Today's consumer has an average attention span of eight seconds, down from 12 in 2013 (that's shorter than a goldfish's). Now that consumer attention is at an all-time low, competition for their impressions and dollars is at an all-time high, putting marketers under more pressure than ever to step up their game to get results.
They are constantly experimenting, reinventing and iterating in an attempt to find the magic combination of techniques that will allow them capture consumer attention in cost effective ways.
Here are some of the obstacles marketers face and some ways to breakthrough to not only get people to pay attention to a brand, but to care about it.
The party's over. It's time for marketers to say goodbye to organic social reach and hello to curated feeds. Organic reach, the reach unpaid posts get on Twitter, Facebook and now Instagram, is all but gone and being replaced by algorithms that determine what posts appear in a user's feed. Facebook took things a step further with yet another algorithm update that prioritizes posts from friends and family over those of publishers and brands. To contend with a landscape dominated by curated feeds marketers are going to have to forget about the old days before social was pay-to-play and re-evaluate what and how to post. As content visibility continues to drop, treat social media channels like paid media, instead of earned, using ads to distribute premium content to targeted audiences.
Sixty-nine percent of marketers surveyed in the Content Marketing Institute's 2015 Benchmark Report said they planned to produce more content this year - and they are! Brands are producing more content than ever, partially due to popular platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Live, but they've yet to do content marketing in a way that doesn't feel like marketing. They have to refocus their strategies on producing valuable content their audience "wants" to consume, while optimizing its format for the channel it's distributed on.
Norton Security is embodying this new approach to content marketing. The antivirus software company released a true cyber-crime hacker documentary called, "The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet" to drive awareness and demand for their products. The 19-minute video on hackers didn't explicitly mention Norton or its products, but it prompted 1.2 million viewers on YouTube to ponder how secure their Internet connection was, moving them closer to the path to purchase than an advertisement would. Marketers can follow in Norton's footsteps by producing content that services consumer needs and wants. Start small by developing a content strategy around the top-performing search keywords associated with a brand, not the brand itself.
User-generated content (UGC) is taking over. UGC (consumer-generated photos and videos shared on social media) is replacing stock photography and becoming the main driver of today's visual driven marketing landscape. It's more influential and trusted among consumers than traditional advertising, and because of that, UGC-infused campaigns generate more engagement and sales. Unsurprisingly, top brands like Apple Inc., are using it to help tell the story in their latest iPhone campaign.
Marketers can think of UGC as digital testimonials that are just waiting to be weaved into an advertising campaign or product page (after permission from the user is received, of course). Whatever the brand, chances are, there is a wealth of consumer-generated content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and beyond. Marketers can find posts from real users praising their brand or posing with their products and deploy them across websites, email campaigns, social media and mobile apps using a plethora of tools and services. Or, with a few well-placed call-to-actions, inspire consumers to create UGC on behalf of a brand.
All the data consumers share about themselves is invaluable to marketers. In fact, 68 percent of marketers say personalization has a high impact on brand perception and sales, and 74 percent say it has a high impact on engagement. Too bad only 19 percent use it. Marketers need to get personal with consumers and serve up digital experiences that are relevant to them. It goes way beyond addressing a customer by name in an email blast. It's about giving people what they want or need at the right time, on the right device.
For consumers, individualized campaigns give a sense of a one-to-one relationship with a brand. Marketers can start personalizing digital experiences by mining the sources of customer data they already have access to, but haven't tapped into yet. Put demographic and location information, web analytics, social stats, email databases and purchase histories to work in segment campaigns to give consumers what they want, when they're most likely to engage with it.
These are just a few of the ways brands can capture and convert consumers' attention.
Something as simple as user-generated content or individualized user experiences can build trust and loyalty in a way no advertisement can, making brands be more relatable and memorable. Pairing that with an updated content strategy that gives audiences what they want when they want it can really help brands cut through the noise and rise to the top of people's news feeds.
About the Author
Margaret Lucas is the Digital Strategist at Nicho, a visual marketing platform that brings branded and user-generated content into one place. Margaret is responsible for ideating, launching and executing digital, social media and content marketing programs to meet business and brand goals. She has guided companies like MTV, Nokia and the American Cancer Society in their quest to stay relevant and evolve in today's always connected world.