In today’s guest post, LION+MASON’s Founder Andrew Machin reveals the strategic importance of delivering an effective approach to UX, and how positive customer experiences can impact your overall business performance.
Over the last 18-24 months there’s been a notable maturing in attitudes towards User Experience Design (or UX for short). Businesses are quickly waking up to its value. And of course they should, it’s a big deal.
Take a moment to think about the last great user experience you had. It doesn’t have to be a web site either, it could be your bank’s mobile app, or even instore (like McDonalds new touch screen menus). You might not even be able to articulate why it was such a good experience, but even so, some or even all of the below will be true:
- You converted to action (i.e. purchased, signed up, downloaded)
- You remember the brand’s name
- You will use that service again
- You would recommend that service/product to a friend
Wouldn’t you love to have your customers think about your digital products/services like that?
Conversely think about a user experience you’ve had that was bad. Chances are that very few of the above are true. You may not even remember the brand name. Worse still, chances are you would proactively recommend people NOT use that product or service.
The difference between those two experiences is of course the UX design; the consideration of how customers feel when they interact with products or services, be it a website, mobile application, or software.
Whilst the common misconception is that UX design is solely an exercise undertaken to increase conversions or improve the aesthetic appeal of a product. Actually UX design is so much more; it’s about taking time to understand a user’s motivations, needs and desires, both emotionally and pragmatically, to design ‘experiences’ that leave the user satisfied. Of course the aesthetic appeal of your product matters, but there is much more that goes into it to make a lasting impact on users and achieving all those benefits discussed above.
So what are the bigger benefits beyond conversion? Below are the top 5 reasons UX design is a big deal to your business beyond CRO:
1. Great UX improves your ‘customer lifetime value’ (CLV)
Think back to the brand with which you had a ‘great experience’: Are you likely to use them again?
When a customer has a great user experience the chances of them becoming a repeat customer are greatly increased. Why would we go anywhere else?
You don’t have to look any further than Amazon to see how powerful this can be. By being the masters of UX they have literally changed consumer behaviour, so much so that now approximately three times more people start a product search on Amazon than they do on Google.
This of course means significant improvements in your customer lifetime value (the estimation of the monetary value attributed to the entire future relationship with a given customer).
And this increase is significant. Research published on the Harvard Business Review found that customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the worst past experience.
2. UX improves customer acquisition
Happy customers create more customers. Through Google’s research into the Zero Moment Of Truth we know that people tend to share their experiences with others, thus influencing their behaviour. As such creating great user experiences doesn’t just make your existing customers more valuable, it also makes it easier (and cheaper) to get new ones.
For instance, the chances are you’ve maybe tried a mobile app that a friend or colleague has recommended. Again back to your ‘great experience’; did you tell anyone about it?
A survey by American Express survey found that happy customers tell on average nine people about their experiences with a product or service.
Source: American Express
This is very important as not only are referrals from friends or family members frequently cited as the biggest influence for customers looking to try out a new product or service, but in a social age we share our experiences in a much more transparent and accessible way to others. Good user experiences are quickly amplified through social channels encouraging secondary referrals.
3. UX improves brand value
Experiences are quickly becoming the new battleground for building brands. Think back again to your ‘great experience’ brand – how do you feel about them as a brand? Would you describe them as a brand you like?
In a connected and social landscape, we are now much more connected to the brands they deal with. As such customers now equate brands with the experiences and how they make the customer ‘feel’. This means the UX design of all your digital touchpoints has a direct impact on perception of your brand within the marketplace.
In a study by Moosylvenia into the relationships between the ‘Millennial’ generation of consumers and brands they found that Millenials are “quickly becoming the most influential group of consumers. However, they reject traditional advertising, preferring instead to build relationships with brands.”
To this end, who customers spend their money with is now highly influenced by their feeling toward that business based on experience. American Express found that 70% of consumers were willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide the best experience. That is, users are willing to pay a premium for the best experience.
By only focusing on the blinkered metrics often associated with UX, many brands are failing to capitalise on the opportunity to build their brand with this new generation of consumers, and more so could be doing their business more harm than good.
4. Great UX can improve your SEO and search rankings
Search engines like Google are constantly striving to improve how they determine which are the best results for a user’s intention. Their big challenge of course being that ‘best’ is subjective. Hence the last few years has seen a sea-change in how they determine what makes a page deserve rank.
Gone are the days where keyword stuffing and spam link building was enough to get you to the top (practises which will now see you actually wiped from the results pages) replaced with constantly evolving methods of trying to best understand what makes a valuable result for the user.
But despite the amazing technological advances, search engines still can’t engage with text, images, or video the same way a human user can. Google are even investing heavily in machine learning and AI to better understand how humans interact with information.
However, there are still plenty of simple signals that search engines can interpret as to whether their results have satisfied the user’s intent:
- Did the user click back to the results after visiting the page to try another result, or did they stay?
- How long did they stay on the site for?
- Did they convert?
- Did they engage with the content?
- Did the user keep returning to the same site?
- Is the site easy to use/mobile friendly?
All the above give search engines great insight as to whether the user was satisfied by that result. And of course they are all factors that are governed by UX design. When a user has a great experience on your site they are less likely to look elsewhere, engage more content, more likely to convert etc.
So by having great UX you can influence all the above signals, demonstrate you are the best result to search engines, improve your rankings and drive more traffic to your site.
The experience your users have across your digital touchpoints has a powerful influence over your business performance. Although it’s easy to take a blinkered view of the value of UX design, even small improvements can have dramatic impacts across the many facets mentioned above.
Failing to recognise the tangible connections between the experiences you serve-up and your customer’s satisfaction can not only affect your business performance but hold your brand back.
Those with the best UX are winning, so dedicate efforts into developing great user experiences and you’ll create a great feeling with your customers. Great business results will follow.
Andrew Machin is Founder and Director of UX for LION+MASON: an expert user experience agency specialising in the design of mobile and wearable apps, websites, software interfaces and other digital touchpoints.
With more than 15 years’ design experience, Andrew has worked with many brands such as John Lewis, Jet2 and Inchcape, is a frequent conference speaker on UX and user engagement and has also lectured at Leeds University on the subject of design.