You’ve Got 8 Seconds to Get My Attention With Your Content

October 2, 2013

goldfishHere’s an interesting fact: Did you know that people have shorter attention spans than goldfish? It turns out those little guys can focus their attention for nine seconds, whereas most people’s minds start wandering off after just about eight seconds. (And FYI, that’s as of 2012, and is down from the 12-second attention spans we humans used to be able to muster back in 2000.)

So guess what fellow content marketers, the pressure is on. Not only do we need to create awesome content that’s tailored for our buyers, optimized for search, and designed to drive conversions (among many other things), unless we figure out a way to grab and keep our audience’s attention in eight seconds or less, most of our efforts will be in vain! Plus, the reality is that we often have much less time than that. After all, when’s the last time you spent a full eight seconds evaluating a headline or a subject line before deciding to click through. We literally make decisions like those in the blink of an eye.

If you think about it, the implication of people’s shrinking attention spans is really two-fold for content marketers:

  • We need to engage our audience instantly.
  • We need smaller, bite-sized pieces of content.

Let’s take a closer look at each of those implications.

Instantly engaging your audience is no small feat. And, let’s be honest, we’ve also got to keep that audience engaged long enough for them to hopefully finish consuming our content and complete whatever conversion goal we have set for them. So how do content marketers pull that off?

There are a variety of options. You could focus on creating really compelling headlines and subject lines that pique people’s interest (perhaps by being humorous or timely). Or you could make your content really visual since people tend to respond better to images than they do to text. Another option might be to simply focus on making sure that your content gets to the point right away, so that people will know within a couple of seconds whether or not it will provide the specific information they need and is therefore worth their time.

Of course, another option is to simply focus on the second implication and devote more of our time to creating smaller, more easily, and often more quickly consumable pieces of content.

The fact of the matter is that every company needs content that’s short and sweet to attract leads into the sales funnel. I’m talking about the 30-second viral videos, the infographics, the cartoons, and all of the other stuff that gets to the point really quickly. Content like this also needs to be sufficiently informative and entertaining so that people will want to consume it, and it needs to be short enough that people can get through it fast.

That’s not to say that your white papers, reports, and eBooks aren’t important and worthwhile. It’s just that you need to understand that the people who are most likely going to consume them are the folks who are already on their way down the path to purchase. True they may have equally short attention spans, but by the time they’re in your sales funnel, you’ve already got their attention and they’re hungry for additional details. At that point, they’re prepared to do a deeper dive into meatier content to learn more.

So what’s the takeaway here? It’s that you’ve got eight seconds to get my attention and attract me into your sales funnel. You’d better be looking at the right kinds of content to make that happen.

Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.