Last week I attended a fantastic new conference in Manchester called TalkUX. The aim of the conference was to look at the latest thinking in User Experience (UX) and understand the breadth of the topic. While a lot of the subject matter was consumer focused, there were some interesting examples of how UX relates to b2b.

What does UX mean?

Before looking at how UX relates to b2b marketing, let’s look at what it means.

I can honestly say at one stage I had no idea what it meant. UX is a digital industry term that has crept up over the last few years as the multitude of customer interaction points continues to grow with mobile applications and social.

“‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products” (Nielsen Norman 2014). However, it’s also important to distinguish the total user experience from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design. In a sense, its service design and ensures customers/prospects get what they expect from interacting with a brand digitally.

How is UX relevant to b2b marketing?

There were a number of areas discussed at the conference that clearly resonate with b2b audiences. Customers expect to be served wherever they are and businesses are having to look at reaching users in a more individualised way. At the heart of UX is ensuring an experience that aligns with the expectations of your brand.

My top 2 examples of UX in a b2b context are as follows

  1. International UX

When it comes to international brands and communications, the role of UX becomes particularly apparent. Understanding how customers of different nationalities interact online and what that means for adjusting the experience shines a spotlight on the need for UX considerations.

For example, if your business is going into the Chinese market how does the data capture experience need to be different? If you leave contact forms and CRM systems in western formats you could end up speaking to a customer on what you think is first name terms, when in fact you end up addressing them as Dear Smith. Similarly, assuming a global one size fits all approach to creative and the customer journey might not reach and resonate with distinctive cultures.

A final example comes from the Middle East, where the weekend runs Friday-Saturday. If events and communications aren’t tailored to this audience then they’ll encounter a poor UX. Using geo-location to bring up content that’s relevant to your audience could be a simple workaround and scheduling emails to go out on their Monday e.g. Sunday could see much better engagement.

  1. Mobile UX

Another huge UX area to consider for b2b is mobile. As mobile web usage is set to overtake desktop over the next year, understanding how customers interact with mobile along the user journey is crucial. Especially when it comes to search, as 72% of buyers are using mobile devices when researching purchases.

Something as simple as using coding language (micro formats) to make the company phone number callable from a mobile can make a big difference. Think of the times you’ve probably had to copy, paste or pinch to extract the number and ring the company you were trying to get hold of. Subtle little touches like this all add up to create a cohesive and aligned experience for customers across an array of digital touch points.

When it comes to developing your next marketing campaign or plan, consider developing user profiles and investigate trends in analytics. Taking the time to get a deeper understanding of your audiences’ wants and desires can pay dividends when your customer ends up having a seamless experience.

So in summary, getting into the mindset of your audience will ensure your brand delivers a digital experience that stands out from the crowd.

This blog was originally posted on BDB.co.uk where I was a Digital Project Manager working with international b2b clients. 

http://www.bdb.co.uk/insights/b2b-blog/2015/march/12/the-role-of-user-experience-in-b2b/