Do you know the thing that all marketers desperately want? It’s customers’ attention — to what they have to say and sell. Since the advent of the “always on” culture, the competition for attention has been fierce. In fact, most of the content created by companies is never seen by its prospects.
It wasn’t always hard to get people’s attention. In the previous century, when you wanted to get a customer’s attention, you would send him your marketing material and give him a call. The prospect was usually receptive because you were the keeper of all product information. Those days, however, are over
Focusing on Attention
Unsurprisingly, technology has negatively impacted attention span. The Statistic Brain Institute defines attention span as “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted” and reports that attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds but has currently gone down to 8.25 seconds
The Statistic Brain Institute also reports that an office worker checks her email approximately thirty times per hour. That’s a shocking statistic if you multiply that by an 8-hour day. Two hundred and forty times a day
Seeking the “attention web”
So why should the attention span and distractibility of the average customer matter to you as a digital marketer? Obviously, it matters because you want to get your prospect’s attention, and doing so becomes more difficult with each passing day.
In addition, what marketers have come to believe about engagement metrics (that they consist of measures like page views or clicks) may not be true. That’s why marketers started to consider whether the time people spend engaging with content or the scrolling they do might be better ways to measure their interest.
This led to what is called the “attention web” movement that involves selling ads based on attention measures rather than sheer numbers.
Aside from specifically developing content for short attention spans, marketers and researchers have been looking for ways to improve their metrics so that they can gauge true reader interest.
Looking at attention triggers
Although some may treat attention as an unknowable commodity, there are actually codified ways to capture it. In his book Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention (HarperOne, 2015), Ben Parr, former Mashable editor, details seven triggers that you can employ to get attention.
These triggers have been drawn from the fields of psychology and neuroscience and help you understand how and why people pay attention.
In looking at this list, you probably think that getting attention is less mysterious than you thought. The problem you have when creating content is the fact that you have to know your audience well enough to know what constitutes a trigger.
Making Your Content Easy to Consume
Do you want to help readers consume your content? Then make it easy! Readers give up in frustration when an article isn’t readable. Readability isn’t just about the logical sequence or writing style, but rather to the design elements. If your article font is too small or lacks skimmable headings, you’re sending your reader away.
When you’re composing your blog posts and web pages, it’s helpful to know how readers will be scanning your content. Using either an F or Z pattern, you know they will start at the top and read the headline. Then their eyes will scan down and across in some fashion. Put the most important content in the area of the page where you know they will look first.