People are busy.   It is hard to get their attention.

So, when you have your customer’s attention, it’s a shame to waste it.  At the least, you missed out on an opportunity to build your relationship.  If the customer gets annoyed, you may have even damaged the relationship.

How might you be wasting your customer’s attention?

Here are three suggestions:

1) Don’t send unwanted, irrelevant email

According to Experian, more than 80% of email marketers send the same content to all subscribers.

Here is how the thinking goes:  “It is just so much easier to send the same email to everyone.   Email is free and so why not.  Those for whom it’s relevant will read it, while those for whom it is not relevant, will delete and move on.  At least, everyone is hearing from us.”

But, this email wasted the time of all those for whom it is not relevant.  That matters because they matter.  But it also matters because they will remember.   The next time, they will be less likely to open your email.   The same holds true of irrelevant subject lines.

The same report, highlighted average open rates in ~13% to email marketing campaigns.   Many of those who don’t open have been trained not to.

Consider the example of AppSumo.  This an e-commerce company that features products and online education that help startup execs with their business.   I have been a subscriber for a year or so.  I used to click through the emails but there were so many and they weren’t relevant, so I stopped ever looking.  Just hit delete.

Customer attention is a terrible thing to waste.

2) Don’t email what you could have communicated in context

Email is the marketer’s default tool of choice and it’s a good tool, but it is not the only tool and it has its weaknesses.

Email is inherently out of context.  When someone gets an email from you, you are asking for his/her attention when you didn’t have it.    You are interrupting.

Sometimes that is necessary.  For instance, when there is an emergency or when there is no other way to communicate.  If a regular customer or free trial user has stopped visiting your site, emailing them is a good way to pull them back.

But often it is not necessary or maximally effective to interrupt.  Many things are communicated better in-context, as a person is interacting with you.

For example, I often receive emails from web apps encouraging me to use their latest features …. features that I am already using.   I am in the app all the time.  It would be so much better to communicate to me there.

3) Don’t give the same web experience to each customer

A first time visitor to your site or application has very different needs from a repeat customer.  A power user wants a different experience from a beginner.

I don’t want to be pushed to buy when I am just starting my investigation yet if you don’t ask me to buy I may never do so.

Customers expect increasingly personalized experiences.  Netflix suggests movies to me, Amazon suggests products and Facebook suggest friends.  This makes those sites more valuable and more engaging.

What if your website or web app made the most of your customers’ limited attention by providing each with a tailored experience.

The result would be increased customer engagement, conversions, and customer satisfaction.