“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
— Albert Einstein
Yes, time keeps on slipping into the future. Time is also getting distorted by our always-on technology and transforming digital marketing in the process. Consider these insightful and timely observations from Michael J. Wolf, a veteran media executive and one-time Yahoo board member. [i]
The Days Are Getting Longer
If you’re feeling tired at the end of the day, that’s because we are now packing way more activities into the same amount of time. In fact, because of multitasking, the average working American is now spending 31 hours and 28 minutes on various tasks during the course of a 24-hour day!
Attention Is Narrow
Although there has certainly been an explosion of media diversity on the long-tail of the digital curve, it turns out that a handful of apps, sites, and TV channels are monopolizing our collective time. The media universe has expanded beyond the days of ABC, CBS, and NBC but not as much as we might imagine.
Time Is Mined in Minutes and Worth Billions
A billion-dollar business can be built by capturing less than a minute of an average user’s daily attention. Take a minute to think about that! OK, take a few seconds to think about that!
Time to Hit the Marketing Reset Button
Our days are expanding, driven by a vast layer of multi-tasking activities, even as we continue to focus time on a relative handful of channels. Meanwhile, companies that can capture just a sliver of our attention are worth billions. Stepping back, it’s clear that we are dealing with a new type of time that is orchestrated not by the clock but by countless always-on digital interactions, events, triggers, and social connections.
For digital marketers, navigating this new customer timescape means that it’s time for new tools and, more importantly, new thinking:
1). Quick-Footed Content
Twitter, Vine, and a host of message platforms are succeeding in harnessing micro-moments of user attention. When user attention is measured in seconds, a majority of marketing content needs to be extremely quick and to the point.
2). Attribution Linked to Action
Although it’s comforting to think that a carefully worded abstract will have more impact than a 140-character tweet, the reality is that in today’s new time warp, it’s very difficult to predict what types of content will perform. Thus, lead scoring needs to be weighted more towards specific user actions – not just to the type of content consumed or the value that the brand team attaches to the content.
3). From Funnel to Cyclone
The marketing funnel works well when user experience follows a predictable linear path over time; however, when that journey gets sliced by countless hyperlinks, connections, and short bursts of content, then marketing content needs to be built as self-supporting modules of attention-grabbing value — able to withstand an unpredictable cyclone of user interaction over time and across multiple channels.
4). Responsive Relationships Rule
Increasingly, marketing will need to resemble a great sales relationship, defined by intimate rapport, trust built over time, and incredible responsiveness to the nuances of each customer. Although marketing automation and platforms can help achieve this level of customer intimacy, it also requires a new understanding of how and when and why customers are consuming marketing materials, and what problems they are trying to solve.
5). B2B = B2C = B2B
As time is distorted by the daily flow of digital activities, consumers are on LinkedIn at home while they watch Netflix, and professionals are on Facebook at work during a Skype call, and everyone is texting in their car! Fortunately, through careful targeting, campaigns can afford to be everywhere and always on — reaching professionals at home or consumers at work, and in all the new places in between.
With apologies to Miyamoto Musashi, you win customers by knowing their timing, and using timing they don’t expect. In other words, the time has come to surprise your customers with well-timed value, relevance, and pathways to action — no matter what channel they happen to be using. Planning and executing your digital campaigns with this goal in mind will be time well spent.
[i] Tech and Media Outlook 2016