They say patience is a virtue, and it’s an increasingly rare one at that. It seems that almost every week there’s a viral news story that lambasts the limited attention spans of today’s consumer, which is famously touted as being shorter than that of a goldfish. Experts say that it’s our affection for instant gratification that has led us astray and left marketers pulling out their hair, but how true is this?
Well, it turns out, not very. We’d argue that well-written and engaging copy, when delivered at the right time and on the appropriate channels, is just as effective as it has always been. Far from falling out of favour, long-form copy and video have retained their potency, meanwhile the likes of podcasts and whitepapers have lost none of their persuasion. The key is in variety and quality; pin these down and your reach metrics will soar.
In fact, even the claim about the consumer and goldfish memory is false. The BBC debunked the stat a while back, ironically finding that goldfish actually have excellent memories and have an aptitude for learning. They’re a species that’s been used as a model for studying memory since 1908 and they can even be taught tricks.
Simply put, the internet is saturated with ideas, content and companies, so if you want your content to resonate with your audience, it had better be worth the click through. It begs the question – how can businesses cut through the noise?
Captivate from the first sentence
As a piece for Think with Google so aptly put it: “we’re paying more attention than ever before. What has changed, however, is our tolerance for time wasters.”
Think about it – in the past we would sit through films or TV shows we didn’t enjoy because we only had a handful of channels to choose from. Now, we have the beauty of choice (and not to mention, a plethora of platforms, screens and medias all vying for our attention, all day, every day).
The problem isn’t our attention spans; there’s just so much content out there that writers need to guarantee it’s excellent enough to warrant readers engaging with it. In short, you had better make every sentence count.
We all snatch moments throughout the day where we catch up with content; when we’re stood waiting for a taxi, while the barista is making our coffee or during our commutes. Now, these moments are fleeting, but they are also a significant missed opportunity for brands to connect with customers. For example, if you want to publish content during commuting hours, aim for a blog that’s easy to digest and can be read in two minutes. Opt for long-form, however, and you run the risk of losing them before they reach your CTA.
However, don’t only create snackable content…
Be versatile and adapt to your audience
If it feels like your content is falling on deaf ears, perhaps it’s worth switching it up. Brands should already be deploying a number of mediums, but you haven’t already, now is the time to start. For example, you could use video instead of writing evergreens, or, repurpose old content by converting data from a report into an infographic.
Consumers respond to different formats depending on their motivations and the time they have available. So, by offering them a choice in content across multiple channels, they can decide what works best for them.
A screen for every season
Recent research from Google suggests that we have two different viewing modes, namely “lean-forward” and “lean-back.” Each entails a different level of focus; for instance, we’re 1.5X more likely to be engaged while leaning forward than we are when leaning back. This is because the former is associated with purposeful viewing, like when we’re looking at information on a purchase or exploring an interest.
Conversely, TV falls into the “lean-back” category, which means we’re more likely to be relaxing or multitasking. In fact, we’re 1.8X more likely to be in lean-forward mode when watching online video than we are for TV. By understanding the when’s and why’s behind consumer behaviour, we can begin to deliver content to them at a time when they’ll have the time to consume it.
All of these tips require brands to have a substantial understanding of their customers and what they want. Yes, the world is an increasingly distracted place and there is more content to compete with than ever before. But instead of shaking our fists at the sky and muttering about kids these days and their mobiles, we should embrace and face the challenge.
Get in touch with M2 Bespoke today to see how we can help you craft the perfect content marketing strategy.