User-Centric Marketing Explained — Week 3 review, CXL Institute

Learn why user-centric marketing is very important, understand the top task analysis, and how to use customer mapping to understand what your target customer really wants to accomplish.

Aaron Ejeme
8 min readApr 12, 2021

The lesson for this week was handled by Paul Boag, and he is a user experience and service design consultant.

This week’s class was slightly over 2 hours long, but it had a lot of very valuable information, and it took me some time to understand the whole material as I had to literally watch each lesson at least twice.

Last week when we learned about how to build a growth process, we understood that it is very necessary for you as a growth marketer to map the journey of your customer and see where it aligns with the funnel/growth model.

But we know very well that the digital world has changed a lot of things in our relationship with customers.

As consumers, when we type something into Google, we get all of those results back, we are instantly overwhelmed with so much information and we’re forced to narrow our choices.

In many cases, we lose interest a few seconds after we visit a website especially if it doesn’t resonate with you.

To succeed in this new reality, we need to focus less on our product, but more on the customer and how we can provide them with value.

These are my key takeaways from the lessons for this week:

  1. Why we need a user-centric approach to marketing,
  2. How to adopt a user-centric approach,
  3. How to build a picture of your audience with a survey,
  4. Discover the power of top task analysis,
  5. Customer mapping: what it is and why it can help, and
  6. How to run a customer journey mapping workshop.

Let us discuss each of these points one by one.

Why we need a user-centric approach to marketing

User-Centric marketing relies heavily on user research and user experience design.

This is why we need a user-centric approach to marketing:

  1. It seeks to use digital tools to better understand users and their journey so that we design our marketing strategy around them.
  2. It looks at ways to validate our approach to a campaign at every step of the way.
  3. It aims to adapt our campaigns once they’re launched to maximize their effectiveness.

How to adopt a user-centric approach

A user-centric approach to marketing starts by really understanding your audience, and in this section, we got to understand why traditional customer personas are not enough anymore.

To adopt a user-centric approach, these are the three things we need to understand:

i. Why we need to know more about our users beyond things like their tastes and backgrounds:

If you want to persuade a person to do something, the better you know them, the easier it is to convince them.

In this vein we need to really know our customers if we want them to take action, the better we know them, the easier it is for us to persuade them to do something.

We need to understand what they are trying to achieve, what their goals are etc.

This is where user-centric marketing starts.

ii. The Importance of understanding the user's tasks and questions

This is very important because consumer behavior is rapidly changing, and this means we need to keep up-to-date.

This also means we need to understand their questions, their tasks, their objections, their goals, and their feelings.

iii. Why mapping the customer's journey is so fundamental to success

A person doesn’t suddenly decide to buy, it is a journey that they go on, and it takes a series of steps.

How they feel, what questions they have, what concerns they have etc, will all change as they go on that journey.

With really understanding a customer’s journey map, it is easy for us to know exactly where we should be putting our effort and invest our resources.

That way, we can tailor our messages appropriately for where they are in the journey.

3. How to build a picture of your audience with a survey

To get real insights from a survey, the key is having a very clear idea of what you want to know going in.

- What you should be looking to discover when running a survey

When running a survey, you need to have a very clear idea of what questions you want to be answered, in some cases, it might mean asking just one question in your survey.

Ask yourself: What will answering that question enable you to do?

- How to avoid the common mistakes of running surveys

When running a survey, the common mistake we make is focusing the survey on who our audience is.

Instead, we should focus on what they want to do — what tasks do they want to complete? What are their goals? What is their pain point? Are they objections that stop them from acting? etc.

- How to avoid surveys undermining the user experience and conversion rate

To avoid undermining user experience and actually getting people to fill our surveys, we need to do the following:

1. Pick the right moment to ask.

2. Keep it short and simple — sometimes, one question is enough

3. Explain why you are asking — why do you want to know this information? what are you going to with it?

4. Don’t ask for personal information

5. Offer them incentives.

4. Discover the power of Top Task Analysis

Convincing people to take action mostly comes down to answering their questions, and addressing their objections, but the truth is that some questions or objections are going to be more relevant and pressing to people than others

We need to know which of these are deal-breakers, and which are nice to be answered.

To achieve this, we need to run a particular type of survey called the Top Task Analysis

What top task analysis is and why it matters

The top task analysis was originally created by Gerry McGovern and he used it to identify what task users most wanted to complete on a website so that the task could be prioritized.

Just like how the whole concept of growth marketing was built on the Lean Startup Methodology, we as marketers can use a variation of the Top task analysis to understand what questions and concerns a user have, and what questions they need addressing before they are willing to take an action.

The Top task analysis is a great way to understanding people’s questions and their objections, as well as what they are trying to achieve.

What is top task analysis so important?

We have to quickly address any questions or concerns that people have, and we want to address those that are most important.

If we focus on the right questions, our conversion rate will go up.

How to run a Top Task Analysis

Running a top task analysis is straight forward, follow these steps:

Step 1 — Start with brainstorming every question, every objection that a user might have about your product and service.

Step 2 — Take these questions and combine any ones that are similar to one another and also removing anything that is specific.

Step 3 — Simplify those questions down into a very simple statement. For example, anything to do with the features of the product should just be called “features”

Step 4 — Run a questionnaire or survey on your website, social media, or wherever you want to push it out, and ask people to rank that list of items by one to five.

Paul Boag made a promise in the course that this technique really works, and that you will end up with a whole load of data about the questions that really matter.

I have made plans to try this Top task analysis with my team, and I will share my experience with you.

What to do with the results of your top task analysis

After running the top task analysis, you will find out that only a handful of things really matter to people, while the rest are more a distraction than anything.

What you should do is to focus on the top questions or top tasks and use those to shape everything from our Facebook Ads, to our Email campaigns, and to our Website.

It can even affect our visual designs, our landing pages, and it can be used to help us decide on what calls to action we should be prioritizing on our website.

The top task analysis is not a magic solution, and it will not solve all of your marketing problems.

It is very focused on one specific thing, and that is enabling you to prioritize your messaging by understanding what questions and objections matter most to users.

5. Customer mapping: what it is and why it can help

What we learn about the customers from our research needs to be clarified in our minds and then clearly communicated to colleagues across our organization, and this is done through a customer journey map, which is a more effective approach than the traditional personas.

What the role of a customer journey map performs

A customer's journey while interacting with our product has different characteristics along the way.

A customer journey map is a visualization of that journey, more like a story of the target customer using our product or service.

A customer journey map cannot be 100% accurate, instead it a story that is designed to help us conceptualize what the journey is.

How it is better than a traditional persona

Marketers have been using personas for years, but as we learned earlier, personas are not always the best fit, because they are not always focusing on the right things.

The biggest issue with traditional personas is that they are static — they are just a snapshot in time and they don’t reflect the journey that the customer goes on, right to the point of conversion.

What a customer journey map typically contains

A customer journey map consists of two components:

First is the steps in the journey, and then secondly the information about the user that you want to gather at each step along the way.

The information that you want to gather for each step of the journey tends to be consistent, covering topics like — what questions the users have, which tasks they want to complete, what feeling they have, and what touchpoints they encounter.

Remember that customer journey mapping is not meant to be 100% accurate. It is a story that helps you to understand your users better.

My Personal Thoughts

This week's lessons were quite a lot of information all in one, and I realized that at some point, I am going to have to run through each of the lessons again.

My main goal is to take these practical lessons and apply them directly to my own business.

So in my next posts, I am going to share how I used the lessons from this week to do the following:

  • Create a Top Task analysis survey, and
  • Organize a customer journey workshop with my team members.