Statistics abound on just how much customer contact is too much – and the tipping point is likely to vary a great deal between sectors and contexts. But to give a rough idea…
- A study in 2011 found that over a three month period, customers found any more than four emails unacceptable (and, interestingly, were happy with up to ten pieces of ‘snail mail’).
- This journalist lost her temper after receiving 5-7 emails daily.
- Econsultancy here references a survey by BlueHornet, which found that frequency, rather than content, is cited as the main reason people unsubscribe from email lists – as well as a MailChimp survey that agrees, stating that ‘frequency and engagement are negatively correlated’.
You check your emails and find a promotion from one of your favourite brands, asking you to try out a new product. You read it with interest, and think you’ll get back to it shortly.
Next you check out Twitter and Facebook. That same brand’s got promoted posts taking up the top half of your screen. Fine.
You head to your browser to search for a birthday present for a family member. Up flashes a promoted advert for the same company.
Finally, you go back to your inbox and have another email from the same business – this time in relation to a product you bought a few weeks ago. Did you love it? Have you considered buying it in red?
Sick and tired yet?
Customer contact fatigue is a major problem for marketers and salespeople the world over – not to mention the customers on the receiving end. No one wants to be bombarded with disparate messages too frequently. In fact, let’s face it – calling it customer contact fatigue might be a touch optimistic. Carry on bombarding those people and they won’t remain customers for long.
It’s also a specific challenge both of the digital age, and for growing businesses. Email marketing, social media, online message boards and forums are fantastically powerful digital marketing tools – they’re also so convenient that it’s all too easy to message people too much. Meanwhile, companies with fast-growing and changing departments are also the ones most likely to have different divisions targeting the same customers – and this process, unless it’s managed very carefully, inevitably leads to overlapping and competing messages.
Customer contact fatigue has negative consequences internally too, before we even get to the risk of ‘turning people off’. Multiple, disparate or overlapping communication is difficult to manage, in terms of both practical execution and the reporting and analytics that result. It’s far harder to keep track of customer sentiment and lead journeys when each individual has received ten communications rather than one or two.
How to strategically manage your campaigns and avoid customer contact fatigue
The main message is: don’t worry about a ‘magic number’ of too many pieces of communication – instead, focus on:
- Generating engaging, personalised content, so that regardless of messaging volume, each recipient feels they’ve received a tailored approach.
- Ensuring everything you do send is comprehensively and centrally managed.
This is where marketing automation platforms like Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) come into their own.
Cross-campaign controls alleviate the problems of disparate tools, divisions and solutions all talking to the same customer. Instead, all campaigns, no matter where they’re generated or where they’re targeted, are centrally planned, designed, executed and analysed. Email marketing is perhaps the most obvious application but software like this is designed to manage every element of the marketing process, from campaign planning to ROI assessment, with events incorporated too.
There’s no denying that comprehensively managing a marketing campaign has traditionally been exhausting – for the targets as well as the executors. But just as technology has played a role in generating customer contact fatigue, so it offers innovative ways of reducing the burden and of course improving response rates.