You were enjoying a casual, relaxing stroll in the park on a lovely Saturday morning,

It was an absolutely perfect day. The sun shone brightly, the birds were chirping and the air was crisp. You walked through the park on a winding trail, taking in all of nature’s beauty. You spent the week stressing about work and home duties and you finally were able to kick off those leather heels and put on your bright pink hiking shoes to tackle the outdoors.

Out of nowhere, an overzealous character leaped out behind the park bench and said:

“Excuse me, are you hungry? There’s a great delicatessen nearby!”

You politely declined and quickened your steps by a few paces thinking “well, that was weird, but at least he’s gone, let me get back to this wonderful stroll”

But a few minutes later, he popped out again, this time he said:

“Hi again, I see that you’re enjoying strolling in this park on a Saturday! We happen to have Saturday specials for this great deli place that you’d love! It’ll be a perfect place for you to refuel after your walk!”

Annoyed that you’re now being pestered and followed, you took a sharp turn off the regular path and decided to trek off the path instead.

An hour later, you felt refreshed after your session with nature and the fact that you didn’t see that hounding salesman. As you walk towards the parking lot to your car, you saw a flyer stuck on your windshield wiper flapping about.

You picked it up and immediately, your eyes widened as you read the flyer.

“Special Saturday Deli Deals, Save $5.00 for any patron wearing pink footwear!”

You crumpled the flyer and told yourself to never even consider patronizing that deli ever!

Modern Advertising At Work

As improbable as the story above is in the physical world, that formula pretty much sums up the standard digital marketing strategy and advertising campaign in the modern world.

Businesses follow the tried-and-true AIDA model in marketing,

If you’re not familiar, the AIDA model in marketing stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. It’s a marketing model that can help you increase conversion by encouraging your prospects to take sequential, probable next steps in the sales process.

While there are a lot of flaws in the AIDA model, the logic and intent make sense. However, marketers rarely actually do the four stages in equal effort. Most of the time, the focus is on the interruption to get awareness but never really reaching the Interest and Desire stages, but marketers expect the Action to take place.

Some people have this idea that marketing and advertising have to be loud, flashy, and attention-grabbing. But the thing is that people are not looking for something that grabs their attention, they are looking for something that helps them solve a problem.

The human brain is designed to focus on the unusual and ignore what’s normal. We don’t notice the things we see every day, but we notice when something is different. This line of thinking makes marketers focus on creating content that disrupts, stops the feed scroll, and makes your head turn.

However, even back in the early days of television programming and newspaper prints, consumers have a tendency to tune advertisement messages out as they’re seen as a roadblock to their primary objective (watching a show or reading an article). In today’s high volume of entertainment content, any disruption to our mindless scrolling and channel surfing is even more jarring.

For businesses, doing marketing wrong can be extremely resource-intensive and costly as more and more of your prospective audiences start blocking your ads or reporting them as spam or irrelevant to ad networks.

In the scenario above, the first instance where the creepy promotor shows out of nowhere represents the typical “prospecting” attempt of a business, wherein the message is broad, it makes assumptions on minimal data available of the customer, and the aim is to spray-and-pray by breaking your attention span to listen to what you have to say.

Needless to say, this approach rarely works and your hit rate will be low.

Hello Creepy Retargeting and Remarketing!

Retargeting efforts often occur after they have visited a website or had some interaction with the company. The goal of retargeting is to remind them of the product they saw before and hopefully entice them to buy it again.

Ideally, you’d want your retargeting and remarketing to result to:

  • Better customer experience
  • Higher e-commerce conversion rates
  • Improved brand awareness
  • Lower customer acquisition costs
  • More targeted messaging

However, advertisements often occur when we’re NOT trying to shop or buy, especially on social media and entertainment channels like games, audio, and video experiences, and often disrupt our experience of consuming content.

While marketing efforts and ads are a necessary evil for most businesses, they are legitimate means to showcase how our products and services are useful, helpful, and appealing to an audience of potential customers. However, many people have complained about the intrusion of ads on their web experience.

Facebook has the largest reach of any social media platform. Instagram and Tiktok are not far behind as well, and these platforms allow advertisers to jump in the middle of their audience’s jogging path, make certain targeting assumptions about the audience such as which park they like to visit on a Saturday morning.

Finally, the ad platforms are smart enough to trigger remarketing and retargeting messages depending on their previous action and data they left behind (the pink shoes, for example)

When done right, it can be very persuasive and powerful, but 80% of the time, these tools are used wrongly causing a lot of negative experiences to the potential audience. Shoving marketing messages repeatedly and forcing people to engage and purchase without proving their worth beforehand.

What You Can Do

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, the first thing that many people do is tune out. If a marketing message is too loud or too flashy, it can be easy to dismiss it as irrelevant. In order to capture the attention of your audience marketing and advertising has to be more subtle and personalized.

1. Be More Aware of Attention Conservation Theory

Attention conservation theory is the idea that people’s cognitive ability to pay attention is finite.

They can use this theory to understand why some people consume more media than others. For example, if you are very social and talkative, you might not be able to concentrate on reading for long periods of time. Dive deeper into your audience grouping and choose the right volume, frequency, and message type that matches your target audience’s ability to absorb and notice your messaging.

2. Be Consistent With Your Branding, Voice, and Target Audience

The words that you use in your content and the way you write an article can say a lot about who your target audience is and what they want. Be consistent with your product and company branding, voice, tone, and match it to the right audience. Don’t be an academic, sciencey expert today then turn into a dancing Tiktoker the following day.

3. Don’t Make Empty Promises or Hyperbolic Claims

In general, we all have our defenses raised whenever when we see an advertisement knowing that the ad is probably exaggerating at least one aspect of the product in order to get our attention. Stay true to your claim and follow the adage of “under promise, over deliver” will often yield positive, long-term benefits.

Focus on Customers – Easier Said Than Done, But It Can Be Done!

Businesses that focus on the customer are more successful because they are creating products that will meet customer needs.

Make your customers your top priority, having an understanding of the customer’s problem and designing solutions for them. It also means staying in touch with customers by hearing feedback and making adjustments to their product or service will guide to significantly more relevant marketing, less intrusive ads, and turn strangers into loyal customers for years.

Here’s a video to cap it all off from Google, after all, they probably know more about all of us than anyone, we should listen.


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