When it comes to receiving marketing messages, everyone has a different tolerance level. ‘Communication or contact fatigue’ means different things to different people, but the bottom line is, when customers stop opening emails, ignoring messages and unsubscribing you know you’ve crossed the line.

Getting the balance right is the key to avoiding communication fatigue from your customer base – and something marketers have been striving to do for years. Access and visibility into first party data plays a key role, but having the technology and people on board who can apply it effectively can mean the difference between a loyal customer and an exasperated one. 

Designing a smart communication strategy that balances these elements can help to ensure all of your marketing efforts are aimed at keeping your customers engaged during each step in their journey. This article provides tips to help you build this strategy to maximise communication, minimise contact fatigue

Communication and cooperation 

While it is nothing new, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having a single view of each customer you target. Techniques like micro-segmentation go a long way to ensuring marketing messages are as relevant and tailored to individual customers as possible. These can misfire without clear cross-department access to first party customer data or visibility into what another team is doing, however. For example, a lack of communication across departments can lead to one customer receiving five emails in one day from the same brand.

More often than not, siloed campaigns are delivered by siloed departments. What you may see as distinct, individual, targeted campaigns, the customer will likely view as too many communications from the same company. 

Any team that touches CX needs to be operating in the same space, communicating with each other. Combining technology to keep customer data and information secure, updated, visible and accessible with an agreed customer contact strategy means that teams across the organisation can time their campaigns to help avoid contact fatigue. They can also ensure that each customer is receiving relevant communications at timely intervals targeted to their needs and preferences.

Technology to start, people to test

Technology goes hand in hand with cross-company communication, collaboration and visibility. Using predictive analytics, machine learning and AI to come up with the next best action based on a customer’s complete data can help teams prioritise, problem solve and make decisions. These tools not only make micro-segmentation possible, but can help teams use customer preferences to determine which of the five highly relevant offers mentioned above should go out via which channels on which days and at which times. 

This is not to say marketers should relinquish all control to ‘the machines’, but to allow software and tech to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to micro-targeting at the start of campaigns. To avoid missteps, the team should retain control throughout and step in when it comes to refining and testing the messages. 

Speaking of missteps, I recently had a run-in with what I assume was mis-managed technology when I booked a flight to London with an airline I’ve used many times before, using one-way fares. No sooner had I booked my ticketsonline, then I was not only sent my confirmation details, but a series of emails offering hire car discounts and tourist tips for Seville – the city where I live! 

This airline has years of transactional data on where I live, my frequent destinations as well as other preferences – which I can only assume were left unchecked by a human, not shared across department or ignored completely as I was clearly sent on an automated customer journey not at all tailored to these.

Perhaps my knowledge of marketing makes me less patient with receiving a number of misdirected offers than the average customer – and if I’m being honest, I won’t completely rule out flying with the airline again because of this (they have the direct flights and fares I’m looking for). I would argue, however, that these clearly automated communications do make me much less likely to engage with the brand, recommend them to others or put them at the top of my list when I’m making future travel plans. 

Measuring success – focus on quality not volume

Internal communication and technology aside, there is a cultural issue at play when it comes to communication fatigue – the way we measure marketing. Vanity metrics have their place in helping to raise a brand’s profile, but when a campaign’s success is still primarily judged in the boardroom by the number of communications sent out, you are essentially sacrificing a positive customer experience to volume. 

Measuring ROI by volume is a false economy. By prioritising quantity over quality you are more likely to perpetuate communication fatigue. Most consumers feel that ‘less is more’ when it comes to marketing. According to Optimove’s 2023 Consumer Marketing Fatigue Survey, 66% either feel ‘bombarded’ or wishing for fewer messages from brands.

Measuring ‘volume’ not by the number of messages sent out, but by the number of transactions or repeat visits they generate can go a long way to reducing contact fatigue and building great CX. Setting goals, KPIs and measurements that include customer engagement and interactions can encourage marketers to prioritise fewer, more relevant messages over prescribed journeys – putting the customer first and helping change perceptions of ROI and what a successful campaign looks like. 

Post-campaign analysis also has a key role to play in campaign measurement. This important step often gets lost in the pressure of deadlines or the focus on the next project. Conducting an analysis into the challenges, positives and customer responses following the delivery of each campaign can highlight any issues, such as frequency and relevancy.

Sharing the feedback across departments and with the team who designed the campaign in the first place means missteps in these areas can be flagged and addressed as part of your smart communication strategy. This not only helps to improve future campaigns, but also to combat contact fatigue and build great CX.

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