5 tips to grab your readers’ attention – and hold on to it

In the year 2000 we weren’t just singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” to all that unnecessary Y2K drama — it turns out, our attention spans were also on the decline. Back then, the average attention span was around 12 seconds. Just 15 years later, it dropped to only 8.25 seconds. As part of the marketing world, that should send a cold chill up your spine. How can anyone be successful in this age of overloaded content and shortened concentration? To help you out, here are five great tips to help hold your readers’ attention just a wee bit longer.  

Front load the most important details

Generally speaking, you put your valuables in the backseat of your car; however, this isn’t true for content writing in the 21st century. Paramount to email and social content writing is front loading your most important, juiciest information in the first 50-100 characters before readership begins to drop off. This strategy gives the reader and you the opportunity to communicate your message to as much of your original audience as possible. 

Keep it short, keep it simple

Save the long drawn out sentences with flowery language for another day. In this social media age of short, snackable content, tons of fluff gets you nowhere fast. Instead, stay short, sweet and to the point. 

Get visual

Sometimes the best way to communicate is through pictures. After all, they’re worth 1,000 words. The human brain processes images over 60,000 times faster than text. With that in mind, you should at least consider using animations, videos and virtual reality to communicate in more easily digestible formats. 

However, using rich media should be deployed in the right context. Several recent advances in email marketing have helped marketers get information to viewers and hold their attention in more ways than ever. Take some of the new click-to-reveal, AMP and schema-based features that provide information in both interactive and exciting new ways. These formats allow readers to access more information on their terms, without creating extra clutter. These tactics are especially useful for longer messages where it’s easy to lose folks with long stretches of dense text. Pulling out important tidbits makes it easier for the reader to focus and retain information. 

Use pull quotes and pull posts

Remember when using in-line pull quotes was the coolest thing to sweep the digital world? Thankfully, they still have a place on today’s web. You can even include social media posts or even full threads on a page. In this way, writers can better break up the monotony of endless text with a visual oasis for your readers. 

If it doesn’t matter, don’t include it

We get it –  it’s easy to create a new infographic or email and include as much information as possible. But just a few extra sentences could be the difference between a reader converting or bouncing from your page immediately. Think of it this way, if extraneous information doesn’t progress the reader any further, scratch it. As the old saying goes, “we’re here for a good time, not a long time” and if you apply this same logic to your content, you’ll be more successful. Readers will not spend more than 5-10 minutes reading much of anything, so while you have their short – but ever so fading attention – captivate them.