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Message Systems exec: Message fatigue is a growing problem triggered by mobile

A Message Systems executive speaking during a Mobile Marketer webinar yesterday said that message fatigue is a growing problem as marketers increasingly bombard consumers with the same message across multiple channels.

During the "Avoid Cross-Channel Message Fatigue" webinar, panelists from several different companies discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by a variety of types of mobile messaging techniques, including beacons. Also part of the discussion was the impact message fatigue can have, from a drop in revenue to leaving consumers with a negative feeling towards a brand.

"We see fatigue becoming a real growing problem and it is triggered by the way companies are organized, with siloed systems and siloed departments and a lack of coordination," said Steve Dille, senior vice president of marketing at Message Systems, Columbia, MD.

"The second trigger to the whole thing is the growth of mobile channels," he said. "So now you have people doing messaging in silos and then they are all trying to work on multiple channels at the same time.

"It is really creating an explosion of messaging which is leading to problems of customer dissatisfaction."

The webinar was sponsored by Message Systems.

Push notifications
It is not uncommon for consumers to receive the same message from a brand as an automated phone message, an email and an SMS, for example. This can really damage a brand.

"Fatigue leads to a drop in revenue and you can measure this over time," Mr. Dille said.

One of the increasingly popular ways that marketers are reaching to out consumers via mobile is with push messaging inside their applications. While push notifications can be an important way to bring more value to an app so that consumers continue to come back and use the app, if not handled correctly they can also lead to message fatigue.

The good news about push alerts is that they enable marketers to engage users outside of the app at the OS level.

The challenge is finding the right time and way to ask for permission to send users push notifications and the right cadence and content for these messages.

Beacon potential
Foursquare launched Radar in 2010 for location discovery push alerts and through A/B testing discovered that alerts sent to users when they arrive in a new city or restaurant and offering tips on where to go or what to order resonate the most with users.

As a result, the app is not heavily weighted toward these types of messages.

Tesco is an example of how to leverage beacons to deliver push notifications. This enables the retailer to engage with its shoppers when they are in-store to provide information on products and check out faster.

"Tesco has been an early adopter here and the idea is to reclaim the ground lost to showrooming," said Michael Boland, senior analyst at BIA/Kelsey. "Beacons enable retailers to offer a competitive in-store engagement experience and to engage consumers before they fire up Amazon's app or other showrooming tools.

"The main thing that Tesco did here was to treat this as a real utility for consumers rather than to push commercial messaging,? he said.

"They figured they had more to gain by creating something that is truly of value to in-store shoppers, thus keeping them coming in the store and coming back for more rather than getting greedy and just using this as a platform to push a bunch of marketing messages."

The app lets people find store associates, alerts where to pick up an online order and to checkout faster.

Permission process
Cluster's experience show that marketers should not ask for access until it is really needed and to make sure the benefit will be crystal clear. The brand's permission process involves several screens explaining the benefits of receiving notifications and asks if users are interested before sending them on to where the OS asks permission for Cluster to send notifications.

With permissions, marketers have only one chance to get it right. The key is to demonstrate the value exchange and ask for permission only after users have been engaged in the setup process and truly perceive the value.

Key takeaways for marketers are that messages should not only be relevant and engaging but should improve over time, the appropriate message frequency varies by app and marketers need to be tracking message attributes that lead to favorable responses.

Marketers should also allow for easy controls so that users can manually control push alert settings, such as by setting "quiet times."

With consumers getting harder to track because of multi-screen usage, one strategy for marketers is to encourage consumers to log-in on the Web site so they can be tracked across devices while providing a preference center where they can choose what types of messages they would like to receive.

"When you understand that the mobile phone is a gatekeeper, your message if  it doesn't look good from a mobile phone or if it is causing fatigue from first thing in the morning, you may not even get a chance to engage the person from their laptop computer," said Cindy Krum, CEO and founder of Mobile Moxie.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York