“Say it fast, and say it well” – that’s the mantra for the age of fleeting customer attention spans.
Research tells us that adults across the U.S. spend around 12 hours a day consuming media. While most of that time is probably spent on a smartphone or browsing through Netflix, many articles and blog posts across the internet also get plenty of time here and there.
However, with so many different forms of media to consume on a daily basis, it’s easy to see why the fragmented human mind is suffering from a shockingly low attention span of only around 8 seconds on average – one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. We share Twitter articles without even reading them, spend less than a minute on most pages, and basically scan our way through life.
So, in this era of non-existent concentration – how on earth can the average business find a marketing strategy that’s going to work to engage and invigorate their target market? Simply put – it’s not going to be easy. In the following article, I’m going to discuss some of the resources and strategies marketers can use when creating content that generates more avid readers, more engagement, and better profits.
After all, you want people to pay attention, right?
Diagnosing the Attention Span Conundrum
So why are we all so terribly unfocused?
Research indicates that the changing techniques used in the media might have worked to pull our attention in too many directions, making it difficult to focus on anything for a significant length of time. According to a study conducted by Microsoft in 2015, there are various important developments in the customer attention span that have taken place over the recent decades – which could mean big things for marketers. For instance:
- Brain plasticity lets our brains adapt to changing and new situations across our environments, which is why we’re quick to embrace new things. While attention spans are dropping, we’re also becoming more adept at responding to various forms of stimuli and processing information.
- The human attention span has dropped by an average of four seconds, from 12 seconds in 2000 (when the digital technology boom began), to eight seconds now.
- Being able to focus on what’s important is an inherent human survival skill, but focus on predators today has moved to focus on screens.
- Factors impacting attention span including social media use, media consumption, technology adoption rates and multi-screen behavior.
Simply put, it seems that attention spans are shorter because we’re adapting to a world that includes much more stimuli. So, what does this mean for your marketing strategy?
The Fleeting Attention Span and Content Marketing
In 2016, The Content Marketing Institute revealed that 70% of the respondents in their survey planned to produce more content during 2017 than they did in 2016. However, at the same time, TrackMaven found that content engagement saw a 17% engagement drop in 2016.
Something clearly seems to be working against marketers as we attempt to read clicks and shares for an answer of what’s going wrong. It seems that people are engaging with content, but they’re not actually absorbing the material most of the time.
Though you might suggest that the problems with content interaction come from poor-quality writing, as marketers drop their quality-management efforts in an attempt to improve quantity levels, the problem may also come from the fact that readers skim through content, rather than actually consuming it.
For most businesses, content creation represents an essential part of their inbound marketing strategy, attracting visitors to their company and helping them to become established as an authoritative figure in a growing competitive market place. Content marketing can help to generate leads for organizations and ensure that you’re having the right impression on your target market, and statistics constantly prove its value, for example:
- 60% of marketers create at least 1 piece of content per day
- Growth year over year for site traffic is 7.8 times higher for content marketing leaders
- Content marketing can cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and generate 3 times as many leads.
Still, with all of that in mind, it’s important to make sure that you’re creating content that appeals to your audience if you want to have the right results. It’s no good to simply create and throw content out into the void – you need to develop something that has an impact.
Writing Quality Content Could Help
Perhaps the easiest way to make sure that you have the best chance of capturing your customer’s fleeting attention with your marketing strategy, is to write high-quality content. Estimates indicate that bad writing costs about $400 billion in productivity loss each year, and it could mean that you’re spending cash on something that simply doesn’t drive results.
But, what is quality content?
Google shares its idea of quality guidelines, which can be useful for those in search of SEO guidance, for instance, it indicates that you need to create content that is:
- Made primarily for users instead of search engines
- Honest and valuable
- Authentic and brimming with rich information
- Based around the unique nature of your company or brand
However, the answer may not be in following standard lists of “quality content” marketing ideas, but in actually developing your content according to the expectations of your specific audience. After all, different people are looking for different things online, and if you want to create something that your audience is likely to read, then a good idea will be to ask them what they want. Conduct surveys and polls to find out the type of content your subscribers want to see, and brainstorm your future plans based on that feedback.
Make Reading Content Easy
There are plenty of things that companies can do to ensure that customers have an easier time reading the content that they produce. For example, you might take some time to look at the way that your content appears on desktop and mobile devices to make sure that the font is clear and easy to consume. Alternatively, you might think about how you present your content in terms of format – with plenty of subheadings and bullet points that help to naturally draw your reader through the body if your blog or article, towards a conclusion and call to action.
Remember, your readers prefer to skim-read the content that they get today, and you can make this process simpler with different layout solutions, coding choices, and more. For example, using bolded text and headers will break up sections to make it easier for your reader to find the answer to the question that they have. Alternatively, summary sections can be an ideal solution for customers who simply want a brief insight into information, rather than an in-depth description of a topic.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that in long pieces of content for your marketing strategy, it can also be useful to break up large walls of text with visuals and images that help to give your reader a break from reading. Remember, one in four Americans didn’t bother to pick up a book in 2015, so you shouldn’t expect them to read one online, either.
In the Foundr page above, the images and graphics instantly draw the eye and provoke engagement from the audience. At the same time, the content is exciting and intriguing, it asks questions, and gives you a solution to a problem. Together, the combination of visual and written content is effective.
Appealing to an Audience of Goldfish
Engaging an audience of disinterested consumers is no easy feat, but there are plenty of solutions that you can use to increase your chances of writing and producing content that actually makes an impact.
Remember to use the marketing strategy methods above on a variety of channels, as your consumers can often be accessed across a range of platforms, and it’s easier for content to be discovered if it’s published in several places. Social media platforms are great for posting a range of original content, and can give you an extra boost to your fundamental marketing campaign.
Author: Jonathan Chan
Jonathan Chan is the Content Crafter at Foundr Magazine, a magazine for young entrepreneurs. He can often be found writing and reading anything and everything to do with entrepreneurship and the startup world. That or spending too much time pretending to be the next MMA star. Check out more of… View full profile ›
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