A User Marketer Asks: Why Is Nobody Talking About User Marketing?

Dataiku Company Alivia Smith

Everyone in the startup universe knows that everything they do should be centered on the user. So why isn’t "user marketing" a thing yet? Is it because no one is doing it?

gif ghost hug

I still remember having my whole world turned upside down when the amazing product manager at my former startup first introduced me to User Experience Design. And as others know, once you’ve been introduced to the basic principles of UX, it becomes the only possible way to approach everything in life. It’s kind of the modern equivalent of the Illuminati. Except probably not really. Basically, there are those who know and those who don’t. If you are not a part of those who know, read this article right away. (And please come back, I’ll wait.)

So I’ve become that annoying person that’ll criticize every single app’s onboarding process. My favorite sentence these days is “So THAT’S how you do that?!! Well if I didn’t see that right away they should have designed it that way.”

gif I will believe in you More importantly, UX Design has changed the way I work as a marketer and helped me grow into my current job: User Marketer at Dataiku! Because my job today is all about the USER and how to make our users’ experience as awesome as possible. I’m basically their BFF, checking in once in a while, getting excited with them about all their cool projects, and organizing parties for them.

With the new year coming, I had to sit down and think about our user marketing strategy for 2016 and thought I could maybe profit from what other people had to say about it. And much to my surprise, I could not find anything about user marketing! It seems crazy that even though pretty much all the innovative companies out there talk about how important design, and specifically User Experience Design is to them, that somehow that hasn’t overlapped into marketing..?


Because All Marketing Should Be About the User

The obvious answer is that no one talks about user marketing because all marketing is already about the user. Everything anybody does in marketing should always start by someone asking themselves who they're doing it for, where that person is coming from and where they want them to go. But often enough it just isn’t.

Every marketer is guilty at some point of wanting to do what they want the way they want it, extrapolating from that and forgetting what the end user experience is about. Even I do this all the time! I sometimes forget that just because I don’t mind getting CRM emails from my favorite companies every day, this doesn't mean our users will appreciate it. I mean marketing is so much fun sometimes that I tend to forget that what I do shouldn’t always just be fun (or in other words: you can’t just put GIFs everywhere).

gif just keep swimming Even more often, you forget to think of the end-to-end experience of what you’re doing. You can send out an awesome email and skip testing out every single step of the process, on mobile and desktop, to see exactly what the user sees. You also sometimes forget to take a step back to clear your mind of everything that seems obvious to you to really get a clear perspective (no, maybe your user doesn’t know all the ins and outs of distributed data storage).


Sometimes, we lose track of our users a little because, let’s face it, we’re all super super busy!

User Marketing Is EVERYWHERE

But the main reason I think user marketing hasn’t become a thing yet, is that user marketing is about taking into account the whole user experience, not just part of the funnel. The way I see it, user marketing ranges:

  • from how users are being acquired,

  • to how they are onboarded,

  • to what their first experience of your product is,

  • and all the experiences they have after that;

  • real life contacts at events and conferences,

  • and emails

  • and content;

  • for clients,

  • and prospect clients,

  • and users who’ll never be clients,

  • whether they’re ambassadors or more shy

So yeah, that’s a really big job, and not one person can (or should) do it.

This makes user marketing more about a general way of considering every part of marketing, from product marketing, to content marketing, press relations, community management, events marketing, and social media! It also includes relations between what sales and marketing teams are doing, and even product design.

In reality, every single person in a startup has a part in user experience, not just the UX design team. Sales teams are trained to be centered on their prospects and clients these days, and understand their needs. And pretty much every startup out there knows that designing and developing a product or service has to be focused on the User. So it’s about time marketers start looking into what part they have in providing users the best experience possible.

Getting Started at User Marketing Is About… Data?

gif just keep swimming Starting a user marketing strategy really isn’t very hard. Being a user-focused marketer is just about switching how you think of your work and putting it into context. You just have to think in terms of vertical user paths: what was my user expecting when he first found the company? How did he get started? What has he done since? What should he do next in order to get to the place I want him to be?

Your new goal is to make sure your user finds what he needs every step of the way.


The first step to that is to look at your users, just like any good UX designer does, and look into what your user is doing. Not just by asking him, because obviously everybody lies about what they want and what they do (DUH), but by looking at analytics.

I know this sounds really obvious, but it really isn’t. Because as you’ll find out super soon, your user data is all over the place! It’s on your site collected with trackers from various acquisition funnels, and it’s in your product with each action taken, but it’s also in your emailing, your sales platform and basically any tool you use!

And of course all of this data is incredibly messy, because very few people use the same fake names consistently to download random e-books and content from sites.

So There You Have It, Your User Marketer Roadmap:

  • Figure out how to get all the info on your user from all these different sources in one place.

  • Then look at it and start building those personas.

  • And then focus everything you usually do on what those people want and need. EVERYTHING.

If you need help with getting all your user data together, you should definitely try our (free) community version of Data Science Studio and reach out to let me know how it goes ;)

gif you got this

PS: Let’s start talking about user marketing! Let me know what you think, what you do, how wrong you think I am :)

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