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Gravity of a Second

What do the faces of babies and pretty women have in common? They both result in the longest viewing time online. In fact, looking at an image of a baby results in the highest lingering time of all, producing unique activity in our orbitofrontal cortex- the emotional part of our brain. Though we’re not endorsing adding either of these to your website, the attention span of online consumers is an important factor to consider when evaluating the value of your content online. After all, the human attention span is now averaging 8 seconds, which is less than the attention span of a goldfish. Content of any kind- whether blog post, social media post, or the ‘about us’ section of your website- must be sensitive to the declining attention span of the average person, as media of all kinds consume and distract our world.

It doesn’t help that the amount of potential content to digest continues to grow! Mark Schaefer notably addressed the conundrum of increasing content and decreasing reach in a recent blog post. He remarks that this inverse variation has gotten to the point where the amount of content available outweighs our limited capacity to consume it. Schaefer calls this “content shock,” and after identifying this online marketing problem, several marketers responded with their thoughts on how to solve it, which Schaefer then addressed both in his book, Content Code, and in this article. We have some thoughts of our own on combatting this dilemma as well, which are discussed below. We must be very careful in discerning how to present content so that it will pull readers in rather than scanning past us; we must become engaging, shareable, and social.

Never before has a single second mattered so much. “A one-second delay in page load time can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decreased customer satisfaction and 7% lost conversions”, says Rob Weatherhead, of The Guardian. If your site isn’t providing the right kind of information the user is looking for, and providing it quickly, all they have to do is click back and check out the next page on the list of hundreds of search results. Considering this stat, we have reported before that lengthy content has its place, just make sure to place it where your audience is looking for it, such as your blog rather than your homepage, as it can affect the load time and cause visitors to leave. Other areas might be bogged down by too much content and trigger slower website loading time.

We learn from analysts that when reading content most people tend to scan in an F pattern, heavily favoring the left side of pages. It is surprisingly a myth that keeping critical content “above the fold” online is as important as it is in print. Most web users have now become habituated to scrolling down a web page, thanks to social newsfeeds. So when trying to keep a user’s attention, place appealing links to landing pages and salient information toward the left side of the screen!

In conclusion, what are the best strategies to combat this decline in online consumers’ attention span?

Get to the point. Today’s internet users are faster than ever at determining whether the website they clicked through to is relevant to what they were searching for. Customers especially want verification as soon as they click into a new website that they’re in the right place. If you have an intro or blurb on your homepage or about me page, make sure that it is clear and to the point, so that customers can confirm that they’ve come to the right place.

Interactive media catches everyone’s attention. As we joked at the beginning, certain types of media keep online users’ attention more than others. Finding creative ways to incorporate images and videos into your website will have a great effect on bettering your bounce rates. According to Unbounce.com, approximately 30% of page visitors watch videos when they are available on your website and 50% of those viewers watch the video in its entirety. Even more importantly, websites that had an introductory video on their homepage saw a 10% increase in their conversion rates.

Be logical. Think like your customer. Reflect on what catches your attention, what kind of content you read and mimic this in your business website in a professional way. Knowing our universal tendency toward the left side of the page, formatting in an F pattern will help you plan out what information goes where.
So there you have it! Now you’re not only aware of this epidemic, but you’re also armed to overcome it. For more help with bounce rates and ideas to keep people interested, send us a note at marketing@commercialwebservices.com or comment below!

Sarah Gallagher

Marketing Coordinator at Commercial Web Services. Content writing is what I live for, as I aim to offer insight that helps make your business ventures possible. As a self-proclaimed creative, I enjoy reading and writing as well as working with my hands on DIY projects at home.

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