You Have An Attention Span Of 8 Seconds, More Importantly So Do Your Customers

It has been widely reported that humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Only eight seconds, in fact. Down from the previously reported 12 seconds, thanks to the mobile revolution. This means that a household pet has the potential to focus for a longer period of time than its owner. 

With consumer attention spans at an all-time low, marketers are forced to employ more creativity than ever before to get the engagement they’re fighting for. Today’s consumers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, from commercials and billboards to guerilla marketing tactics. Brick-and-mortar retailers face an extra challenge, as they’re not only competing with other physical elements – they’re competing with digital messages as well. It’s important for brands to develop omnichannel strategies that fit their brand’s particular needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. 



Marketing in the era of the goldfish is a daunting task for brands, but they can learn from both tried and true and new and innovative strategies to get ahead. To the brands – both brick-and-mortar and completely digital – I recommend these three strategies to capture the attention of your sometimes elusive goldfish consumers: 

Leverage Mobile Trends, like Gamification 

It’s no secret that consumers are glued to their mobile devices. Most use them as the primary source for all of their information, from keeping up with the news to shopping. Brands that tie mobile trends into their marketing tactics are more likely to succeed. 

For instance, the restaurants that jumped onto the Pokémon Go trend early by displaying signs that read, “Find Pokémon Here” or setting up digital lures for players to find rare Pokémon on their phones, strengthened the overall experience for consumers. Gamification is the application of game playing elements, like competition and point scoring, to other areas of activity. Marketers that uniquely leverage gamification, like the release of Super Mario and Pokémon Go for the Apple watch and other Apple products later this year, will have a better understanding of their public perception, a better interaction rate with their customers and will, ultimately, come out ahead. 

Consumers are already using mobile and social media to interact with brands, from checking into a restaurant on Facebook to snapchatting using sponsored geofilters, so marketers who amplify those existing consumer experiences will create memorable experiences for the consumer. 

Keep Content Dynamic and Relevant

Marketers can improve consumer engagement by keeping content dynamic and relevant, even with digital signage. Recently Notre Dame and Texas played the most-watched NCAA kickoff weekend game on record. Imagine a local Austin bar that displayed outside via a digital sign, “Longhorns, Come Celebrate with Dollar Beers! – Hook ‘em!” just after Texas won. That’s an interactive, unique, and attention-grabbing experience; one that has the potential to attract new customers and increase loyalty among existing customers in real time. Digital signage technology allows brands to collect metrics on the interaction with passersby. 

Creating and regularly implementing relevant signage and advertising, as opposed to taking a one-size-fits-all approach, helps brands stand out and improves engagement. For instance, fast food restaurants can display all of their regular food menus on a poster, but restaurants that use day-parting – providing time relevant food and beverage options – are more likely to appeal to the immediate needs of their customers. 

Eliminate Friction for Customers and Keep Messages Clear 

Generic content simply won’t cut it in today’s day and age. As marketing evolves, brands have to keep up with the latest changes. Eliminating friction, or making next steps as simple as possible, increases the chances of customer conversion. For example, handing out tangible same-day coupons to customers will likely yield a much higher immediate return than a sign that directs a customer to get on their phone to then search online for a coupon that needs to be printed in order to get $5 off before noon on that same day. 

Brands should also be mindful of their audiences and use digital and physical platforms strategically to make calls to action as clear as possible. Age and geographic differences among customers will impact how they interact with a brand. For example, lunchtime in the city, where a customer base consists of young, social media savvy professionals, requires an entirely different call to action than signage for an older, early-bird special dinner crowd of countryside customers. 

Digital storefronts are dynamic and provide marketers with unlimited opportunities to attract, engage, and inform passersby instantly. With the information overload we all experience on a daily basis, marketers are challenged to engage their consumers in less than eight seconds or perish. By keeping the strategy and content dynamic, relevant, and fun, brands can hook plenty of fish.    

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