Is your ad performance tanking and you’re struggling to meet your conversion quota? You’re not alone. In an increasingly mobile and media-oversaturated world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain consumers’ attention.Why is it so much harder now to advertise online?There’s a shift in control from business to consumer In the past, marketers had full access to the keywords that bring people to a website in Google Analytics. However, in October 2011, Google changed their security policy, thus making it a lot harder for marketers and SEOs to know what words bring people to a site. They provided greater privacy to users, but in the same blow, they took away keywords. Now, all you can see in Analytics is a big fat “not provided” in place of all the keywords that were there before.It’s perfectly clear that Google is making a statement to businesses and marketers with “not provided,” and the statement is this: know your customers.Instead of tricking the system with keyword-stuffed content and other shady SEO tactics that would get you penalized, focus on understanding your customers’ personas – their personality, behavior, desires, needs, and pain points – in order to get organic traffic to your site. In addition, customer reviews and social media give consumers the power to vocalize their opinion online, whereas before, it was more of a one-sided relationship in which businesses determined the market.Consumers thus have an inordinate amount of control over businesses in the buying cycle, because they can influence other consumers to purchase a product or not through online testimonials and brand buzz. Therefore, it’s even more important that businesses understand who their customers are and what will interest them in order to get that brand buzz that will generate organic traffic via social mentions and press attention.Cross-channel marketing confuses the conversion journeyIn addition to the fact that we have less data to help us learn what keywords and search queries are actually driving people to our website, we also have an attribution problem in which we don’t know where customers are coming from when they convert.The first problem is that mobile usage is on the rise. 56% of people in the world owning a smartphone and about half the average of global mobile Web users using a mobile device as either their primary or exclusive means of going online. That’s insane. Obviously, mobile is an important marketing factor.This leads us to our second problem, which is the fact that we now have multiple conversion touch-points. Instead of a straight conversion funnel in which people see your ad and then buy your product, 40% of people consult 3 or more channels before making a purchase.For example, they see your ad, then go to your website, then explore your social pages, then search for product reviews, then see your ad again before they make the decision to purchase. All of these factors have a certain degree of influence over a consumer’s decision. Thus, the last-click attribution model is no longer an effective measurement of your advertising efforts.Greater understanding of the customer is necessary, but how do you get more info? Everyone knows that you need to have information and cold, hard facts before you come up with a marketing strategy. However, with all the data out there, how do you go about sorting through it all?Google Analytics: This is the first place you should look if you want to know some basic information on your customers. Pay particular attention to the “Audience” and “Acquisitions” sections, as those will tell you baseline data on your customers’ demographics, interests, behavior, and conversion acquisition.DMP (Data Management Platform): To get into the nitty-gritty details of your customers interests and behaviors, DMPs are the way to go as they collect data from first-party and third-party data sources to create a more comprehensive picture of who your customers are and what they are doing from all sources, including Web (desktop and mobile), mobile apps, CRM, social, and offline. Social Media/Forums: You obviously need to closely monitor your business’s social media profiles to learn what people are saying about your brand. An easy way to do so is to set up social alerts (I use Warble Alerts) to help you keep track of your social brand mentions. Another way to learn more about your customers is to track social media hashtags and visit forums related to your industry. I like using socialmention to monitor customer sentiment about a particular topic, and this helps me position my ad messaging better. I also go on Reddit to look at conversations happening on industry-related subreddits to learn what customers’ common questions or interests are.In conclusionUnderstand your customers inside and out, and you’re well on your way to getting more profit from your advertising.