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Signal versus Noise

By June 16, 2019 September 17th, 2019 No Comments
Signal versus Noise

Tune down the volume, tune up the insight

Is it noisy in here?

That is one question you do not want your users asking. It is also a question that messaging app developers constantly worry about.

Chat apps, conversational AI, and messaging apps can get a little too chatty and when that happens your user base will start to tune out.

Is it working?

Conversely, quiet apps can be equally problematic. Your app has a lot of value and there is nothing worse than an app that teases and plays coy with information. Apps that are too quiet can even cause the user to ask “Is it working?” or “What is it doing?”

This sets up a classic signal vs. noise dilemma that can be really tricky to get right. This is also a UX challenge that is unique to messaging apps. Messaging is a very limited medium and there are far fewer tools at your disposal than when building a web app or a mobile app.

Messaging is, by default, a conversation. And since your app is one side of the conversation you have to be very conscious about how, when, and where you choose to communicate.

After making numerous mistakes in our early days, here are 3 tips for getting your app’s signal to noise ration dialed in.

  1. Volume – Turn it down
  2. Frequency – Make it timely
  3. Feedback – Let the user dial it in
Getting it just right is a balancing act.

Volume

One of the most amazing things about technology in the 21st century is that we can easily manage large data sets. Databases and servers scale on-demand and broadband and fiber can stream huge amounts of data in a flash. The question we are left with is how to deliver all of this data in a manner that makes sense for the user.

This dilemma is acutely felt by messaging app developers because the medium is so constrained. Just because we have a lot of value does not mean we can or should send it all to the user on the other side of the conversation.

As we discussed last week, the Medium Matters, and messaging, while great for some things is, is not great for others. In our experience, we have found that reporting solutions, like dashboards and BI tools, don’t translate well into limited mediums like messaging. However; insight and alerting solutions are ideally suited for messaging.

Pro tip: Use AI to extract insight from your data and send intelligent notifications via messaging. Use these notifications to draw attention to issues and opportunities and drive the user back into the analytics or BI solution for deeper investigation.

Frequency

Just because your app has something to say doesn’t mean you user wants to hear it. Frequency isn’t about how much data, it’s about how often your app initiates the conversation.

A classic messaging mistake occurs when an app turns a conversation into a system log.  

The first wave of Slack apps were plagued by this UX mistake thanks to the ease of webhook integration. Slack made it all too easy to pipe system messages into Slack channels thereby turning far too many Slack channels into log files. Very noisey log files at that.

Loud Noises

Create balance

If your app needs to initiate conversation it should be timely or insightful, preferably both.  

Timely messaging creates a sense of predictability and comfort for the user. Daily or weekly summaries are an example of messaging that comes infrequently but at timely intervals.

If your messaging can’t be timely, it should at least be insightful. This is particularly important when dealing with alerts. Not all alert are created equally. Piping alerting into conversational channels not only creates a system log but it creates a one-way conversation that requires the user to scroll up to see if any of the alerts are worth paying attention to.

If you are going to send alerts into a Slack channel they have to be filtered and curated for criticality or you’ll risk upsetting the signal to noise ratio.

Pro tip: Use summary messages that are timely (once a day in the morning) and insightful (trends and anomalies). Send only critical notifications that have been weighted for severity or value.

Feedback

One thing that makes Slack distinctly different from other communication channels is that it’s team-based and allows for two-way communication.

The best Slack apps leverage the team and allow for feedback from the user as a method for tuning the signal to noise ratio. Ask “Is this helpful?”  or use Like buttons or other widgets to solicit feedback from the user.

Pro tip: Ensure your app has a user feedback mechanism. If they offer feedback, be sure to follow up and let them know how/when/if it will be incorporated.

Next week we are going to build on the topic of feedback when we discuss transparency and collaboration as we complete our series on UX for Messaging Platforms.

Until then I hope you enjoyed this edition of Monday Messaging.

– Michael Sengbusch, CEO – Eletype

You may not have noticed, but messaging platforms are changing how we work and how we, as marketers, deliver value to our clients. And it’s happened very quickly while representing nothing less than a generational change in how we do business and how we build applications. Join Michael Sengbusch, CEO and co-founder of Eletype, and Christina Bourne, CallRail Senior Product Manager, to learn how marketers can use messaging platforms like Slack to improve transparency and accountability, detect problems early on, and improve your customer experience.

Date: Thursday, June 20, 2019
Time: 2pm EST || 11am PST
Webinar Details
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What’s coming in July?

Release preview – Coming in July, look out for self-service configuration that will allow users to define their own thresholds and KPIs for monitoring. We are also updating the Google/Facebook summaries to include more helpful daily campaign insights. We are actively taking feedback from our users, please use “/eletype feedback” or shoot us an email if you would like to help. It’s going to be a big release, stay tuned for details.

About Eletype

Eletype is a leader in team-based digital marketing technology. Eletype is working with digital advertising agencies, specifically with search and social media teams to help automate their campaign monitoring. Our 100% messaging-first approach is what we call ‘last-mile’ analytics. We turn insight into action so marketing agencies can save time, reduce mistakes, and improve performance for their clients.

Eletype is a Slack, Mailchimp, HubSpot and CallRail partner. Eletype is a Techstars backed company.

For more information on Eletype features:

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Learn more about our messaging-centric design philosophy here:

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5 Apps to Streamline Communication

Partner News

The organization will follow suit with rival networks as it aims to change to simplify its structure globally, which has been initiated with the merging of 360i, Fetch and ICUC, led by chief executive Patrick Affleck, formerly chief executive of Fetch UK.

Slack announced that it will hold an Investor Day. The session will be held in connection with Slack’s registration statement on Form S-1 filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the proposed public listing of its Class A common stock.

Mailchimp is “leaning heavily into short-form content,” with episodes of 5-8 minutes each, Alami said: “Our customers are very busy people, and we’re meeting them where they are in their day.”

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