In an ever-evolving environment, where new challenges seem to present themselves at the speed of your Twitter feed updating, it’s difficult to stay focused. Getting sidetracked by the latest trends is easy, and losing sight of the bigger picture, goals and purpose of your marketing efforts are common occurrences.

Let's change that.

Together with the good folks at Mention, we went on a quest to uncover the secrets behind happy customers, conversion and growth. We spoke to more than 50 successful marketers on how to stay focused in a playing field full of distractions.

Here are three things they all agreed on.

1. Focus on your customers

In order to understand your customers, you need to understand the contexts, behaviours and motivations that drive them. To simply rely on demographic analyses is not enough anymore. In order to get a full understanding of our customers, we need to listen to them. Lauren Maffeo, Content Specialist at AHA! emphasises:

“Know your audience backwards and forwards. Never separate yourself from their wants and needs – those will evolve constantly. And if you’re not up to speed, your marketing will fail.”

Whether you talk to your customers on social media, email, over the phone or even face-to-face, these are the people that will keep your business going and growing. Don’t overlook their needs or discard their feedback.

2. Focus on delivering value

Once you know your audience, you need to focus on how to produce the right message that solves a problem for them. Marketing is no longer about the slickest pitch and crazy gimmicks - the 'one-size fits all' approach has become an obsolete concept. Guillaume Cabane, Head of Marketing at Mention says:

“Personalise your communication to the extreme. Each of your customers should get not the ‘best message for the average customer’, but the best message for him or her.”

In a space where attention is scarce and information is abundant, customers expect you to deliver messaging that resonates with them. You need to focus on building intelligent relationships with existing as well as potential customers through your messaging, always adding value.

3. Focus on your data

As marketers, we should know exactly how our efforts are impacting business goals and, of course, revenue. The answers are in the numbers. Rob Carpenter, Founder of of Hitshop, marvels:

“I’ve seen too many companies with their metrics not even set up. If that’s you, find the resources, and make it your number one priority.”

Modern marketers need to use data and draw correlations between data points in order to paint the full picture of the customer lifecycle. By doing this, they can focus their efforts on improving the areas where the numbers indicate gaps in knowledge or flaws in strategy.

The biggest challenge lies in focusing time and budget on what’s going to make the biggest impact on your business. In addition to understanding your customers, delivering value and making the most of your data, allowing yourself to experiment and learn in all these areas is tremendously important. An educated marketer who is willing to adopt a 'try, fail and learn' approach will always have the upperhand.

Looking for more advice? Download Food for Growth, a free eBook containing 159 growth secrets from the world’s top marketers.

This article was first published on The Marketing Society.