The emergence of digital changed everything! How businesses put their products in the faces of customers is a reflection of that unprecedented disruption.
Just recently, my grandma told me about how they had to walk to the central markets or watch TV advertorials before they could know about newly released products. They spent long hours in the market square listening to the retailers tell them about the product, its function, and features before they decide to buy.
That was many years ago!
Now, you only have to do a simple Google search or social media check to learn about products and services. Even more, you’re able to compare a product with another and purchase an item without leaving your seat.
What they waited long hours to do, we do them in minutes. For more context, below are a few more merits.
- Digital has leveled the playing field for businesses. Regardless of size, a local business and compete with a national one. Even new entrants can attempt to disrupt markets where large corporates may have dominated.
- Also, word of mouth — the holy grail of marketing — has also been amplified with digital. Word about a brand or product can spread with minimal effort from the company.
- Marketing content and ads can be changed easily. Compared to traditional billboards that will take much longer.
- Digital provides you with a huge amount of data. You can know how many people have seen your ad, which location they saw your ad from, and much more.
But digital doesn’t come without its downsides.
1. Customers’ have become more impatient: We have so many brands wrestling for our eyeballs and attention on the internet. When you Google one product, you get tons of search results showing a variety of brands using organic and paid methods to ask you to “pick me”.
And since consumers have to narrow their choices, they end up dismissing options for the slightest reasons. For example, when a website loads too slowly or is too difficult to navigate, customers are likely to take the next exit.
2. Customers' complaints can go viral and hurt a brand: The consumers now have a platform to complain. Years ago, they first had to complain to the retailers who’ll then pass it on to the manufacturers.
That’s not the case anymore. A group of unsatisfied customers can easily wreak havoc on a brand. A simple tweet can get amplified by thousands until it goes viral.
Now more than ever, brands need to pay attention to their customers and develop their marketing campaigns around their customers’ pain points. This is the basis upon which user-centric marketing is set.
I spent the past week, as part of my Growth Marketing Minidegree with CXL Institute, deepening my understanding of user-centric marketing. I’ve shared some key learnings in the rest of this piece. Let’s dive in.
So, what is user-centric marketing?
User-centric marketing seeks to use digital tools to better understand users, and their journeys so that we can design marketing strategies around them. It also brings to fore ways we can validate our approach via campaigns and iterate every step of the way.
In short, user-centric marketing draws on user research and user experience design to bring marketing project management and the way we approach marketing campaigns into the 21st century.
Traditional personas are not enough
User-centric marketing starts with understanding your audience. The more you know about your audience, the better it is to market to them and get them to take action.
Creating Personas may be a great start to the process. Empathy mapping, however, will add more color to your understanding of your audience. With empathy mapping, you’ll learn about;
- What questions they have
- What tasks they want to complete
- What influences them
- What their goals and pain points are
The only notable fallback of both is that they are only a snapshot in time. Customer interests may evolve.
Meet with your audience in person
You can barely say your marketing is user-centric or customer-centric if you sparingly even meet with your customers.
John Boag recommends you have 1-to-1 meetings with 3 people once a month every month. I believe virtual can also do the job but you can not overestimate how much value you can extract from physical meetings.
Customer maps are great tools for visualizing what you know about your audience and how they interact with your organization. It also helps you frame your campaigns, enabling you to see how they fit into the broader picture.
It’s not meant to be 100% accurate though.
Do a Top task analysis
The analysis helps you understand what really matters — the top concerns, questions, etc. — to the customers you serve. How do you do a top task analysis though?
- Brainstorm every question (from the ones you consider top tier to the ones you consider utterly ridiculous) a user may have about your products and services.
- Collect all the questions and prune the list slightly.
- Reword the questions using simpler terms and group them.
- Ask your customers to rank the list on a scale of say 1–5.
- Use the results to define your call to action and leverage it for marketing & advertising as well as, focus your messaging and campaigns.
Involve the users in your design, prototyping, and testing process
This kind of participatory design means your campaigns will have a better chance of resonating with users because they focus on what people most care about
Disha comes to mind here. When the tech team was building the platform, they posted design iterations on social media and incorporated feedback from potential users in subsequent iterations.
Before building a fully functional product, build a prototype and get your target users to test it. The feedback you’ll receive can help you make a huge change to your product design that will make all the difference.
Refine Campaigns post-launch
Once a campaign is live, you’ll 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, and finally, make use of A/B testing to test different solutions to see which approach improves conversion the most.
- The more the user is included in the process, the less fixated you’ll be on your internal perspective, the more effective your campaigns will be, and the bigger the improvement it’ll make to your conversion rate.
- User research helps to focus campaigns on real needs and address real questions.
- Customer journey mapping addresses when and how you should be reaching people
- Top Task analysis reveals what we need to be saying to them
3. Use the data you have about your customers to create custom experiences and campaigns for them.