A good multi-channel messaging strategy helps you build and maintain relationships directly with your customers. But more messaging doesn’t necessarily mean better or more successful messaging. Sending too many messages can have a negative effect not just on individual campaigns, but on your long-term marketing efforts as a whole.
If your customers have subscribed to push notifications, emails, or texts from you or have downloaded your app, they clearly want to hear from you. But developing a strategy to send targeted messages consistently without over-messaging is key to keeping users opted in to messages and to building that connection to your company.
What is Over-Messaging?
Over-messaging can be damaging in two primary ways: its negative impacts on the recipients and their engagement with your company, as well as its direct negative impacts on your app or website.
Over-messaging to users happens when your users get too many notifications from you. Even if your content strategy is on point and your messages are relevant to the audience, consumers can start to tune out if you’re sending them the 10th message of the day. This messaging fatigue can condition them to ignore or unsubscribe from your notifications and potentially uninstall your app, all of which alienate your customers and cut off key communication channels for your business.
Over-messaging can also have negative impacts on your company in real time. For some websites or apps, sending messages can actually drive too much traffic and negatively impact your servers. Reaching everyone at once can result in a serious traffic surge, which can lead to server overload, slowdowns, and even outages. Server overload affects even large companies - think of getting stuck in front of blank pages when you’re trying to buy tickets to a popular music festival or show. So for some companies, throttling or staggering these sends is critical.
Potential customer responses to over-messaging
- Ignore your messages
- Turn off or decrease your notifications
- Revoke push permissions
- Uninstall your app
- Churn or use your product less
- Complain through support or social channels
- Write negative reviews
You're may be over-messaging if the following are true:
- You’re blasting notifications to everyone, regardless of whether it is relevant to that specific user
- You have many types of campaigns running, especially if they’re managed by different teams
- You’re triggering a lot of transactional messages
- Your users don’t check their phones or notifications often
- Your website or app can’t handle the resulting surge site traffic that you see from notifications
- You’re servers can’t handle the resulting transactions, e.g. checkouts
Easy Solutions to Avoid Over-Messaging
You may now feel that you have an over-messaging problem, but you obviously still want to continue to message and develop relationships with your customers. What should you do?
One of the first lines of defense against over-messaging is making sure you’re delivering messages to relevant and targeted audiences instead of blasting to everyone. Use Data Tags and filters to identify the right audience and segment users by tagging them based on their interests or activity, which can increase CTR by 66%.
For example, a news and media company can send specific categories of updates for news topics that people have opted into. You could also use the Category Slidedown prompt or In-App survey to let visitors select notification categories, such as general announcements, promotions and offers, or recommendations.
Frequency Capping is a common strategy in paid digital advertising, so customers don’t see the same ads over and over, and the same idea applies to notifications. OneSignal’s Frequency Capping prevents you from over-messaging users to help avoid message fatigue. Many companies can benefit from Frequency Capping, especially those that typically send a high volume of notifications, manage multiple campaigns, or if have multiple teams managing sends and want to put a safeguard in place.
As an example, let’s say your company has an operations team that wants to send an account update, a product team that wants to send an update on a new release, a marketing team that is running promotions, a lifecycle team that is launching a re-engagement campaign, and on top of that you have automated push workflows set up with transactional messages that are triggering consistently. Setting a frequency cap (3 messages per day, for example) manages recipient volume without having to individually manage audiences for each campaign. You can also override your setting for an individual message to ensure the most important messages get through. If you have a critical campaign, overriding will ensure your message is still sent to the entire audience, even if some users have reached their message limit.
Determining the right limit depends on your company, messaging content, industry, geography, seasonality, and many other factors. You could poll your users with a lightweight in-app survey to see how often they want to hear from you. You can also analyze your user interaction data, such as opt-outs and uninstalls to find the right balance.
Usually, you want your messages to reach your customers as soon as possible. But if a sudden traffic surge could prove challenging to your servers, Message Throttling can help stagger your send. By default, OneSignal will send notifications as fast as we can, but with Throttling, you can dictate the number of messages per minute you want to send and apply that to all the notifications you send. You can also override your app-level throttle setting for any individual message.
You can choose to combine similar notifications together to minimize distractions. Notifications with the same group key (which is set in the compose dashboard) will automatically group on the user’s device.
For example, a marketplace app can minimize noise for sellers by grouping together similar notifications instead of displaying individual notifications each time someone likes an item or makes a bid.
If your messages are very timely and can become out of date quickly, you can show only the latest notification and remove older notifications, which may have become irrelevant. The new notification will replace the old notification if the user has not yet clicked it.
For example, a weather app providing weather updates or a finance app providing market movements may want to only show the most recent notification.
Time to Live
Manage your notification’s Time to Live (TTL) by setting an expiration date for each message (the default is 3 days). Push notification will only show if the device is online before the Time to Live expires, otherwise, they will disappear.
Over-messaging is a commonly overlooked challenge that can have serious consequences for your users and your business. But luckily there are a variety of tools and strategies available to mitigate these issues. For more information on over-messaging and how to avoid it, watch our recent over-messaging webinar or get in touch with a OneSignal sales specialist to access Frequency Capping and other key features.
Learn to Build a Balanced Messaging Strategy
Want more actionable tips and strategies to prevent over-messaging while boosting user retention and engagement? Click the link below to watch our webinar video on this topic.