Why sustaining customer attention is the secret to modern marketing

Matt Bateson, Oracle’s CX strategy director, explains how to keep customers interested in your brand.

The goal of marketing hasn’t changed. It still comes down to getting your brand in front of the right people at the right time so they can engage with your company. What has changed is that many consumers today actively screen out sales, marketing and advertising messages as a response to being bombarded on every possible channel or platform.

Paying for peace and quiet

As consumers, we will even pay to avoid advertising. Spotify’s ever-growing premium subscriber base is a testament to this. Even though most of the company’s customers opt for its free tier service, 40 million users are prepared to pay €120 each year so they can listen to music ad-free.

And who can blame them? Virtually every digital channel we use is flooded with advertising and marketing content. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, now earn much of their revenue by serving advertisements to their users. This ‘sponsored’ content is now increasingly sandwiched in between posts and updates from our friends. To add to this, many of the ‘influencers’ we follow on Instagram or Twitter often work on behalf of brands to help sell their wares to a receptive audience.

Meanwhile, our attention spans are getting shorter (one second less than that of a goldfish, according to my colleague Daryn Mason) and the number of brands competing for people’s attention is growing. It’s no wonder consumers have trained themselves to block out ads that aren’t relevant or don’t add value (anyone else skip most YouTube adverts after the first five seconds?).

How to make your brand stand out

To grab a consumer’s attention on any channel – whether it’s over email or on Facebook – brands must work harder to cut through the noise instead of just adding to it. There are three main ways to achieve this:

1) Up your creative game – inspiring content gets customers to share your message with their personal networks, and to actively seek out your brand.

2) Add value – whether it’s the information you share or the way in which you deliver a personalised message to address your audience’s needs, relevance is key.

3) Consider the full picture – The customer experience is made up of every interaction with your brand, from an initial advert through to a sale or follow-up service. Treat CX as such, and make sure it is synchronised throughout the customer journey. For instance, a service call is as much an opportunity for brands to endear themselves with customers as an incredible ad campaign is, as long as they can quickly and effectively resolve peoples’ issues.

Using data to gain an edge

It has become the norm for marketers to use data in campaign targeting and testing. To make data work as hard as possible, brands must look beyond a target audience’s social graph or personal characteristics. They need to combine these insights with information on each customer’s previous brand interactions and responses to previous campaigns. Only then can marketers design a truly personalised experience that resonates with their audience instead of blending in with promotional content from their competitors

An audience of one

The holy grail of marketing is to be speaking with an ‘audience of one’, but this has historically been time and cost prohibitive.

Things are changing, however. The increasing uptake of marketing and customer experience technologies like Data Management Platforms, which allow marketers to integrate first, second and third party data and extract actionable insights, are making individualised marketing achievable.

We are also seeing brands do more to sync up the customer facing functions of their business (sales, service and marketing) using technologies that promote a free flow of data between them. As a result, each department is gaining a view of each customer’s needs and previous experiences with the brand and can provide them with a personalised service that takes these into account.

From grabbing to sustaining

The evolution of marketing, sales, and service is about more than new technologies. Personalisation must become part of the brand’s mind-set, as evidenced by the move from ‘B2C’ to ‘B2Me’ marketing.

Capturing a prospect’s attention in a noisy and cluttered digital environment takes a collaborative approach where each function is aligned. After all, reaching customers is a pointless exercise if you are unable to then sustain their attention through the sales experience and any services they need after the fact.

Even if the goal of marketing hasn’t changed, the act of marketing in practice has never been more nuanced.

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