Data: The Secret Weapon in Winning the Battle for Consumer Attention


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It is both intriguing and worrisome that our attention span has diminished to just eight seconds, which is even shorter than that of a goldfish. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a 30% decline in our ability to focus. In our fast-moving world, advertisements hold our attention for merely 1.2 seconds, and video content often loses its appeal within the first two seconds. Even in Hollywood movies, shots in the most gripping scenes now last less than five seconds. As marketers, the window to make an impact is increasingly brief.

Personally, I believe the perceived dip in human attention spans isn’t a decline, but our brains adjusting to process and filter more information than ever before. As we are bombarded with images, articles and videos, our brains are learning how to quickly discern what is important and what isn’t. While we may mistakenly believe that we’ve become better at multitasking,  the onslaught of information places immense stress on our brains, increasing mental health challenges.

This information overload also makes it challenging for our customers to differentiate between brands, often leading to a lack of brand loyalty. As customer-centric marketers, we must recognize this reality and tailor our communication strategies to address it effectively.

Aligning Your Data Strategy By Embracing Customer Centricity

I recognize that adapting to our new, hectic reality has been a significant effort for everyone. A common question I encounter is, “Kelly, where do I begin?” My straightforward response is always to start with the basics, and that means our data strategy. Customers expect businesses to understand their preferences, history, and preferred methods and channels of communication. Without a robust data strategy, how can we fulfill these expectations? Failing to do so leaves the door open for competitors to enter.

A data strategy involves:

  • Using data to gain insights into customer behavior
  • Breaking down data silos
  • Improving system efficiencies through strategic data utilization

Organizations often encounter obstacles due to their fragmented structures, which may arise from geographical spread, mergers and acquisitions, varied product offerings, or the independent management of different divisions. Moreover, intricate technological infrastructures and departments that fail to interconnect smoothly can impede the effective integration of data.

My recommendation? Take a “crawl, walk, run” approach. Master the basics first. Begin with enlisting the support of stakeholders, identifying advocates, and crafting a robust strategy for managing change. Refrain from attempting to resolve all issues simultaneously. Opt for a methodical, step-by-step process, rigorously testing each modification for enhanced outcomes.

A Big Part of Data Strategy is Cleansing

While the challenges of deduplication and information updates are well-known, the notion of a “Dark Data Initiative” merits particular focus. Despite the foreboding name, Dark data refers to unutilized data that either remains inaccessible, lacks critical information, or has become outdated and irrelevant. Experts suggest such data constitutes a whopping 88% of all data. How can we expect to achieve a comprehensive view of our customers when so much pertinent information remains hidden from us?

The solution involves conducting regular data audits, establishing data quality standards, and leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Cleansing your data is not a one-time project. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention.

Harnessing the Power of Data: Enhancing Insight through Enrichment and Micro-Segmentation

Until recently, marketers primarily relied on demographics, technographics, and psychographics to segment their audience. Yet, there has been a significant shift towards utilizing behavioral and intent data. This shift offers a deeper understanding of customer behavior, allowing for more precisely targeted communications that greatly improve engagement rates. Looking ahead, I anticipate that we will unravel the “why” behind every human action, including unconscious drivers. This advancement will profoundly elevate the field of marketing.

Enriching your data with insights from external sources introduces an extra dimension of understanding about your audience. By integrating internal and external data, you gain a holistic view of your customers, covering their preferences and behaviors. This enriched information paves the way for creating highly personalized and relevant marketing campaigns. Furthermore, it opens the door to predictive analytics. Certain industries are particularly advanced in this area. For example, in healthcare, it is now possible to predict diabetes six months in advance as savvy marketers enhance first party data with psychographics and append external data. The power of data should not be underestimated.

Micro-segmentation elevates personalization by breaking down your audience into smaller, highly targeted groups based on shared interests or behaviors. Engaging these specific micro-segments with customized messaging significantly boosts the chances of grabbing their attention and turning them into devoted customers. This strategy not only captures your customers’ attention but also sets you apart in a fiercely competitive market. The era of broad segmentation has come to an end.

The Future is Data-Driven

Data has emerged as the cornerstone of any effective revenue generation strategy. Its significance in today’s fast-moving and intensely competitive business environment cannot be emphasized enough. With our attention spans diminishing, it’s imperative for companies to gain a profound understanding of their customers and tailor their approaches accordingly. Leveraging the power of data not only provides businesses with a competitive advantage, but it also steers them towards a more customer-centric model.

Kelly Waller
Kelly Waller is SVP of Sales and Marketing for Harte Hanks a global customer experience company. A proven global marketing leader, Kelly has deep expertise in customer experience, CRM, AI, inside/outside sales, demand generation, marketing technology and sales enablement. Her work has been widely published and she is a frequently-requested speaker at conferences including the C-Vision CX and CMO Think Tank and Emblaze. Prior to joining Harte Hanks in 2023, Kelly was Global Vice President, Mid-Market for Finastra and Inside Sales Director for Extreme Networks.


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