Improve efficiency in the design phase, understand user needs, and be consistent in all your messages. 6 lessons learned at Flupa UX Days.
Improve efficiency in the design phase, understand user needs, and be consistent in all your messages. 6 lessons learned at Flupa UX Days
Finding ideas for how to combine UX and email—that was the objective behind Dartagnan’s first participation in Flupa UX Days. And we weren’t disappointed!
Of course, at this great event devoted to all things UX, many of the workshops were really created by and for UX designers. But some of them seemed to us to be directly applicable to the area that most interested us: email marketing.
In particular, the six conferences that we will summarise here. They were full of interesting lessons—even for non-designers!
1.Scalability, UXandsystem design: issues at the heart of interfaces (for quick and good “design”)
The speaker: Anthony Adam, who today serves as Head of Design for the fintech outfit Pretto.fr, and held the same position with Doctolib after many years working as an independent UI/UX designer.
The conference: in this keynote where he covered the concept of Atomic Design developed by Brad Frost, Anthony Adam summarised the best practices pertaining to the industrialisation of UX processes.
A short(er) summary? Atomic design starts with the creation of atoms (the bricks forming the basis of a design, for example, the CTA). These atoms can then be assembled into molecules (for example, a visual+title+text+CTA module), then into templates (a complete email such as your weekly promotional newsletter), which is then finally adapted to form a finished product.
Rather than the “how”, Anthony Adam spent more time focusing on the “why”:
- improvements in speed
- better design consistency at all levels
- a good quality/efficiency compromise
What inspires us about this for CRM and email: this is the logic that structures Dartagnan and its system of modules: an assembly of basic elements (buttons, titles, separators, etc.), which you can reuse in your campaigns to save time.
The advantage: it’s much more flexible than a single rigid template, while still being sufficiently codified to ensure coherence from one campaign to another. Or from a promotional email to a transactional email, for example, which could share the same headers and footers while having very different message bodies.
The scalability (or Atomic Design) that was so excellently discussed by Anthony Adam has a real limit, however: in the end, it doesn’t really serve your teams’ needs. They become more flexible and more efficient, but what’s the point if it ends up standardising their creations? If, in the case of CRM, they always end up sending the exact same email, merely only changing the visuals and the text?
So, scalability, ok. But yes, and only yes, if all the time gained is used to advance creativity and innovation.
2. The PlayBook belonging to BlaBlaCar’s Product & Experience team (to give your brand personality, including in its messages)
The speaker: Tristan Charvillat has served as Head of UX at BlaBlaCar for a little less than a year, following his stint supervising the creation of BlaBlaLines (the short-distance carsharing app). Before, he worked at Intuit, Paypal, and elsewhere.
The conference: a PlayBook is one of the basic documents for a UX/Design team. What does it contain? At the most basic, the business values that Tristan Charvillat’s team at Blablacar must translate into experiences, (micro)interactions, and ultimately into product design.
— Suzanne Decreme (@sdecreme) June 16th 2018
Starting with five major values (Pitch, Altitude, Radical, Inspiring, and System, which form the word PARIS—a good idea for a French Tech icon), the teams at BlaBlaCar have created a valuable guide for all the experiences that the brand wants to provide their customers and users.
What inspires us about this for CRM and email: every brand has values. Some have formalised them (which is already a first step), but very few have gone as far as translating them into design (or user experience) principles—and especially into email.
So, a PlayBook can turn out to be extremely useful. Being able to refer to it with the launch of every new service makes it easier to ensure coherence. And above all, to ensure that communications with customers and prospects “follow the rules”: the right tone, the right graphics, the appropriate level of intimacy.
After all, email is really the only way to maintain an intimate relationship with all of your potential customers. “Chartering” the way it’s used to communicate with your audience should therefore be a priority. By going as far as “personifying” your brand and giving it a human nature? It seems like a very good way to stand out in the inbox to us.
3. The story arc as it applies to UX (to better script your email sequences)
The speaker: Damien Boyer is the UX Lead at Niji Bordeaux, and has multiple UX projects (for Aldebaran Robotics, Jacadi, Celio, Voyages SNCF, etc.) to his credit.
The conference: numerous examples (of films with sensational intros, then periods of rest, such as James Bond or Indiana Jones, of concerts where the group alternates between an elevated and relaxed tempo, before finishing with a grand finale) helped Damien Boyer to demonstrate that a story (or an experience) is made up of high moments, peaks, and also returns to calmness.
And that everything is a matter of degree. Not enough intensity? We get bored. Too much intensity? Danger.
What inspires us about this for CRM and email: to be frank, we as email marketers tend to design our campaigns with maximum intensity: promos that are by default exceptional, an offer that is, of course, not to be missed, etc.
In doing so, we wear out our recipients. By applying this theory of story arcs, we can introduce a bit of variety: why not send emails without promotion? Emails that are more informative or relational? To be tested…
4. The coffee diagram: a simple and effective method to wake your UX up! (To effectively “pre-test” your messages)
The speaker: Emmanuelle Marévéry is a UX research specialist. She created and led the first User Sciences department at Décathlon, and has led hundreds of studies and product tests. She also designed a simple but fiendishly effective way to design products and experiences with value.
The conference: she calls this method “the coffee diagram”. The principle? The thing that will motivate us to go and drink a coffee in a café or not is a mix of:
- Prerequisites (what is essential to the choice): “I want a black coffee, with sugar, and a stirrer to mix it with.”
- Motivation (what motivates the choice): “I’ll decide if I like the location and the ambiance, or at least if they’re suitable.”
- Extras (nice to have, but can live without): “There’s a concert in this bar. I wasn’t expecting that, but I like it.”
- And, we frequently forget, the cons (what’s so irrelevant that it can deter my intention to buy): “The coffee is served in a steel cup. It’s strange, and I have doubts about how it will affect the taste of the coffee.”
What inspires us about this for CRM and email: this diagram is an excellent guide for deciding whether or not to send a campaign (and how to target it): what are the prerequisites of the offer (who will the product, price, etc. interest?). What could be the motivation (and how do we highlight it in the email), and what are the extras (a slightly “twisted” call-to-action button text? Integrating customer reviews of the product?).
And above all (above all!) what is useless and should be avoided? Rather than shoehorning half a dozen barely coherent products into a campaign, wouldn’t it be better to have three perfectly complementary products that all address the same want?
5. UX Research: bridging industry and academia products (to “sell” the UX to your boss)
The speaker: Jennifer Romano-Bergstrom, Lead of User Experience (UX) Research for Safety Check and Privacy products at Facebook, has thus supervised the creation of the famous functionality that lets us indicate whether or not we are safe and sound.
The conference: at Facebook, Jennifer Romano-Bergstrom was faced with two demands that seemed by nature contradictory: release new functionalities based on real UX research. And do it quickly! Not easy…but very well summarised by Viviane Morelle in this sketch.
— Viviane Morelle (@morellev) June 15th 2018
However, UX Research, one of the main themes of Flupa UX Days, is unfortunately often perceived as a time-consuming (and costly) step. The method discussed by Facebook’s UX Lead makes it possible to be qualitative and fast.
What inspires us about this for CRM and email: in order to best address our content (in emails, which is what concerns us), we cannot overlook the user research stage. To learn about getting to know your recipients, you have to meet them, go out in the field…and that obviously demands a great deal of time, engagement, and creativity.
That’s why the method discussed by Jennifer Romano-Bergstrom seems extremely promising to us: she makes no concessions on the fundamentals (listen, understand, collect quality insights), but somewhat industrialises the organisation process of these meetings between the brand and its public.
6. Designing inclusive products
The speaker: Sara Wachter-Boettcher. An expert in content strategy and user experience, Sara is the author of a biting publication (Technically Wrong), whose sub–title is unequivocal: “Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech”.
The conference: a general criticism of “design for design’s sake“. With numerous examples of “fails”, Sara Wachter-Boettcher discusses the common point of the functionalities that Google, Facebook, and others have had to withdraw or reject: a lack of “inclusive” thinking. Or how, by not considering how a new service or product will be received (by minorities, for example), designers sometimes do more harm than good.
What inspires us about this for CRM and email: as campaign designers or creators, we often focus (naturally) on the positive and interesting aspects of our offers. But it’s necessary to take a step back for a few moments and try to see if they could be taken badly or be hurtful.
A good method to do that? De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats. The basic idea is to don the hat of a neutral personality, then pessimistic, then optimistic, then creative, etc. and to try and better understand how your idea will be received.
Is UX the secret weapon of future email marketing?
It’s better to know your users and increase pertinence. It’s better to understand how they behave and consume your campaigns in order to offer them experiences that will quite simply motivate them to interact with your brand.
We came away from Flupa UX Days with our belief reinforced: that UX will be the secret weapon of email marketers in the future.
And yourself: do you see other aspects of your email programme that a UX approach would help you improve? Do you have projects like this in progress? Don’t hesitate to share your comments with us!