With an average Brit checking her phone 221 times per day and getting over 1,500 irrelevant emails per year, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a digital marketer to engage with their target audience. Your customers 24/7 are overloaded with information, most of which is useless and irrelevant. In the age when everyone is shouting out about themselves, a non-invasive, or “flower” marketing is a great way to stand out – but it requires a very different skill set and lots of courage.
When we go online, our brain gets excessive stimulation it’s not designed to cope with. Flashy ads, pop-up windows, notifications, reminders etc interrupt our thinking process and overload our working memory – a part of short-term memory that’s responsible for processing and arranging information in our brain. It’s a bit like a librarian in the library who puts books into shelves, and all of sudden gets 100 books to arrange – she just can’t cope with it (our working memory can only process 2-4 things at a time). The human brain isn’t designed to multitask, as was shown in a famous Stanford experiment. The more you switch between different windows online, or between various devices, the more you untrain your brain to multitask.
As a result, our attention span is getting shorter and digital marketing channels are increasingly deteriorating. In the late 1990s, over 80% (!) of the customers opened email newsletters. Today, an average opening rate varies between 13 and 25% across different industries and an average CTR varies between 1.29% and 5.47%, according to Mailchimp. Paid search CTR on Adwords is decreasing year on year according to Google; and on average is around 2%. Social media average CTR is 2.5-3% (ads on Facebook newsfeed; ads on the right side of the panel score far less).
Mobile advertising is still strong compared to desktop one, as it’s relatively new, but if the latest conversations about ad-blocking are implemented, marketers will be left with no easy channel to get to their customers. Are you doomed to fight for an extra percentage, or could you do find a non-invasive way to truly engage with your customers online?
What can you do?
If you decide to be a “flower”, first and foremost, have a clear strategy of how you are going to provide value, not how you will sell your stuff. One way to do that is to answer this question: What is one question your audience is dying to find an answer to? Aren’t sure yet? Go out and ask them about their concerns and troubles! Seriously, it’s so simple, but amazingly few businesses do that.
Second, remember that our brain can’t multitask, we can only focus on one thing at a time. This means:
Fourth, use the data whenever you can! A/B test your subject lines (any decent mailing program does that for you). Professional journalists spend half of the time they work on an article on writing amazing headlines – and you must, too. Write 30 subject lines, choose 3 of them you like most, send the winner to the rest. A great subject line can increase your opening rates two times.
Fifth, personalize your communication. In emails, you can use the name of the person you’re writing to across different places. Gary Vaynerchuk, a US businessman and founder of a social media agency VaynerMedia, tried responding to his Twitter fans not by text, but by recording a quick video where he says thank you and calls his names. He says his response has been retweeted hundreds of times, and it only took him an extra 30 seconds of his time to do that.
Sixth, take a light approach – use humour and entertain your audience. Innocent does a great job of leading their Facebook group with jokes, and very occasionally discusses their products, also in a humorous and engaging way.
Seventh, keep it simple! An email should have one idea and one call to action. Not two, five or ten, not “buy, share, subscribe, reply”. Just one. Remember, people are overloaded, you need to clearly tell them what you expect them to do.
And lastly, if you don’t have anything to say – please, don’t! Internet is already full of useless crappy info, you are not doing any good to yourself if you are mailing people or posting on social media just for the sake of doing that. Be consistent, but only share something when you really have it.
PS I occasionally mentor start-ups and established brands on innovative non-invasive digital marketing. If you'd like to explore how non-invasive marketing could work for your business, please, get in touch. If you are a media person and want a comment on the subject, please do the same.
Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.