marketing

How UX/UI & Landing Pages Are Like Drunk People

The Essential Components of UX/UI & Landing Pages Analogized to Drunk People.

Written by Dylan Langei

WTF is UX/UI and why should I care?

Converging UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) is a difficult task faced by many companies. What a company believes they are presenting as an interface, may not reflect the user experience that they expect. A UX designer is primarily concerned with how the product feels - ensuring that the product logically flows from one step to the next. A UI designer focuses on how the product is laid out - visually communicating the path that a UX designer has laid out. This common misconception displayed in the picture above, illustrates that many people see UX/UI designers as solely performing one function, when instead they are completing a multitude of functions to reach an efficient user experience and user interface. Therefore, there are many behind the scenes contributions that must be made to integrate successful UX/UI. 

How do I become a UX wizard?

UX Magazine illustrates four common practices successful UX Executives used, which were quite surprising and seemed unorthodox for the industry. The title "4 Techniques of Successful UX Executives" is fairly cliche, like an article titled "4 Ways to Become a Millionaire." But don't be alarmed, this is not a BuzzFeed article. Of course there are never just four simple steps to guarantee your success as a UX Executive, because then everyone could do it. But here's a good starting point:

  1. Study Those Around You as You Would Study Users: When we are so focused on the users, we sometimes lose sight of who we work with, our partners and stakeholders. In order to get an idea or opinion across regarding UX, take those people into account, along with your users.
  2. Study Isn't Enough - You Must Have Empathy: Once again, tracking back to UX leaders partners - as a UX expert you must be in tune with your partners day-to-day and their pressures and worries. What allows UX leaders to do this is listening to their partners concerns, empathizing with their pressures, and asking how you can help. 
  3. Take the Long View and Build Relationships: Once you have an understanding of empathy, you must leverage that to form trust and long lasting relationships with your partners. This means putting down your ego, and not be constantly combative, as it damages the chances of a long term relationship.
  4. Remember, People May Not Understand UX: Wait, what! I'm working in a field that people might not understand? Yes, unfortunately you are. But, this is a teaching opportunity. Understand your partner's world views and what resonates with them. Grasp that understanding and craft it in a way to introduce them to UX and engage them in the design process.

Why is a landing page essential to my conversion rate?

A landing page is like a first impression. You know when you go to a party and you meet an extremely intoxicated guy perspiring out of every gland in his body, and spit spraying out of his mouth after every enunciated syllable? Pretty hard to forget this fellow. The next time you see him, you put your head down and walk the other way. A bad landing page is like this drunk guy. No customer or person wants to interact with them, because they are annoying, sloppy, unattractive, and do not satisfy the customers needs. 

A killer landing page is like the cool guy from your high school. He's got his older brothers ID to buy all the booze, throws the coolest parties, and invites the hottest chicks. He maintains his composure during the party, incrementally drinks throughout the night, and never loses sight of optimizing his conversion rate. Get booze (UX path), throw a party (UX path), and end up with the cheer captain in his room at the end of the night (Conversion Rate) - a logical UX path. You meet this guy, and you idolize him. Girls are hanging all over him, because he embodies everything the "customer" wants. The cool guy analogizes an elegant and effective landing page by possessing fundamental components that it's customers' desire, and leads the customer directly to the conversion rate that the business, or cool guy, is looking for. It must be clean, simple-to-use, offer a clear call to action, robust incentives, design attractive, and click-ready.

What company has a  "sweaty drunk guy" landing page?

Please welcome Safety BLR, the sweaty drunk guy at the party. 

Safety BLR is a safety training & compliance company that simplifies compliance with state and federal legal requirements. They may simplify compliance, but they sure do not simplify navigating their website. There is no clear call-to-action, the page is cluttered with words, and there is unused space on the bottom right hand corner. We can assume Safety BLR's conversion is for you to buy their software, but the only call-to-action on this is the very tiny "Request Demo" and "Free Trial" at the top. This should be smack dab in the middle of the page, with a design that draws a customers eyes right to those links. 

What company has a "cool drunk guy" landing page?

Please welcome Karma, the cool high school jock who gets all the ladies.

Now this is a kick ass landing page. This page actually has a demo video playing at all times (visit link or click on the image above), displaying the products use. According to Mashable, including a demo video on the landing page can increase conversions by 10-20%. Karma does it flawlessly - while also providing a link to the full film right on the front page. They also make it very clear what their product does, by using the tagline "Take WiFi with you everywhere," while stimulating a bit of curiosity from onlookers. A potential customer might wonder, well how is this possible? I want to take WiFi everywhere! I am always going over my data plan! Right away Karma is solving a problem faced by many, while also providing easy call-to-actions in the top banner ("Buy Now", "How It Works", etc.). 

Lastly, I will leave you with a few reminders on how to establish an elegant and effective landing page:

  • Make it clean and simple-to-use.
  • Select a call-to-action that leads directly to your desired conversion using robust incentives.
  • Make it clear what your product is/does or provide an easy-to-see link that will describe what it does.
  • Don't be the drunk sweaty guy at the party.

How to Become a Content Marketing Wizard

Written by Dylan Langei

 
 

I'm here today to speak on behalf of content marketing. A slight hint of irony ingrained in this blog post since blogging is a fundamental component of content marketing. So let's hope I capture your attention. First, I'll cover snippets of information I've gathered from various articles and multimedia sources on successful content marketing. Then, I'll dive into the fundamentals of blogging. Lastly, I've tracked down an absolute content marketing wizard, in hopes that you may replicate their methods to become your own content marketing wizard.

Successful Content Marketing

According to Steven MacDonald from the Content Marketing Institute, there are five fundamental steps when achieving successful content marketing. I have also injected some of my own dialogue and facets from HubSpot's video class on Creating Content with a Purpose. The five steps are:

1. Understand Your Audience: Your audience includes your current customers, any potential customers, and people who would find your content useful. You may ask, well how do I do this? This tasks is completed through building buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictitious people (think Sim City characters) that are types of customers your business has and wants. These are your IDEAL customers, the ones that you will tailor your content for. 

2. Map the Content to the Sales Cycle: This is an extremely important stage of successful content marketing and requires the content creator to be very in tune to where their customers are along the sales cycle. This map is called the buyers journey and incorporates three stages: Awareness (content to increase brand awareness), Consideration (content to increase number of marketing qualified leads), and Decision (content to turn marketing qualified lead into a sales qualified lead). Through these cycles it is imperative to tailor the content to where the customer is located on the map. This is done through six types of content: white papers, cases studies, video, detailed tech guides, info graphics, and/or blogs.

3. Create the Content: Now it is time to get your hands dirty. Many would think that short succinct posts would be the best content - time is money, right? However, longer content receives more inbound links, a better rank on Google, and more social shares. Before reading this I was thinking the magic word count was around 500, but that is wrong. To rank in the top 10, it is 2,000. To me, this seemed way too much content for the busy individual to read through. Who has time to read 2,000 words of content? Well they don't, if you do not capture their attention. That is why HubSpot stresses the importance of an intriguing title, and implementing a short 140 character synopsis to provide an overview of the content to fully capture the readers attention.

4. Promote Content: We all wish this wasn't the case, who wants to pay money to promote content that should organically succeed? Unfortunately, sometimes even the most groundbreaking content does not reach a surplus of viewers eyes without a little help. The three most effective promotional efforts are Google AdWords campaigns, social media campaigns, and email marketing. Yes, I said it, email marketing. Oh the insanity! Didn't cavemen use email to sign up for Geico insurance? Although email is often viewed as a decrepit method of communication, it still remains as one of the most effective marketing tools. Think about this, how many people have all of their emails synced together and sent directly to their phone? I know I do. Now, how many people have every single tweet or Facebook post notify their phone? I sure as hell know I would never do that.

5. Measure and Analyze: Now that you've created all this great content and promoted it, you must measure and analyze it's progress. Maybe you've been targeting the wrong audience or demographic. Maybe your audience checks their Facebook more than their email. Here is where you look at the amount of page views, number of shares, what was read the most, keywords used to find the content, and how many leads were generated. The end goal is to see which channels or methods provide the most amount of conversion rates - whether that's sales or subscriptions, that's up to you. 

Fundamentals of Blogging:

HubSpot does a killer job articulating the fundamentals of effective blogging. Before watching The Fundamentals of Blogging video, I saw blogging as a way to express an opinion, using various sources, about said topic. Now I've been exposed to the etiquette and tricks of blogging. Here they are:

  • As referred to earlier, blogs must possess compelling titles with keywords (55 characters), a meta description (140 characters), and be optimized for mobile use. There are several types of blog titles (actionable, keyword conscious, brief, clear, definitive, and intriguing), in which the creator must choose based on the audience they are attempting to attract and the topic their content addresses. Do not provide misleading titles, that will only aggravate your audience and eradicate your credibility and the loyalty to your content. A meta description should be a synopsis of your content in the length of a tweet. If you can't summarize your content in 140 characters, then you may need to narrow your scope.
  • Focus on one topic! Too many times blogs will proceed to go off on a tangent, and completely neglect the main subject. Your main subject is why someone clicked on your blog, not some irrelevant facet of information. So, if your blog post is an informative piece on real estate market trends, do not begin blabbing about the banker who wouldn't refinance your home. Somewhat related, but your audience is reading to gain a perspective on when to buy or not buy a home. They do not care why Jeff from Bank ABC is an asshole. 
  • Blog, blog, blog, and blog some more. The more index pages on your website, the more chances you have to be found online because of keywords, new leads, and inbound links. This is an SEO home run, and it is free.  But remember, it is important to blog about recent industry and industry-related news that is directed at your customer persona and their common questions. These blog posts can be articulated in a negative or positive tone. If a current industry issue pisses you off, blog about it. It is likely pissing someone else off too. 

The Content Marketing God

Now for the section you've all been waiting for. I'm sure you've had some assumptions about who I was going to name as the Content Marketing God. Maybe Arianna Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post) or Michael Arringtons (founder of TechCrunch). But no, I wanted to take an unorthodox approach to crowning the Content Marketing Wizard. Meet Mario Armando Lavandeir, Jr. - more famously known as Perez Hilton.

 


Perez Hilton's website is essentially a celebrity gossip blog. Once dubbed 'Hollywood's Most Hated Website' for scrawling rude and obscene articles about celebrities, Perez Hilton is ranked #6 in The Guardian's 50 Most Powerful Blogs. How could I, right? Name Perez Hilton the Content Marketing Wizard?! Although unorthodox in his approach to blogging, Perez provides his audience with the content they want. Perez Hilton has effectively identified his audience and their needs, and consistently satisfies those needs through blog postings and various other media related content. According to Quantcast, Perez Hilton's web demographics show his predominate audience base to be females ages 18-44. No offense to the females out there, but what do females ages 18-44 typically like to do when they congregate? Maybe while sharing a bottle of wine? Gossip, and especially about celebrities. Perez, being the smart content blogger he is, registered this desire to have gossip-worthy news regarding celebrities, and began writing. The rest is history. 


Digital Marketing by Dylan

Written by Dylan Langei

About Me:

Greetings onlookers, I am Dylan. Originally from Santa Rosa, California my parents decided that 360 days of rain better suited our family and we relocated to Bellingham, Washington after a short stint in Orlando, Florida. I am currently undergoing Western Washington University’s one year Accelerated MBA Program, and this past June I earned a Business Administration, Management degree from Western. My professional experience is limited, but I am currently maintaining jobs at both Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU) and Western. I have enjoyed five splendid years at WECU, and just began last year at Western as a Graduate Assistant. After graduation I am stuffing a 70 liter backpack and embarking on a journey around Europe for two months. Post my return, a relocation to Seattle is in order to pursue a career in the field of real estate.

Why Digital Marketing?

I chose to enroll in this course as I have discovered a strong passion for marketing while in the MBA program. Digital marketing is an essential component of marketing as a whole, as the movement towards the Internet & electronics is inevitable. Due to this, I would like to expand my knowledge of engaging stakeholders via social media and various electronic devices. I hope to leverage this expansion of knowledge while applying for jobs and/or escalating my position at a company.

Learning Objectives:

I would like to of course become certified in Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Hootsuite, and Inbound Marketing. I am particularly interested in Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) as I currently dabble in web development. In my dabbling I have built myself a personal website and my friend’s business a website. SEO is a facet of web development I have not yet mastered, and is on my “bucket list” if you will.

Article Discussions:

Soft skills vs. hard skills. Meta-skills vs. technical skills. Which should we soon-to-be college graduates focus on to enhance our personal branding come job searching time? The article Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Marketing Jobs in the 21st Century provides a quantitative study that aims to answer this. Our academic system is an obvious Belieber of promoting the development of technical skills over meta-skills, and many academic studies have supported this belief. However, the areas of marketing knowledge where there were no significant differences between job levels are marketing research, selling, Internet marketing, promotion/advertising, public relations, and merchandising. This means that no matter the marketing position, subject knowledge in these areas are equally as important. Suddenly a silver lining begins to appear. Many recent graduates are well-versed in the use of technology, in which they may leverage to become competent in said skills above. Technology has provided us with tools to master marketing research, selling, Internet marketing, promotion/advertising, public relations, and merchandising. Social media ad campaigns, marketing automation software, and the ability to create viral videos are just some uses to leverage technology and prove acquisition of these vastly required skills. According to Radius, the year 2015 is in the growth cycle of marketing technology. I find this relieving for our generation, as most of us are technologically competent. As technology matures we will mature with it and continue to leverage its advantages to maintain marketing jobs in the 21st century.

Mobile ads will continue to surpass email and social, society will continue to adopt mobile commerce, and social media spending will continue to increase. These are not revolutionary assumptions brought to our attention by US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016 – but are certainty vital to how marketers are transitioning themselves away from traditional marketing and into interactive marketing. Consumers are beginning to demand relationship management where transactions are not merely a monetary exchange, but a conversation takes place. According to Gravoc, interactivity takes place when consumers can control when they view the products and what type of products they are viewing, the pace at which they review products, and the ability to order or request information directly. Because customers have the Internet to compare products and make informed purchasing decisions, businesses are forced to provide the customers more control. Interactive marketing combats this transition of power that has been given to the customer. Direct sales are becoming too costly and unwanted by consumers. This might just be me, but I always ignore pushy door-to-door sales visits from the CUTCO Cutlery salesperson (except for this My Wonder Cleaner Salesman – he is awesome). Now, marketers are forced to leverage interactive marketing through mobile ads, mobile commerce, and social media to engage consumers in a non-threatening discussion. Consumers feel safe on their mobile phones and computer, and therefore more inclined to make a purchase.

There is an obvious disconnect between what job applicants believe they are qualified for, and what an employer expects from an applicant. It is illustrated in the State of Digital Marketing Talent article that organizations are experiencing significant challenges in locating talent due to inconsistency indicated in performance expectations and an over reliance on subjective referrals. This is because the current job matching services and application forms ignore fundamental components to screen for a long-term employee. Many job applications request a resume, cover letter, and various other ambiguous details. Yes, work history and reasoning behind a person applying is important, but is not enough to conclude prolonged employee retention. Companies must consider components such as; work environment preferences, personality, behaviors, and interests. Establishing these mechanisms within the hiring process will build a more cohesive match between an applicant and the company. Employee turnover is an enormous cost burden on a company as well, equating anywhere from 16-213% of an employees salary according to the Center for American Progress. Businesses need to shy away from such a heavy reliance on resumes, as they only suggest exposure to various experiences but do not always translate to on-the-job abilities. An applicant’s resume could suggest they are completely competent in analytics, but if the work environment is not conducive to their preferences, they may become unable to produce satisfactory work. That is why it is essential to integrate culture meshing criteria in job searching efforts.