A big trend online right now is the “listicle,” an article taking the form of a list — especially on popular time-killing entertainment websites like BuzzFeed and UpWorthy. The New Yorker even covered this occurrence in a recent article, mockingly formatted into 10 bullet points. The article discusses today’s shortened attention spans and states that a list, which breaks down ideas into small soundbytes, typically accompanied by a graphic or GIF, is increasingly popular because it requires readers to focus for only moments at a time and read less overall.
So how can marketing address (or even take advantage of) consumers’ short attention spans? Here are three ideas:
1. Keep it short. Brevity is one of the primary players in the battle to attract a short attention span. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that your marketing content — blogs, brochures, press releases, websites — actually need to be short (especially online, where a certain character count should be met to improve SEO). You can, however, keep your paragraphs and sentences short. You can also use images or even multiple pages to visually break up a long article. Even if it’s the same length as usual, readers will be drawn in by the appearance of easily digestible content. Thankfully, copywriters have always been trained in the art of brevity — conveying key messages in memorable soundbytes and tag lines. This skill can be translates throughout all marketing material, and it’s never been more valuable than today.
2. Make an offer. If readers know that an offer is coming through in your messaging, they’ll be more likely to read it through. For example, you might have a giveaway that you’re discussing in the context of your marketing information. If you do, don’t bury the lead — remember that your offer is your hook that is going to keep your audience interested and engaged. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a coupon or freebie, however — it can also be an assertion, promise or insider information that the reader can only learn about by going through your forthcoming statements. Figure out what your “hook” is and make sure the reader knows there’s a payback for their attention.
3. Gain trust. The more an audience trusts your brand, and the more they have a relationship with it, the more they’ll be likely to stick around to hear what you have to say. This means you don’t even necessarily need to employ the tactics of No. 1 if you’re addressing long-time recipients, and the trust itself is the promise you’re making that fulfills No. 2.