Weeks before his death, Einstein advised, “Try not to be a success, but rather to be of value”. He was obviously referencing the need for present-day marketers to reach desired outcomes through high-value communications with subscribers.
Today’s consumer interacts daily with hundreds of brands attempting to achieve this feat, receiving emails, texts, push notifications, ads, social posts, and more at a rate that would send a medieval peasant into an aneurysm. Modern omni-channel strategies, while effective, often overwhelm subscribers rather than prime action, and multiple marketing teams within the same organization can complicate the issue. To pile on, competitors use similar strategies – so how do campaigns truly stand out amid the noise?
To avoid the dreaded audience fatigue, we go over three strategies to set boundaries, create more personalized experiences, and prioritize campaigns. When combined, these will ultimately provide that value subscribers seek and make you look like Einstein to your boss.
Why Audience Fatigue Hurts ROI
The key to successful omni-channel marketing lies in seamless customer experiences, regardless of the channel used. However, this is difficult to achieve when messaging and frequency become inconsistent or overwhelming.
For example, if a customer receives a promotional email, sees a display ad, and then receives a push notification all within a short period of time, they may feel bombarded and overwhelmed, potentially leading to frustration. Should this experience become normal, contacts take remedial measures such as unsubscribing from messaging lists, marking emails as spam, or deleting apps.
For marketers, audience fatigue harms a brand’s reputation and removes the opportunity for future campaign ROI from affected contacts through the form of decreased engagement rates and lower conversion rates.
Furthermore, email service providers tend to view high unsubscribe rates, low engagement rates, and high spam complaint rates as signals that the emails being sent are unwanted, and they will respond with measures to reduce email deliverability or even block emails from being delivered altogether.
For these reasons, marketers must strike a balance between campaign output and audience expectations. By monitoring engagement rates and regularly reviewing their omni-channel marketing strategies, marketers can spot the signs of audience fatigue and take action before ROI suffers.
Strategy 1: Set Boundaries
Setting expectations is the foundation of any successful relationship, and it’s no different for marketers and their subscribers. To establish respect between both parties, brands must take two steps:
- Set Frequency Preferences: Offer subscribers the ability to set their own messaging preferences by frequency, channel, and content type. Not only does this avoid overloading contacts with too many messages, but now messaging becomes more targeted based on previously defined preferences.
- Offer Opt-Out Options: Provide subscribers with an easy and visible way to opt-out of receiving communications altogether. This option should be prominently displayed in every email to ensure that subscribers can access it.
- Respect Opt-Outs: I did say two steps, but some organizations decide to ignore opt-out requests. Actually removing contacts from lists and databases when they unsubscribe is not only legally required but prevents further spam complaints.
Strategy 2: Create More Personalized Experiences
This isn’t 1950s broadcast advertising — customers expect personalized communications, not mass marketing. Personalization starts with sorting subscribers into the right segments. Each group receives targeted content based on what would most likely drive action.
Demographic data includes personal characteristics such as age, gender, income, education, marital status, occupation, and other similar attributes.
- Example: An insurance company wants to target seniors aged 65+ for a life insurance campaign.
Geographic data gets used for location-based segmentation and often includes country, region, state, city, and zip code.
- Example: A national restaurant chain expanding into a new state and prospecting for new franchisees would limit targeting to relevant area codes.
Psychographic data relates to a consumer’s personality, values, beliefs, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle.
- Example: A political organization divides up communications on an upcoming election, sending out different messages based on subscribers’ political party affiliation.
Firmographic data, commonly used in B2B marketing, includes data points such as the size of the company, industry type, revenue, and other similar attributes.
- Example: A major accounting firm only targets enterprise-level organizations with certain headcount when creating its newsletter list.
Technographic data relates to the technology and devices that consumers use, such as their preferred social media platforms, devices, and software.
- Example: A marketing organization sends a survey to users referred from Facebook to inform future social campaigns on the platform.
Social influence data is based on the social influence of customers, such as how many followers they have on social media or their engagement levels with other brands.
- Example: A retailer wants to identify and target influencers for potential brand advocacy opportunities based on the potential number of customers each could generate.
People are defined by their actions, right? Behavioral data offers more personalized data on consumer behavior such as purchase history, browsing behavior, purchase frequency, and other similar data points that show a greater intent to convert than demographic data.
Contextual data relates to the content that consumers interact with, such as the websites they visit, the keywords they search for, and the topics they engage with. This gives insights into where a consumer falls within the buyer’s journey and informs the level of purchase intent.
- Example: A dealership receives a new batch of blue sedans and retargets consumers who have searched for similar criteria on their site within the last 30 days.
Customer Lifetime Value provides segmentation options based on the subscriber’s expected lifetime value to the business. Targeting high-value customers with personalized offers and experiences provides a more reliable stream of revenue.
- Example: A nonprofit organization plans a campaign around customers with high CLV as their end-of-year donation drive begins.
Segmentation based upon a subscriber’s engagement level with the brand, such as how often they visit the website or interact with the brand’s social media accounts, is often used to help marketers identify loyal customers and target them with exclusive rewards or offers.
- Example: A streaming company targets customers with low engagement most likely to churn with a nurture campaign promoting new, exclusive releases.
Marketers use channel preferences to segment customers based on their preferred channels for communication and engagement.
- Example: A restaurant wants to incentivize mobile app use, so the marketing team devises a list of users who prefer the app to send an exclusive free drink promotion.
Purchase history involves segmenting customers based on their past purchase behavior, such as those who have made repeat purchases, those who have made high-value purchases, or those who have made purchases within a specific product category.
- Example: A retailer targets a customer who recently purchased rainboots with an email promoting a new line of raincoats.
Attitudinal data segments customers based on their attitudes and opinions concerning brand satisfaction, recommendation likelihood, and brand loyalty. Marketers can use the insights they glean from this feedback to tailor content to individual desires.
- Example: A mechanic shop factors in recent survey feedback to evaluate which customers should receive a signup offer for the loyalty program.
Finally, marketers often map out the customer’s journey from initial awareness to final purchase and segment customers based on current phase, such as those who are in the consideration stage, those who are in the decision-making stage, and those who have already made a purchase.
- Example: A property management company wants to create a renewal upsell campaign to all current residents in good standing.
Whether behavioral or demographic, using subscriber data to tailor omni-channel content based on specific interests and preferences not only boosts conversion rates but reduces the number of irrelevant messages subscribers receive.
Strategy 3: Prioritize Campaigns
Bombarding contacts with too many campaigns can lead to message fatigue and result in contacts ignoring or unsubscribing from future communications. Prioritizing campaigns, while reducing touchpoint quantity, also reduces the risk of these negative actions and keeps contacts engaged with more relevant content.
Test the following strategies to see how you can best optimize each customer touchpoint.
- Use A/B testing: Testing shows the optimal channel frequency for the contacts of different segments. By testing different frequencies and analyzing the engagement metrics, marketers can find the sweet spot where subscribers are more likely to engage.
- Use a content calendar: Outline the dates, channels, types, and themes of a team’s campaigns. By planning ahead, marketers ensure nothing gets through the cracks and they don’t send too many messages to the same group of subscribers in a short period of time.
- Control message frequency: Marketers can generally control messaging frequency to specific segments of their lists. For instance, if a team sends daily emails to a certain group of subscribers, they may want to reduce the frequency of that campaign to every other day or weekly to avoid audience fatigue.
- Prioritize campaigns based on importance: To avoid email fatigue in particular, marketers can prioritize their campaigns based on the importance of the message. For example, a product launch announcement would be more important than a weekly newsletter, therefore taking precedence. To complement this effort, the team could do the following with the newsletter:
- Skip that week.
- Move the send to a different day for that week only.
- Reduce the newsletter list for that week to only those who would not receive the product launch announcement.
- Develop a cross-departmental process: Use the strategies above within your own team, then work to implement them across the entire organization. Different departments, company leadership, and even different brands under the same umbrella all compete for consumer attention, so monitor campaigns from a bird’s eye view to defend against audience fatigue.
Modern consumers understand the difference between a mass marketing campaign tailored to the needs of marketers and a personalized campaign tailored to their needs. Make sure you’re able to find the balance between campaign throughput and respect for your audiences’ mailboxes – you may not get another opportunity.