Information Overload: Is an End in Sight?
Marketers are evolving the way they communicate their messages and measure impact to turn delivered information from nuisance to necessity.
We all receive more information than we can reasonably assimilate and, as a result, many of us simply ignore the overflow. This presents a challenge to marketing professionals who are tasked with getting their messages across to customers. How do they get their new messages to people who already have no time to read the content they already have received? We all know the behaviors of people facing information overload:
- Because their jobs are so time-consuming, they have no time to keep up on industry information and trends. This ultimately makes them less productive at their primary responsibilities -- a catch-22 if ever there was one
- They only read message subjects and maybe the first paragraphs, missing the important points that follow
- They wait for at least one reminder before reviewing the original message and responding
And yet, many of us likely know of the marketing executive who believes that more content is, by necessity, better.
Is a solution in sight?
The problem behaviors mentioned in the above list aren't easy to solve but companies do need to address them if workers are to become more productive and achieve a work-life balance. Modern workers truly should be able to take time off, keep up with industry trends, and leverage technologies to make themselves more productive. While each item above is worthy of an article, this article is about the marketing executive who is stuck on the idea that more content the better.
Marketers have two primary charters:
1) Market awareness – educating prospects, customers, channel partners, and consultants on th company's products and services and the advantages they offer.
2) Lead generation – providing qualified leads for sales organizations.
Most vendors, in efforts to differentiate their products, provide marketing materials that often miss their targets. This became clear for one major distributor in a recent survey of its vendor channel partners, but is true of many marketing campaigns. Through the survey, the distributor could clearly see that respondents found its marketing materials simply too confusing and of little or no value to their sales people or channel partners. And since the people selling the products found the marketing materials confusing, they were reluctant to share them with their prospects.
The company's website contains the same type of confusing messaging, which means enterprise prospects seeking information about the products and solutions from that site probably aren't finding what they need.
Part of the problem goes back to a time when marketing had few tools to measure and quantify success. Marketers had no good way to know if an ad was really successful. If sales went up they could assume the ad was good, and vice versa if sales were flat or declined. With the capabilities available with digital marketing today, a CMO -- and the CEO, for that matter -- can monitor the value of every piece of content.
So, yes, a solution is in sight. Absolutely!
With new marketing approaches, some enlightened CMOs are providing better information to their channels and prospects and measuring the impact of their messaging. For example, success stories (note -- these are not case studies) help readers understand problems they might be experiencing and identify options to address them. Unlike case studies that tell wonderful stories with happy endings, success stories go deep into the challenges faced, the problems encountered, and openly discuss lessons learned -- truly representing the realities that customers face. .
Rather than simply pumping out voluminous content that prospects generally skip over, some CMOs are finding that shorter, simpler content that drives a point is better at helping buyers navigate their journeys.
What's more, marketers can now almost tweak campaigns in real time. On a website, for example, they can modify everything from the words and graphics to maximize exposure. Details on what visitors are reading and have researched have changed the marketing game.
Over the next few years as marketing executives embrace tools that enable them to provide more impactful content, we will see a reduction in content overload. However, that is not to say there will be less content. In fact, the amount of content will increase, but every constituency will have targeted and appropriate information available to it.
Enterprise customers should benefit most as vendors develop content to help prospects progress on their buyers' journeys. In addition, vendors will have better marketing tools that help them target content to the appropriate audience visiting their sites, as well as vendor-neutral sites like No Jitter and UCStrategies.com.
We all contribute to information overload, and we can all help reduce it in our own way.