Ads versus user experience? There's no contest

I just had to smile at the article I read today. The headline was ‘It's More Likely You Will Survive a Plane Crash or Win the Lottery than Click a Banner Ad’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against banner ads as a well-thought-out component of an integrated marketing plan. But I can’t help thinking that there’s still something out of whack for a lot of digital campaigns. Namely, the balance between spending on ads versus the web user experience.

I’ve seen this more than once. Lots of time, effort and budget invested in things like AdWords, but the web site itself is totally neglected from a user interface point of view. This is madness. Once a web visitor gets to a web site, it has to be fit for purpose. This is a core business necessity, not a ‘nice to have’ feature.

In fact, according to a report from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA), 77% of agencies believe that poor website user experience (UX) is a weakness for their clients, making poor UX the most significant weakness agencies identified. But why is UX so important? 

Here are a few questions worth asking yourself about your own web UX:

1. Missed opportunity salesis the obvious place to start. Do you know your number? It’s big, I promised you. It’s not unusual for great UX to increase sales two or three-fold simply by getting the right information to web users at the right time. Things like slow loading pages also cause visitors to very quickly lose both interest and the propensity to spend. Do you know the percentage of visitors that successfully complete something like an online registration compared to those who start it?

2. What’s the impact on your business? In March 2014, Forrester released the “Business Impact of Customer Experience” report. The analyst group estimated that moving from a below-average customer experience to above average would return $1.4 billion in additional annual revenue for wireless carriers, $1.4 billion for Airlines, $494 million for insurers (up 61% from 2013), and $572 million for retailers (up 152% from 2013). 

3. Do you know your customer engagement scores? After all, 4 in 5 people who don’t get what they want from your site within seconds will quickly look to another site. First impressions count.

4. While customer satisfaction can usually be found on most business agendas, when it comes to web strategy, very few consider their potential to disengage employees. Have you? Is your web site something that your people can be proud of, and most importantly USE?

5. What’s your exposure on the IT investmentor the project as a whole? The thing about technology projects is that ultimately, they’re made for people, not machines. Around 20-25% of IT projects fail, and even more fail to deliver return on investment. If you ignore UX, you’re increasing your risk.

6.Mobile. Expectations here are every bit as high as at the desktop. Are you ready?

7. What credibility judgements are visitors making about your brandbased on their web experience? Being able to consume content effectively online massively boosts visitor confidence. 

Around three quarter of web users are learning about a company and its products from its web site and blogs rather than its ads. Ignore UX at your peril.

Share this...