Media Matters: 3 Ways to Get Your Message In Front of Multitasking Customers

Maximize your engagement with customers by reaching them through their device of choice.

July/August 2016

Your customers and potential customers are consuming more media than ever and using multiple screens and devices every day. In spite of reports that traditional media is dying, people are consuming only slightly less TV, radio and print media, and they are layering on more digital and mobile media by increasingly multitasking. Nielsen data reveals that 84 percent of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices as second screens while they are watching TV.

According to projections from eMarketer, U.S. adults in 2016 will spend just over twelve hours per day on their devices. Digital media will take up nearly six hours of their time, and 2 hours, 45 minutes will be spent watching TV.

What are the best ways to reach customers with divided attention spans? Marketing experts suggest thinking about media channels from the perspective of the customer. For example, social media channels are active and customers expect to engage with your business. Video, podcasts and TV are passive and customers expect to be educated or entertained. It’s also essential to focus on keeping your brand identity consistent, no matter where the consumer encounters it. Here are three key principles to keep in mind.

1. Adapt your strategy to the way consumers use each media channel.

“You have to recognize the differences among the media channels and understand how best to get your message across in each,” says Ruby Gottlieb, founder of The Media Advisory, a cross-platform and digital media marketing consultancy. While print, broadcast TV and radio enable one-way messaging from your business to consumers, digital media—especially social media and user-generated ratings sites such as Yelp, Manta and Angie’s List—require interaction.

Gottlieb cautions business owners against transporting content from traditional media directly to the web. “Taking your TV spot and running it online will not be successful in the interactive environment of digital media,” she says. The multitasking consumer doesn’t have the attention span for a 15- or 30-second commercial on a mobile device, so “there’s no question online video should be shorter,” she adds. “Use more interactive pieces, especially in social media posts, and include a call-to-action, such as a link for more information, an email address for contacting your company, or a list of related videos.”

Plan ahead when you record your TV commercial, she suggests, and shoot video clips that will be appropriate for the web at the same time. “That way your online video will have the same look and feel as your commercial, which supports your branding,” Gottlieb notes.

2. Rigorously collect and analyze data to inform your media strategy.

Research has shown that consumers begin the buying process online anywhere between 60% to 90% of the time, explains Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and author of three books, including Evolve: Marketing (as we know it) is Doomed.

Fortunately, the ability to gather and analyze data is built into digital media, and some analytical tools are free. “You can start with something as simple as Google Analytics to understand whether people are coming to your website from a search engine or a social media post, whether they are using a desktop or mobile device, and where they are located geographically,” he says.

Once you have data, you can prioritize media channels. “Make sure you’re doing a good job in the main channels—your website and the social media channels generating the most traffic for your company. Once you have mastered those, you can start to look beyond them to channels that are up-and-coming in your market, such as Snapchat or Tumblr,” he explains, adding that marketers often get seduced off course by the latest “hot” platform and end up diluting their efforts.

When you are using traditional media for advertising, you can still collect data (although not as directly as with digital media) by incentivizing consumers to take an action on the web. For example, Newman notes, “you can also ask TV ad viewers to follow you on Twitter and tweet a particular code or hashtag to receive a coupon. Make the action unique to your commercial so that you know the person saw your ad on TV.”

3. Unify the customer experience across all touch points.

If the way you position your brand in advertising and other marketing efforts doesn’t match the experience people find in your store, restaurant, office or website, consumers have the power through social media and user-generated reviews to undermine your brand message.

That doesn’t mean you should hand over control of your brand to consumers, though, says Beth Silver, managing director of Doubet Consulting, a marketing consulting firm that works with small businesses and non-profits. “Even when a person is complaining about your business, that is an opportunity to respond in the tone and manner you want your brand to have,” she says.

“It’s all about being consistent wherever you encounter the consumer.”

Like Newman, Silver suggests that you focus on fewer channels so that you are able to be responsive in the places your customers are most likely to be.

She relates a story of a client who was so busy getting her business on all the popular media channels and social networks that she couldn’t keep up with incoming phone calls. The first thing Silver did as a consultant was to connect the client to a company that could provide a live telephone answering service. “Now we laugh about it,” Silver says. “When her advertising is working, she is now able to reap the benefits.”

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