Posted by Chris Mordi, Recruiter - Public Relations, Content, Social Media on November 21, 2017
You don’t have minutes; you have milliseconds
Many of your average customers now have attention spans that are shorter than that of a goldfish.
That’s not a rhetorical hyperbole, but an empirical fact in many cases. According to a 2015 study from Microsoft, people now start losing concentration after a mere eight seconds. A goldfish’s attention span is nine seconds. Time magazine wrote about it. And a Forbes article from 2017 citing a more recent Google study paints a picture that mobile users’ interest can be as short as five or even three seconds, tops. As with many Olympic events, milliseconds matter! While athletic glory isn’t on the line, clicks, leads, sales and ultimately revenue and profits are.
As a marketer, were you aware of this? You have a few scant seconds to capture and keep a potential customer’s attention. You’ve got a tough challenge.
Facing the challenge
Rather than ignoring these disheartening trends or succumbing to the temptation of denial, Molly Spatara* saw this train coming around the bend and proactively did something about it.
One of the brightest stars in the digital marketing universe and CMO at SAP Fieldglass, Spatara figured out how to engage these “human goldfish” in ways that actually led to preference and sales.
How did she, and how can you, do it? Make information “modular, scannable, browsable”
“Oftentimes with mobile [phones and internet access] being the dominant gatekeeper of everything, it is piquing their [potential customers’] interest in order for them to engage you at the next step,” she said.
It’s about delivering small bites of information at the right times. This ultimately leads to consumers digesting bigger pieces that you serve to them.
“You really have to look at how people are consuming information and how they are engaging,” Spatara said. “Attention spans are shorter than they used to be. [Information has] to be more modular, scannable, browsable.”
Spatara said this impacts just about every part of marketing and communication.
Start with the conclusion in mind
Because the ability to capture a reader’s attention is at such a premium, Spatara said she challenges her team to get to the essence of what they’re trying to say.
To do this she has her team reverse engineer the marketing objective.
“What is it that you want the reader to take away? Articulate that in one sentence. If it is three things, articulate those things. And then work back from that,” Spatara said. “I think some of the best communications out there is some of it where you’ve made some really compelling quotes in very short profound statements. And if you do that, chances are I’ll be more inclined to take the next click and engage with something more long form.”
Spatara considers all of these short communications a means to an end – engaging the customer in longer interactions.
She puts it all together this way: If I want somebody to read a piece of thought leadership that we’ve written and let’s say the master report is 10 pages. I’m going to break that up into 4 or 5 themes – individual reports or nice and short one pagers. And I might actually say [in that email marketing campaign] do you have 15 minutes for a quick read, download this version or do you want the full report download this version?”
“It’s interesting because people will say, ‘I prefer the 15-minute version. But then you know what I read the 15-minute version and I want the long version. I want to get the whole report,’” she said. “I’ve given you the choice, but I’ve piqued your interest.”
It’s like sprinkling fish flakes into the top of the goldfish bowl. If you feed the fish at the right time and the right thing, it will eat everything no matter how short its attention span.
*Molly Spatara recently spoke about modern marketing at a company-wide meeting of Paladin. Afterwards, we were able to visit with her and ask specific questions about marketing and managing high-performing teams.