Reaching Today's Digitally Burned-Out Consumer - Medallion Retail
Strategy, Consumer Behaviors

Reaching Today’s Digitally Burned-Out Consumer

POSTED ON: 11/17/20

It’s hard to believe that our lives have been almost entirely digitized for eight months. Waking hours are spent in the same place (preferably in sweatpants), in front of the same screen, and a once-welcome routine now begs for change. Let’s face it: All this time online for work, school, webinars, panel discussions, work meetings, teacher meetings, family gatherings, friend gatherings…it’s getting old. Check that—it is old.

The digital burnout is real, especially since it existed well before the Covid-19 outbreak. For years, people have been struggling with the time they spend on their digital devices. They’ve wrestled with maintaining discipline and controlling their attention, which can be so easily disrupted and fragmented with pings, dings and buzzes. This constant influx of information and notifications from email, news sites, social media and messaging channels, all seemingly requiring our immediate response, adds to us feeling frazzled, overextended and in danger of failing. Widespread work-from-home situations in response to Covid-19 have only compounded the problem as people deal with their jobs, family life and their own or their children’s schoolingall within the same close quarters.

Smart marketers will realize all of this and factor it into how they reach out to their audience. In other words, it’s time to let digital fatigue inform your marketing plan.

No Chance to “Turn it Off”

A piece in Marketwatch explains why digital fatigue is very real for U.S. workers right now. Besides the endless screen time, people feel very little opportunity to “change it up” and “blow off steam.” They:

  • Fear getting out and congregating in indoor public places like coworking spaces or cafés
  • Fear natural outlets for tension release like gyms or indoor fitness classes
  • Can’t meet with larger groups of friends at bars or restaurants

Digital anthropologist Rahaf Harfoush, author of Hustle & Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work, told Bloomberg Businessweek that the current health crisis complicates our relationship with work and our need for space and unstructured time. He said, “When you combine our culture of chronic overwork with the distraction inherent to technology and social media, at a time when people are forced to stay at home, you have a recipe for amplified anxiety and shame. This puts people on a fast-track to burnout.”

It All Adds Up

In the workplace, burnout is defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” such as:                  

  • Exhaustion or energy depletion
  • Heightened mental distance
  • Cynical feelings related to a job and “reduced professional efficacy,” according to the World Health Organization

Now, combine that with theshortcomings of too much digital interaction:

  • No sense of physical touch
  • No face-to-face interaction
  • No contact with the natural world
  • Sensory deprivation
  • Difficulty in authentic conversations, loss of body language

Clearly, it’s time to change things up.

Take Digital Fatigue into Your Marketing Considerations

To give consumers a break from screen time, brands and retailers should consider other more traditional connections. Besides direct mail, marketers can implement shipping collateral, as well as signage and display materials—think billboards and window banners. Research has also proven that marketing success can be had when print media is merged with digital. Mail recipients can be drawn into a brand’s expansive digital journey through a simple QR code that can be printed on truly any type of marketing collateral.

The reality is, digital burnout can affect everyone, regardless of their generation. Studies show that even millennials, who are digital natives, get tired of digital advertising. In fact, 37% of respondents say they receive marketing emails “way too often,” and 22% say they receive “a few too many,” according to Fluent Inc.’s “The Inbox Report: Consumer Perceptions of Email.” Additionally, direct mail has been a proven sales-driver for this younger set, especially when combined with digital engagement that pulls the consumer in. Direct mail is so rare for millennials that 75% of survey respondents said receiving personal mail makes them feel special.

But, of course, it’s not just millennials who appreciate tangible materials in their postal deliveries. Statistics show 42% of direct mail recipients spend more time scanning and reading the mail that they get. The time spent on it is not even close to the time spent on their direct mail.

Further proof that direct mail works? Studies show 90% of direct mail actually gets opened, compared to just 20% of email. Not only that, 57% of people abandoned their email addresses because they received too much marketing material. 

Combat Digital Burnout in Your Customers

In today’s pandemic times, it’s vital to find ways to capture customer interest outside of digital platforms. It’s important to remember the power of personalization. Studies show targeting your audience on a 1:1 level has a truly significant impact—as in response rates that leap by 50%. Direct mail pieces can be customized for every customer by varying copy, special offers and even the images.

It’s also important to incorporate sensory experience into your printed materials by sending out textural papers and incorporating special print processes.

These printed pieces can motivate consumers to visit brick-and-mortar locations when they feature coupons and special offers. Even millennials (65%) say they like coupons for retail businesses.

Physical stores can also appeal to their internet shoppers by appending their IP addresses with physical addresses, and then sending those customers direct mail. This mail can be used to retarget shoppers who have abandoned their online carts, site visitors who didn’t make a purchase and lapsed customers.

Retailers and brands can even use their shipping materials to drive further customer engagement. Recently, Amazon gave customers an interactive, shareable experience via QR codes printed on Halloween-themed boxes. Through the Amazon Augmented Reality app, customers could aim their phone camera at the code and instantly enjoy some silly, spooky AR fun.

Taking the Next Step

With advances in print-to-digital marketing, as well as multiple ways to connect with consumers through distinct and personalized materials, marketers can help reach consumers at a time when one more minute in front of a screen might feel like one minute too much. For ideas on how to connect with today’s digitally burned-out consumer, contact Medallion’s Chris Gordon @ 646.677.5618.

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