Experience mapping; informing youth engagement strategy

Experience maps are chronological summaries of user experiences that we develop at e3 as part of our Discovery process. They represent the detail of what happens to a user, what they do and how they feel. They don’t show what could happen or what we might advise happens in the future. Similarly, they are not an end in themselves. Experience maps are design tools that empower us to make informed decisions about what would be the best interventions to improve a user’s experience of a digital product or service. Their value is attached to the fact that the more granular our understanding of the process we are disrupting, the more effective our intervention will be; meaning a greater return on investment for the client.

At the Youth Marketing Summit (YMS) in London in March, we ran an experience mapping workshop for brands including Nike, Expedia, ASOS and Birmingham City University. Nicola Hinds, e3 Director of Strategy introduced the session by arguing that millennials aren’t an amorphous mass, and that working with that assumption will be at your peril. Following this, James Lock, e3 UX Lead, shared our award-winning work for the Royal Navy recruitment programme.

During this talk, he discussed how that for some, humanitarian work could be the purpose that inspired engagement, whilst for others imagining being part of an organisation with history and tradition was the gravitas that could trigger an application. Building on these examples, James explained how, regardless of channel or media type, content exploiting these opportunities were actioned consistently across the Navy digital estate. The finishing statements demonstrated the explicit link between primary research, rarefying it into a usable format and generating content based on these findings; conversions have increased by 32% since this work has been delivered.

Building on this introductory session, a wider e3 UX team then delivered a workshop during in which the delegates investigated the particular needs of a young audience, using career journeys as the theme.

The key take-outs were as follows:

1. Help young people find their purpose

Whatever the context, Generation Z are looking for meaning. Your brand will gain ground if it can facilitate this connection, but remember not everyone that falls into this wide segment is looking for the same enlightenment. Use insight to identify the own unique opportunities that can make you stand out.

2. Make you research specific (and broad)

You’ll likely initiate research with a particular end product in mind, but to get more from it, don’t shape your approach so that findings can only be relevant to a specific output. Make decisions based on primary research if you want the results to be unique to your brand. Accept that things you find out might challenge very safe assumptions – if this happens, you know that you are doing research right.

3. Experience maps show us what we need and when, personas provide the detail of how to deliver it.

Rarefy the data that you collect into personas and experience maps. Understand that these artefacts are design tools, not standalone outcomes in themselves. Your unique opportunity might be an app, a campaign or a website; make the decision on which route to go down with reference to ROI.

4. Think about your audience in terms of their needs.

When designing products and services, avoid decision making with reference to generational groupings or how an individual might fit into your organisation. If some needs are contradictory or confrontational, develop a paradigm for prioritising the potential outcomes. Almost universally 16 – 24 year olds expect regular, personalised communication. These need to be relevant to their specific needs and you need to make that happen.

5. Insight. Experiment. Review.

Launching your product or service should only be the beginning of your journey. Temper your passion by measuring the impact of your insight. That said, don’t stifle creativity with data, but do make sure that user testing and data analysis are used beyond campaigns and web builds.

If you’re interested in experience mapping your customer journey, get in touch now.