woman using tablet

Customer Engagement

Making Digital Communications Relevant in a Multiscreen World

By Engin Yilmaz, Senior Product Manager, Pitney Bowes

When you walk out the door in the morning, what do you always check to make sure you have with you? Odds are, the first three that leap to mind are your keys, wallet and phone. Think of the anxiety that would immediately grip so many of us if we took off for the day while forgetting to bring our phones with us. What if you missed an important email? Or, were keeping an eye out for an auction you were bidding on, or the score of a game you were eager for an update on?

It’s become almost clichéd to say, but the fact of the matter is that customers today are absolutely addicted to the personal, mobile screens they carry around with them. Whether it’s smartphones, tablets or e-readers, today’s consumers are more absorbed in mobile devices than ever before, devoting over 10 hours a day, more than half of their waking hours, to looking at screens.

This year, there are currently an estimated 4 billion mobile devices online around the world; by 2020, that number is expected to rise close to 7 billion. That would average out to one mobile device per person on the planet, which is obviously not possible. Rather, what these figures show is that customers are increasingly adding to their personal digital load by adopting a multiscreen, multi-platform approach to how they use technology and consume information. In other words, a single customer owning both a smartphone and a tablet, or an e-reader and a laptop. This is particularly acute among Millennials, who drive mobile and multi-platform usage in every market around the world; they are, in fact, the only demographic whose desktop usage falls below 50 percent.

The rise of multi-platform usage almost seems to parallel with another, more peculiar trend: the shrinking attention span. In 2000, the average human attention span was 12 seconds. Not that great on its own, but, as of 2013, that number had dropped to just eight seconds, falling just below the nine-second attention span of a goldfish.

So, what does all of this mean for businesses?

Engaging Today’s Consumers Means Embracing Glance-able Content on Multiple Screens

If you want to hook a customer’s attention, you may have multiple outlets to do so, but precious seconds to get it done in. The former is a blessing for customer engagement; the latter sounds like a curse, but can actually be an advantage.

Competition for eyeballs is fierce. The key to producing glance-able content that can grab someone within that eight-second attention span is relevancy. Given that relevancy and context are constantly shifting, this is easier said than done. This rinse and repeat formula should sound familiar: create emails (newsletters, sales offers, etc.), add design elements that are tailored to each of your audience’s devices and include a call to action that drives these consumers to do more with your business. Execute the email, conduct A/B testing to determine its effectiveness and tweak as necessary. However, while these optimizations are important, email open and click-through rates across most verticals continue to remain low.

Deploying a uniform design scheme optimized for every device you’re looking to reach is important. But, is it enough to drive engagement and generate the success metrics you’re looking for? We can all agree that design is a crucial element, but, consider the dozens or hundreds or even thousands of unread messages that sit in the Promotions tab of the average Gmail user’s inbox, unopened and unloved. Are they there because hours of effort weren’t poured into their design? Or, is it more likely that they just lacked relevancy and the user’s first thought was, “I’ll get to that tomorrow” and then never did?

A digital communications strategy that emphasizes glance-able and responsive multiscreen content is one that has a greater likelihood of driving engagement. But, with eight seconds or less to make it count, in the face of competitors who are doing much the same thing that you are, and in markets where consumers’ digital expectations are high and getting higher, the business challenge of relevancy, context, what next and what if are as present and more daunting than ever.

For more on deploying an engaging multiscreen digital communication strategy, check out my December 15th webinar, “Digital Communications Strategy in a Multiscreen World.”

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