The pandemic began with panic and a rush to innovation, followed by a collective learning curve and gratitude for the technology that allows us to stay connected almost seamlessly. We can celebrate the enormous contribution partners made in digitally transforming many organizations and coping with the immediate crunch of the pandemic. However, for all the upsides, time has revealed the downside of extended remote life: digital fatigue. With everything from placing grocery orders to entertainment now relegated to screens, how does this impact marketers who – like everyone else – have also moved engagement efforts to digital channels? Marketers are in a position to either pile on to the digital noise or reimagine engagement for where customers are today.
For marketers looking for ways to improve engagement at a time of overwhelming digital fatigue, we can draw inspiration from partners I had the privilege to learn from these past months. The following diverse partner stories revealed four approaches you can act on today to break through digital fatigue and engage and delight customers.
1. Get back to basics
At Microsoft, we have observed a surge in demand for content with tangible audience benefits, reflected in the high-traffic topics on our US Partner Community Blog. Buyers care about relieving their problem, not products and features, and in developing skills that can set them up for success. The shift has inspired a narrowing of focus aimed at what is essential.
According to Dux Raymond Sy, the Chief Brand Officer at AvePoint, “For us, it’s been a fact of going back to basics. What do people care about? What are they searching for, why do they care? What is the trigger? Is this a problem we can solve, and if so, how? These are not new questions, but in a world of trying to figure out how to best rank in a digital world, we’ve taken the approach of answering the questions people want answered (and being customer obsessed), which, unsurprisingly, has yielded higher conversions. Depth of content has really helped us overcome that hurdle of content saturation.”
Try this: Identify the highest-priority pain point(s) facing customers in your target market. Address the pain – and your solution – with depth and clarity in the medium your audience prefers.
2. Package precise, bite-sized content
Marketers have found audiences less patient and increasingly laser-focused on a specific problem to solve right now. Their rapid and targeted search behavior offers only a short attention window for marketers to pitch a targeted solution. As a result, more bite-sized demand generation materials and hands-on workshops are outperforming those featuring broader, open-ended topics.
In the early days of the pandemic, Microsoft partner Blue Yonder saw registration and engagement plummet for their digital events. As a result, they shifted their marketing efforts from 4-6 hours of digital content to “crisp, ‘snackable’ content that can be consumed quickly by a variety of audiences,” says Arlyn Knox, VP of Demand Gen Americas. Among their “short, engaging formats” is a recently-launched LinkedIn Live series. Hundreds attend the live 7-10 minute sessions, and thousands more watch on-demand. Summarizing their strategy, Knox says, “We’re taking our virtual events and spreading them out across a number of days, having attendees join us for a few minutes each day.”
Try this: Audit your current demand gen content strategy. Which underperforming efforts could be repackaged into specific, bite-sized formats to better suit your audience’s capacity to engage?
3. Build brand value through networking
The evaporation of in-person social gatherings has left a connection vacuum that many are struggling to fill. This includes work-related relationships.
While I identified the importance of direct, to-the-point messaging to combat digital fatigue among customers, leaders must balance this with well-designed brand-building opportunities. Industry thought leaders and innovative businesses have stepped up to experiment with novel solutions such as digital wine and cheese pairings, happy hours, and even meditation sessions.
One such partner, Avanade, hosted a couple of “Cloud Connoisseur” whiskey tasting events for VP and C-level attendees to highlight their Azure capabilities. To maximize impact, they solicited topics about challenges customers were facing beforehand and anchored each event with a short, interactive, content segment. The events were hosted on Teams and generated great conversations with presenters and amongst the attendees. The events drove 20 leads, generated $760K, and influenced $12M in pipeline.
Try this: Use what you know about your customers to curate branded events they would enjoy. Make sure that the events are short, offer relevant, valuable content, and allow for meaningful personal interactions.
4. Re-personalize virtual relationships
We’re also learning about depersonalization as a top pandemic theme, as noted by Brene Brown in her podcast “Brené with Emily and Amelia Nagoski on Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle.” Brene and the Nagoski sisters highlight how easy it is to feel disconnected when we are seeing each other in person far less, and mainly interacting over video calls or phone.
I saw a great example of personalization from Rohana Meade, CEO of Synergy Technical. She shared how one of their COVID-era tactics is to send personalized follow-up videos after meetings with customers, which deepen relationships, elevate the brand, and accelerate pipeline. She sent me this one as an example: (here).
Try this: Record a brief, engaging video that recaps important themes from the respective event or meeting, and offers specific, bite-sized CTAs or next steps they can immediately action.
Combatting digital fatigue with thoughtful marketing is one way we live out our commitment to being ‘customer obsessed.’ Build on these four approaches as you reimagine marketing for the customer before you today. My hope is that members of the Microsoft ecosystem can continue to innovate, learn from one another, and continue to grow our businesses as we help customers digitally transform.
I want to hear from you – join the conversation on Yammer
Share your successful strategies for meaningful customer engagement that breaks through digital fatigue here on Yammer. Let’s get the conversation started and, depending on what we learn, I may return with a part 2, sharing your best practices for the benefit of our partner community.