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Why you need to race the clock to make an impact


The time it took you to read this sentence is roughly the length of the average consumer attention span. That’s right, the average human attention span has been clocked at eight seconds. This poses a significant challenge for marketers, who are in the business of trying to capture and maintain the attention of their target customers. While it’s always been tricky, the advent of the internet has made the practice increasingly more difficult.

With the rapid adoption of tablets, smartphones and accessible Wi-Fi, today’s generation of internet consumers live in a time of instant gratification. Instant gratification coupled with more competing content has led consumers to become more discerning and ruthless. Content needs to be able to be processed quickly and its relevance needs to be clear from the outset – rather, from the first second. If it fails to achieve this, the consumer will move on without remorse.

Methods for capturing short attention spans are nothing novel. The basic principles of print media layout show we’ve always created and structured content to catch the reader’s eye and attention. The arrangement of visual elements on a page is a high-level exercise informed by psychology and it’s all designed to capture attention in a split second.

But how do we expand on these foundations and adapt to the trend of ever-shrinking attention spans? Through creating a relevant, contextualised and engaging experience within the first three seconds.

There are three key elements to establish in the first three seconds.

0:01 – Language

If the content isn’t in the native language of your customer, you’ve already lost them in the first second. Contextualising content by language is the crucial first step to capturing your customer’s attention.

0:02 – Channel

Today’s consumer wants to interact with brands on their terms, in their time and via their preferred channel. If a consumer isn’t expecting or wanting a text message update from a brand, they aren’t likely to engage with the message. However, if marketers can use customer data to determine channel of choice and engage via that channel, they are more likely to push past the two second mark.

0:03 – Relevancy

Here is where data analytics really come into play. The three second spot is the deciding moment. Tailor content to your customer and you have their attention.

The simultaneous rise in consumer expectations and drop in attention spans amplifies the pressure on marketers, who now have to race a ticking clock to make an impact.

The key to success in the eight second era is your customer data. Know your customer, tailor your approach to their preferences and you’ll prevail to hold their attention, and even build a long-term relationship.

You’ve got eight seconds so make it count. Your time starts now…

About the Author:

Written by Kevin Ross, General Manager, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), SDL.