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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The User Experience

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If you want to create an effective marketing program, it takes more than a good marketing campaign, catchy headline, or special offer. The key to effective marketing is evaluating the user experience from beginning to end.

In the past, when demand out-stripped supply, and there were only a few providers of a product or service, it was enough to simply catch a prospective user's attention.

If the timing was right, or the discount was appealing, you could easily attract a new user to sample and or try your product. However, with consumers bombarded with as many as 3,000 marketing messages a day, you need more than fancy advertising to grow your business.

Focusing on existing customers, even before they become customers, is essential for long term success. I'm reminded of this every time a get a call from a telemarketer (yes, I still get them on occasion despite the do-not-call list, mostly for donations) and can hear the 200 other call center employees making a pitch in the background.

Knowing that I'm only one of thousands of others receiving the same call doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy. Nor does it show a respect for my time. Besides, a sales representative is often one of the first experiences you have with a company. This experience, more so virtually any other, sets the tone for the relationship.

The other touch point to consider is customer service. When a user calls your contact center, based on a catalog or mailer, what is their first impression based on that single phone call? If they have a positive experience, maybe they'll be open to the initial purchase, up-sell and cross-sell offers as well as future marketing messages. A bad experience and no amount of marketing will ever get through to them.

I recently took my family to Disney for a family vacation. And guess what- they understand the power of a consistent user experience. From the moment Disney advertised a special vacation package all the way through (and after) our return trip home, the experience was a positive one. This was no minor task... in fact, Disney works extremely hard to create this experience for their current and future customers.

One worker told me that each "cast member" spends about 2 weeks training at Disney University before they set foot in the park. What are they learning? The "Disney way". This encourages consistency among associates and the result is a consistent user experience. This attention to detail is what sets Disney apart from all other them parks!

So, from a marketing perspective you might be saying what does this have to do with
my direct mail or email marketing - or even special promotions? Or, you might already understand that your efforts as a marketer to create a positive user experience will grow your brand, encourage repeat purchase, and drive revenue.

Regardless of your level or stage of understanding, consider the brands you favor and why you favor them. Work to identify all of the touch points in your business and the path prospective and current customers take on their journey with you.

Determine your strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly the type of experience customers should have with your brand. Begin to shape your customer experiences in a consistent way and the results will be all the proof you need that consistency matters.


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