In the digital age, consumers feel overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of advertising messages by marketers who are relentlessly vying for their attention. In order for marketers to captivate the attention of consumers, simplicity is key. Simplicity not only in terms of the delivery of a marketing message, but when it comes to purchasing, marketers should simplify their decision-making process. Although simplicity is indeed important in captivating a consumer’s attention and securing a transaction, I believe that simplicity alone is not enough. Ultimately, companies that invest and make a concerted effort in developing authentic relationships with consumers will enjoy long-term loyalty.
Keep it simple, stupid
Due to the over excess of information and our hyper connectivity, our attention spans are now shorter than ever before – a mere 9 seconds.
Our short attention span scans through a barrage of information to land on what is most relevant to us personally. Although consumers can access marketing messages 24/7, their hyper connectivity leaves them in a state of perpetual partial attention. As such, when crafting messages, marketers should be focused on making their point – fast! Not only do marketers need to keep their marketing messages simple and concise, according to the article “To keep your customers, keep it simple” by Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, marketers should focus their effort on simplifying the decision making process for consumers. According to their study, the best tool for measuring consumer-engagement efforts is the “decision simplicity index”, an indication of how easy it is for consumers to gather and understand information about a brand, how much they can trust the information they find, and how readily they can weight their options. As such, the easier a brand makes the purchase decision journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter in their study were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumer considering them. According to Spenner and Freeman, the most effective marketers use 3 tactics:
1) They minimize the number of information sources consumers must touch as they move toward a purchase
2) Provide trustworthy sources of product information and recommendations
3) Offer tools that enable consumers to weigh their options by identifying the features in terms of relevancy
Whilst I agree with Spenner and Freeman that simplicity is key in the age of hyper connectivity, I do not agree with their stance that marketers should solely focus their attention on simplifying the decision making process for consumers and disregard building relationships with consumers. Striving for simplicity and building a relationship with a consumer is not mutually exclusive, both efforts should coexist.
Develop relationships and engage consumers
In addition to striving for simplicity, marketers should also focus their attention on developing authentic relationships and engaging with consumers. In the article, Spenner and Freeman shed light on the fact that contrary to marketer’s perceptions, being part of a community ranked the lowest (22%) on the list of reasons why consumers interact with companies via social sites. Whilst the study reveals that marketers may misjudge the most important factors that influence why consumers follow them via social sites, this is not enough to suggest that marketers should discount focusing on building relationships and communities altogether. 22% is still a significant amount of people who value being part of a brand’s community. As the 80/20 rule suggests, your top 20% loyal customers contribute to 80% of the profits. Focusing on the needs and wants of your top 20% of customers will ensue in healthy profits.
Keep it short & sweet
The article also falsely suggests that pursuing a relationship and engaging customers equates to constant messaging and providing an overabundance of information. The writers frame the pursuit of simplicity and developing relationships with customers as ideologically incompatible. This is simply not the case. Such concepts should be in synchrony and ought to be pursued simultaneously. With regards to engaging consumers, the surest way to engage is by being succinct and to the point. Red Bull is a brand that has mastered the art of engagement by embracing simplicity. The company’s online writing style is characterized by being succinct and short & sweet. Facebook posts feature captions such as: “No better time than right now”, “flipping spectacular” and “This weekend, get board.” The series of short, catchy posts, captivate the attention of Red Bull fans and engage them. Due to their keep-it-simple-stupid school of wordsmithing, their Facebook page has reached 40,995,178 likes.
Empower consumers to get involved
People have an inherent desire to feel valued and important, which is why, providing ways for consumers to get involved and engage is important. Social media contests in particular have gained in popularity and can be a powerful catalyst for spreading a brand’s message. When Frito-Lay developed a new potato chip flavor, they bypassed focus groups and turned to Facebook to directly engage with the customers. Visitors of the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” Facebook app were asked to suggest new flavors. In February of this year, the 3 finalist flavors were available in stores for people to buy and try. There were approximately 3.8 million consumer-generated flavor submissions. The staggering figure indicates that if you empower consumers and grant them with the opportunity to get involved in the brand, they will respond.
Strive for simplicity and engagement
In the age of hyper connectivity, the bombardment of marketing messages, excess of information and choice ultimately impairs the consumer decision-making process. Under this climate, it is particularly important for marketers to focus on simplicity; in terms of the delivery of a marketing message as well as simplifying the decision making process for consumers. However, simplicity can only get you so far. In order to secure customer loyalty and differentiate yourself from competitors, the key is to engage consumers – not by bombarding them with messages every few seconds, but rather by listening to them, empowering them to have their say and keeping communication short, sweet, and to the point.