The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 3 weeks ago

203. The Unseen Costs of Digital Pollution w/ Ethan Beute


Digital pollution is unwelcome digital distractions that slow us down, confuse, frustrate, and annoy us, and sometimes even threaten us. If it’s not the right message for the right audience at the right time, it’s probably digital pollution — and damages our brand relationships. 

I’m Ethan Beute, Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, here to give you two specific cautions about operating in a digitally polluted environment. Listen in to this episode to learn about:

  • What digital pollution is
  • What the three types of digital pollution are
  • How we should view consequential pollution
  • How personalization can cut through some pollution
  • Why human-centered communication is an antidote to digital pollution  

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The single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Return on investment is an outcome. Roi Is an outcome. It's dependent on Rota. Return on time and attention. When you focus on the return someone else will get by giving you their time and attention, you'll get a better return on your investment in the effort. It's true. In an email, a voice mail, a social post of video message and email sequence or an outbounding cadence, in everyone you're asking for someone's time and attention. If you reward those precious limited resources and give people something they need, want or appreciate, then you'll get what you need or want out of it. Give them a return on their time and attention and you'll get a return on your investment. Likewise, recurring revenue is an outcome. It's delivered when you focus on creating recurring impact for people. This idea came to me from Jacko Vander Koi, founder of winning by design. He's a revenue archit teched a sales engineer. He's featured in Chapter Three of the Wall Street Journal best seller human centered communication, which I coauthored with my longtime friend and team member and bomb chief marketing officer, Steve Passin. Ellie, you may have heard all three of us in conversation an episode one hundred fifty eight of the customer experience podcast. In it, Jocko, Steve and I talked about a number of different things, including the idea that recurring revenue is the result of recurring impact. If we focus more on creating recurring impact for our prospects and customers,...

...the recurring revenue will follow. So we should focus more on return on time and attention as a precursor to our OI and we should focus more on recurring impact as a precursor to recurring revenue. This seems intuitive, but we don't always behave in accordance, especially not informal, structured and scaled systems and processes. So often, when we put on our sales hat or our marketing hat or our revenue hat, we do what we think we need to do in order to get what we think we should get, and this often turns into a numbers game. We often start to treat people as numbers rather than as people, and people can tell the difference. That's why we talk so much about customer experience and employee experience here on the show. The essence of both x and X is how we make people feel. You know when you've been made to feel more like a number than a valued customer or a valued prospect or a potential partner. For example, in a particular effort, we may have made some improvements, try to optimize the process and we increase conversion twenty five percent, let's say, from two point four two three percent, six tents on two point four, a twenty five percent lift in conversion where geniuses were high fiving each other. It's a massive improvement. But we never have the conversation about the ninety seven percent. Who are those people? What do they think? What do they feel? Certainly some of them are confused, annoyed or frustrated by what we put in front of them. Maybe they weren't the right people, maybe the message wasn't right for them, maybe the timing wasn't right for them. But if we throw a big enough net into the ocean and we optimize that net, we can lift it from two point four to three percent, call it a day and be really proud of ourselves, and in many cases we should be. But in this episode we're going to talk about one consequence of a faster and slightly more selfish approach that isn't focused...

...sufficiently on return on time and attention or on recurring impact. That consequence is digital pollution. That term is in the subtitle of our book Human Centered Communication, a business case against digital pollution, and Steve created this very simple but powerful definition of a phenomenon that we all are familiar with. He to finds digital pollution as unwelcome digital distractions. Unwelcome digital distractions they slow us down, they confuse us, they frustrate us, they annoy us, they sometimes even threaten us. We're all familiar with noise. Noises the sheer volume of incoming messages in slack, in email, in text messaging, in Linkedin all these places where there's so much coming in that it's hard to keep up. Pollution is the worst part of that noise. It's the part of that noise that we deem unwelcome. And distracting. It has a negative affect. It makes us feel very often as if we're being treated like numbers. This is that connect and pitch on linkedin right, or it's that email you get and you have no idea who it's from or why you received it. For example, in my role, I have absolutely no per view whatsoever over the IT infrastructure here at bombomb, and yet I get pitched it services all the time. That is an unwelcome digital distraction. It's noise and pollution that gets in the way of finding what really matters to me. And you experience the same thing in Linkedin, in your text messages, in your email, in slack and beyond. So here I'll break down the three types of digital pollution, I'll provide two specific cautions about digital pollution and I'll very briefly introduce a solution. My name is Ethan Ute, host of the customer Experience Podcast, Chief Evangelist... bombomb and Co author of both Rehumanize Your Business and human centered communication. So with the term digital pollution we're giving a name to something that we all know exists, that we've all seen, we've all felt. Sometimes we'll take a screenshot of something really over the top and share it with other people, sometimes publicly, sometimes privately. More often than we know we're part of that ninety seven percent fail your rate on that two point four to three percent conversion lift. So here are three different types of digital pollution so we can understand it a little bit better, and the three exist on a spectrum. On one end is innocent digital pollution, there's no ill intent. Very often this is that reply all email that didn't need to be a reply all. It's that group text message or group Linkedin message that would have been better executed and better received as a one to one message. We don't all need the reply. This isn't actually a group conversation. We pick up our phone, there are eighty five new messages and one of these is often the reason. Going back to the earliest days of email, of course, there were email chain letters that we were supposed to forward to three other people. This is the Typo or the autocorrect in a text message or an email that completely changes what it means and you have to go back and forth three or four times to get clarity. It slows US down, it confuses us, it frustrates us, but it's relatively innocent it. On the far other end of the spectrum is intentional digital pollution. This is fishing, malware, cyber attacks, denial of service attacks. Is this email from who it says it's from? Is this link safe to click? Is this attachment actually what it says it is, or is it going to install malware on my machine? This is the stolen social profile that we see all the time. If you get another request for me, don't accept it because it's not my real account. Someone took all my photos and made a new profile. This is the costly, threatening...

...and even dangerous form of digital pollution and it's the foundation for a multibillion dollar cyber security industry and it's everywhere, including in our text messages and our voice mails. So on one end you have innocent digital pollution, on the other end you have intentional digital pollution and in the big fat middle is consequential digital pollution. It doesn't seek to annoy or confuse or frustrate or steal from people, but there's something about the way the message or the experiences created and delivered that feels polluting to the recipient. The recipient defines what is noise and what is pollution. The recipient of the digital message or experience gets to decide in the moment whether something is useful and worth paying attention to, whether it's a benign type of noise or whether it's actually pollution in their day. At some level all of us are creating some amount of pollution, but the consequence of that is becoming increasingly costly. When I speak on these themes and topics of human centered communication and digital pollution, I'll often give the presentation the subtitle today's path to tomorrow's revenue. Because customers have more control than ever and because every channel we're using to connect and communicate with the people were building our business with, and because every channel we're using to connect and communicate with other people is noisier and more polluted than ever, this conversation is worth having right now, internally and in the broader community. And with that, here are two specific cautions about digital pollution and operating in a digitally polluted environment. The first caution, and it's already been implied, is to pay attention to consequential pollution. Look at performance, look at feedback, not just from the positive side of..., the two point four to three percent, but the negative side to pay attention to the counter impacts that you're creating with the way that you're trying to connect and communicate with prospects and customers, or anyone for that matter, investors, the board, potential recruit strategic partners, everyone is on the receiving end of some of our digital messages and digital experiences. If we ignore consequential pollution, then we shrink our addressable market. It's so easy these days to ignore, block or delete. Again, Jaco Vandercoy of winning by design, featured in Chapter Three of Human Center communication, shared with us that he's a superhuman user. It's an email client or an email management tool, and with it he can block an entire domain, not just an individual rep that he might feel is too aggressive or a message that's too irrelevant, but he can block an entire domain and entire company. He's completely out of reach forever. If you're not familiar with Jocko again, he's awesome. Steve and I hosted him on episode one hundred fifty eight. He was also featured an episode two hundred. The EX takes mixtape, or was all about employee experience and if you go to bombombcom slash podcast, you can check out both of those episodes be you can also check out this one. This is episode two hundred three, and I'll embed in it a video from the winning by design Youtube Channel, which is an amazing resource. If you're not familiar with it, you should become familiar with it if you're interested in marketing, sales, customer success, revenue, revenue operations, customer experience, recurring impact, recurring revenue, and I assume that you are. But I'll embed in the post for this episode, episode two hundred and three, a video in which Jaco breaks down an example that results in losing forty seven percent of a particular data base or... list while trying to grow revenue from it. And his assumptions in the math are not dramatic at all. He's assuming a one percent unsubscribe rate on a ten email sequence run simultaneously by six different reps or run six different times by the same rep, with a list of one thou people. The result is losing four hundred seventy of those people, and so the consequences are real, which is to say nothing of negative word of mouth and other negative sentiment. If these are the people were trying to serve, if these are the people we're trying to build our business with and through. And four, why continue to ignore the counter impacts of operating in a way that doesn't provide a great return, or at least consider providing a great return on each person's time and attention? This could mean changing the list, this could mean changing the timing, this could mean changing the order and sequence and cadence of things. This could mean changing the messaging. It could mean a variety of different things, but continuing to operate as usual makes it easier for us to be ignored, blocked or deleted. So the first caution is to pay attention to consequential pollution that you may be creating and work to minimize it. None of us is perfect. We're never going to get to a hundred percent conversion on any effort, but we have to try. This is today's path to tomorrow's revenue. Caution number two is to know that you're arriving in one's feed or in someone's message box or inbox amid a see of noise and pollution. This seems obvious, but when we create these messages and we send them out or we have machines send them out on our behalf. We feel confident that we've got something promising for the right person. We've dropped in some personalized or relevant nuggets in there. But even in a perfect situation of reaching out to people who truly want to hear from us with messages that are truly interesting and helpful and valuable to them, there's a chance we won't be seen. How many times...

...have you said or heard, whether it's with a person or a company or a brand, some version of Oh, you didn't receive that, go check your spam folder. Even people who want to hear from US may not because of the sheer volume of noise and pollution and the increasing engagement of machines to help filter these things. I find useful stuff in my spam. Bombombcom has a google APPs domain and so I use gmail to check my email. I have to go into my spam folder because every time I do I find a message that I actually want. And to the degree that we're reaching out in a slightly colder way or a more distant way someone that's not really close to us for our business or our brand or our product or our service, you no longer get the benefit of the doubt. People aren't spending a lot of time making rational, conscious decisions about what to keep and what to delete, what to block, when to unsubscribe. It's all instinct because there's so much volume, there's so much noise. In addition, trust is harder to build and more fragile over all. We talked about this at length and episode one hundred and fifty with Dr Nick Morgan. Why your virtual relationships degrade over time? This move to digital, virtual and online as the default or the primary mode of connecting and communicating puts us in a difficult position with regard to attention and trust. But being just twenty percent more human is a massive differentiator right now. That comes to us from Lauren Bailey, founder and president of both factor eight and Girls Club, in Chapter Eight of Human Center Communication. Yes, we need to focus on personalization and relevance, but we also need to find spots to be personal, not just personalized. That something that's come up a number of times on this podcast. We need a default to the human voice rather than the corporate voice. Obviously we're hearing a lot about transparency,...

...authenticity, vulnerability. What is clear and succinct and what is sincere and human stands out in this sea of noise and pollution. So caution number two is know that you're arriving amid waves and waves of noise and pollution. Being just a little bit more personal and a little bit more human, a little clearer and more sincere, will cut through, stand out and create a massive difference in your long term results. And with those two cautions, here's a brief mention of a solution. We call it human centered communication. It involves putting your recipients needs, wants an interests on equal footing or on a level playing field with your own. When you make it for them and about them, you get what you need and want. It's a basic give to get dynamic and it's a special layer. Consider video messaging to address the lack of identity and verification, this kind of trust element, and to make clear that you're a real person who's really reaching out with clarity and sincerity. To overcome the visual and emotional impoverishment of most of our digital communication that comes across as faceless, typed out text. A video message can make a big, big difference. If you want some resources related to that or you have thoughts or questions about video email or video messaging, just reach out. I'm Ethan Butte on Linkedin. That's beute on Linkedin, or you can email me directly, Ethan Etchn at Bombombcom. Happy to share some links with you, answer any questions you might have, and yes, I just might do that in a video message. So digital pollution. Digital Pollution is any unwelcome digital distraction. It's defined by the recipient in the moment. It's completely contextual. They get to decide and it's based on part whether it treats them like a person or whether it treats them like a number. Recurring red a new is the result of...

...recurring impact. We often put the big revenue number up on the board and we have to, but there's insufficient conversation about creating recurring impact. If we spend more time and energy focus there, the revenue will come and likewise providing a return on people's time and attention. Rota improves your Roi, or return on investment. When you give people what they need and want, you're more likely to get what you need and want. A bit intuitive, of course, easier said than done, absolutely, but a lot of people find these themes and topics to be a helpful reminder. It can be a really fun, engaging and healthy conversation. Again, I'm happy to have it with you. You can find me on linkedin or you can email me. I also want to recommend again a couple of those other episodes I mentioned. Jacko Vander Koi guested on episode one hundred and fifty eight with Steve Passinelli and me creating customer impact in moments that matter, and a little bit earlier, Dr Nick Morgan joined me for why your virtual relationships degrade over time. That's episode one hundred fifty I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you check those others out and I always welcome your feedback. My name is Ethan Butte and I appreciate you listening to the customer experience podcast. We have our inbox constantly foam. We constantly have messages coming in. Work emails just went up to one hundred and one. Have Ninety nine plus six hundred and seventy nine on ready. Now we're here to talk about a major problem. My name is Kipbodner and I'm the chief marketing officer at help spot. I probably get ten to fifteen phone calls a day, unwanted, and I probably get fifty, a hundred emails a day, unwanted. When I think about noise and trying to get that out of my life, I think about it through my most scarce resource, was just my time and attention. Is it worth my attention ever..., versus like me, spending a moment with my son or cooking a meal with my son? The answers almost always know. We also know that the byproduct of that noise is feeling overwhelmed, feeling like there's not enough signal and that you feel discombobulated or confused. That's at least how I feel, so I also tried to protect myself from those feelings as well. Watch the trailer now for dear first name a four part, first of its kind documentary series that explores how digital pollution is eroding our ability to communicate with each other and build trust. Coming this winter.

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