The Rise of the User Experience Marketer

This week’s big mobile search news – that Google is adding mobile-friendly site labels in mobile SERPs – highlights the rising importance of user experience in search marketing. But this crossover goes beyond mobile search.

It’s happening everywhere. Agencies and in-house teams are beginning to realize that the overlap between digital marketing and user experience is significant. Both marketers and UX professionals provide valuable insights into user behavior before a site is developed. Both marketers and UX professionals have an interest in creating a user-friendly interface so that customers achieve the business’ end goal. Both marketers and UX professionals must focus on creating a positive customer experience in order for a website or product to be successful.

So why do we often work in silos? Perhaps its because UX focuses on how users feel and marketing concentrates on what users do. This may ruffle some feathers, but it’s time to find the intersection between user feelings and user action.

In particular, marketers can achieve great success by learning the tools our UX friends have mastered and embrace the overlap between the quantitative and qualitative sides of the customer experience.


UX Tools for Marketers

The strongest marketers will be those who are comfortable analyzing behavior data, while also conducting and incorporating qualitative research about users. Mastering these tools and ideas can help marketers understand their users’ feelings about a site or product.

UserTesting: Become an expert in creating and evaluating user tests. UserTesting allows you ask real users questions while they use your site or application. You receive their feedback in a video format. Whenever you’re updating a site’s content structure, building new product pages, or changing a conversion process UserTesting can help you better understand user pain points and make proactive adjustments. Never assume your users will feel how you feel. Get real-life feedback and apply a qualitative, test-and-learn approach to your marketing strategy.

Sketching: Whether you use an online sketch tool or a pen and paper, you should become comfortable creating basic sketches so you can contribute comfortably during design brainstorming sessions. Sketching can also help you think of a variety of solutions to one opportunity, which will give you a chance to test the best option.

UX Site Audits: Master the art of completing an initial UX site evaluation, so you can help guide your own content strategy and areas that need to be reevaluated when developing or redeveloping a website.

Share Marketing Knowledge With UX

Hopefully you’re already crossing paths with your UX team during your project lifecycle, but why just cross paths when you can walk together? Just as marketers can benefit from learning a few basic UX practices, UX professionals can learn a lot about our field and favorite tools.

Basic SEO: Our UX counterparts should rely on details about how Google indexes, crawls, and ranks websites. They don’t need to be experts, but basic principles will help them do an even better job striking a balance between creating a simple, lean website and a website that is too thin for a search engine to adequately index. Content delivery, from a design and a copy perspective, is incredibly important. A combined effort to deliver content that has a helpful message, a targeted keyword strategy, and logical internal-linking structure will have a positive impact on users and ultimately bring more traffic to your site. And best of all, Google continues to place greater emphasis on user experience metrics like bounce rate and time on page, bringing UX and SEO closer than ever.

Analytics Analysis: They don’t need to become data-mining experts, but UX professionals can benefit from learning basic analytics tools. Data-informed decisions can fill in the gaps after usability testing is complete. Tools like Visual Website Optimizer can help UX professionals better understand user behavior and A/B test design elements and copy. Data derived from these tests can then further justify or disprove qualitative information about how users feel.

With greater knowledge of each other’s disciplines, UX and marketing experts can ensure business goals are met by fulfilling the user’s needs and avoid the marketer’s fear of missing an opportunity to measure success.

The Elephant in the Room

Search marketers have improved their reputation as we’ve all worked to put the dark days of SEO behind us. The majority of the industry has placed greater emphasis on quality content and the customer experience, but there is still a stigma when it comes to the goals of a marketer versus the goals of a UX professional.

Comments like this one, from Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, which indicate that quantitative data is second to qualitative data make it clear that we still have some ground to cover before marketing and UX have truly mutual goals.


Comments like this make me sigh, though I understand where he’s coming from. I’ve seen firsthand the power of user testing, but usability tests deliver well-known diminishing returns. One user provides value, and five users can get you 80 percent of the way – but hard data fills the gaps.

One user’s input and the data from one thousand users should be equally valuable. Web development decision-making should be informed by both UX and marketing insights, but never dictated by one in a vacuum.

As user experience marketers we must strive to win the user’s trust. Once we do that, through understanding their feelings and behavior, we will turn window shoppers into customers and customers into super fans. And ultimately that is the greatest success for a UX professional and a marketer – happy customers and thriving businesses.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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