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According to researchers, display ads don’t work. In fact, only 0.1% of them are ever clicked on. So why do we keep using them? Why did ComScore’s Digital Future in Focus report for 2013 find that 5.3 trillion display ads were created in the U.S. alone that year?

All marketing is losing effectiveness

Well, for one, almost all types of marketing are seeing a slump in their effectiveness. Direct mail and email marketers often see their hard work headed to the trash (in the cyber world or literal world) before a pair of human eyes ever looks at it. And television commercials are either ignored (as Millward Brown Digital reported that 78% of consumers access second screens while watching TV) or bypassed when people stream their shows online.

Brian Walker, the Chief Strategy Officer at Hybris Software, said that a major mistake marketers are making in the face of these challenge is to “’do more of it’ rather than do it smarter.” They aren’t taking into account clues their own customers are giving them about how to market more effectively.

Listen to customer browsing clues

Walker’s suggestion is to listen “to the signals generated by browsing and researching behavior each customer is giving us on their journey to a potential purchase.” By using analytics and changing fundamental habits, marketers can target their audience more effectively by giving them what they want.

It doesn’t take a genius salesperson to realize that presenting a customer with exactly what they’re looking for is a good idea. But instead, some marketers get stuck playing 20 questions with their customers, overshooting or under-reaching until customers leave in a huff, hoping to find a different brand with better navigation and customer service.

Communicate with a mass audience and a segment simultaneously

Brian Walker is a big fan of audience segmentation, but warns that trying to tackle a hundred different segments and personas at once is too big a job. An excellent email marketer told him once, “A human being can only build and target with eight customer segments at any given time.”
So the trick is to combine mass advertising with individualized marketing. Since it’s not possible to have a face-to-face conversation with every online customer, it’s the best means you have of attracting and keeping their attention.

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