Customer Attention is at a Premium. Learn How to Break Through

There is a battle for customer attention. What are you doing to break through?

Why this matters:

Customer attention is an indicator of brand relevance. If you struggle to create memorable campaigns, or if you feel like your messages are not resonating with customers, it may be time to take a closer look at how and why customers are engaging with your brand.

Acquiring customer attention is not easy, especially in a world where every brand wants to reach the same customer as you do. Marketers have always been obsessed with gaining and retaining customer attention, but what is customer attention, and how can you break through the clutter to get it?

This is a question that marketers have asked for years, and the answer is still not completely clear. However, there are some things that you can do to increase the chances of your business getting noticed. This post will discuss consumer attention and how to get it using campaigns, different media platforms, and social channels.

What is Customer Attention?

Customer attention is the focus or concentration of a person or group on a particular object or activity. It can be measured by determining the amount of time someone spends looking at, thinking about, or talking about a specific thing.

In today’s multidimensional-dynamic-ADHD world, customer attention is more critical than ever. With so many distractions and choices available to consumers, brands need to capture and hold customers’ attention to stand out from the competition.

Gaining audience attention with relevant content, messages and ads should be the top priority for digital marketing teams. It’s about getting your target audience’s attention, keeping it long enough to create engagement and eventually provide business value.

Business value means converting potential customers into paying customers. New customers into repeat customers. And then convincing all of your customers to be brand advocates.

What is the Attention Span of a Human?

The attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Why does this matter? Keep reading.

According to an 8-year-old research study by Microsoft, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. According to more recent data, the attention span of a human is typically considered to be around 1,000 milliseconds. This means you have about 1/10 of a second to capture someone's attention and hold it.

According to an 8-year-old research study by Microsoft, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. According to more recent data, the attention span of a human is typically considered to be around 1,000 milliseconds. This means you have about 1/10 of a second to capture someone’s attention and hold it.

Short attention spans might also explain the shortened news cycle, where stories evaporate in no time. To achieve readability and interest in any content, headlines are written to draw readers in to read the full context of the article. Clickbait is also used similarly.

Think again if you believe that shortened attention spans are no big deal. Storytelling on social media is complex, and critical thinking skills are needed to digest the nuances and turn them into coherent thoughts. But, if you think about it, journalists have it easy when storytelling.

There’s an expectation from the reader that they have to spend 3 to 5 minutes reading an article of text before getting the entire message.

On the other hand, marketers are challenged with telling a story using creative assets and post-copy. Creating brand engagement using social was easy in the early days. Today, brands need to build a complete digital marketing strategy to attract potential customers through campaigns and day-to-day content publishing.

Acquiring Customer Attention Matters … Big Time.

If you want to capture your customers’ attention, you need to do it quickly. And, to break through the clutter, you need to be creative and exciting. You also need to ensure that your content and brand messages are easy to digest and understand.

You need a setup (or hook) and a payoff.

Headlines are an excellent place to start. A good headline can attract readers and encourage them to click through and keep reading. Post copy on social channels serves the same purpose but is slightly different. When social media users are scrolling through their feeds, the first thing they notice is the creative content–an image, photo, video, an image with text on it, and so on.

The creative is the setup and only tells half of the story. If it’s compelling enough to cause users to stop scrolling, they will naturally read the post copy and take action. This is the payoff. It completes the story.

Good creative will not only become the “scroll stopper” but also build anticipation, curiosity, and excitement.

So, if you’re looking for ways to capture audience attention, keep these things in mind. And remember that consumer behavior changes over time, and how they use technology is dynamic.

How to Get Customer Attention Online

There are several ways to capture the attention of customers and prospects using good creative, advertising, PR, and social marketing.

Good creative content is just that. Creative. The problem with most marketers is that when they think “creative,” they envision a 30-second TV spot or a billboard ad. However, creative can be a lot more subtle than that. Remember, all you need is the hook—the scroll stopper. For example, LinkedIn could be an animated data point with critical statistics about an industry. For Facebook, it could be a funny meme that your followers want to share.

Creative doesn’t always have to be new. Sometimes it can be a fresh perspective on an old idea. Your target audience will determine what works and what doesn’t work based on the performance of your content.

Advertising is the distribution of content across channels and media platforms. The key to advertising is repetition. Consumers must be exposed to your content 3 to 5 times before they take action. Creative, consistent messaging and repetition will attract consumer attention and build trust and credibility.

PR or earned media is when a journalist writes an article about your business or brand. The result of a good story can also help build trust and credibility. The key is to make sure your story is newsworthy and interesting, which requires a strong narrative that addresses a market or customer’s unmet needs.

Social media should create a relationship with new customers and prospects. It’s not about blasting them with sales messages. Instead, think of this channel to provide valuable content or ads that will help solve a business or technology challenge. Again, the key is to build community with your customers using micro-stories, leveraging the setup and payoff of social media storytelling.

How to Measure Customer Attention Over Time

Measuring the share of customer attention is not easy. At its core, the share of attention measures the conversation volume about a topic, brand, industry, or just a set of keywords. The data source can be a pre-built audience on Twitter, a SubReddit, a group of blogs and media outlets, or the entire digital ecosystem.

The best way to attract your audience’s attention rests upon one single factor–data & insights. But, more importantly, it means that marketers must first build an audience before analyzing any conversation or behavior on social media.

Share of audience attention answers the question, “How relevant is my brand to the people who matter to my business?” These people can be your customers, prospects, a group of 200+ influencers, ten influencers, journalists, and even government officials. What’s beautiful about this metric is that you can directly influence the outcomes if you create a customer advocacy program.

This approach can also provide insights into competitors’ share of attention based on the quantity and sentiment of their conversation about a specific topic or brand. You can even use this as a benchmark to track relevance over time.

Analyzing customer needs is more than counting numbers or mentions. I would recommend doing a deeper dive to understand the context of the conversation. Doing this will help isolate and uncover if/when your competitors are launching new products, releasing white papers, activating influencers, and more.

Plus, when exploring the context of how they talk about your brand, you can uncover the values, emotional triggers, and overall sentiment that they have about your business. This offers tremendous value when measuring the share of audience attention than measuring SOV or even earned media value.

Customer Attention: The Dangers of Trying Too Hard

At times, brands try to do too much when reaching their customers. In doing so, they make mistakes. They may post content that doesn’t resonate, offends a particular group, or brings light to something negative. This could result in several potential issues:

  • Damaging the relationship with the customer
  • Ruining the company’s reputation
  • Causing financial losses for your business

These are undoubtedly valid possibilities, but they’re not the only ones. Another potential negative consequence is that if you focus too much time and effort on attracting new customers, you may neglect your existing customers or other important aspects of your business. For example, you may focus on creating content that neglects product innovation.

There’s also the possibility of gaining customer attention on an issue you don’t necessarily want to go public. There are several potential negative consequences associated with capturing customer attention, but brands must weigh the risks and benefits before taking action.

Final Thoughts Customer Attention in Today’s Marketplace

As we’ve seen, customer attention is more critical than ever before. If you can capture and retain consumers’ attention, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. However, it’s important to remember that there are risks associated with capturing customer attention, so you need to weigh the pros and cons before taking any action.

Consumers are inundated with media. As a result, their attention is at a premium. They only want to consume and engage with the content they find relevant at a particular time. There are several ways to get the audience’s attention. One of the best ways is how you write headlines and the message behind them.

Headlines aren’t always the title of an article, blog post, or press release. Instead, when I think about a headline, I think about any words that will engage customers and deliver a positive online experience. And those words can be anything and anywhere.

Yes, article headlines are probably the most obvious. But most people don’t know that when an article is shared on social media, the headline becomes the post copy. Therefore, I purposely write longer headlines than I should. I do this because I want to be as descriptive as possible, leveraging intelligent keywords and phrases. I call these “audience attention grabbers.”

So the next time someone asks you, “how to get the audience attention that you deserve,” my response would be to think in headlines. Everything you do and everything you say as a marketer should be done in a descriptive, concise way and tell a compelling story.

5 Tips That Will Shape How You Can Get Audience Attention

  • Write clear, concise, and descriptive headlines. Write headlines for your customers first—Google second.
  • Do your research and incorporate the keywords and phrases you want to rank for in Google.
  • Remember, the headline, in many cases, is the payoff. This means that the creative content should be the setup for the story. The combination of creative and copy should tell a story. This should be your marketing strategy.
  • Use audience data to understand the target keywords and phrases that audiences are talking about. Then, use these keywords and phrases in your headlines.
  • Think integrated. Gaining customer and audience attention is hard. The more integrated you are with your tactics, the better you can surround your customers with repetitive and consistent messaging and engage them in the platforms where they spend the most time.

Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.