Attention is Scarce — So Streamline Your Marketing with Audience Signals

It used to be that reach was scarce and attention was plentiful. But digital marketing has turned that on its head. Brand marketing can now reach more people than ever before, and very easily; but consumers are exposed to thousands of brand messages every day, and it’s difficult to capture their attention.

Consumer attention has become the focus of brand attention. How do you not only get your message in front of the right consumers, but also make sure that they take a moment to pause and engage?

The key to a relevant and effective marketing strategy in today’s world is understanding audience signals throughout the buyer journey. You need to understand who your brand is speaking to; who is actively looking for you; and what your existing customers value and appreciate.

With that knowledge you can find your potential customers and deliver value to them at the right moments in order to guide them towards their first purchase. And then afterwards, make them feel like it was truly worth their investment.

Here, we dive into the impact of audience signals through a theoretical yet effective marketing funnel.

See - Think - Do - Care

This is a simple framework brands can use to identify, understand and gather audience signals at every stage of the customer journey. It’s how we organise our Google and YouTube marketing tools, with audience solutions at the core of everything.

Crucially, the framework means that marketing which isn’t effective at one stage in the funnel, can create friction for potential customers at other stages. This is important, as we all know that customers will engage with different stages at different times; therefore, we must be there for them every step of the way.

In a nutshell, here’s the flow:

1. See: Addressing the Largest Qualified Audience

This is frequently a large pool of people; but we narrow it down by identifying signals like:

  • Lifestyle
  • Passion points
  • Limited demographics – such as gender, family status

The intention at this stage of the customer journey is to build brand awareness. Awareness is driven through great storytelling — rich in information, always entertaining, and delivering a sense of authority by demonstrating a superior level of knowledge.

Ad creative must be broad to maximise the potential of engaging as many of this qualified audience as possible. Branded display ads, optimizing for search, and social media marketing are some of the tools for making connections with potential customers based on who they are, and a holistic view of their interests and habits.

The final step is to measure results of marketing efforts. We do this in several ways, including:

  • Site traffic – New visits, returning visitors
  • Number of social interactions
  • Video views

Then onto the next stage of the funnel.

2. Think: Addressing the Largest Qualified Audience, With Some Commercial Intent

Potential customers at this stage in the journey have signals which suggest an interest in your brand, product or service. For example:

  • Previous engagement with your campaigns
  • Clicks
  • Views
  • Conversions
  • Shares

The intention now is to drive consideration of the brand. The audience is indicating they want to learn more, and might be waiting for a defining moment that tells them this is the brand, or the product, for them.

Customers at this stage are likely to be actively researching or planning a purchase; so the marketing team’s job is to capture and hold their attention by educating, informing, inspiring, and encouraging action.

Ad creative should clearly present the value of the brand and drive some initial direct engagement; so branded display ads, PPC, SEO and YouTube are all valuable tools here.

Then, of course, we measure and learn even more, through:

  • Click-through rate
  • Assisted conversions
  • Number of videos watched
  • Ad recall

3. Do: Addressing the Largest Qualified Audience, With Lots of Commercial Intent

At this stage, audience signals show that a potential customer has lots of commercial intent and, with the right marketing strategy, a conversion is likely. Those signals could include:

  • Social
  • Referral URLs
  • Website visits and duration
  • Searches
  • Abandoned cart

The goal for brand marketers is to acquire qualified traffic through ads, and convert sales. This might sound easy; but it’s much more likely to happen if audience signals are used intelligently to inform marketing and tailor ads that will drive sales.

A simple and seamless purchasing process is important too, making sure the final conversion path is as simple and frictionless as possible for the customer.

The measurement metrics for this part of the funnel include:

  • Conversion (of course)
  • Conversion rate
  • Cross-screen attribution
  • Profit
  • Store visits

Finally, we’re into the fourth — and often overlooked — stage of the customer journey.

4. Care: Current or Repeat Customers

These are your existing customers, and those who make repeat purchases. The audience signals here are usually collected by you. But you can use your brand insights to inform signal-driven marketing campaigns at every stage, reaching current customers and audiences that are interacting with your business.

The signals:

  • Website data
  • Purchase data
  • CRM data
  • Social interactions

Within a solid marketing strategy, a brand seeks to build loyalty and re-engage customers at this point.

Which means ad creative is highly effective if it can surprise, delight and reward. Brand display and YouTube are valuable here, and email and social marketing come in at a close second.

To measure marketing at the Care level we look at:

  • Repeat purchases
  • Referrals
  • Customer lifetime value

This All Sounds Great, But Are Such Signals Really Available?

Yes. No matter what stage of the journey a customer is at, or on what basis you’d like to reach them, Google (and YouTube) has audience solutions that harness the power of audience signals to drive proven results. We can target niche interests and habits as well as broader ones, depending on a brand’s needs. Google data can help you get to grips with the triggers, influences and actions of your ideal customers and convert quality sales.

You can also leverage Google tools to more effectively use your own data and insights, so the audience signals you gather don’t go to waste. YouTube Custom Intent Audiences allow you to reach people who are actively searching your products or keywords on Google, and drive action on YouTube. Or you can use an off-the-shelf audience built by us to reach your customers.

All of this allows you to extend your brand reach; but more importantly, get more attention. You’ll know who you’re speaking to, and why. You’ll know what they want and what turns them off. And that knowledge will be reflected in your truly engaging ad campaigns.

But this isn’t just about converting sales. The tools we offer are underpinned by a powerful social intention: to help great brands connect with customers in a meaningful way. We want to help you achieve your brand goals; because we know that what you do is important.