Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Conversion Rate Conundrum: Common Mistakes and What to Do Instead

In real estate, the axiom is location, location, location. It’s first and foremost. The number one consideration.

For your digital efforts – email, web pages, eCommerce platforms – an argument could be made for a few different ones: search engine optimization (SEO), the user experience (UX), conversion rate optimization (CRO), or perhaps something else entirely.

Ask five experts and you’ll probably end up with five different answers. But what’s really the end goal? Why are you doing whatever it is you’re doing?

Conversion, conversion, conversion.

Whether that means signing up, downloading, opting in, subscribing, or purchasing, you want your target to do something. Ultimately, everything else should be assisting that one objective.

With apologies to Meghan Trainor, I’m going to suggest it’s all about that CRO. SEO is obviously necessary, but traffic alone is meaningless. And the UX? A happy and satisfied user is imperative, but try paying your rent with one.

So, at the risk of drawing the wrath of the SEO and UX camps, they both fall under the CRO umbrella (they’re all very, very important, though). But – and this is a big but – it’s a massive mistake to believe that SEO and/or UX alone will do much for your CVR.

Start with the end in mind. You need to focus on specific ways to improve your conversion rate.

CRO: An Uphill Battle

Consider this: a couple of years ago, 80% left a site without doing anything. No conversion. That figure is up to 96% in 2017. The global average CVR of online shoppers early this year was 2.48%. Those stats are a bit scary.

The good news? With numbers like that, things can only get better. It just takes time, effort, and a systematic, active approach.

But don’t fall victim to these traps, pitfalls, and mistakes.

Your Mistake: Focusing On the Wrong Things

Quick question: would you rather have something beautiful, or something functional? Would you rather be clever, or understood?

I’ll be blunt…beautiful things are nice, but functional things are essential. And that goes double for your email marketing, website, eCommerce portal, or app.

And clever? Don’t get me started. Clever headlines and subject lines don’t mean a thing if no one clicks or opens them. Consumers want to know what it’s about immediately. They don’t want to have to guess or click or open before finding out (and most won’t anyway).

Be functional. Be clear. Full stop.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good looking website. Nor should your headline be boring and the first dull thing that pops into your head. Quite the contrary. But if you’re putting beauty over function and cleverness over clarity, you’re doing it wrong.

A breathtaking site that’s confusing and awkward to navigate but bursting with clever puns, wordplay, and double entendres may win you fans, but few or no conversions. Which do you want?

Do this instead…

Put your customers first. Consider their wants and needs. Use every available data source – analytics (Kissmetrics goes much deeper than Google…just sayin’), industry studies, surveys, polls, etc. – to identify and create detailed buyer personas. Then, create a site for them.

But don’t stop there. Once you have it where you think it should be, have others take it out for a spin. Try an impartial and third-party service like UserTesting to get invaluable video of real people using your site. Where did it fail them? Take that insight and tweak.

Next, turn to the old standby: A/B testing. You’d be surprised by the big results you can get from tiny changes. Use a testing tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer to confirm your theories about colors, placement, copy, design, images, and more.

One site saw a conversion lift of 304% simply by moving the CTA button from above-the-fold to below it.

Don’t make it look pretty. Make it practical.

Having said that, a cheap, outdated design with grainy stock photos isn’t going to cut it, either. People won’t trust it – or you – and if they don’t believe you’re trustworthy, they won’t convert. Keep your design clean and modern, and use high quality images of your products and people.

Finally, always opt for clear – Get Your Free Trial – over clever – Click or I Kill This Puppy.

Your Mistake: You’re Targeting Just One Platform

Desktop. Tablet. Mobile. Which one is most important?

It’s a trick question. You’ve no doubt heard a lot about the increasing role of mobile devices when it comes to the online world. Chances are virtually everyone around you is staring at their smartphone screen.

Google announced a change to its algorithm in mid-2015 that made mobile-readiness a ranking factor. Since then, more people access the internet on a mobile device than a desktop computer.

Like any good webmaster, you’ve dutifully checked the mobile-friendly tool and made sure your pages passed the mobile test. Kudos.

But the desktop is not dead. Far from it.

Image Source

More people shop weekly online using their desktop than a mobile phone, and the same number shop daily using both.

Traditional desktop computers still boast a higher conversion rate than both tablets and mobile phones. In fact, desktops had a CVR that was more than 3x higher than smartphones for American shoppers in 2016 (3.55% vs 1.15% respectively).

Mobile at the expense of desktop? Bad idea.

So how about desktop over mobile?

We’ve already mentioned that more people head online using a mobile device than desktop computers, so you’d be waving goodbye to a huge chunk of potential.

And when it comes to your local market, you’re missing out if your platform isn’t mobile-ready. More local searches result in a purchase when made on a smartphone than those made on a desktop (78% vs 61% respectively).

Finally, 59% of smartphone users expect a website to be mobile-friendly and feel frustrated when it’s not. They’ll leave and likely never return.

No mobile? No way.

Image Source

Do this instead…

The solution should be obvious. Desktop or mobile? You need both. And tablets, too. Create a website or portal that looks and functions equally well on all three, and you’re ahead of the curve.

In big markets like the United States, Canada, China, and the United Kingdom, the vast majority are multi-platform people.

Image Source

Try a tool like Screenfly or WhatIsMyScreenResolution to see for yourself. Is everything legible? Are the buttons and links spread out and big enough to be easily tapped on a touchscreen? Do you use more scrolling than clicking?

Google recommends you use a responsive site design rather than dynamic content or a separate mobile URL. And it’s best to follow their advice. Of course, there’s a lot more to mobile optimization, but this is enough to get you started.

The key takeaway: Don’t sacrifice one for the other. Design and optimize for desktop, tablet, and mobile, and watch that CVR head north.

Your Mistake: You Don’t Care About Speed

This can’t get any simpler: speed matters. For your customers and the search engines. So be fast.

As you beef your site up with tools, HD images, videos, and more, your speed suffers. If you believe that a practical, responsive site and good products are enough, you’re wrong. Why?

Because if your page takes too long to load, they’ll leave before even experiencing any of that.

Nearly half of web users expect a page to load in under 2 seconds, and 79% won’t return to a site with performance issues like slow load times.

As much as 83% of users expect a page to load in under 3 seconds, and a 1 second improvement in your load time can produce a 7% increase in conversions. That’s right.

The godfather of eCommerce – Amazon – experiences a 1% loss in revenue for every 100ms delay…that’s just one-tenth of a second.

Do this instead…

Care about speed and load time. A lot. Actively work to make your pages faster and more streamlined.

Google suggests that your site take no more than 2-3 seconds to load. At most. How do you measure up?

There are other mistakes that negatively affect your CVR: you give up too easily (solution: retargeting, cart abandonment emails, etc.), no social proof (solution: add social proof), weak call-to-action (solution: make it active, make it clear, test, and optimize), and more.

Check out some of the great tutorials by Neil Patel, Glide, Kissmetrics, and HubSpot if you want to dig deeper and go further. In the meantime, find and fix these three mistakes to shift your CRO into overdrive.

Because online, it’s conversion, conversion, conversion.

About the Author: Daniel Kohn is the CEO and co-founder of SmartMail, a company that helps E-commerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Download SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jumpstart your E-commerce email marketing program.

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Transform Photos into Art with Deep Learning

Life is like a camera. If things don’t work out, you can take another shot. But if you get that perfect picture, you will want to capture the moment and, perhaps, transform it into a work of art.

Have you ever seen art so beautiful and resonating that you wish you could transform your favorite photos into that style? Or perhaps you are a frontend developer or designer seeking an easier way to turn your images into something that’s more appealing, or fits the theme for a special occasion or unique scenario? Maybe you have been tasked to come up with a fun photo booth for a birthday party that enables attendees to transform their photos into a style of art they like? Check out the before and after of the photos below as an example:

Before (left) and after (right)

Before (left) and after (right)

Existing platforms like Instagram and Prisma enable users to upload images, apply different  filters and effects, then produce an image with a very unique style and artistic look. However, you may want to build a similar application that provides more flexibility for the type of art, as well as the kinds of images users can upload.

With Cloudinary, developing a platform that enables you turn photos into art is a breeze. All you need to do is add the style_transfer effect to any delivered image while specifying the image ID of the source artwork as its overlay and activating the Neural Artworks addon.

Source artwork (left), target photo (center), and style transfer result (right)

A Closer Look at Style Transfer with Cloudinary

Cloudinary is a cloud-based image and video management service that includes server or client-side upload, on-the-fly manipulations, quick content delivery network (CDN) delivery and a variety of asset management options.

The style transfer effect applies a complex deep learning algorithm—based on the VGG 16 neural network—that extracts artistic styles from a source image and applies them to the content of a target photograph.

Cloudinary’s algorithm takes advantage of Xun Huange and Serge Belongie’s enhancement on the Gatys algorithm, which make it possible to use any image for both source and target, and still deliver a good quality style transfer in real time, using a single feed-forward neural network.

Cloudinary’s implementation is much faster than other available services, not limited to pre-learned images, and even supports high-resolution outputs that are out of scope for similar services.

How to Implement Style Transfer

To apply this effect, simply specify the public ID of the source artwork as an image overlay (l_ in URLs) and style_transfer as the overlay effect (e_style_transfer in URLs). The target photograph is the public ID of the image to deliver. For example:

http://ift.tt/2v12a68
http://ift.tt/2uIA5VI

Source Artwork (left), target photo (center), and result of the style transfer effect (right)

But wait, there’s more!

You can include the Boolean preserve_color option or adjust the style_strength of the effect like so:

Artwork (left), target photo (center), default style transfer (right)

Preserve Original colors in Style transfer (left), adjust Style Strength to 60 in Style transfer (right)

Give Style Transfer a Try

Back to the task you’ve been assigned—creating a photo booth with effects for a birthday party. Here’s a cool, simple app that demonstrates how style transfer works.

See the Pen Style Transfer Demo by Cloudinary (@Cloudinary) on CodePen.

http://ift.tt/2f9FREF

You can start making yours by signing up for a free Cloudinary account and activating the Neural Artworks add-on. There is comprehensive documentation available to show how you can take advantage of style transfer in your applications.

You no doubt have a lot of ideas about how to turn your photos into art. With Cloudinary, it’s easy to make your vision a reality.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cloudinary –]

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Value Creation vs. Revenue Extraction: Which Kind of Business Are You?

There’s a problem in business.

Okay, fine, there are plenty of problems in the wide world of business.

Obviously, there are tons of good things in business brought about by new innovations, advances in technology, and improvements in customer engagement.

But for all the new changes, old habits sure do die hard. Specifically, there are a lot of old ideas that still have a grip on the business world.

These ideas are preventing businesses from successfully engaging present day users.

This is why so many brands are dying out; they’re failing to actually serve today’s customers. Think about your business’s focus, where you’re putting your energy.

Is your business people-first or money-first?

Because the hard truth is that a business that puts revenue first won’t be able to stay afloat in the tumultuous waters of today’s economy. It sounds counterintuitive. Doesn’t a business exist to make money?

Yes. Obviously, you need to think about profit. But when you make that your number one goal above your customers, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

This is more than just a chicken-and-egg riddle.

This is about how and why you do business.

If you haven’t given the issue some thought, I will share a few thoughts that I think are crucial to a business’s longevity and ultimate success.

The point I’m making is simple. Businesses should work to create value not just extract profits.

Let me show you the how and why.

A Primer on Value Creation and Revenue Extraction

In terms of customer interaction, there are typically two general types of businesses: value creation and revenue extraction.

You’ve probably seen both in action before, but you might not be able to tell which one you are.

So let’s start by going over the characteristics of both types of businesses and looking at some examples.

If a business is focused on value, it will naturally put its customers above everything else. (Yes, even above revenue.)

Image Source

As the definition above notes, value creation increases your business’s worth.

Listen to that again: Value creation increases the worth of your business.

How does this happen? It happens because customers are attracted to businesses that can give them something.

The more value you provide, the more attracted your customers will be to your business.

It’s a simple (and scalable) formula, but far too few businesses actually adopt it.

Many companies still believe that a revenue extraction model is the best for doing long-term business.

What’s revenue extraction?

Revenue extraction is the idea of operating a business with the sole goal of getting money from customers. It’s the exact opposite of value creation.

This little image sums it up well:

Image Source

Where value creation is focused on serving, revenue extraction is obsessed with being served.

The type of business makes a colossal difference in how customers respond and interact.

And that’s not just theory. It’s a fact.

Quick caveat here.

Obviously, every business has to focus on profit to some degree.

Why?

It’s simple.

If a business doesn’t make a profit, it doesn’t exist. End of story.

Value creation vs. revenue extraction has more to do with motivation and priority rather than simple accounting.

As I’ll explain below, placing a higher priority on value creation will produce higher revenues.

Let’s look at an example.

UrbanBound is a company that prioritizes value extraction. They weren’t engaging their customers well enough, so they listened to customer feedback and rolled out a new marketing plan that included lots of high-value content.

The results were astounding:

Image Source

That’s what value creation can do.

Okay, that was a positive example.

Now let’s look at a negative example.

From 2000 to 2014, Steve Ballmer was the CEO of Microsoft. As CEO, Ballmer was known for focusing on sales to the exclusion of nearly everything else.

I’m smelling revenue extraction.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Ballmer made it obvious that he was focused on revenue extraction, saying, “It’s easy to glorify the products produced and the reputations won, not the money made.”

Even his exit from the company didn’t stop him from having this mindset. In early 2017, he said of Microsoft, “I want to see more profit growth.”

Sure enough, Ballmer’s attitude contributed to Microsoft’s poor performance during his tenure. The company produced several products that flopped, share price was largely stagnant, and Forbes called him the worst CEO.

ups and downs of steve ballmer

When Ballmer announced his retirement as CEO, the stock price jumped 10%, which ironically enough, added even more to Steve Ballmer’s enormous wealth. He quits, and makes $1 billion. If only we could all be so lucky.

Interestingly, while Ballmer increased Microsoft’s revenue, his reign also saw a dip in customer satisfaction.

Some point to Ballmer as the big bad reason why Apple overtook Microsoft.

Apple, who seems to focus more on the customer, steadily grew its revenue while staying at the top of the American Customer Satisfaction Index for eleven years straight.

Today, the fact that Microsoft lost customers (and that Apple gained customers) in the long term is evident by just looking at each company’s revenue over a ten-year period.

apple revenue after iPhoneImage Source

So what’s the point of all of this?

If you rely on a revenue extraction business model, you’ll turn your customers into enemies.

Your sales might look good for a bit, but that won’t last long.

If you think about human nature, this makes a lot of sense. No one wants to feel like a company just wants to empty their wallets.

Rather, customers see themselves as part of an exchange system. They contribute money to a business. In return they get some sort of value.

Image Source

When customers receive value, they have a huge incentive to come back to your business.

And in a crowded economy, if you want to stand out, you have to win your customers over with a ton of value.

The world’s most successful businesses all think this way, and it’s proven to improve your relationship with your customers.

You might be scared right now, wondering if you’re focused on value creation or revenue extraction.

Here’s how you can tell.

Where’s your focus?

Businesses who focus on value creation and those who focus on revenue extraction look very different when you look at their priorities.

And, really, that’s all this is — a priority issue.

Pivoting from revenue extraction to value creation doesn’t require firing your employees, shuffling top management, or changing your logo.

It simply means an adjustment of priority. That can start with a simple mental shift.

I’ve identified five positive priorities of a value creation business.

1. You put the most effort into creating and refining your products or services with your customers in mind, and you continually take customer feedback into account.

2. You often ask your customers for feedback and maintain a strong online presence, answering questions and addressing complaints.

Image Source

3. You publish lots of free, value-packed content. You might publish so much free content that people tell you to charge for it. Hubspot is one company that does this often:

4. Your company ethos revolves around helping your customers achieve their goals.

5. Your marketing hinges on the benefits your customers will receive from your products or services.

difference between features and benefitsImage Source

Now, let’s go over to the dark side.

Here are five signs that you’re a revenue extraction business:

1. You put the most effort into your pricing schemes and/or create your products or services with profit in mind.

2. You rarely ask your customers for feedback and don’t prioritize your online presence or interaction with customers.

3. You don’t publish free content often, and when you do, it doesn’t provide a lot of value.

4. Your company ethos revolves around maximizing your bottom line.

5. Your marketing hinges on sensational tactics (like clickbait) to get people’s attention using hype.

Of course, it’s not always black and white. In fact, your company may have characteristics from both of those lists. Most businesses tend towards one side or the other.

What about your business?

If you’ve identified your business as the revenue extraction type, don’t panic.

This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail, and it doesn’t mean you have an evil company.

There are several tactical ways to shift from the revenue extraction model to the value creation model.

Value begins with great content

To provide the kind of value that your customers will love, you need to make some serious changes.

In particular, you need to know what your customers want and need and then give them what they’re looking for.

Learning who your customers are is important for every business, but if you’ve found out you only think about revenue extraction, you need to kick your customer engagement strategy into overdrive.

This is where it gets good.

The best way to do this is with a killer content strategy.

elements of content strategyImage Source

If you don’t have one, you need to make one.

But whether you’re revamping your current strategy or creating one from scratch, the steps are more or less the same.

Here’s a good framework for what a content strategy should look like:

Image Source

Let’s break that down.

Step 1: Plan your content

What kind of high-value content are you going to produce? This is a step you should spend some time on.

You don’t want to put out a ton of content if it’s just going to be watered down. Instead, focus on quality over quantity.

There’s a lack of high quality content on the web. If you’re one of the businesses in your niche that’s creating helpful content, you’ll easily stand out.

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Your content should revolve around information that will benefit your readers in some way. Sometimes that means actionable tips, and sometimes that means in-depth explanations.

Remember, providing value needs to be your core mission.

As long as you prioritize that, you’ll be on the right track.

Step 2: Audit your existing content

Even if you don’t have much content right now, you might still be able to salvage some or all of the content you do have.

If you search “content audit,” you’ll be greeted by several articles that focus on SEO.

You don’t have to worry about that too much right now, but you should determine if any content on your site is driving large amounts of traffic.

If you find something, you’ll definitely want to update it.

For all your other content, think critically about how well the content would perform. You can use sites like Buzzsumo to see what’s trending in your niche.

If you choose to keep any content, you should update it. Your existing content is probably low-value, so increasing the amount of value will be your first priority.

Step 3: Fine-tune your content process

During this step, think about how you can make a repeatable, scalable process for content creation. This needs to be a system that you can use time and time again.

First, you need to think about how you’re going to deliver the content. Will you use longform articles? Videos? Infographics?

Second, you need to create an editorial calendar that will map out what you publish and how often you publish it.

Image Source

Basically, you should have a smooth process in place that covers all the bases.

This will take some time to fully develop, so expect to make frequent changes.

Step 4: Set up a performance tracking system

To maintain a powerful content strategy, you need to know what’s working and what’s not.

In terms of content, your success or failure will be measured by how well your content performs.

Performance is generally measured using a few key metrics: views, time on page, and conversion actions (like email signups or even sales). These are also called Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.

You can see all of these metrics in Google Analytics. Once you get familiar with the platform, you’ll be able to track each metric individually to put your strategy under the microscope.

Step 5: Share your content

This is the “marketing” part of “content marketing.” If you’re serious about your content, you want to get it in front of as many people as possible.

Social media plays a big role in this. You’ll want to have a strong presence on the big social networks and share your content on them, optimizing the content for each site.

If you optimize well enough, your content will get lots of views and shares, and your traffic will grow.

One more thing: Having a social sharing schedule will let you make the most of your content.

But none of these steps matter in the least if you’re not delivering value.

That’s where it all starts.

Conclusion

To put it simply, the revenue extraction business model is outdated.

Customers have more choices than at any point in history.

If you don’t like one coffee shop or grocery store, you can easily switch to one of the countless others.

In most situations, every customer has the ability to decide where they want to spend their money.

You have to convince them that your company is worth spending money on.

That’s why so many businesses are utilizing high-value content strategies. People respond to value, and they want to give back to businesses who give them value first.

How are you going to provide that kind of serious value to your customers?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

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Why CEOs Don’t Care About UX and How to Change Their Minds

“UX design doesn’t work…And it won’t make us money.”

Business executives aren’t all that fond of UX design, or even design in general. It’s an incredibly common problem.

Too many executives see good design as an inconvenient expense. At a certain point, executives see UX design as an unnecessary cross to bear. A burden they’re expected to tolerate. If another department needs more money in their budget, design departments are hit first.

You know the value of good UX design, they don’t and that’s the problem.

This Isn’t a Problem for Design Driven Companies

What do Apple, Coca-Cola, Herman Miller, Disney, and Target all have in common? They’re all design driven companies.

The bad news?

Out of the pool of publicly traded companies evaluated by Motive, only 15 companies met the criteria of a design driven company. Others have found the same. So what does this tell us? Most companies aren’t all that interested in good design. UX design and design in general just isn’t a priority.

But you know good UX matters. You see the difference good design can make. It’s obvious, anyone can see it if they’re paying attention, so why can’t they?

Executives can’t see it because they don’t care. Not even a little bit.

They aren’t interested in design as a whole. In fact, most are looking to spend as little on design as they can. Because in their minds it’s just not worth their time.

But why?

We need to get inside their heads if we want to know the answer.

As Designers, We Speak a Weird Foreign Language

We use words like opacity and kerning and descender as a normal part of our everyday conversations. We argue about design trends, which ones are worth embracing, which ones to avoid. We obsess over tiny, seemingly insignificant details, because we understand the importance small details make.

We’re critical of ourselves and other designers in general because we understand the consequences of poor design on a deep and intimate level.

It’s intense.

And none of that matters. Not a single shred of our world matters to the vast majority of executives. That’s a very big problem.

When it’s time to teach executives about the value of good UX design, we choose the wrong approach. We use the wrong vocabulary. Instead of speaking their language, we speak our language.

Almost immediately, executives glaze over and tune out.

This inevitably leads to:

  • Your ideas being ignored or rejected;
  • A loss of income for you, the company, your customers or all of the above;
  • Dwindling budgets as other departments fight for more money from your department’s budget which means department layoffs;
  • A terrible experience for customers, who spend less money or shop elsewhere, making it harder for your organization to survive.

This wouldn’t be happening if executives understood the value of good design, but most aren’t even willing to hear us out. How on earth are we supposed to change their mind?

Grocery Stores Show us How to Win Hearts and Minds

The competition in your local grocery store is fierce. The shelves are lined with thousands of competing products, all focused on one thing: Getting customers to buy their product instead of a competitor’s.

The grocery stores themselves are competing for your attention and your money. It’s a cutthroat environment that only a few stores and some products can survive in.

Their secret? Design.

Your local grocery store is filled with lots of subtle design elements, these elements are used to get you to buy:

  • Customers bought more bananas if their peels were Pantone color 12-0752 (Buttercup) vs the slightly brighter Pantone color (13-0858 (Vibrant Yellow). Growers altered the color of their bananas to produce the desired color.
  • Store layouts are designed around the user experience. It’s a common strategy for grocery stores to show you the produce section first. The bright colors, fresh produce and pleasant aromas lead you to conclude the store is an inviting and ideal place to buy food.
  • Product designers mark up prices strategically on products with strong brand loyalty. Remember the Pepsi Challenge? Pepsi conducted a blind taste test, asking consumers whether they preferred the taste of Pepsi or Coca-Cola. Pepsi won, but consumers continued to buy Coca-Cola. This happens all the time. It’s why people consistently choose the $90 bottle of wine over a $10 bottle, even if the only difference is price.
  • Grocery stores are designed to be traps. A well known study found that people spent 34 percent more time shopping in stores that played music. These stores hide time cues to keep you inside. No clocks, windows or skylights. The rationale goes like this: The longer you stay the more you’ll buy.
  • Product placement on shelves. This study found kid friendly foods are placed at kids’ eye-level. The characters on cereal boxes make eye contact with kids, a clever way to increase influence and sales. Expensive items are placed higher while inexpensive items are placed near the bottom shelves.

There are thousands of examples like these. The process, environment, imagery, ambiance and displays in grocery stores are all designed.

And here’s the interesting part.

Grocery store executives support these design conventions wholeheartedly. Their executives have fully embraced UX design.

Can you see why?

Designers and executives spoke the same language. Executives don’t care about design for design’s sake. Rather, they view design as a means to an end. A way to attract more customers and sales. A way to grow their business.

But the examples above are manipulative and sleazy!

I completely agree. Does that mean you need to approach things the same way they did? Of course not. It goes without saying, you should be honest and above-board with everything you do. But to change an executive’s mind you’ll need to think and talk like an executive.

What Exactly Are Executives Thinking About?

They’re thinking about results. They have a very specific set of problems they’re required to solve on behalf of the company. An executive’s thought process basically boils down to three basic problems.

  1. Will this save money?
  2. Will this make money?
  3. Will this cut costs?

The vast majority of their desires, goals, fears, frustrations and problems tie back to these three problems in some way. Getting customers, selling more product, making more money, it’s all part of it.

An executive’s language is based almost entirely around one of these three core problems.

What does that mean for you?

A request that’s focused on “What’s best for users” is far less likely to work. A request that’s positioned and presented properly is far more likely to succeed.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • “We’ll be able to blow past Q3 projections if we make these four UX changes.”
  • “We’re losing $467,891 a month. We have some UX problems here, here and here that would stop the financial bleeding.”
  • “We can get a 1/3 increase in revenue overnight with these UX design ideas.”
  • “Right now, we’re losing 8 out of 10 customers on our site. With the right UX design, I can get that down to 4 out of 10.”
  • “We can get 1/4 of our customers to spend $250 more per order, per month if we make these UX changes.”

See what I did there?

I know, I know it’s loathsome. The last thing many of us want to do as designers is talk business, sales or marketing. Anything but that. I get it.

Here’s the thing. When you speak the same language as executives you communicate value in a way they can understand. They aren’t as worried about looking stupid, protecting their egos or acting as if they understand the finer points of your job.

They’re focused squarely on the things that matter to them. Get these details right and they look like the hero.

Do this consistently, and they’ll slowly begin to understand

They’ll begin to see why good UX design matters. Why design, as a concept matters far more than they think. And more importantly, they’ll understand why design can help them hit the goals they’re desperate to achieve.

Pitch your ideas the right way, get inside the mind of your executives and you still may fail. That’s part of the risk. That risk drops dramatically however, if you’re focused on them.

Pursuing things this way sends an important message. It shows executives that you understand them. That you’re willing to take their concerns seriously and you’re willing to invest in them.

This is huge because it shows you have potential, that you’re someone they can count on for the future. All because you decided to speak their language.

Executives Think UX Design Doesn’t Work

They’re wrong, but they don’t know it. Their subconscious impression is, UX design doesn’t work and it won’t make us money.

Business executives aren’t all that fond of UX design, or design in general. It’s viewed as fluff, an unnecessary cross to bear.

It’s up to you.

You know the value of good UX design. You can change their perceptions, but only if you can speak their language. Start small, showing executives you can make a difference. With consistent effort and lots of patience, your company can become a design driven company.

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