Did You Get My Message?

Posted by Taylor Haney on Mon, Oct 14, 2013

This month we are all things FutureM! Read this post from Giles Phillips, Chief Product Designer at Constant Contact (a fantastic FutureM sponsor). Giles takes a look at how to effectively engage customers by cutting through the noise.

giles phillips headshot 600x600Giles Phillips is an award-winning designer, researcher, and strategist.  He has been exploring the horizons of interface design and development for more than a decade. He currently serves as the Chief Product Designer at Constant Contact, where he is responsible for global product design, information architecture, and user research for Constant Contact’s product suite.  Prior to joining Constant Contact, Giles served in leadership positions at Brightcove and at Monster Worldwide, where he developed and scaled their User Experience and Innovation Strategy programs. Giles graduated from MIT, where his research focused upon creating new forms of  interactive search. He is a curriculum architect and instructor at the Startup Institute Boston, focusing on product design and strategy.  He is also an active speaker; his work has been published in ACM Web Science, UbiComp, Say Media Magazine, MidwestUX, and in Environment and Planning B, Wired, and the MIT SA+P Press.

We all know that mobile technology has been a tremendously disruptive force, transforming the way we interact and engage.  For marketers, this shift means that traditional strategies for customer engagement, experience design, and messaging must evolve. Innovative messaging will be key for effective marketing in both web and in-product experiences.  To effectively engage customers, marketers will need to change their approach to be minimally disruptive and maximally meaningful, taking into account both technical and human considerations.  As a start, let’s take a look at these considerations.

Technology with an Impact!

We’ve established that mobile has reshaped the user experience, but how does the technology itself impact how we message to consumers? First and foremost, we must consider form factor. Smaller screen sizes reduce the amount of content that can be displayed at any particular moment. For the mobile web experience, traditional advertising media doesn't fit, and even the specific words you use in your calls to action (CTAs) may perform differently.

But that’s just taking a look at mobile web browsers. What about apps? It’s important to remember that native application experiences have a much higher barrier to engagement: the user must take the time to install your application, and your application must have some tangible value that causes them to want it.

In some cases, a user may download your app because they know the brand, and in other cases, mobile web users may be new to your brand and message. This requires you to think through the nature of the native and mobile web touch points and how you might be able to effectively leverage them.

Causing A Mobile Distraction

It may not be what marketers want to hear, but let’s face it, mobile users are less open to distraction than situated users were. One reason for this is that mobile users are already distracted by the real world: chatting with their friends, getting stuck in traffic, spilling their coffee on themselves, running out the door because they're late for work. In addition, mobile sessions tend to last just over a minute in duration, which doesn't give you a lot of time to connect with a meaningful message.

Additionally, mobile users tend to develop a much more personal connection with their handheld device than they did with traditional laptops and PCs. Mobile users are closely tethered to their devices, and in an unprecedented way. Mobile technologies become an extension of the body, an important communication mechanism and persistent connection to the broader world around the user. This has many implications, but for one, it means that mobile usage patterns are habitual and users tend to get very frustrated when disrupted. And for messaging, this means that your web and product experiences are being injected into a much more delicate and personal space when you try to reach mobile users.

The Meaningful Message Recipe

As mobile usage grows, it will continue to reshape the customer experience across all types of devices. So how do we create customer engagement within these new experiences? First, we must craft messages that are maximally meaningful and minimally disruptive. All messaging - both visual and textual - should be in the shortest form possible. The messaging must also be deeply integrated into the experience in a way that is clear and reduces distraction. You must take special care that your messaging CTAs do not confuse or compete with the product/content CTAs.

Most importantly, you must resonate directly with the user's motivations - why and how are they using their mobile devices and how does your product or service augment their experience? At the end of the day, your messaging should map your value proposition directly into the user's scenario to maximize your results.

As we enter into this brave new world of mobile connectivity, the most effective marketers will be the ones who consider the customer's usage context and optimize their messages to cut through the noise. With the landscape uncertain and constantly changing, successful marketers will also employ lean methods to rapidly iterate and evolve their marketing strategy.

Want to continue this conversation? Come join me, as well as executives from Brightcove and Fresh Tilled Soil, as we tackle this subject and much more during our panel discussion at FutureM. See you there!

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