The landscape of marketing has evolved significantly over the past decade, offering marketing pros seemingly endless opportunities to engage their audience. But abundant options can quickly become distracting. Between tried-and-true tactics in content marketing to exciting new strategies like hyper-targeted personalization, one can easily feel overwhelmed by the potential. That's why many marketers respond, not by developing their tactics, but by resting on their laurels for fear of failure. They cast a wide net, sending a barrage of content to every possible channel for their audience in hopes of reeling in new customers. But is this "always on" approach truly paying dividends? Not quite. 

At the end of 2021, 43 percent of marketers surveyed noted that it has become increasingly difficult to capture the attention of their audience. Despite this, 66 percent of B2C marketers continue to be asked to do more than the prior year, while working with the same resources. With this in mind, it's no wonder why a whopping 74 percent of marketers view their organization's marketing strategy as only moderately successful, or worse. 

If you're a marketer in this current climate, it's time to make some adjustments. Start by prioritizing these four layers of understanding your customer to make your marketing campaigns stand out from the competition. 

1. Audience Strategy: Crafting the Right Message for the Right Consumer 

Modern audiences demand personalization from the brands seeking their attention. In fact, 80 percent of customers expect nothing less than a personalized experience while 63 percent report being annoyed with brands that deliver generic messaging within their marketing content. Customers want personalization so much that they're even willing to help make it easier for brands to deliver. Google for example sees an average 2.5 billion visits per year from users looking to view or adjust how ads are personalized to them; so, why is it that 42 percent of marketers still don't lead with personalization by segmenting their audiences? And of those that do, only 4 percent rely on more than one data source to inform that segmentation. 

Before you can plan your content strategy, you must know your audience. Understanding your target segments will inform everything from your word choice to your sense of urgency, to tone and value propositions, among other things.  

Rather than jump on the next big trend in content, step back and carefully evaluate your  audience. Marketers that deliver the right message to the right consumer see an average 5-8x increase in ROI on marketing spend and a 10 percent increase in sales. It takes insights to see that kind of kickback! 

2. Moments and Mindset Strategy: Learning When the Target Audience is Most Receptive 

32 percent of audiences report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of content available today, and that number is only expected to grow. It's no surprise then that attention spans continue to dwindle. To combat this, most businesses have gotten into the habit of publishing content every single day in a somewhat haphazard, "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks" approach to marketing. 

This methodology takes a passive approach to marketing that has some benefits, but also may have diminishing returns. With each piece of content published, you create another entry point into your brand, which is always ideal. But while this approach benefitted from a history of customers seeking out brands and services on their own, the tables have turned in recent years. These days, 51 percent of audiences expect brands to make the first move. They don't want to do any heavy lifting to learn about your brand or service, they want businesses to connect with them when they have a need that the business can solve. 

To capture and keep the attention of your audience, you need to connect with them at times when they are the most receptive to your message. Great marketers don't simply deliver content based on a preset publishing calendar, they instead identify the times their audience is the most approachable and build from there. 

3. Media Strategy: Discovering Where Your Audience Spends Their Time 

Knowing when to connect with your target audience is just as important as knowing where to connect. It would be a shame, after all, to invest in a swath of creative content that hasn't been optimized for the channels your customers frequent. And with so many new and exciting digital channels popping up alongside the return to in-person events, it can be easy to get distracted by up-and-coming channels or trends.  

The frenzy of building a following on what could be the next Twitter can sometimes overshadow the importance of meeting your audience where they already are. Consider the early excitement over Clubhouse at the peak of the pandemic. Marketers that got swept up in the excitement surrounding this unique new channel likely felt some whiplash when the app's popularity declined nearly as fast as it grew. 

Rather than overextend yourself by attempting to master every popular channel out there, identify where your audience segments spend most of their time and focus your efforts there. You'll see far more success connecting with 100 attentive people than you would trying to get the attention of 1,000 disengaged individuals across disparate venues.  

4. Contextual Targeting Strategy: Aligning Advertising & Content with the Information Your Audience Consumes 

After you've identified the messaging that each customer segment will best respond to--along with the times and places that audience is most receptive--your next step is to ensure your content brings value to that audience. To do this well, consider the types of content your audience consumes on the channels they frequent most, then deliver ads and content that aligns closely and authentically with that information.  

Maybe your audience can be found frequenting a specific LinkedIn Group, for example. Can you compile quotes from that group and create an eBook of group tips? Maybe your audience can be found on TikTok. Can you engage an influencer they follow to genuinely promote your brand? These are just some examples of what is possible.  

Unfortunately, this final step can often be the hardest task of a marketer. In fact, 42 percent of marketers surveyed see creating content that appeals to different segments of customers to be their largest challenge. To meet this challenge head on, identify your most important customer segment (or a smaller, test segment) and focus first on using this tactic with them. Once you prove the value of this strategy, it will be easier to justify the resources needed to expand to other segments. 

Fuse Behavioral Science with Your Media Strategy to Maximize Impact 

Deploying the four layers of understanding in your marketing strategy will help you focus your efforts and drive greater results, but you must know your audience to do this right. Great customer personas are built from robust insights and deep human understanding. Build a holistic and actionable view of your customer, and you'll find that these four strategies will reveal themselves in the process.