Fact: Our attention spans are plummeting. At the beginning of this century, we managed to concentrate for 12 seconds. Now, we’re down to eight seconds. This splintering is clearest online with its barrage of apps, buttons, and updates. Almost 20% of page views on a Web site last less than four seconds, for instance. So if you’ve read this far without drifting away to tweet or check your email, congratulations, you’re above average.
The question, then, as a marketer or digital designer, is how do you keep fickle audiences engaged in this era of digital ADD? Here are a few tips that smartsocial businesses are using:
1) Make it personal: Delivering “one size fits all” is the very best way to ensure that folks click away fast. In a world defined by sharing, customers expect you to know who they are and provide a fun, informative visit that’s custom fit to their needs. By being smart about how you make sense of and use data they share, whether through social media, past purchases, their location, their device, and their use of your site, you can meet these rising expectations.
Take the example of Gruppo BPER, a major Italian Bank that’s winning over customers by dishing up a personalized experience based on data-driven understanding of who they are and what they want. Using analytics, the bank tailors customer its interactions with each demographic, whether Gen Y clients who are so wedded to their mobile devices or older, less tech-savvy customers. By making it personal, Gruppo BPER boosted conversion rates and increased revenue per customer.
2) Embrace video: Consider the last Web site or app that made you want to stick around for more than a few seconds. Chances are it featured some intriguing illustrative graphics or compelling videos. After all, a text-heavy site just can’t capture the imagination the way images do.Done well, rich media — especially videos — can grab people’s attention, encourage them to spend more time on a site and increase sales. For example, customers who watch a video are 144% more likely to put that item in their shopping cart, according to a report by Internet Retailers. And, they’re 64% more likely to complete that purchase.Video also keeps customers interested and engaged with your email campaigns. Some 55% of marketers who used videos in their email missives reported higher click through rates, 44% saw an increase in the amount of time subscribers spent checking out an email, and 41% reported an increase in sharing or forwarding of emails, according to a recent emarketer survey.
3) Get Speedy: Today’s digerati don’t have the patience or interest to stick around at a poorly performing site. A recent study of digital shoppers showed that 67% of UK and 51% of US shoppers cited slow loading times as the top reason they abandon a purchase. Slow speed also causes non-retail sites to lose their audicences. eConsultancy posted a great infographic listing informative stats on the fallout of Web site speed, such as:
–50% of mobile users leave a site that doesn’t load in 10 seconds, three of five of those who bail won’t return.
–40% of mobile shoppers abandon an e-commerce site that doesn’t appear in three seconds.
4) Create Great Content: There is still a place for longer pieces and great content. Great content is sticky. It’s shareable. It creates buzz. Dwindling attention spans can still be overcome by compelling stories, videos, or illustrations, whether their entertaining, informative, or simply a good way to pass the time.Our brains are being wired to parse distractions, to move quickly over information, to sail through a sea of friends’ updates, tweets and barrages of photos. But when we run into something that pulls us in, another part of our brain clicks on and we settle down and focus. By combining all of these approaches together, Web sites and apps have the best shot at not just engaging us during our one visit, but encouraging us to come back again and again. Because that’s what our wandering eyes are really in search of — not simply an experience that’s new — but one that’s compelling.
AUTHOR: Nicole Carrier is Chief Strategist for IBM’s Exceptional Digital Experience business segment at IBM. She has more than 18 years of product management and IT consulting experience. Carrier earned of bachelor’s of Arts from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.