Day 33/100 : Enhancing Collaboration Between UX and Marketing with Aaron Yen

Day 33/100 : Enhancing Collaboration Between UX and Marketing with Aaron Yen

For day 33 of #100DaysOfDesign, I had the privilege to speak with Aaron Yen, Marketing Manager II at Amazon on the Alexa Canada team. Our conversation delved into the intricate dynamics between UX and marketing, offering valuable insights on how these two crucial domains can collaborate effectively to drive successful projects. This article provides practical advice on how UX designers can work seamlessly with marketing teams from Aaron's experiences.

The Gap:

What is the difference between UX and Marketing for a business strategy?

UX and marketing, while seemingly at odds, are intrinsically linked. Marketing focuses on maximizing return on investment by aligning prospective customers with value, often through strategic and targeted efforts. On the other hand, UX is dedicated to creating seamless, enjoyable experiences that ensure continued product use. Without quality products, marketers cannot convert leads, and without interested leads, UX cannot serve a customer base. The synergy between these fields is essential for a holistic business strategy.

Example: When Bell designed the touchtone telephone, they tested three designs, choosing the fastest one with the lowest error rate. This decision, driven by empirical data, set a new norm in telecommunications.

Why is Business Design Important?

Aaron explains business design and UX design are crucial for creating products and services that not only delight users but also achieve business objectives. Business design focuses on integrating design thinking into strategic planning, ensuring solutions are economically viable and aligned with market needs. UX design, on the other hand, prioritizes the user's experience, making products intuitive and enjoyable through rigorous research and testing. The intersection of these disciplines ensures that user-centered designs also support business growth and innovation, leading to solutions that are both effective and sustainable. Together, they create a synergy that drives successful and impactful product development.

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Source: Rotman

How do UX and Marketing fit into Business Design for a company?

Business design integrates product development into broader business contexts, iterating on revenue models, operations, strategies, and technologies. UX and marketing apply customer-centric focuses from different angles, both benefiting from prototyping and iterative testing. This approach allows companies to balance financial influx with necessary updates, driving innovation and growth.

Example: Business design at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management involves applying product development principles to business operations, strategy, and technology, allowing for rapid adaptation and growth.

Practical Collaboration Tips

What are some practical tips for UX designers to improve their collaboration with marketing teams? Are there specific tools or processes you recommend?

  1. Skill Development for UX Designers: UX designers should develop a T-shaped skillset, integrating marketing knowledge. Follow vocal industry professionals on LinkedIn for the latest trends and strategies. This approach helps UX designers understand the broader context of their work and how it aligns with marketing goals.

  2. Effective Communication and Collaboration: Strategies for effective communication include aligning on goals and metrics. Consult finance teams to prioritize key business metrics, then map these to pre-sale (marketing) and post-sale (UX) stages. Regular meetings and collaborative tools like Slack, Trello, or Asana can facilitate better communication and project management.

  3. Aligning Goals and Metrics: Use a northstar scorecard to highlight business priorities. For example, if brand awareness is a key metric, UX designers can create experiences that enhance engagement and reach. Aligning on a few key metrics helps both teams focus on what matters most for business success.

  4. User Research Integration: Integrate UX user research into marketing strategies to create a cohesive user journey. Understand customer appeal at each stage to build a complete business strategy. Sharing user research findings with marketing teams can inform campaign strategies and help tailor messages to customer needs.

  5. Maintaining Design Consistency: Ensure consistency in design and brand voice across UX and marketing efforts. UX teams can contribute by adhering to brand guidelines and creating experiences that align with the overall brand message. Regular reviews and collaborative workshops can ensure that both teams are on the same page.

Context of Marketing for UX Roles

What are the levels of marketing from startup to mid-sized to enterprise?

  • Startup Marketing: Startup marketing is narrow. It’s quick and focused towards generating outcomes from targeted customers, often with the intention to drive conversion, with an emphasis on UX driving the quality of uniquely differentiating or best-in-class product experiences.

  • Mid-sized Marketing: Strategies from individual contributors and/or managers revolve around growth-oriented development and product trends. There is a balance of relationship building among customers through a sustained middle-funnel of consideration campaigns, where UX can be segmented into prime-focused features and premium offerings.

  • Enterprise Marketing: Strategies are highly affected by reputation through partnerships, awareness to gain market share among large segments, and customer value that is value-based and revenue-driven. UX has a role here in applying experiences that support the brand, while changing aspects of customization that relate to bigger-picture influences, like thematic or sales calendars.

Skill Development for UX Designers

What skills or knowledge should UX designers develop to better understand and support marketing efforts? How can they stay informed about the latest marketing trends and strategies?

Just like how marketers should be T-shaped in their skillset, where a deep foundation into a specific aspect should be supplemented with arms that broadly reach a variety of areas, UX designers can adopt marketing as one of the arms. My best tip for understanding the latest marketing trends is to target vocal LinkedIn profiles in industries and companies that are of interest. Just following marketing or product managers who love to showcase their work can turn LinkedIn into a faster news outlet than people can catch on, because posts come from the direct source - the people who built those things.

Effective Communication and Collaboration

Can you share strategies/tips for ensuring effective communication and collaboration between UX and marketing teams? What are some examples of successful projects where these departments worked well together?

Aligning goals and metrics between UX and marketing teams is crucial. By creating a simple, short-listed northstar scorecard that highlights the barebones impact of the business priorities, both teams can ensure they are working towards a common objective. Understanding the financial aspects of business, as well as customer engagement metrics, helps in creating a unified approach.

Example: At Amazon, aligning the goals of the Alexa marketing and UX teams involved regular collaborative sessions to review customer feedback and marketing performance, ensuring a cohesive strategy that enhanced both user experience and market reach.

Aligning Goals and Metrics

How can UX and marketing teams align their goals and success metrics to ensure they are working towards a common objective? What are some practical steps to achieve this alignment?

The best “process” to reach an alignment is to consult finance teams on their KPIs for monetization and revenue-generating aspects of the business first. From there, prioritize 3-5 singular metrics that can describe business position and growth towards a financial perspective, and then ladder into pre-and-post sale (pre-sale for marketing, post-sale for UX).

User Research Integration

How can user research conducted by UX teams be effectively integrated into marketing strategies? Could you share an example of how user insights have positively influenced a marketing campaign?

Marketing and UX are at opposite ends of a customer journey spectrum. Marketing is about creating and generating leads before a customer purchases a product, and design is about keeping customers engaged with the experience of the product. Both are dependent on each other for a full user journey, and understanding what appeals to customers at each stage is crucial for building business.

Example: At Amazon, user research insights about voice assistant preferences were integrated into Alexa's marketing strategies, highlighting features that resonated most with users, thereby increasing user engagement and sales.

Maintaining Design Consistency

What are the best practices for maintaining design consistency and brand voice across UX and marketing efforts? How can UX teams contribute to ensuring a cohesive brand experience?

Maintaining design consistency involves regular communication and collaboration between UX and marketing teams. UX teams can ensure a cohesive brand experience by adhering to brand guidelines and creating user interfaces that reflect the brand’s voice and values. Regular design reviews and collaborative workshops can help both teams stay aligned.

Top Tips for UX Professionals

What advice would you give to UX professionals to better understand and collaborate with marketing teams? How can UX designers play a significant role in developing and enhancing marketing strategies?

  • Ask Good Questions: Engage deeply in the product development lifecycle to understand marketing needs.

  • Stay Updated: Follow trends in marketing, such as AI-driven campaign customization, to find parallels with UX design.

  • Align Goals: Work closely with marketing to align on key metrics and objectives.

  • Collaborate Regularly: Hold regular meetings and workshops to ensure ongoing collaboration and alignment.

Marketing-Focused Topics

What are the latest trends in the marketing world with regards to creative development that could be similar to UX?

Similarly to UX design, marketing leverages AI to expedite and mass-release campaigns for products. Customizing experiences for target audiences via prompt engineering has allowed traditionally tedious aspects of marketing, like multicultural tailoring or localization, to shift into more strategic focuses for marketing, where managers now need to think less about executing and more on wider outreach or partnerships.


Marketing and UX are at opposite ends of a customer journey spectrum. As a marketer who has not seen the product, they develop a funnel to highlight the value of the product. How do we take the budget or reputation we have and add as much value as we can to ensure a seamless customer experience?

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