Grab Your Target’s Attention in 8 Seconds or Less(note: This great piece was originally written by Joshua Conran for Inc.com and has been edited for content and clarity.).
Research indicates what many of us have been suspecting: Attention spans are dwindling. The average attention span of a human has plummeted to eight seconds — down from 12 seconds in 2000. This means that effective advertising and sales hooking efforts ultimately boil down to the crucial first five seconds, which is when consumers decide whether they will buy into your message (or brand) or check out completely.
This also means that, at nine seconds, a goldfish now has a longer attention span than the typical consumer.
As technology advances and attention spans wane, anyone looking to incite interest faces an increasingly difficult challenge. A tactical approach must resonate — fast. If you cannot make an impact in those crucial eight seconds, a consumer will move on to the next distraction he or she stumbles across. Think of it as economic brahma bull riding. Cowboys need to stay upright for eight seconds for a scorable ride that earns them a paycheck.
Like bull riding, when we sell every second counts. Here are four tips for grabbing attention before your eight-second timer buzzes out:
- Make it personal. Tailoring your message to individual customers or groups is a powerful way to stand out among the noise. According to MarketingProfs, personalized promotional emails and personalized online advertising techniques are among the top tactics for prompting consumers to purchase. For example, after 10 years of slumping sales, Coca Cola decided to take a new approach this summer with it’s “Share a Coke” campaign. By simply putting popular names and labels (e.g., friends and family) on cans and bottles, Coca-Cola made its product jump out at consumers scanning the walls of teas, sodas, juices, and energy drinks. Sales increased by more than two percent. In the soda business, two percent is a monster move.
- Let photos speak for you. For some industries, an impactful photo can communicate a thousand words. A relevant example here is global anti-smoking campaigns, most of which include a grisly graphic that gets the point across without question–creating an instant viewer connection.
- Encourage participation on social media channels. Most remember the Old Spice campaign “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” that ran a few years ago. To keep the excitement going, Wieden+Kennedy filmed more than 180 video responses to questions from fans and celebrities and posted them on YouTube. The company’s Twitter and Facebook followings soared, and sales jumped 125 percent. By the end of 2010, Old Spice had become America’s number one selling brand of body wash. The lesson? Inviting consumers to participate in creative social media campaigns can forge personal ties with your brand and keep you top of mind. They also keep the door open for thoughtful and entertaining content down the road.
- Keep it simple. You have a lot to say, and using text to communicate your message is great, especially if you’re trying to optimize your website for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). But most consumers don’t want to read or hear lengthy, text-heavy ads. Campaigns that overcomplicate a subject or confuse consumers convolute messages and quickly push people away. Use short, catchy phrases, be purposeful with words, and bundle content ideas into a video or infographic. In an oversaturated, fast-paced online environment, a clean, simple campaign will be much more appealing to consumers.
Message effectiveness ultimately boils down to those precious initial seconds, during which consumers decide whether to buy in and pay attention or check out. If you don’t hook them quickly, engagement likelihood drops drastically.
The good news is that you do not need a massive marketing budget to get a clever message across quickly. Keep it short and interesting, and relate to your audience on a personal level.
Once we defy the short attention span odds working so adamantly against us, we are able to advertise to any distracted consumer — perhaps even a goldfish.
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