Did you know that an increasing number of web surfers only visit a web page for less than 4 seconds? That’s less than the average person’s attention span, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is 8 seconds. It probably took you more time to read this introduction.
Websites are constantly dodging obstacles and competing with the unrelenting flow of information, causing readers attention to shrink. Whether you realize it or not, that affects the way we search for information. There are overwhelming amounts of competition and countless methods of distribution. So how do you manage to keep up and stand out?
Create a catchy headline
Besides the old clichés and tired phrases are new words that allow you to say the same thing in a million different ways. Find a thesaurus or go online and find some sassy synonyms to create a headline that will turn heads. But don’t stray too far from your core idea or you’ll be overlooked by readers once they notice that you’re not what they’re looking for. Readers are now the ones creating the headlines in their searches, and it’s our job to find ways of making them sound catchy.
Keep it Simple
After you’ve written your eye-catching headline and your strong introduction, it’s time to let your reader know “what’s in it for them?” In doing so, remember not to stray from the point or you will lose your readers interest. Let them know early on how you can help them solve a problem or give them a reason to continue reading. Whatever your goal is as a writer, remember to keep it simple.
Balance personality and purpose
Let your readers hear your voice. Allow your tone to come out through your writing, as long as your tone represents your brand all around. You can be corky and cute, or serious and straightforward, but too much of either can be damaging.
If your writing is too serious, readers can get confused or bored (remember what we said about attention spans). On the opposite spectrum, you can also lose your reader if your writing is too metaphorical or creative with no concrete background information. “Good writing is like a clean pane of glass in a storefront—you don’t notice the glass, but you can clearly see what you want on the other side,” writes Dean Rieck of Copyblogger – a solid example of this.
Capture your audience with emotion, but keep them with relevance.
Make it Personal
Getting them to look your way is half the battle. Getting them to come back is an entirely different war. By making things personal, you create a unique advantage. It’s like you’re writing to one person.
A key factor in decision-making. Even before logic comes into play, emotion humbles your senses. Create a relationship with your audience by telling stories or personal experiences. This doesn’t always mean conversions, but having a relationship means they’ll most likely come back or tell their friends about you.
Although there are many features that describe what you’re selling, give your audience the benefits as well. This ties in with emotion because it’s different from what everyone else is offering them. For instance, when selling a car, it’s better to tell customers that it’s safe enough to protect their family in case of an accident, instead of only telling them how many airbags there are.
Our weakened attention spans are something we’ll have to deal with eventually. Implementing these suggestions into our daily lives will satisfy them in the meantime.