Powerful Marketing Via Mobile and Web: Use Your Target Audience's Short Attention Span to Your Advantage
Jun 29, 2012
Want to do Powerful Marketing via Mobile and Web? Here’s your target audience summed up in Three Magic Words: Short Attention Span.
Most people don’t read anymore. They skim. You already knew this. But are you applying this knowledge to your marketing efforts every day? Probably not. Instead, when you or your marketing team sets out to build a page of content, you go back to tried and true methods you have been using since high school: You write your Headline or Title (h1 tag), you write your Topic Sentence (or maybe not!), First Paragraph, Second Paragraph, and so on. If you really knock yourself out, you might add an image or a subheading.
Here’s the point (right here on the page you are now reading) where most readers have already decided if they will continue reading or not. If they don’t immediately see the value in what you are saying… they will quit and leave your site. Done. Over. You lost them.
The Solution: Get to the Point
You might think the people you really want to reach are the ones who will actually read what you have to say. Wrong. You don’t need to worry about them. If what you are saying has value for them, they will continue reading. You need to reach the people who want your product or service but they’re too busy or too distracted to see it unless you do your absolute best to help them get there. How do you do this?
Put The Bottom Line First – at the Top of the Page
Here’s a real example. A client of mine has an excellent value proposition for his business. We have been working to improve it over many months. He has a page on his website where he lays out the benefits of the services he offers. Originally, he had a section at the end of the page with the heading “The Bottom Line”. Of course, that’s where the bottom line should go, right? At the end. It sums up the benefits of what he does. Wrong. It should not go there. Why? Because I guarantee that 90% of the visitors that see this page will never read to the bottom. Even if they like what they are reading, 90% will not read to the bottom. Short attention span.
This is what I mean about the old ways of writing. They are so ingrained in us, whenever we write anything, we expect people to read just like we think. But they don’t. So why would we want to put The Bottom Line at the bottom? It’s too important. Put it at the top! Give visitors the chance to see and understand it. Some will see the point immediately and that will compel them to leave the page to look for more complimentary information to help them make a decision to hire you or buy from you. They are done reading about benefits! They want to know about pricing or testimonials or other things that give them the additional assurance they need to take the next step with you. You want the Benefits page to do its job. That’s all you want the Benefits page to do. It doesn’t matter if people read to the end or not. Put The Bottom Line at the top because that’s where most readers’ eyeballs go.
Use The Bottom Line as a Rule of Thumb Whenever You Create Content
This idea of The Bottom Line is a great rule of thumb. Use it as a metaphor for all your online content and the way you need to structure it. It does not literally have to be called “The Bottom Line”. Readers will know it when they see it. Any way you present it, telling readers the value of what you are giving them at the very top of the page, before you launch into any details, just makes good sense.
What’s more, when you treat your busy readers with respect and give them the bottom line first, there’s a greater chance they will read further.
The same thinking should guide the way you write online in general. Can you say something in one sentence instead of two? Do it. Can you cut out flowery language? Do it. You don’t have to write like a robot. Humans don’t like that at all. Search engines don’t like it either! Clean, concise writing is easier to read than bad writing. And check your spelling and grammar. People are busy and distracted. Tell them what you are going to do for them and make it quick! If you can show them that you are going to save them time or money or both, in a few words, you are making your value proposition clear. Now give them easy and obvious ways to take the next step: to contact you, to get additional information, to signup, to start a free trial.
What’s True for the Web is Even More True for Mobile Device
Readers need decision-driving information at the top of the page, called out in short, meaningful headlines and text. You’ll notice that most content management systems like WordPress or other website platforms typically take an excerpt from the beginning of a post or page, along with the heading or title from the page, when they include a snippet of that post as a feature on a home page. If you start your posts with the rambling equivalent of “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty…” without getting to the point, then, let’s face it, your snippet is not going to do its job of drawing people in and encouraging them to click. Give them the bottom line first. Why should they read your post? What’s it going to do for them?
Obviously this is even more important for mobile devices because of limited screen size. A recent study by Pew Research Center found that 17% of cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phone. Get to the point. At the beginning. Not at the end.