Picture this: You are doing some online research about how to improve your digital marketing efforts for your business, and as part of the research, you come across four whitepapers that seem quite insightful.
To download the whitepapers, however, you need to give out your name, company name, phone number, and email address. Small price for the information in the whitepapers, so you give out your contact information.
Less than a minute after you download each whitepaper, a notification pops up on your computer notifying you of an email from the site where you downloaded the whitepaper.
There is nothing wrong with this. You know that websites will typically send you a welcome email after you subscribe to their lists. This is something you expected.
After all, you also have such welcome emails set up on your mailing lists.
Two minutes later, another set of emails arrives from the four sites notifying you about one offer or the other.
You are not thinking about buying anything from any of these companies right now, so you quickly close each email after reading halfway through it.
A day later, another notification pops up. Then another. And another. By the end of the week, you have received at least 7 emails from each of the four companies, or about 28 emails from companies with products that you are not considering buying at the moment.
Two of the companies have also called you on your phone. One has actually called thrice during the week, ‘checking’ if you would want to see a demo of their product.
To avoid this barrage of emails and phone calls, you finally decide to unsubscribe from the four mailing lists and place the two phone numbers in your blacklist.
Advancements in technology have made it possible for marketers to reach out to their audiences almost immediately and to automate customer communications.
There are also numerous ways to reach out to customers – email, social media, text messaging, push notifications on mobile apps, you name it.
In moderation, all these communication options, and the ability to automate these communications present marketers with a great opportunity to nurture leads and move them through the sales funnel.
However, like everything else, too much of a good thing can achieve the opposite effect. In the case of marketing, too much communication is leading to something known as marketing fatigue.
WHAT IS MARKETING FATIGUE?
Marketing fatigue refers to a situation where customers get tired and exhausted of being exposed to too much marketing communication from the same brand.
This usually happens as a result of brands blasting all their audiences with the same or similar messages on multiple platforms, or sending too many messages on the same platform that do not really add any value to the customer.
Marketing fatigue is influenced by two factors: frequency and relevance.
If a customer frequently receives marketing messages that they perceive to be irrelevant, they will ultimately develop marketing fatigue.
On the other hand, a customer receiving marketing messages at the same frequency will not develop marketing fatigue if the customer perceives the messages to be relevant.
Even though it hasn’t received a lot of attention, marketing fatigue is very common, especially when it comes to email marketing.
The results of a 2017 survey posted on MediaPost show that three quarters of Americans feel that the number of emails they receive is overwhelming.
Another survey by MarketingSherpa also reported that over half of respondents (57%) claimed that marketing emails they received were rarely or never useful.
Only 15% of respondents felt that the marketing emails they received were often or always useful.
The survey also reports that receiving too many messages was the top reason behind people unsubscribing from a mailing list.
The rise in the occurrence of marketing fatigue is not surprising, considering the number of messages that are sent on digital platforms. Statistics show that every single year, over 100 trillion emails are sent, with about 76% of these going to consumers.
Statistics also show that the average consumer receives about 45 emails every single day.
These statistics do not factor in other marketing messages in the form of social media posts, text messages, push notifications and so on.
THE EFFECTS OF MARKETING FATIGUE
According to the law of diminishing marginal returns, excessive supply of anything will lead to loss of value, regardless of its utility. This is exactly what leads to marketing fatigue.
When you bombard customers with excessive marketing communication, your messages become a headache for them.
As a result, they start ignoring your messages, they stop opening your emails, they stop clicking through to your website, they unsubscribe or opt out from your mailing lists, or add your email to spam, something that can have a very negative impact on your marketing efforts.
In addition to a low response rate, consumers who have developed marketing fatigue also start forming a negative image of your brand.
They unfollow your brand on social media platforms and stop looking forward to interactions with your brand.
According to a report by Sprout Social, 60% of social media users are annoyed by excessive promotion by brands, and 46% stopped following a brand because of the same. 41% of social media users also stop following brands that post irrelevant information.
HOW TO KEEP MARKETING FATIGUE AT BAY
Having established that marketing fatigue is detrimental to your marketing efforts, the good news is that is still possible to continue marketing your products and services on digital channels while keeping marketing fatigue at bay.
Below are some tips on how to avoid marketing fatigue.
Watch The Frequency Of Your Marketing Messages
I mentioned earlier that message frequency is one of the factors that influences marketing fatigue.
However, on its own, frequency does not necessarily lead to marketing fatigue.
According to a report by Adobe, which looked at the responses of almost 15,000 users to marketing messages, brands can increase the frequency of marketing messages without leading to marketing fatigue, provided that these messages are relevant to the user.
That said, watching the frequency of your marketing messages can help keep marketing fatigue at bay. There are a number of things you can do to keep prevent frequency overload.
The first one is frequency capping, which refers to placing a cap on the number of messages you send out to consumers per session, per day, week, or month. The aim of frequency capping is obvious – preventing excessive exposure to marketing messages by limiting the number of times a consumer receives marketing messages from your brand.
You can apply frequency capping to one platform, say email, Facebook, or Twitter, or you can apply the same frequency capping to all your messaging channels.
The second option is to transfer the onus of deciding how much communication is too much to the consumer. This option is very effective because it follows the consumer’s preferences.
One consumer might be comfortable with 5 messages every week, but another consumer might feel that more than two messages in a week is excessive.
By passing the control to the user, you are making sure that you get the frequency right for each individual consumer. Question is, how exactly do you do this?
The approach used to give control to the user will depend on the platform or messaging channel. On email, the best approach is to set up an email preference center.
With an email preference center, the consumer can then decide what kind of messages they want and how often they want to receive messages from your brand. They also have the option of opting out from the messages altogether.
A preference center also works well with push notifications.
On your app, you should give the user the option of choosing which kind of push notifications they want to receive.
A good example of an app that does this well is Pinterest. Pinterest users can choose whether they want to receive notifications for repins, likes, follows, mentions, comments, messages, or nothing at all.
On text, consumers do not have the option of giving their preferences, and therefore, you should give consumers the option of opting out if they no longer want to receive marketing messages.
Here is an example of a text opt-out from Uber.
Get Your Copy Right
The kind of copy you choose to use on your marketing messages could also be contributing to marketing fatigue.
While it is generally hard to place rules on copywriting, there are some tips that can help you minimize marketing fatigue through copy.
The first one it to make the content of your marketing messages skimmable. The good thing with skimmable content is that it is easier for your audience to read through.
By skimming through the content, they can easily tell whether the content is relevant to them or not.
If it is not, they will spend less time on the message, are therefore less likely to have a negative experience compared to spending a lot of time on a message only to realize it is irrelevant.
Another way to reduce marketing fatigue through copy is to stop relying on clickbait headings and subjects.
If you send an email or article with a straightforward subject or heading and the consumer decides that the email is not relevant to them, they will probably not read the email or article, but there will be no harm to your brand. The consumer’s response to this piece of content will be indifferent.
On the other hand, if you use a clickbait email subject or article heading, the consumer will read the subject or heading and conclude that the piece of content is relevant to them.
Upon opening the email or article, however, the actual content will be against what they were expecting, and therefore, the consumer will obviously feel annoyed and cheated.
This will build a negative perception about your brand, and might result in the consumer ignoring all your future messages, whether they have clickbait headings or not.
To avoid this, always make sure your article headings and email subjects are a true reflection of the content contained in the article or email.
You can also reduce the likelihood of marketing fatigue by keeping your marketing copy contextualized. As an added advantage, contextualization also helps improve your conversion. So, how do you contextualize your marketing copy?
The first approach is to deploy a customer data platform (CDP). One of the reasons that leads to consumers receiving the same message on multiple messaging platforms is the fact that consumer data is scattered across various platforms.
With such scattered consumer data, marketers are unable to tell which consumers have received which marketing message.
A customer data platform acts as a central repository for all consumer data and interactions across various platforms.
From the customer data platform, marketers can easily tell which consumers have received which messages and therefore avoid sending the same messages to consumers multiple times, which is one of the causes of marketing fatigue.
Segmentation And Personalization
Personalization is another great way of improving the relevance of your messages and therefore reducing the likelihood of marketing fatigue. However, personalization will be ineffective without segmentation.
Personalization goes beyond using a person’s name when sending a message to them. Personalization is all about sending messages that resonate personally with each member of your audience.
Obviously, it would be impossible to send a personal message to each of your thousands of subscribers and followers, and this is where segmentation comes in.
Segmentation allows you to divide your followers and subscribers into groups (segments) based on their similarities. The segments can be based on characteristics like age, gender, location, income levels, and so on. From there, you can blast a targeted message to each segment.
Statistics show that personalization and segmentation can help improve the relevance of your messages and increase brand engagement.
According to a report by MailChimp, segmented emails get opened 14.31% more times, get 100.95% more clicks, and have a 9.37% lower unsubscribe rate than non-segmented emails.
Customize Your Message for Each Platform and Marketing Channel
Let’s assume you have this brand that you love and whose social media pages you have followed on all platforms. You log into Facebook and find they have shared a marketing post. You go to Twitter and come across the same post. The same happens when you go to Instagram and Pinterest.
While you are seeing the message on different platforms, the point remains that you are still seeing the same message from the same brand, and after a certain point, it will start getting irritating.
To avoid putting your fans in a situation where they see the same message too many times on different platforms, you should start customizing your message for each platform and marketing channel.
Adobe is a great example of a company that does this well. On Facebook, they focus on content that is education and informational, mainly blog posts and videos.
On Instagram, they focus on content with strong visual appeal.
The aim of this content is not to educate or inform, but to inspire their followers – comprised of designers, artists and photographers – and show them what they can achieve with various Adobe software. On Twitter, they re-promote content from other channels, but this is done a few days later.
By showing their followers different things depending on the platform, Adobe is able to keep its fans from developing marketing fatigue.
Switch to Something New
Imagine meeting a friend and they share with you a truly hilarious joke. You’ve never heard anything funnier, and you can’t stop laughing for the next five minutes. You meet the same friend tomorrow, and they tell the same joke.
The story is still funny, but you don’t laugh as much as you did the first time you heard it. They repeat the joke the third day, but this time you only smile.
When they tell the same joke on the fourth day, you actually get irritated and ask them never to tell this joke again, because you’ve heard it more times than you’d wish.
This is basically how marketing fatigue works. Consumers with marketing fatigue have gotten bored with your marketing messages because they have been exposed to them too many times and they know what to expect even before they finish reading the message.
If your audience has gotten to this point, what you need to do is to provide them with something new and exciting, something they are not used to. If you always share blog posts, try changing to something different, such as videos or infographics.
If your content has always been about your brand, try switching the focus to user-generated content, which shifts the focus from the brand to your customers.
Switching to new kinds of content that your audience are not used to allows you to keep them interested and reduces the likelihood of marketing fatigue. Actually, as a marketer, you should never tie yourself to only one kind of content.
Keep alternating between different kinds of content – blogs, videos, infographics, audio, user-generated content, contests, relevant, brand-focused memes, and so on – and your audience will never get bored, because they never know what to expect.
Re-Evaluate Your KPIs
Sometimes, the metrics you choose to use to evaluate the success of your marketing campaigns could also be contributing to marketing fatigue. This is because metrics determine what aspect of the campaign marketers focus on.
For instance, if your main concern is email open rates, your marketers will do everything they can to increase their open rates. For example, a marketer hell-bent on increasing their email open rates might resort to using click-bait email subjects.
However, as we saw, clickbait subjects contribute to marketing fatigue by leaving your audience disappointed and feeling cheated because they didn’t find the content they expected.
Sure, the open rates might go through the roof, but all other important metrics will tank, but if you are only monitoring open rates, you will assume your campaign is a success, when it is in fact floundering.
If you notice that your audience is starting to experience marketing fatigue, it might be time to re-evaluate your KPIs and check whether you are focusing on the right metrics.
Remember, what matters is not the quantity, but the quality. It is better to have 100 people open your email and have 20 of those click through to your website, than having 500 people open your email, but only 5 who click through to your website.
Regularly Review and Update Your Strategy
Without regularly reviewing the performance of your campaigns, you might not even realize it when your audience starts experiencing marketing fatigue.
If you notice that your engagement rates are falling the more your campaign progresses, less people are opening your emails, unsubscribes are increasing, and so on, this is an indicator that marketing fatigue is setting in.
Monitoring the performance of your campaigns also helps you to determine the factors contributing to marketing fatigue. At what point did engagement rates start falling? What aspect of your campaign coincided with this decrease in engagement?
For instance, you might notice that engagement started dropping once you increased the frequency of your emails.
Once you identify what is causing the marketing fatigue, you can then make changes to your campaign in order to reduce the marketing fatigue.
For example, if you notice that the cause of marketing fatigue is too many emails, you can scale down on your emailing frequency.
Ideally, you should review the performance of your marketing campaign on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.
Advancements in modern technology have made it possible for marketers to automate their marketing efforts and reach audiences through multiple channels at any time of the day.
While these technologies allow you to reach your audiences whenever you want, they should be used in moderation, otherwise you might end up achieving the opposite of what you want by irritating your audience and making them tired of your messages.
If your audience is already experiencing marketing fatigue, the good news is that all is not lost.
The steps discussed in this article will help you to reignite your audience’s interest in your marketing messages and have them engaging with your brand again.