want a website that works and something that you can put together quickly and focus on the content. They have a site builder tool called Verb which is ideal for you. It allows you to create an unlimited number of pages and work with a huge number of customisable themes, you can really make it your own without needing to know any code or in Seth’s case, break any JavaScript. It’s mobile ready, you can use your own domain, and you still get all the great Media Temple support that I’ve been ranting about for the entire season because I’m such a fan of their support. It allows you to connect loads of other services if you want to pull in things like Tweets etc. All of that for $10 a month, which I think is pretty good but no hassle solution. There is a free trial and you can get a special discount as a Boagworld listener really for any hosting that you go with the Media Temple, use the promo code BOAG for 25% off your web hosting. Just go to Boagworld.com/MediaTemple and you enter the promo code on signup and you can check out Verb and find out all you need to know.

Discussing user experience as a marketing strategy

Paul: Right. Now that’s that out of the way. Let’s turn our attention to the subject at hand, which is the relationship between user experience and marketing. Now, I know a lot about user experience, I know a little bit about marketing and it strikes me that there are some interesting things going on in the world of marketing that do impact user experience and vice versa. So the reason why I wanted to get you on the show, Seth, is really to talk about some observations I’ve made about marketing and whether I’m right or wrong, because I’m not the expert in this area. For example, one of the things that I get the impression, is that digital marketing is changing a lot recently and with seeing a kind of decline in the effectiveness of the more traditional digital marketing tools. The things like SEO, pay per click, banner advertising, you’re getting hit with things like ad blockers built into the iOS and more and more people using ad blockers anyway. Pay per click seems to be becoming more and more expensive, SEO’s algorithm changed quite recently, so am I right in saying that there’s being quite a big shift going on?

Seth: Yes, just like every tactic that has happened throughout time, is that they get diluted. It doesn’t mean that they are no longer effective. They just need to be arrows in your quiver as opposed to be the mallet used to win. When I dissect the three things that you mentioned, our go to the last one first, banner advertising, its conversion rate is really low but has a very targeted brand application, so imagine that you’re doing retargeting to a list that you’ve uploaded to Facebook insights and you are showing people banner ads that represent their searches on your site or your brand if you were trying to stay in front of them post purchase, super effective and really cost-effective. And then if you go back to PPC it’s still really great if you are hyper- targeted and the thing that you are trying to convert, they actually want. You can no longer easily convince people to want stuff that you want them to. You’ve got to figure out how to put the things that they are interested in at the times that they are interested in them, in front of them. And that’s where those tools become really useful. And then I think lastly, SEO is still really powerful, but you just can’t game the system like you used to.

Paul: You said a really interesting thing there, which is you can’t convince people to purchase something they don’t want to. It’s about putting the thing in front of the right people. That is so nice for me is the user experience expert to hear a marketer say something like that. Because in my mind, that is the key here. That is where you begin to see digital marketing and user experience intersecting. Because essentially, the way I often describe it is trying to encourage people to take action on something they’ve already said they want to do, in their head they want to do it.

Seth: Exactly. The lowest amount of friction to the highest amount of value. That is the game, whether it’s the UI portion or whether it’s the activities that you are doing to attract customers.

Marcus: I find that targeted advertising freaks me out a bit, though. I suppose it’s because we do work with loads of different clients, and I am often on, reviewing a site by a particular organisation that I’m not actually looking to interact with. But then I am bombarded with target appetising relating to that. So maybe that’s why I got a slightly skewed view of it. But it is very powerful.

Seth: I think we’re in a ‘dumb stage’ where it’s a more blunt instrument and maybe the sub 1% of folks are doing it very intelligently. So for example, if you go to Amazon and they show you like-minded things, you are pretty okay with that. But if you visit a site that you had no intention of buying anything from and then all of a sudden they are trying to sell you blenders or God forbid, it something you have zero interest in, you are like what the hell happened? But we do have the capability to bridge that gap. It’s just that most people don’t do it yet.

Paul: You do feel that it’s quite early days in that, from both sides really. It’s quite early days from the marketing side in terms of being much more focused, even like Amazon recommendations. Sometimes it’s hilarious, the stuff it throws up. But then on the flipside I think there is also, the reason Marcus that you find that a bit freaky, and so do I to some degree, is almost a generational thing. When not used to computers being intelligent enough to make good observation and provide us with intelligent recommendations. So I think maybe that will change over time as well.

Seth: Well there is also the human element which is, if someone is driving to make profit, they are going to make some less intelligent decisions on how to use these tools, thinking that they are going to convert. And they might in the short term, but that’s why you’re seeing folks willing to take that risk to put an ad in front of you just because you spent two seconds on their site. Which if you are a human, and you are trying to help humans, you would go ‘that’s probably not the smartest idea’.

Paul: No, because again it goes back to this thing of, chances are you are probably trying to sell somebody something that they don’t want rather than nudging them towards making a decision about something that they do want.

There’s that great book, isn’t there called Nudge? I don’t know if you’ve read it? It’s really good and one of the principles of that is, it talks about something called liberal paternalism will stop which is the idea that people should be able to do what they want, and you should give them the freedom to buy what they want, do what they want. But you can nudge them in the direction that’s right to go. So a really great example that it gives which I use a lot because I work for not-for-profits is that everybody says that they want to give to charity, but nobody ever quite gets round to doing it. Because they are living in the moment, with immediate concerns that they’ve got, the media pay packet etc. And actually our job, whether it be marketers or user experience designers is to encourage them to do what they want to do and overcome the barriers and the lethargy, all of that kind of thing that gets in the way of them doing it. So actually there is quite a lot of common really between a marketing perspective and a user experience perspective on that.

Seth: To me, and there may be marketers that disagree, but the goal is the same which is ‘we have a customer or potential customer that is trying to achieve something in their life’ and either we have something to help that all we don’t, but let’s assume that we do and we are trying to do that in the way that gives them success.

Paul: Yes, yes. Absolutely. We touched on search engine optimisation very, very quickly and how you can’t game the system like you used to do and there’s been a shift towards content marketing, for want of a better view. Now I’ve been reading some really interesting things and making some observations on my own really about how content marketing seems to becoming increasingly difficult. We’ve all been encouraged to blog more and share more expertise and all the rest of it but actually getting people’s attention for that content is becoming increasingly difficult. Do you feel like we are reaching some kind of saturation point, at least in some sectors?

Seth: Yes, I might frame it differently. I would say that it’s about time that just the garbage that most companies and people put out now needs to compete on the web. I’ll make it analogous to food, so if we go back 20 years ago you could travel anywhere in the US and you could get a Denny’s or an Arby’s or an McDonald’s but finding a fantastic cup of coffee or a really good restaurant that served— God forbid— a fresh vegetable, was really difficult. But now today because of competition and awareness on the consumer side, the level of quality has risen greatly. Now that’s happening with content, which is if you started a blog 20 years ago you were a pioneer and you just got followers because you were blogging and they didn’t know what the hell it was. Now everybody blogs and everybody creates content and now it’s about quality but also quality that resonates with a particular individual that might be reading it. Like you really have to dial in on your tribe to make it impactful. And then if you are on the business side you have to think about where on the customer journey that content is going to be applied and fully understand that some things don’t apply to the entire journey, some things are just about building awareness and some things are about overcoming objections and some things are about helping them share and get reviews and refer other folks. So I think it’s about time, I’ve been waiting for this moment and now the content that you see, there is a much higher level of quality across the board.

Paul: It’s an area that really interests me because it’s an area that again starts to impact that user experience, the fact that there’s been this period of time where people have been churning out content in order to grab eyeballs. And actually that’s almost got in the way of what it is people really want to do. If I am going to a website to purchase a laptop, I don’t want hundred best tips on getting the most out of your laptop. That’s not my initial goal anyway, my goal is to make the purchase. Now once I’ve made the purchase, then sure there is a place for telling me I can get more out of what it is I’ve got. But you almost felt that this kind of content was being created really just to grab eyeballs more than it was to actually be for the good of any users.

Seth: I think that your 100% correct which is that it’s a really great attention grabbing tactic but if you are going to be really strategic about it is about understanding that consumer to journey, just like you would in UX and UI and going ‘hey they are starting at this point, what are the tools that I need to give them to make good decisions and to be successful?’ And then understanding to put the right thing in front of the person at the right time. That just requires just a little more savvy than most marketers have and not because they’re not smart people but because we all have to do more with less, because that’s just the way of the world. And so if you want to do all of that but your team hasn’t grown and your budget has grown, it gets a little difficult.

Paul: I like the way that you talk about, you mentioned this several times, the idea of the customer journey and picking the right moment to do things and I think this is the re-occurring theme that is really quite important in marketing. I can’t remember whether I said this on the show so I apologise to the listener if I have said this one before, but I had a great example recently where I went to a clothes site because I want to buy a jumper. It was a specific jump I was going for and I went to the website and the first thing that popped up, I had immediately arrived one of those overlays appeared on the screen that said essentially 10% off your first purchase if you sign up for our newsletter. At this point I was like, well first of all I don’t know whether I want to purchase the jumpy yet, because I haven’t yet seen it. So I don’t know whether I want that 10% off. And secondly even if I did want to purchase the jumper, dry really wants to sign up for a newsletter with you guys, because I don’t know what the quality of your other stuff is like as to whether I want to be informed when you release new things are not. So I immediately closed the box, as you would do and I carried on with my task of what it was that I want to do. And I saw the jumper and I actually really liked it and I liked a lot of the clothes they had, at which point I was like, you know what I would give my email address over in return for 10% off this purchase because I am going to buy this jumper and I wouldn’t mind knowing whether they released new stuff that I might like. Could I find that signup box again?

And so it was gone. The moment was gone. And it’s so important to understand the decision-making process that people go through.

Seth: I mean, I’ve really been a proponent so in our teams we actually have UX and UI sitting right next to marketing, so they are in one room because those types decisions, a UX person is really thinking about that. If I were to reengineer that scenario, because I do want to capture casual visitors to the site that might bounce, that intent conversion, I might offer something different. Something that’s less committal at that stage as opposed to committing to an email from a company I don’t know for products I’m not sure about yet because I haven’t looked at them. And then at the moment of checkout I would definitely want to offer that discount because I want to ensure the checkout and I would want to offer them participating in something that’s a little more friction based but not too much because I don’t want to scare them away. And I think that UX and UI folks really think about that a lot and impacting how marketer’s knee-jerk reaction is ‘let’s get their email’, but that’s where the opportunity lies.

Paul: I tell you another one that gets me on this subject, is when you arrive on a website, perhaps when you are buying a laptop again and you arrive on the website and first thing you are confronted with is ‘follow us on Twitter’ or ‘follow us on Facebook’. Because often those icons look very different to the rest of the site, they grab you I draw your attention to it and actually grab your attention away from the primary call to action. That’s not the moment to ask you something like that but once I’ve bought a laptop, once of gone through the process and purchased it, you inevitably end up on that page that goes ‘continue shopping’. Well no, I’m done. That’s the point to say to people why not follow us on Twitter for great recommendations about how to get the most out of your laptop. For me that’s much more powerful.

Seth: Or follow us on Twitter and get 20% off your next purchase. Or follow us on Twitter and get our ultimate guide to leveraging your laptop for business success etc.

Paul: Yes. Absolutely. So timing is everything and picking that right moment in the user journey.

Seth: I want to say one more thing, those decisions are generally made by someone in leadership that has no right making that decision. But they’ve seen it someplace else and they blanket understand we need to be doing social media like Facebook and Twitter and they don’t understand that that’s just an activity, right? The community that you have to build. Another ‘like’ is useless unless people care about you. That is just the folks working in the space to know, our job is to educate leadership bottom-up and top-down so we are making these decisions to build long-term relationships with our customers.

Paul: I think that might have to be my new title. Another ‘like’ is useless unless people actually like you. Yes, that will have to be the title of the episode.

So I’ve been cheating a little bit with these questions, where we’ve been talking about the decline of the effectiveness of more traditional marketing, you’ve pulled me up little bit on that. And then I’ve implied that content marketing might not be working long-term and you’ve pointed out the ways of proving it, so I am maybe manipulating things a little bit to say, with these other marketing techniques changing and may be under threat a little bit, what role do you see user experience playing in helping build brand and help you win those new customers? What impact does user experience have from a marketing point of view?

Seth: I think that the marketing and brand teams of the future, and I say the future as a don’t see it a lot right now. The four components in my mind are… there’s brands, so the defender of the mission and the core values of the company or the organisation, there’s the marketer which is really about strategy and tactics to articulate that on the web, there’s the analytics piece which is the individuals that are testing and really looking at past experiences but also gathering third-party datasets to make better decisions and then there is the UX and UI. Without all four of those pieces at the table in an organisation we are going to be continually less and less effective in our marketing efforts because the consumer is getting more and more empowered. And I’m not saying it’s us against the consumer but our job, if we had to produce a network TV show, our job is to produce an awesome network TV show that really taps into what’s in the zeitgeist and what consumers are wanting. We got to do that as marketers, now. That’s our job.

Paul: Obviously my audience is primarily user experience people and I think there’s a little bit of snobbery within our community about our relationship with marketers. Actually I totally agree with what you’ve just said there, that in my mind marketing and user experience and analytics or user research, whatever you want call it and brand building, they are all so interlinked. There is such a fundamental need to have that collaborative relationship across them.

Seth: Yes, because in the past most organisations are fairly silo’d. You will have the analytics team, they might be in a third party room somewhere, who knows where poor guys, which is ludicrous because they are the only ones that can tell the CEO what’s happening with the company. And then you’ve got UX and UI which are like, oh you guys design this, I haven’t seen it yet and now I’m going to look at it. That sort of arse-backwards, because during the design process that’s when the fun collaboration is. ‘Hey, we are thinking about doing this and we want this type of media and this type of interface, what you think?’ And then there’s ‘If you did this then you might engage the consumer’, or ‘don’t do that too early, you’re going to scare people’. Those types of things are crucial to me for the creative process to really get any success.

Paul: In a world where peer to peer recommendation is such a huge thing, reputation is such a huge thing, those positive reviews and all the rest of it is such huge thing, creating an outstanding user experience has to be such a crucial component from a marketing perspective. It must make your job really hard if the user experience sucks?

Seth: Oh yes. I think this is always the case. There are times within any organisation where you have to smooth over the weaknesses in your strategy and tactics. Analogous to a start-up, so when you start up, generally your UX and UI is typically bad because you don’t know what you’re building yet. And you solve that by humans, you solve that by over communicating and being really personal and selling the dream of what you’re building. And as you get bigger that becomes impossible to do that at scale, and then you need to actually build something that works. So in the real world we see that with Uber, Airbnb, it was a great concept but if you used Airbnb in the beginning it was just a great story but their interface was really a lot to be desired. They were trying to get the story out and they couldn’t figure out how to do it. Now, it’s a really graceful interface and so I think that it’s a progression and a journey and it’s painful when it’s not right but it’s also real-life.

Paul: And I guess as well because user experience extends beyond the interface, the interaction of multiple levels and almost into the realms of customer service was well, that further complicates it all.

Seth: Oh yes. To me, one of things we do in our company which is costly but is necessary, is that we have live customer support seven days a week. And we do that because our audience works on the weekends. They are real estate professionals that have open houses on Saturdays and Sundays. When we started we didn’t do that and there are no amount of user interfaces that can solve all the customer support issues and so we just needed to make sure that we applied that. The upshot is all of the calls that were turned into frustration, now get responded to by a person and we can take that learning and pass it on to the UI and UX team and go ‘Hey guys, they keep complaining about whatever this thing is, can we fix that?’

And then you’ve got this really positive loop that makes their job easier, less tickets, all those things. But you got to have both.

Paul: So from a marketing perspective what parts of the user experience do you find to be particularly important? Put it another way, what causes the guest headaches for you if it’s not in place?

Seth: I do think it depends on the stage of the company but I’ll talk about a company that is beyond proving that they have a valid idea and they are trying to have growth, retain customers and have revenue growth. In that scenario that I just framed getting the customer to actually use the tool that they just downloaded and paid for is so important to reducing churn that if you don’t address that from a UX and UI perspective, your churn is going to be through the roof and there is nothing you can do to get their attention again once you’ve lost it. And it’s not because they don’t want to, but there is that sweet spot when you download this awesome piece of software and you want to learn how to use it.

It’s like a Sketch. You guys use Sketch or ever heard of it?

Paul: Yes.

Seth: It’s a great tool. When you download it and they have that first example of a piece that you can dissect, and you are like ‘oh, this is really easy to use’ that’s that moment that has to be there from a UX and UI perspective. Because if it’s not, is going to be like one of the 50 things you downloaded in the last two months and is going to collect dust.

Paul: What about from a more traditional type of business? Something that sells either a service or product, do you see there being a role for a good user experience as a marketing component then?

Seth: I don’t feel like a led witness but I do believe that the user experience is crucial to every aspect. I come at this from a person who has changed a bedpan and waited a table. So the experience that the end person gets is the responsibility of everyone, and hopefully there’s people that actually understand that wear that hat. On a more traditional sense from a service-based company, if you aren’t really on the web at all you probably in five years aren’t going to exist in having a sales funnel. And so the experience of the consumer in discovering you and then trusting you throughout ways that they engage, whether that starts with a handshake and then works its way to validation on LinkedIn or on the web in some way and then back to your site, or through content or through your ads, that has to be a seamless experience across all of the multiple devices because the moment they hit a blocker, like it doesn’t work on their iPad or their android or whatever, they are gone. That moment of connectivity is now severed forever because they can’t remember your URL which is probably too long or .co or whatever it is. So I think is really crucial across the board, even at its simplest level.

Paul: I love what you said there about the experiences everybody’s responsibility. I think that’s another thing we can be quite bad at in the user experience community, that we are the user experience designers. We are the ones that are responsible for the user experience, and that is just bullocks, to use a British phrase. It’s all of us isn’t it be it the marketing department or even in the finance or accounting department all of you affecting the user experience.

Seth: Yes, one of the things I say to my teams and to the leadership on the team is that sales and marketing and the experience that our customer has is everybody’s responsibility. If something is not working and we don’t have the input of sales in the marketing process, we are just like blowing up balloons to get attention, but is not really helping the entire organisation or helping the customer is just hard to do, that mentality is really, really tough to ingrain as part of your culture but it’s so necessary.

Paul: We talked a lot about what user experience brings to modern marketing and the impact it has but I’m quite interested in the other way around. What did you feel the marketing community can bring to improve the user experience, or what lessons can we learn as user experience people from the marketing community?

Seth: I think it’s the immediacy that whether the activities that were doing in creating this experience is getting results. And so you can create the most elegant user experience, but if we can’t figure out a way to get people in it and get them to talk about it, it doesn’t matter. We see tons of really beautiful apps on the App Store that just languish because no matter what you create today, 80% of your effort has to go on promoting it because you just not going to get attention for it. So really understanding that is a UX and UI person, that if you don’t get buy-in from the marketing team and you’re not collaborative at the things that you look to do to make successful really could have a hard time getting out into the world. I think it’s like two legs of a three legged stool. Without the other you are screwed and vice versa.

Paul: Yes, absolutely. To be honest that’s a perfect point to end on and I think we’ve learnt a valuable lesson from this Marcus…

Marcus: I should be spending 80% of my time on marketing.

Paul: There is you need to know Seth, right? That I and Marcus worked together for many, many years and I am still a director of the agency that Marcus and a guy called Chris Scott ran. I’m not an Executive Director now as I’m off doing other things but I used to spend the vast majority of my job essentially marketing Headscape, which is the agency. And since I’ve left they’ve been rubbish at marketing, you’ve been coasting on your reputation haven’t you?

Marcus: Yes we’ve been very busy. That’s no excuse is it? We have actually started and I have three posts that we’ve written after about having 3 to 4 months off.

Paul: You realise that Seth’s eyes rolling you right?

Seth: Watch less TV, that’s all I can say.

[Laughs]

Marcus: I only watch a small amount of TV and it’s only at the end of the day.

Seth: That’s when you actually get to do stuff.

Marcus: Used to be like that, I used to be a real night owl when I was younger but I’m getting more and more the other way around now. If I want to do anything I need to get up early.

Paul: You just want touches of up in bed with some cocoa don’t you?

No, the lesson I think we’ve learnt is that when it comes to selecting guests, the crowdsourcing from Twitter is the way to go. That was really good Seth, it was so great to have somebody completely outside of the normal realm of people that we have on the show and it’s really interesting to see the relationship between those different disciplines. In fact you could do a whole series on that couldn’t you, just having people from different disciplines and how they interact with UX people?

[Music]

Paul: Okay, so we’ve come to our second sponsor of the day which is a weird one. Because the second sponsor is Headscape, because Marcus feels like he had needs to do some marketing and promotion work. So go on, you’ve got a professional marketer sitting there who’s going to be judging you on what you now say and how you present Headscape. So no pressure there now Marcus.

Marcus: Really? I don’t think so.

Paul: I you just going to skip it?

Seth: Can I ask you what you guys do?

Marcus: Headscape is a web design agency. We do digital strategy, web design and development. I’ve had four slots in this series and this is the third one. I did an overall, this is what we are and this is what we do, and as Paul says the reason for doing this is because he’s off doing other things and he was very much our marketing arm. Since he went that’s obviously been reduced but I’m still doing this podcast with him so I said let me have a couple of slots so I can talk about Headscape just to remind people who we are and what we do.

So the first one I talked about everything we do on a high level and then I decided that for the second, third and fourth one that I would break it down into design which I spoke about last time you went on for a very long time about that, and I will try been a bit quicker this time. So struck about our development skills and coding and that kind of thing and then I’ll finish off next week talking about our consulting skills and what we do in that area.

The first thing I wrote when I put my notes together was ‘be quicker’.

Paul: You did talk for quite a long time. In your preamble you’ve probably gone over your allotted time Marcus.

Marcus: Okay I’ll try and be quick. Some agencies specialising front-end development, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, others specialise in back-end development, developing content management systems, business systems, that kind of thing. We do both which is quite a bonus for us and potentially for our clients too. We’ve got some great people in the team who have been on the show, Dan Sheerman, Ed Merritt, who we talked about last week when talking about design, they focus on front-end development and they are always arguing with each other about what’s the best approach which I see as a fact that they are very passionate about what they do. They genuinely are, they are always arguing about how we can improve what we offer, which is great.

We got two guys who are probably the unsung heroes of our team, which is Chris Henderson and Ian Luckraft and they are the guys that make everything work. They do a lot of Drupal development these days but there was always quite a lot of custom, bespoke work as well.

To finish off I asked three of them to give me one example of work they’ve done that they are particularly pleased with, so I will quickly go through those. Dan mentioned that we done work with a global publisher called Palgrave Macmillan and he mentioned the Palgrave.com site. He particularly likes the homepage and listing for the responsive calculations for the columns and inserting the peak panel thing which does a really nice rollover on the panels which was way before rollover panels were particularly trendy. So he got in there early on that one.

Chris mentioned we’ve just in some work the European University Institute which is eui.eu where basically he’s been modifying and customising a plug-in called Editus which has given the University guys what they need to be able to do with their website which they couldn’t do before, so it’s a back-end thing.

And Ian mentioned that we do a lot of work for the British Lung Foundation one of them being a questionnaire effectively the people with lung issues. The URL for that is passport.blf.org.uk which has recently won an award from the British Medical Association so I thought I’d push that one as well, which effectively pulls in custom data and presents it to the world.

I rambled on an awful lot again but if you want to check out any of those URLs to see the level of skill that these guys have got I’d very much appreciate it.

Paul: That will be in the show notes as well as normal, which is really good. There is another thing that Marcus does on every show…

Marcus: Oh blimey.

Paul: See you’re not prepared for this are you?

Marcus: I am. What Paul was going to say there Seth, was that I tell a joke at the end of every show.

Paul: Is really unfortunate Seth and I am really sorry.

Marcus: We started doing this in 2005 with the idea being that we need to be a bit more entertaining so let’s tell a joke. But it’s stuck, and this is a good one from a guy called Ian Lasky who is probably our chief joke provider. He sent me this one and I particularly like it.

‘What do you do if you are attacked by a group of clowns?’

‘You go after the juggler’.

Paul: Aim for the jugular did you say?

Marcus: You go for the juggler. You ruined it!

Paul: I talked over it, didn’t I?

Marcus: You did talk over it.

Paul: So it’s my fault this week, that nobody laughs at your joke. Okay, I don’t mind for one out of 20 gazillion shows that we’ve done to be responsible for the joke failing. We’ll allow that.

Hey I tell you what, if you’re listening to this you can contribute jokes. We like you sending jokes in and you can send them to Marcus@boagworld.com. But also you can post them in our new Slack channel that we’ve started – Boagworld.com/Slacking.

Marcus: I really ought to join it.

Paul: You ought to. And we ought to encourage bad jokes, I think we need a whole channel dedicated to bad jokes. But anyway.

Seth, thank you so much for coming on the show. Where can people find out more about you?

Seth: I am on Twitter at #sethstuff, you can find me on Facebook and you can go to The Craft of Marketing and that’s where I have the podcast. You can look on iTunes for the same thing.

Paul: Good.

Seth: Yep, I am on the web and I think I’m easily found.

Paul: Yes, you are actually. This is very true. Also Seth Price has a summary of lots of different things that he gets up to which is great.

So next week is the last in the season, which is really sad. Well it’s not really but let’s pretend it is.

Marcus: It’s really sad.

Paul: It’s very sad. We’re going to be looking at the organisational impact of user experience and how it actually affects how organisations are structured and that kind of thing, so join us then but for now thank you very much Seth and thank you for listening. Goodbye.

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