The average attention span of a goldfish is about 9 seconds. Humans in this day and age, on the other hand, hold attention spans of 8.25 seconds. Quite an astounding and disturbing fact.
This notorious short attention span aptly describes the kind of lifestyle everyone lives. It’s true that we can pay attention to a two-hour lecture if we choose to, but the fact put forward by so many scientists confirms that humans are very easily distracted.
It would be a lie to say otherwise. Because we are, in fact, easily distracted living beings. We’re listening to music one moment, and paying attention to a boarding commuter on the train the next. This is further proven by our tendency to bounce from one site to the next in our quest for needed information.
The attention span plague
Holding concentration in the digital world has grown increasingly difficult. If you’re having a hard time keeping your audience engaged in your site, you’re not alone. Users leave web pages in a span of 10 to 20 seconds. This calls for you to clearly communicate your value proposition within or under 10 seconds.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the span of time available is inadequate to convince them to use your services. This leads us to ask how.
As a content marketer, how will you hold your audience’s attention long enough for you to convince them?
Failure to hook them in, in this handful of seconds means lost leads for you and your business. Your audience will move on and will more likely ignore what you have to say.
Here are 7 tips you need to optimize your content for the eight-second attention-span problem everybody’s having.
1. Know your audience
The most obvious step always comes first. How will you grab your audience’s attention if you don’t even know who they are? It would be a mistake to try and aim for a mass audience. In trying to please everybody, you’ll likely end up pleasing nobody.
Businesses invest money in consumer research for a reason. They know the importance of getting to know the market that you cater to. Doing this will allow you to formulate strategies and tactics that will help you reach your customers on a personal level.
2. Get to the point
When marketing to an attention-deficient crowd, don’t waste time beating around the bush. Avoid throwing an unnecessary word-wall in your audience’s faces, talking around them in circles before you finally make a point. It won’t draw them in. On the contrary, nonsensical word-walls are consumer repellants.
Clarify your intentions immediately – preferably in the first paragraph of the copy. Clear and concise messaging is the way to go.
3. Focus on the person – not the channel
Don’t lose sight of who your writing is for. When writing content for your website, always focus on the human who is on the other side of the screen. Sounds simple enough. But it’s easier said than done, though.
It’s tempting for any digital organization to focus solely on optimizing the channel to attract the target audience. But never forget that the real goal of any digital marketing strategy is to create and keep loyal customers.
Customers have endless choices these days. They know where and how to look for information that they need. They are capable of seeking out products and services with or without your help. For these reasons, it’s important to align your customers’ experience on each channel with their purchase journeys.
4. Personalize your content
Writing content is one thing. Personalizing it so it speaks to your target audience’s very souls is another. Compelling content that coaxes off-screen reactions from the audience is a classic case of focusing on the person and not the channel. It’s also a sign that you’re definitely doing something right.
If you’re marketing to sports junkies, then become a sports junky. If you’re trying to grab a gamer’s attention, become a gamer. When you want the fashionistas to pay attention, then speak like a fashionista.
Appealing to your target audience takes a great amount of work and research. If you want to convince them to avail your services, you need to talk like them and see things from their point-of-view. It requires more than stepping into another’s shoes. It means dressing up in their entire outfit.
5. Appeal to your audience’s emotions
When it comes to tear-jerking heart-rending advertisements, Thailand takes the gold medal. Over the past years, emotional Thai TV commercials have been watched millions of times on YouTube and shared like crazy across various social networking sites.
Touching ads are Thai advertising agencies’ ways to establish an emotional connection between consumers and products. Without the sentimental connection, the products become meaningless in the eyes of Thai consumers.
Let’s take a page out of Thai people’s books and start incorporating more emotion into our content marketing. This doesn’t immediately mean content that will drive people to shed tears. It simply means taking the route of short and concise storytelling. Appeal to their emotions and share stories that will have them hooked.
6. Make use of visual communication
- Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
- People are 85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video.
- Posts with videos attract 3 times more links than text-only posts.
Facts will consistently keep pointing out that a large percentage of online communication nowadays is visual. Emotionally stimulating images can grab your audience’s attention. Videos do significantly better, however.
The average length watched for a single internet video is 2.7 minutes. And 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text when both are available. To ensure audience engagement, however, make sure the first 8 seconds are attention-grabbers.
Visuals are memorable and effective because they help people process, understand, and retain information more quickly.
7. Do some clickbait
You can ask every successful YouTuber, and there is no doubt that they will tell you that clickbait is a part of their successful history. It’s true that some people don’t appreciate being lured into a content ‘trap,’ so to say, but you have to do what you need to do.
Clickbait swings in two ways:
- Either you nail it and generate engagement from your audience with compelling arguments and relevant content,
- Or the scheme fails and your site gets nothing but ridicule and an ill reputation for luring your audience into a read that was a waste of their time.
Clickbaiting, however, doesn’t mean you can ignore the planning and proofreading that goes into the web copy. Clickbait is now what truly matters. Content is still superior. The purpose of a clickbait title is to attract and snag your elusive audience’s attention.
Utilizing the previous tips in this discussion will help you ensure that your web copy is all set to reel the reader in until they keep reading up to the very last word.
The bottom line
Substance and personality are the key here.
Create content that engages and interacts with your audience. Let your web content be your mouthpiece. That’s why it’s so important to be conversational and worth responding to. Your audience isn’t interested in empty promotional strategies. They look for content that will connect with them.
So, to summarize:
- Get to know your audience.
- Be clear with your messaging.
- Focus on the people – not the channel.
- Personalize your content.
- Appeal to your audience’s emotions through storytelling.
- Acknowledge the power of visuals – specifically videos.
- Don’t be afraid to try click baiting.
Guest Author: Al Gomez is the President and Founder of Dlinkers — a company dedicated to providing complete digital marketing services. With more than ten years of experience, he enjoys supporting smartpreneurs like himself to achieve online success.