“While I’ve got your attention…”

Xavier Legrand
Author: Xavier Legrand
As Head of Product, Xavier spearheads the strategy for Engage Hub to ensure it not only meets the needs of the market, but also remains the leading innovator of customer engagement solutions. Prior to joining Engage Hub, Xavier was responsible for leading product strategies and marketing projects for multi-national enterprises such as a major automotive alliance and mid size retailers across Europe. Holding an MBA from the London Business School, Xavier is perfectly placed to consult on loyalty marketing using emerging communication technologies to Engage Hub's corporate customer base.

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Just eight seconds. That’s how long the average human’s attention is held for. And when our attention span can be shorter than that of a goldfish, capturing consumers’ attention is no easy feat.

Of course, it doesn’t help that we are exposed to hundreds of messages a day, many of which aren’t relevant and immediately make us click the ‘delete’ button as soon as they land in our inboxes.

The thing is, these days, irrelevant communications from brands are not only annoying for customers but they also do a brand’s reputation no favours. In recent Engage Hub research, we found that nearly a quarter (23%) of UK consumers would consider switching bank as a result of irrelevant communications. Worryingly, though, almost a fifth (17%) thought communications from their bank were always irrelevant.

But this is not an issue exclusive to the banking industry. Something is going wrong and the problem deepens when we consider that, in the world of marketing communications, campaigns have traditionally centred on product news whereby a new product is introduced, or an existing product is updated, with the hope that customers will start purchasing it. This time-bound approach to marketing often has little regard for any data collected about how customers like to be engaged with.

As a result, communications are poorly targeted and impersonal, and are ultimately remain unopened or end up in a customer’s trash folder.


A change of tact

It’s time, then, to turn away from what you have previously known and step into your customers’ shoes. What they really want is to know what’s in it for them, and if they’re not getting what they want, they won’t hesitate to go elsewhere.

Marketers need to rethink communications, focusing on crafting contextual, highly personalised content that draws the customer in, rather than makes them mark it as spam. It’s about understanding the power real-time data has in driving more meaningful, memorable and effective conversations with customers.

By bringing real time demographic data, location triggers and behavioural information into one place to appropriately engage with customers, marketing and IT teams can work collaboratively to manage information better and ensure content is highly personal to the individual customer at every turn. Then it’s a matter of presenting the information in a ‘mobile-first’ way for the customer who is always on the go.


Too much of a good thing?

However, there is a fine line between communicating and over communicating. If real-time information is used too often or out of context, it can quickly become annoying and can feel like an invasion of a customers’ privacy and personal space. Worse still, if customers aren’t always getting the information they actually need, they will be quick to voice their frustrations.

The difficulty for marketers is that peoples’ situations can quickly change. Communication, here, plays a critical role. In fact, we recently found that poor communication was to blame for nearly one in four (23%) missed deliveries from retailers and logistics firms. Targeted communication stands the best chance of being successful if it can be delivered within minutes of it being relevant, not days or weeks later, when it is no longer relevant.

So while it’s all very well having access to huge swathes of customer data, if it’s not possible to transform this into actionable customer insights, then data’s value diminishes considerably. Companies need to gain a holistic view of subscribers by consolidating CRM data and marketing activity across multiple channels, along with unified messaging rules ensure consumers aren’t bombarded with messaging.


Get real-time with customers

I think it’s time we put time-bound marketing out to pasture. Customers, with their short attention spans, want information that is highly personalised and targeted, based on their current location, preferred channels of communication and transactional patterns. They want to be treated like individuals.

Get this right and your brand stands the best chance of gaining, retaining and delighting customers now, and in the future.

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