Today's leaders face quarterly pressures to hit important conversion and retention numbers. I've been in many brainstorming sessions with smart product and marketing managers to dream up big ideas to hit those goals, and I’ve watched teams celebrate when two of their 10 test ideas end up lifting response rates at the end of the quarter.
But what if we could set bigger quarterly goals, knowing we could make nine out of 10 test ideas lift? When we uncover knowledge of our customers’ behaviors, motivations, and barriers and use this data to drive our quarterly road maps and campaigns, we can do just that.
However, due to time constraints, skill limitations, and cumbersome data silos throughout the company, many marketing leaders steer clear of data-driven design and assume it will be too much of a hassle.
Demystifying data-driven design
There is no denying that data-driven design requires an investment of time and resources, but I firmly believe it is well worth the effort. Great design is impossible without great data powering it, and when you invest a few hours upfront — using data to both design and validate your creative proposals — you’ll launch superior marketing campaigns and user experiences right out of the gate.
The following three strategies will help any company ramp up its data skills to craft more impactful, better-converting campaigns and experiences:
1. Bring all hands on deck. Much of the data you need already exists within your company; you just need to compile it from a variety of sources. This will be easier than you expect.
You likely capture demographic data already, and you can generate insights from online user research within a few hours. Post your campaign or website to a service such as UserTesting, and note any conversion barriers that arise. On a recent artificial intelligence chatbot project, we generated a 45% increase in conversions using this technique.
Also, consider gathering teams from across the company to watch how people are using your product. In the past, our teams have pored over customer service feedback, observed mouse flows of people using the site, analyzed the latest demographic findings, and more.
Once your marketing and UX teams know prospects' and customers' top concerns, you can eliminate these barriers to drive increases in conversions and retention. Other departments can enjoy similar benefits, so feel free to enlist their help.
2. Build and leverage personas. HubSpot reports that websites built with personas are up to five times more effective than those built for a generic audience. Try developing personas of your customers with the highest lifetime value and use them to craft highly personalized, relevant experiences. Include their motivations, tasks, behaviors, likes, and dislikes.
You'll find demographic details such as age, gender, and location through platforms such as Google Analytics. Use this data to create personas of your highest-LTV customers and then plug these users into a service such as Next Caller to gain even deeper demographic insights about them.
Use your results to influence future product designs and campaign strategies. When possible, gain direct feedback through on-site or email surveys, and update your personas based on that information.
3. Prioritize problem-solving. The end goal of data-driven design is to solve problems. Specifically, it's meant to help customers overcome barriers along every step of their journey.
From this day forward, every time you hear a teammate say, “I have a great idea,” work together to go deeper to identify the specific user problems the idea will solve. Focus the bulk of your time and resources toward design projects that address ongoing customer needs, as those are the ideas that really push businesses forward.
By taking this approach, we recently helped a fitness company that thought it had saturated its audience capture new markets. We uncovered data that revealed six unique groups of potential new segments and tested carefully crafted, audience-specific social campaigns and conversion funnels to uncover a brand-new audience that drove 300% more conversion than the control audience.
Finally, create a road map of the customer journey, and pinpoint exactly what's working and what isn't on every marketing channel. A majority of marketing leaders admit they don't have a firm understanding of their customers' journey; a journey map will clarify this and help your teams zero in on problems they can solve through enhanced design. Leveraged correctly, customer journey maps are akin to treasure maps. They lead you to gold.
Data-driven design guarantees that your campaigns will be more relevant, more inspiring, and higher-performing than the shot-in-the-dark strategies of yesteryear.
Why cross your fingers and hope for a 10% improvement when you can grow 10 times over with certainty? Data-driven design requires some investment, sure. But it will result in the best ROI your department has ever seen.
Allison Bucchere is a creative executive leading teams to drive business growth through design innovation. She is currently the vice president of creative and UX at LIFT Agency.
Allison brings over 20 years of experience including previous roles as VP of design at AOL, Global Head of UX at pearl.com, and many years on the board of directors for AIGA.