At Smartly.io, we believe that our success as an online marketing power tool in a fast evolving industry depends a lot on how fast a new user (tech-savvy or not) can get comfortable with our product, and start getting great results. This is largely a UX challenge. First-class usability and workflow are significant competitive factors for us in the long term, and we're now focusing on them heavily.
Finding, educating and retaining skilled performance marketers in-house is difficult for companies who do advertising on a large scale online. The industry develops at warp speed, which makes it demanding for even the most technically advanced advertisers, like those in gaming, ecom, and online travel, to keep up talent-wise.
As more traditional companies adopt online customer acquisition platforms like Facebook, they may find it even more challenging to find talent who can navigate the complex advertising tools, and the different ways to optimize advertising. Yet, we see that also the more traditional advertisers need to master online marketing to survive and succeed in the future.
Minimize time-to-results through templates and ready-made setups
A big product goal of ours is to minimize the time it takes our customers to learn our product. Essentially, it means that a customer should be able to adopt and get successful with the product in no time, regardless of their level of technical know-how. Of course, our support center articles, highly technical account managers, and the 24/5 in-chat support play an important role in helping new users get started.
However, our vision isn’t to become a services company, which is why encouraging our customers to use support chat, or doing managed service, is not a sustainable way to scale our customers’ business. Instead, we aim to make online marketing so automated that our customers can do it successfully in-house, with as little pain and resources as possible. We’re happy to say that we’re on a good track with our goal, as we’ve been able to help customers improve their results without growing their team size.
We have an ambitious goal that our users could learn to become world-class online advertisers through using our tool. The educational aspect of UX design is gaining even more importance now that the talent shortage is tightening in the market. We’ve already built example Dynamic Image Templates so our customers don’t have to start building their creatives from scratch. We’re also working on reporting templates and ready-made setups, to make it easier for new users to measure the right things right from the start.
As our customers have varying degrees of technical expertise, our tool has to be explorable to serve both user groups in the best way possible. Explorability gives the customer flexibility—they can choose to use ready-made setups, or adjust the templates for their own use. Or they can opt for the “advanced settings”, so to say, and fully configure the tool for their own purposes in as much complexity as they want.
Zero repetitive manual work through automation and predictive interfaces
After a customer has successfully got hands-on with our software, we have another significant challenge to tackle. It’s the amount of manual work our customers have to push their way through every day. Our goal is to automate as many repetitive manual steps as possible, from making engaging creatives at scale to optimizing campaigns. We’re also interested in developing predictive interfaces in the future to help our customers succeed.
A case in point about reducing the amount of clicks (and brainpower) needed to make successful campaigns is our Predictive Budget Allocation feature, which maximizes the number of conversions in a campaign by reallocating the budget between delivering ad sets every midnight. Previously, customers were able to increase and decrease budgets with different triggers based on simple if-then expressions. Effective as they were, they included a risk of setting up triggers that contradict each other, or result in unwanted combined effects.
Our data science team came up with a simple solution that uses machine learning to do all the work needed to optimize the allocation of budget between multiple ad sets. The customer only needs to turn it on and choose whether the feature optimizes towards e.g. link clicks or purchases. It’s these simplistic UI solutions that minimize the risk of human error, make it easy to adopt time-saving features, and help get great results with as little manual work as possible.
There’s still a lot to be done
Despite never having an actual product design team, we’ve already been doing many things right on the design front. Our Founder and CTO Tuomo paid a lot of attention to the usability of our product already in the first prototype. After all, one of our unique selling points to customers has been an improved workflow and a smoother user experience.
Since the beginning, our developers have extended beyond writing code to designing their own features. It’s a lot better than it sounds. “It’s rare to have this good UI in a company that hasn’t had actual product designers. I was positively surprised”, says Roman, our product designer who joined the team two weeks ago. We’re also lucky to have developers like Mikko and Hannu, two kick-ass front end developers with strong product design & UI backgrounds, who’ve had a big impact on our UX’s coherence & user-friendliness while the product itself has gained complexity.
We’re focusing on perfecting the workflow and usability of our tool in the future. We see that design should be intertwined with the development process. Our designers will be prototyping quickly, and working on the UX and features iteratively, in super close cooperation with our developer teams and customers.
We’re happy to welcome Roman into the team, and we’re looking for 2–4 product designers to join him in taking our UX to the next level. To us, an ideal product designer is customer-centric, excellent at creating simple yet flexible solutions to complex problems, and works closely with developers.
Would you like to design a tool that’s used by the largest online advertisers globally? Learn more and apply here.