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Silence is gold

We’re seeing a dramatic escalation in the rate at which people disconnect, unsubscribe and opt out to stem the barrage of content and messages that clutter daily life. As consumers, we’ve come to realize that it’s no longer simply a lifestyle choice, but a serious mental health issue. As we put up more barriers between ourselves and digital technologies, organizations must learn how to offer value to users who crave quiet in a noisy world.
Fjord Trends 2019

In Japan, when you enter a store, it is common for employees to greet you out loud “Irasshaimase! 4 employees in a small store of less than 30 square meters are calling in unison. This surprised me a lot, accustomed to Spanish shops where hardly anyone pays attention. The surprise and novelty was transformed into fatigue, as it entered more premises and the greeting forced you to be alert to respond with courtesy.

Far from the charms of Japan, in front of a screen millions of greetings try to capture our attention in different ways. The advertising banners are the best known by all, but in recent times the most common ways to torment the user are popups to subscribe to anodyne newsletters (and get leads in the process) and the activation of desktop notifications. If you are wondering why the number of blocking facilities is increasing, this is one of the main causes: The need of the user to improve their experience and eliminate surrounding noise.

For this (and other things) it is not by chance that it is the number one trend for Fjord in his 2019 report. Silence is gold. The retention, the engadgment, the effectiveness of communication are downward trends.

The origin: the need to maintain communication with the user

The need for companies to create relationships of loyalty and commitment to their audience (the famous engadgement) has led this trend for years. Manetener the open communication channel with the user to show the value of the brand has become a priority, especially now that the competition for a part of the cake (the cake can be what you want: advertising, loyalty, recruitment of customers) is increasingly hard and expensive, both in economic terms and investment of time and work.

Technological improvements also contribute to this trend: web notifications, push notifications, in-app notifications, regulated rules able to make them jump at the moment of tranquility when arriving at your house after work. The high number of noise to which the user is subjected ends up by forcing the situation: block, unsubscribe, curse, the negative view of the product or service, and the feeling that the respect has been lost.

There are many people competing for our attention, but human capacity is limited. We must select between so much noise generated around us.

Notifications that do not report anything

Notificaciones de twitter
Notifications that do not report anything

Every day when entering Twitter or Linkedin I find notifications that are not such, that do not contribute anything. Someone tweeted or retweeted something, or Linkedin reminds me that it is the birthday of someone I do not know, or who put a link to something that does not interest me. The need to maintain the interest in the channel leads to give importance to the banal, anecdotal, or simply lacking interest (impossible to avoid the parallels with the media treatment of certain news) and contributes, in a counterproductive way, to diminish the perceived value of the product or service. I do not need Linkedin to remind me of the birthdays of people I do not know because it does not work for that.

The user’s solution: blocking ads and notifications

Meme tumblr adblocks

This meme that I saw some time ago on Tumblr sums up the situation and the perplexity of the users. Faced with a problem, this acts. Learn from experience. The first step is the installation of blockers (some browsers already have serial locks). The next step can be to stop using the service, to block it completely using the available tools. Just as in Spain there is the Robinson List, which mainly affects telephone spam calls, it can not be ruled out that in the future similar services that affect the online sphere will be expanded or be born. In Apps and services, users block mobile notifications.

The other blockade that the user makes is the mental one, becoming imnune to the perception of certain elements that generate noise. Banners, announcements, notifications … Perhaps the most significant in this sense has been the progressive loss of effectiveness of the display banners in pursuit of other modalities, such as less intrusive text ads, or sponsored content that resembles the common content (and which in some cases can be misleading).

The company solution

It is the least significant that, while the services try to interact more with the users (humans) one by one, personalizing the messages, these processes tend to be carried out in an automated way. And depending on the development of these systems or AI according to cases, the responses and interactions that users can receive are as varied (and strange).

The problem of automation and the supposed customization is that if it is not done in a planned and well designed manner, the general trend tends to abuse messages that generate noise, but that are not relevant. Everything always under the justification of engadgement, avoid the loss of users …

So, what we do?

Fjord advocates respect for the user and the creation of services and products that cover the real user neesd, recovering the mutual respect. Achieving this requires investment in better content, because the important thing is not the number of times you contact the user, but that it is done for something worthwhile. And therefore, invest the effort in research, in knowing the real demands of the users and getting adjusted, in a respectful way, to the company’s objectives.