In putting together digital marketing strategies for 2017, many brands have the same idea. Review what worked from last year, compose innovative marketing across different channels, find ways to increase conversions, etc. But what many brands also have in common is a tendency to neglect one of the most important and overlooked components of digital marketing. I'm talking about user experience (UX), and there are a number of reasons that brands should spend some time looking into it.

Why User Experience Matters

If you think about it, user experience is one of the most important factors for conversions, shares, and every other positive user behavior. Users are making decisions about brands based on the things that affect them instantly, like page speed, whether or not images load, the number and type of ads they encounter, ease of accessibility and navigation, etc. Before a user even encounters the content or products of a brand's website, they encounter these elements of website design and user experience. This means that user experience; as much as anything else plays a critical role in how far into the pipeline you'll be able to get users.

Recent research paints a similar picture, too:

  • 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won't load or take too long to load. (via Adobe)
  • 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive. (via Adobe)
  • After reaching a company's website via a referral site, 50% of visitors will use the navigation menu to orient themselves. (via KoMarketing)
  • 44% of website visitors will leave a company's website if there's no contact information or phone number. (via KoMarketing)
  • 44% of website visitors will leave a company's website if there's no contact information or phone number. (via KoMarketing)

If you look beyond the statistics, the message is loud and clear: User experience and design make an immediate impression on users and determine future interest and interaction with a brand.

Why is UX getting overlooked?

The digital marketing mentality has a lot to do with producing more. More campaigns, more content, more engagement, more conversions-it is so largely centered around producing more presence that UX tends to fall by the wayside for brands. That's because UX deals with what's already there, whether it's a website, an app, or any other type of online presence.

Compared to content production or campaign brainstorming, UX can feel somewhat foreign to novice digital marketers. Many brands often think it's something that takes care of itself during initial website construction, or that user experience and design are things entirely in the hands of a web developer. For these reasons, UX tends to get overlooked and neglected by brands for things that pull more instant and tangible results (PPC ads, SEO, content marketing, etc.).

What You Can Do

The best thing you can do is test the UX of your website to gain key insights about your audience, your brand experience, and your weaknesses. Contrary to the widely held believe that UX testing has to be outsourced, there are ways you can do it yourself without breaking the bank. Here are a few beginner resources to get the ball rolling.

  1. HubSpot: Even if you're not looking into a website redesign, testing like you are can have some serious benefits. By testing your current website design, you can reveal the areas that create snags throughout your conversion process and find where your competitors are out-performing you. HubSpot has a guide of 7 different tests you can do to review your UX and discover what needs to change.
  2. Moz: If all of this is totally new to you, then Moz Academy's beak down of the intersection of SEO and UX is a good starting point. It'll walk you through the best principles and basics. You can then explore the subject further and learn how to do your own testing through Moz's many resources on design and UX.
  3. Creative Insights: Creative Insights has a beginner-friendly, highly effective two part series on testing UX and design. Part One and Part Two can be found on their Medium channel, and both provide step-by-step approaches and practices to assess your UX.

Something to keep in mind...

A strong user experience makes for successful digital marketing strategy and a healthy online presence. All the optimization and traffic in the world won't do any website much good if it can't convert, which makes a positive user experience invaluable. Make sure user experience is high on your digital marketing priority list this year.