How Strong Branding Can Counteract Shortening Customer Attention Spans

There are about a million distractions in our day-to-day lives. Kids screaming, dog barking, some timer going off in the distance. These things are just the tip of the iceberg. We also have to contend with the constant distractions associated with the technology we use.

Technological distractions needle their way into our daily routines. Things like a notification on your cell phone, the ding of a new email arriving, or the vibration of your smart watch telling you how many steps you still need to take for the day. They seem small, but they add up.

No wonder research has found that the average human attention span has shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 down to 8 seconds today.

For marketing professionals, the needs of the Impulse Generation are challenging to meet. An ever-growing expectation for constant connectedness and quick thrills means holding a consumer’s attention is incredibly difficult. The standard marketing funnel has completely gone out the window, meaning marketing strategies are rapidly changing to keep up.

Life in an Online World

life in an online world

There is no mistaking that technology has forged a link of constant connectedness to the online world. The vast majority of people today have smartphones that rarely leave their sides. We can tie into our favorite apps and brands without ever having to get off the couch. Downloading deals and coupons or looking up the latest and greatest trends has never been easier.

Perhaps the most significant change in our lives in regard to connection to the online world came about 2 years ago. With the pandemic and associated response moving a lot of people from office buildings into a remote work lifestyle, business practices changed. The biggest change, of course, is that many more people became accustomed to shopping online. Many have come to expect that shopping their favorite brands online will be simple.

As a marketer, this means that attracting the attention of customers has shifted almost completely to an online setting. With limited attention spans, it means that hooking potential customers has to happen fast or you’ll just be scrolled past. It means creating highly immersive, engaging content that people don’t mind lingering on.

Be Eye-Catching

Professionals are working to snag the attention of potential customers in several ways. In times of quick satisfaction and do-or-die marketing, the first step is for your ad to stand out from the crowd.

Eye-catching ads are what will reel customers in. An 8-second attention span doesn’t leave a lot of room for clutter and elaborate imagery. Ultimately, this means ads need to be clean, high-resolution, and able to pop out at someone as they are aimlessly scrolling. Marketers need to take advantage of these micro-moments and swoop in at just the right time.

For an example of eye-catching ads in action, look no further than National Geographic. The global journalism giant is renowned for its amazing photography and deep dives into stories of the world. Eye-catching images are the centerpiece of many online ad campaigns. These images encourage potential customers to click on the content and drift off into a story of a faraway place.

National Geographic Instagram Example

Get to the Point

Thanks to our shrinking attention span, many potential customers aren’t interested in building a relationship as the traditional marketing funnel would entail. Rather, they are interested in getting straight to the point. Why should they be interested in your product? What is the purpose of this ad? What are the benefits of giving you their time?

For marketing professionals, this means a couple of things. First and foremost, it means that skimmable content is essential. It doesn’t matter if the content you’re producing is an email, push notification, or product page; it needs to be something that users can review quickly without having to slow down too much.

Second, it means creating a nonlinear story that engages the customer and keeps them around for more than 8 seconds. This is where you draw them in by making the content an experience that is directly relevant to their lives. It involves appealing to emotions and solving a problem with your product.

Finally, marketing strategies need to have a clear call to action that funnels people where you want them to go. It can be as simple as a ‘tap to see more’ or a ‘click here to see products.’ These calls show interested customers exactly where they need to go and what they must do to further engage with your brand.

What did we miss?

Traditional marketing strategies don’t necessarily work the way they used to; our attention spans are simply too short. In a changing environment that is now predominantly online, new strategies are necessary. Appealing to short attention spans through striking imagery and engaging storytelling are just some of the ways you can be successful. What are some others?

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