How to Engage Distracted Consumers in the Digital Universe
How to Engage Distracted Consumers in the Digital Universe

In the metro, on a local, or in a taxi in India, you will find a majority of commuters peering into their smartphones. According to a study, 66% of individuals in 52 key countries will own a smartphone by the end of 2018. India is projected to have 530 million smartphone users by the end of 2018, the second highest number in the world. The rapid spread of this technology has transformed how we communicate with our peers, access entertainment, get work done, and indulge in shopping or commerce. Various companies, services, and organizations are employing every conceivable trick in the book to promote themselves in the digital domain, trying to get user attention.

Companies are placing a larger proportion of their marketing budget into promoting their campaigns digitally, as they follow the consumer-class and where their attention is going. With gigantic corporations dropping large amounts of money into placing ads on mobile websites or on applications, consumers have become harder to reach and engage with. Battling for their attention amidst social media, chats, videos, memes, and games become difficult. To stand out and be heard, companies must craft new campaigns, designed with the new-age distracted digital user in mind.

Timing is crucial: Research carried out by YouGov shows that 30 seconds or less is the length of time in which one has to capture an online audience, while the ads at the beginning of YouTube often give advertisers only 5 seconds to hook their audience’s interest. Clearly, the internet is a space in which entities are competing for the valuable time of their audience, and every second counts. The initial appeal to consumers and the audience should be direct and should make its proposition and offer clearly. Roundabout appeals that would take too much time to unravel would most likely be dismissed or ignored by today’s busy millennial audience. With several people dual-screening, i.e. using a second device or screen while watching some content on another, the economy and efficiency of putting across your idea is critical. Otherwise, the next dialogue or line from what they’re watching will take their attention away. The takeaway here is that companies must catch the audience’s eye and waste no time in making the essence of their promotion clear. Complexity takes time to unravel, and can be presented once the user has clicked on an ad – at least at the first point of contact with the customer, use simplified designs, clear copy, and actionable, concise directions to increase your chances at converting the lead into a sale.

Solve a human problem in a different way: Since the ice-bucket challenge brought more attention to ALS than the neurological disease had gotten before, unconventional ways of bringing attention to worthy causes started becoming a norm. Since then, hashtag activism has come a long way; from #notinmyname to #metoo, social media campaigns have been used to push back against disease, racism, discrimination, harassment, and bullying. Raising awareness about crucial issues tends to resonate with audiences – but what about companies making a commercial pitch? Jaslok Hospitals took out an innovative digital campaign, during which they replaced the captcha codes used all over the internet by real scribblings of dyslexic children. Users facing ‘the Dyslexic Captcha’, as it came to be called, were told to get their children tested if their handwriting was similar. The campaign helped raise awareness about a problem and helped Jaslok Hospital gain business. This kind of campaign attracts people’s attention through some unconventional method but keeps interest sustained through a worthy cause. Companies should identify the problem that their product or service looks to resolve, and then find an unconventional way to raise awareness about the problem. This will help their solution gain prominence while promoting a social cause – a win-win situation.

Make the customer feel special: At a time when technology is continuing to rewrite human interactions, it is becoming one of the primary elements of the customer experience. Audiences might be getting lost in the digital arena, but they are still looking for connections to other human beings. If your campaign and digital promotions are mechanical, it is unlikely to be enjoyed or approved of by your audience. Customers are human, looking for a human experience – something uplifting and emotional that makes them feel special will be far more effective than a small discount in making a loyal customer. Personalize the experience as much as feasibly possible. Keep in touch and make them feel valued. Communicating with the target audience across multiple channels and multiple contact points makes them feel more valued, so think about getting a newsletter to keep in touch with your clients. This keeps your brand in the back of their mind. Data-driven personalization that recommends different products on e-commerce platforms or targeted ads is also a part of the personalized communication experience that companies should aim to provide.

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