This week, I learned about user-centric marketing. I completed this lesson, and I enjoyed learning from Paul Boag. The following are some of things that I’ve learned.

In order to be user-centric, it is important to involve the user in your campaign design. Why would you want to involve the user in the design process? It’s about getting the user’s perspective, understanding what the user’s expectations are and what their perspective is on your company. Also getting other stakeholders involved in the customer mapping journey can be helpful, and this will help you get buyer. This process will still involve the designer and the copywriter to interpret what has been learned.

There are numerous exercises that can be run with the users to establish the right tone of voice. For example, practical exercises — are exercises that are focused on extracting key words that the designer and the copywriter can use to inform their approach. These are keywords that represent the kind of tone that you should be adopting. It gives a sense of the tone of voice that should be integrated.

One exercise, is called, “the famous person exercise.” This exercise involves asking a group of users if your company was a famous person what famous person would it be and why. You ask them to pick a person that they feel represents the company. Then you ask them questions, for example, what is it about that person that you like? The participants will use certain words about that person to describe them. Those are the words that the outside world uses or perceives your company with. You can also ask users to imagine a famous person that they would represent how the company should be.

Another exercise that can be conducted is called the waiting room or reception room exercise. This exercise involves you asking people to describe a waiting area that you could put people in if they were visiting the company that you were trying to represent. Let the user explain what that room looks like. You can ask questions like:

  • What appears on the wall?
  • What music is playing?
  • What’s the furniture like?
  • How big is the room?

The words that the user uses can be used to tone your campaigns. These exercises are used to understand what about our product or products best resonates with the customers.

Another exercise is getting people to write either a love letter or a break up letter to your company. This is a useful way of learning what people like or hate about your company, and how intensely those feelings are.

Another exercise is called, “the book cover exercise.” You start by telling the user to imagine that you’re running a campaign promoting a particular product. Ask the person to create a book cover. They get to decide what goes on the cover of the book, what goes on the spine of the book, what goes on the back, and what goes on the inside flap. This exercise will give you different levels of detail describing your product.

  • What goes on the spine of the book is what will catch the attention of grabbing the book from the shelf.
  • What goes on the front of the book is kind of like your key selling points.
  • What goes on the back of the book is a little bit more detail.
  • What goes on the inside flap of the book is even more detail.

This book cover will represent your product and it will help you understand the key selling points, and depending on where they are at in the book cover — this will let you know which selling points are most important.

These exercises will give you the ability to create campaigns that have a better chance of resonating with your users, due to their tone of voice and they will focus on the key selling points that people most care about.

Who should you recruit for these exercises? This will depend on the type of exercise that you’re doing. In order to achieve the tone of voice, the audience has to be the real users that you’re targeting. It is best to select people who haven’t yet signed up for your product. To figure out the key selling points, and the hierarchy, you can use existing customers, specifically people that have just become customers. We need their fresh perspective. If you can’t recruit the best people or ideal people to do these exercises, you can select anyone outside your organization. Such as your friends or family members. By doing these exercises, it will start establishing the culture of user testing within the organization.

The next thing that I learned is how to test your campaign’s design with users. Ideally, you should be testing for every campaign. I learned how to test design mock-ups, like email templates or landing pages this week. How to choose between the different testing approaches available. How to test whether a mock-up is sending the right tone of voice. How to check whether people are taking away the right message from your mock-up and how to know whether people will click on what you want them to click upon.

Knowing which idea is best to adopt is difficult. Usually within an organization, teams will decided based on their personal interest, but it doesn’t have to be like that. A tool like Usability Hub or Hilo makes it easy to run these kinds of preference tests.You simply upload several mock-ups, one of each of your different approaches, and the tool will give you a link that you can then share with users via social media or any other means you wish to use. Users are asked when they visit the link to just pick which of the multiple designs is most appealing to them. Instead of deciding on personal preference, it is best to decide on some kind of data. If you need users to test, there are services like TestingTime, User Interviews, and Ethnio.

To test the aesthetics of a campaign, you could use a preference test. There are also word cloud surveys and something called a semantic differential survey. Both of these surveys are built around the keywords that users described your product with. Once you produce a design, you can test whether or not the design reflects those key words by running a word cloud survey.

A word cloud survey is basically when you have a design, and then underneath you have a collection of words. Now those words will include the key phrases that we’d want people to think of, and their opposites, and then any other random key words that somebody within the organization might feel the design is conveying. Then you show the user the design, you show the user the word cloud, and you ask them to select the words that they feel represents the design the most. Then you’ll know whether or not your design reflects the key words you want it to reflect.

The semantic differential survey, is a survey that will show the user the design, and then gives them a sliding scale from one to another. Then the user can decide on those different scales where they feel the design falls. This way you check rather your design is communicating the words that you want it to.

To test a web design mock-up, you can have a static mock-up produced in Photoshop or any tool your designer chooses. There’s a tool called the, “First Click Test.” The First Click Test basically shows the user your web design mock-up, and then you ask them, “What would you click on first?” And then they can click wherever they want on the design and it records that for you so you know.

You can use questions like:

- What would you click on first?
- If you were trying to do whatever, “what would you click on first?”
- If you were ready to buy, “what would you click on first?”
You can then see where they click.

This test is effective because if a user’s first click is done right, this will mean that there’s an 87% chance that the user will complete an action correctly.
If the user makes a mistake with their first click, they’ve only got a 46% chance of completing the task correctly. If the user clicks on the right things on a static mockup, this will give you a good indication of whether or not they’re going to find that piece of information they’re looking for or complete that call to action. UsabilityHub is a great tool to test this.

How can we check that users are taking away the right message? Instead of emailing or creating a landing page on your website, there’s a test where you can see if the users are taking the right message from a certain page. It’s called a five-second test. In this test, you’ll show the user a piece of marketing collateral for five seconds. Then you’ll take the piece of collateral away. You’ll then ask the user what they remember from the marketing piece? Make a note of the order of things that the user remembers. This test works well because you will see if the users are seeing the key messages, or if they are getting distracted? You primarily want them to list your key selling points first. Like we only have a few seconds to communicate with people. If they don’t see the right message within five seconds, it is most likely that they will miss it.

Doing these tests leads to better targeted campaigns and this can save your team time. Testing is a way of cutting through assumptions.

Our website is a crucial part of our marketing campaign, and yet we structure most of our websites around our internal views of the world rather than from the user’s perspective. If you want users to act on your website, think about what your users are thinking. You can use a test called card sorting to figure this out. Card sorting can be done in two different ways. Card sorting is an exercise that you can run with users to better understand their mental model of the world. A mental model are associations that we make between things.

Depending on different factors, those associations will be different. Factors can include your culture, your background, your life experiences, your gender, all kinds of things affect how we organize information in our head. We need to understand how our users organize information, because it will help us know how users will find information on your website. Just because you understand, doesn’t mean that your audience will understand what you’re trying to explain or create with your website.

Therefore, how we view the world is fundamentally important to the way we understand information. This is overlooked in marketing communications. We can presume that everybody uses the same jargon, the same terminology, but this isn’t true. This is why an exercise like card sorting can be helpful. Card sorting is a methodology that enables us to begin to understand the user’s mental model and to organize information around a structure that makes sense to them. Card sorting involves structuring information in the order of how a customer or user will go through your website.

Card sorting involves arranging individual cards into piles that make sense to the user. Each card will present a page or multiple pages on your site depending on how big your website is. Then essentially what happens is you give the user the piles of cards which each card represent a page and then the user will be asked to organize those cards into different categories.

I look forward to learning more next week!